Four artists, spanning all music genres, will fight each week to defend their coveted seats on the show, as determined newcomers challenge them and try to knock them out of the competition. The singer who is the last standing at the end of the competition will earn the ultimate prize: the panel of industry experts becomes key players on the winner’s team, along with a record contract and a lucrative spot as one of iHeartRadio’s On the Verge artists.
The four artists currently ready to be challenged are: former X Factor UK alum James Graham, Hip Hop artist Sharaya J, and new contenders R&B singer Whitney Reign and rocker Jesse Kramer. Will these artists be able to hold on to their spots in tonight’s competition? Find out as we live blog week 2.
The show opens with The Four singing “Believer’ by Imagine Dragons. Is it a nod to new The Four member, rocker Jesse Kramer? He opens the number. He. Can’t. Sing. Sharaya J raps a line. James Graham and Whitney Reign are both solid. Jesse is the weakest link!
Diddy says he’s listening to the fans! He takes their comments into account. That comment is followed by a BTS video of The Four rehearsing, making the media rounds, etcetera. Sharaya has been struggling with her health–currently doing chemo, she’s having throat issues.
Ebon Lurks – 22 – Tulsa OK – Photograph by Ed Sheeran – He’s an R&B singer and doesn’t get much of an intro package. Hm. He’s in Los Angeles on his own because His out-of-work grandma couldn’t afford to fly out. He has no parents. His dad was killed by drug gangs IN FRONT OF HIM after they discovered he was FBI. They came to his house and shot him five times. Poor kid. The performance is…underwhelming. His falsetto is weak and pitchy and lacks dynamics. There’s a total lack of excitement. “That made me want to cry,” says Meghan. Diddy says, “I think you’re holding back a little bit.” I agree. He gave Diddy a “feeling” but “You can’t eat if you ain’t hungry.” Khaled thought the performance was “cool” but he needs more growth. Oh man. They let this guy through. Cannon fodder! They even made us wait through a commercial break for a result – 3 Blue Rings – Ebon Challenges Jesse He’s prolly too skeered to challenge the others.
Jesse Kramer – You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker – He says rock n roll is about “making a connection” and last week the crowd just ate it up! Hm. He’s been at the grind for awhile now. He’s determined to keep his seat. Good song choice. He can garble his way through it and then say BUT JOE COCKER. At least Cocker was able to wring emotion out of that gruff mess of a voice. Jesse not so much.
Ebon Lurks – Mine by Bazzi – This is better than the first performance. Seriously, he needs to stay away from his falsetto. Still, Ebon is missing something–energy. Or maybe his vocal is just not that strong.
Diddy feels Ebon stepped it up and calls Jesse’s approach “totally fresh.” Khaled respects Ebon’s humility. He appreciates that he took their notes. “Great performance” he says to Jesse. Jesse wins the challenge Ebon is eliminated. Not surprised. Ebon was totally presented to serve as an easy challenge.
Elijah Connor – 28 – Detroit MI – Love by Musiq Soulchild – He’s been singing since church choir. OH PRINCE IS HIS COUSIN OK. Also, Aretha Franklin is a family pal Martha Reeves is his Godmother. Before he passed, Prince advised him to follow his artistry. He’s under so much pressure, coming from music royalty, he says. He’s wearing a leather jacket adorned with furs. Diddy is impressed. Not as much that he’s “music royalty” suggesting that they might have to do a DNA test on break. Dude has some ATTITUDE. Not sure that it’s warranted, however. I mean…he’s no Prince. Or even a Martha Reeves! While he fails to deliver the jaw dropping performance one would expect considering his pedigree, he’s solid–hitting a couple of impressive notes. Khaled wonders if he can beat any member on The Four? He sings a little bit of his next song for Khaled. Meghan agrees with Khaled. “Detroit is in the building,” says Elijah about his prospects in any battle. “I didn’t like it at all!” says Diddy, “You came too swagged out and didn’t deliver. “Too many tricks” he says. “But I know you’re talented. THREE RED RINGS ELIMINATED – Well, they took him down a peg or two OR THREE. And he’s pissed. But then, he thanks them for the opportunity and leaves the stage. “He came out here too cocky and didn’t deliver” says Diddy.
Matt Bloyd – 25 – Modesto CA – How Will I Know by Whitney Houston – I recognized that name immediately. He’s a Youtube star and has sung several duets with American Idol alum Jessica Sanchez. I posted one here. ETA: He also was a contestant on American Idol this season. Never shown on camera, he got cut during the Group Round in Hollywood. His dad wanted him to be a sports star. But he had a passion for music. But in the end, Dad was supportive! He performs a slowed up piano driven version of the Whitney classic. Matt’s got a pretty tone and nice phrasing. Now there’s a falsetto. OK. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t go through. “I love what you did with that song,” says Meghan. Diddy didn’t like his falsetto. Huh. I disagree with that. “Make it flow, finesse it” he advises. Khaled wants to see a challenge. The crowd begins chanting “EAT EAT EAT.” – 3 Blue Rings Matt Challenges Whitney Reign
Whitney Reign – (You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin – She had a record deal once, lost it, then had a baby. All her ambitions are about providing a better life for the kiddo. Turns out she rehearsed a song, but then changed it. “Song selection is very important on The Four…I took a big risk changing my song,” she says. Boring song choice. But that’s me. Classic Aretha done right is always a crowd pleaser. And she did that right. Also she presents herself like a real pro. Great stage presence. She’s down on her knees by the end. She’s in it to win it. Heh. Matt looks nervous.
