The Four: Battle for a Superstar Season 2 continues tonight on FOX. Musician, record producer and songwriter Sean “Diddy” Combs, record-producing hitmaker DJ Khaled, and recording artist and songwriter Meghan Trainor return to the show’s “panel of experts.” Pop star Fergie is back as host.
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.
Former X Factor UK contestant James Graham, Hip Hop artist Sharaya J, R&B singer Whitney Reign and rocker Jesse Kramer all return this week to face NEW challengers.
It’s the first time in The Four history that the entire four advanced to the following week intact. I don’t think it was an accident that last week’s slate of challengers were full of middling talent. The producers WANTED the group to stay together for at least another week, I suspect.
Also, Hip Hop producer, songwriter and artist Timbaland will be stepping into a group number of his song “The Way I Are” for Sharaya J who needs to rest her voice this week. When Timbaland takes the stage with red of the four the panel acts REAL SURPRISED. Ha.
After the performance, host Fergie explains how Sharaya decided to follow the advice of her doctors who put her on vocal rest this week. However, she IS in the house to defend her seat. Khaled warns the returning four NOT to get comfortable.
Next, it’s a video package of the “unbeatable four” sharing their thoughts on returning to the show for another round of competition. THEY ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY. No really. We see them eating lunch. Sharaya and James, as the only originals remaining, have bonded.
It’s time for our first challenger!
Felix Thompson – 24 – Monroe Georgia – Can We Talk by Tevin Campbell – All his cousins play sports. He’s the only artist–the odd one out growing up. He moved to Atlanta to further his career. Khaled warns that he AIN’T PLAYING NO GAMES. Meghan is VERY excited because Felix is looking STRAIGHT AT HER. He’s decent–smooth R&B voice and a nice falsetto. Nothing special, but a solid performer. He ends his performance laying on the stage. Khaled liked his performance but didn’t “hear YOU.” He thought the end bit was “acting.” Meghan begins her critique by agreeing with Khaled, who gets right up into her face. Tell the truth he demands. Talk about acting. Diddy thinks he has a beautiful, special voice. “I thought you did an excellent job. – 3 blue rings. WE HAVE A CHAAALLLENGE. But wait. Khaled takes the stage to say that he almost said no, but will give Felix a second chance. Then he shows off his orange shoes. This show is SO WEIRD. Felix Challenges Jesse
Jesse Kramer – Hold on I’m Coming by Sam and Dave – He left his super religious small town life to become a rock n roll star. Working at a music store, he met a customer who became a mentor. Sadly, he got sick and died. Jesse has his name “Hurt” tattooed on his arm. Well this an interesting song choice for Jesse to garble through. And garble he does! Good guitar player though!
Felix Thompson – That’s What I Like by Bruno Mars – An upbeat song choice gives Felix an opportunity to show off even more of his corny stage stylings. He’s no Bruno Mars, OK? I think I prefer Jesse’s rock garbling. But what will the audience think?
Khaled liked the performance. Can he make records with Felix? He feels like Jesse defended his seat. Diddy appreciates Felix’s showmanship. Sean thinks Jesse needs to show some versatility. It’s “a lot of yelling, a lot of growling,” he says. Indeed! Jesse Kramer wins the challenge. Felix is eliminated.
Alma Lake – 21 – Medellin Colombia – Exes and Ohs by Ellie King – “I’m a very spicy person!” Alma says. She’s the only musical one in her family. She calls the rest of them “basic.” Nice. She “models” in LA. Hm. Alma’s got a huge mop of red hair. Sharaya does not look amused. Actually, she is kind of annoying, talking in a nasally little voice and saying dumb stuff like “slay queen.” But then it turns out she’s really not a joke. She has a unique, raspy voice. She definitely does her own thing. Diddy thinks she’s has a “special thing.” Meghan doesn’t think she can beat the remaining 3 four. Khaled disagrees. He feels she’s comfortable on stage–unique and different. OH NO. A red ring! It was Meghan. I disagree. Alma should have been given a shot. “She cannot beat anyone of our four now!” Meghan insists. “I’m being real.” Alma was going to perform “Alive” by Sia. The audience and Khaled want to hear her sing! But Diddy says no can do–thems are the rules! Alma is eliminated.