Matt Bloyd – Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton – It’s a good thing he chose a song that shows off his soulful chops. OK now I see what Diddy means about the falsetto. Liked it in the first song, but he was having trouble reaching the notes here. Really liked the stuff in his lower range though. Nice job, but Whitney still outsang him.
Meghan calls the choice “difficult.” But she thought Whitney had it. “Whitney came to secure the bag,” says Khaled. Whitney Reign Wins the Challenge Matt is Eliminated. It’s back to Youtube for Matt!
Lil Bri – 17 – Houston TX – Hate it or Love It – The Game (The Four Version) – She’s a female rapper who wrote her first poem at 13. She loves playing basketball for inspo–and “old school” hip hop. She wants to write about real things! She would love to work with Diddy. Yeah. She’s good. You know what’s coming (No really…the promos spoiled it. Heh.) We’re gonna have an all-female rap battle coming. First in The Four history! Meghan calls Bri a “young legend…you’re born to perform.” Diddy says, “I love your poise on stage for your age.” But he advises her to not miss the melody. Khaled is ready to “secure more bags.” – 3 blue rings Lil Bri Challenges Sharaya J
Sharaya J – Stir Fry by Migos (The Four Version) – She lost her voice earlier in the week. Honestly, she doesn’t look well at all. Props to her for soldiering on during chemo treatments. But maybe she’d be better off heading home to take care of her health? It’s a good thing she doesn’t actually have to SING. She’s able to rap just fine despite her obviously scratchy voice. And she maintains a fierce attitude throughout. With that heroic buildup? There’s no way she doesn’t take this battle.
Lil Bri – Crush On You by Lil Kim (The Four Version) – I gotta say, this Lil Bri is a little powerhouse. Such natural talent and charisma. I agree with Diddy–she is super poised and confident on stage. Like her attitude, too. She’s confident without being cocky.
Meghan thinks it will be a “close one.” She liked Lil Bri’s song choice, but preferred Sharaya’s lyrics. Wouldn’t the lyrics seal the deal? Diddy has props for them both. “Two amazing queens,” says Khaled. He felt Sharaya defended her title. Sharaya J Wins the Challenge Lil Bri is Eliminated. Lil Bri graciously thanks the judges and everybody for having her. She is proud to be able to hold her own against an older female rapper. I like this kid a lot. She gets a standing O.
Khaled hands Meghan an out of tune ukulele. He wants to hear that song she performed for LA Reid (ANOTHER DISGRACED EXEC) years ago. She strums and sings a bit of her hit “All About That Bass.”
Christian Gonzalez – 16 – Miami FL – Bailando – Enrique Iglesias – He was born in Puerto Rico. His dad is also a singer, at one point wanting to sing salsa professionally. But it didn’t work out. Christian sings in both languages. He’s got a stage presence thing going–with dance moves! Vocally he’s average, though. “Great job…dance moves are incredible,” says Meghan. Diddy says, “You came to eat…I like the tone of your voice.” He dug his dancing too. “You reppin Miami,” says Diddy. “I enjoyed myself,” Khaled says. But he wonders–can he beat James in a “sound clash?” – 3 blue rings – Christian Will Challenge James (Because he’s the only unchallenged artist remaining.)
James Graham – Lately by Stevie Wonder – He thought Jesse would challenge him last week, and was surprised when he chose Majestie instead. Jessie was the only unchallenged singer last week. His mum is SUPER SUPPORTIVE, driving him around and such. James delivers a strong vocal and has a nice tone. But he can be a little too tricksey. Tonight he’s good, though! Man, his upper register is amazing. No need for falsetto. And when he uses it, his vocal is still strong. Very very nice phrasing. Meghan is screaming.
Christian Gonzalez – Hold On We’re Going Home by Drake – He’s not as strong a singer as James. But his phrasing is very mature. He sings with passion. I felt that!
Meghan loves James’ skill and range. “Unbelievable!” Meghan wanted Christian to dance more, but feels he’s a great singer. Diddy didn’t feel Christian gave it his all this time. “I missed the spice.” Diddy wonders why James changed the key on “Lately.” It sounded better to his ear, James replies. “It would be impressive to hear these notes Stevie Wonder can hit,” says Diddy. “You saved your performance toward the end of the song.” Don’t agree with Diddy. Plus I liked that he dialed it back. – James Wins the Challenge – Christian is Eliminated.
Each of The Four defended their respective seat tonight. The first time that has happened in The Four history.
Former X Factor UK contestant James Graham, Hip Hop artist Sharaya J, R&B singer Whitney Reign and rocker Jesse Kramer will all return next week to face NEW challengers.