Ali Caldwell – 28 – Woodbridge NJ – Tell Me Something Good by Chaka Khan – Her mother discouraged her musical aspirations. She ended up working in a dentist office. But then she realized she needed to do music full time. After an open mic, she has spent the last 5 years touring the world. And of course, she was a contestant on The Voice in 2016. I recognized her right away. Ali was a Team Miley Cyrus member and finalist on season 11, eliminated in the blood bath after an instant save performance. She made it pretty far! Tonight’s ringer has arrived. There’s no way this big voiced pro doesn’t get an opportunity to challenge. Meghan is speechless, “You’re so strong, your attitude is everything.” Diddy asks her if she’s “ready to eat.” Of course she is. “EAT EAT EAT EAT,” says Khaled. Diddy looks over at the four and says ominously, “I smell a little fear.” 3 blue rings Ali Challenges Whitney. OF COURSE.
Whitney Reign – If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Patti Labelle – She’s devoted to her baby son. Also, she is close to dad who has been in the audience every week. Whitney is overplaying her hand a little here. She’s oversinging LIKE WOW. Her upper range just isn’t as strong as Ali’s. Hope she’s got her bags packed.
Ali Caldwell – Set Fire to The Rain by Adele – Ha. Ali is swinging for the fences. There was a reason She made it almost to the finals on The Voice. Her range and phrasing are crazy good. She cuts a striking presence on stage.
Diddy wishes he had a special override vote to keep both. He felt Whitney did her best to defend her chair. But he thinks fear got the best of her in this battle. Ali came to eat, he says, “You really understood what this is about.” Yeah. She’s been to the rodeo before, soooooo. Meghan agrees that both are so worthy. Ali Caldwell wins the Challenge. Whitney is Eliminated. The outcome was obvious the minute Ali stepped out on stage. Whitney of course is super super sad, as are the judges and the rest of the four. The silver lining: I bet she returns for “comeback” week.
Dian Rene – 28 – Banes Cuba – Hero by Enrique Iglesias – He studied classical music and Opera in Cuba. Oh. He came to this country–maybe not legally? He had to work a million jobs just to make ends meet and there was no time for music. Meghan is all teary…for some reason. Then Dian strips off his jacket. CORNY. For an opera singer, his voice is kind of weak and a little shouty. Khaled loved the song he chose, but he saw some nerves. However, he could see the determination. Meghan thought there was something sweet about him. 3 blue rings. Dian Challenges James
James Graham – Human Nature by Michael Jackson – The judges were a bit negative last week. Despite him winning the challenge, they said he wasn’t giving his all onstage.. After coming to LA, James had a deal with MJ’s producer. Surprisingly, the song does give him an opportunity to show off his range (there’s not a ton of melody in Human Nature). He is also using the performance to strike a few poses.
Dian Rene – Flor Palida by Marc Anthony – Oh look at him shaking his hips. But compared to James, Dian is relatively personality free. Having said that–this performance is more assured and less tentative than the first. Still, I think James has this. Dian sings the entire song in Spanish, which might be a mistake.
Khaled and Meghan both felt like they were at a concert. Khaled feels that he’s “securing the bag.” Diddy wants Salsa classes after tonight. “I think you represented your people in a big way,” he says. Condescending much? Can you imagine Charlie Walk getting away with that comment? Anywho. The audience votes. But before the results–Khaled toddles off stage for a bathroom break (???). James wins the challenge. Dian is Eliminated. Not surprised. Oh. And Diddy gets a bit of a salsa lesson at the end.
Brennan Villines – 30 – Dixon NY – 500 Miles by The Proclaimers – Growing up in a small town was tough because of his sexuality. He moved to Memphis at 18. He got into a toxic relationship and started using meth. Oh no. He thought he had chicken pox. Turned out he was HIV Positive. Music has gotten him through a lot of pain and misery. Today he is five years sober. As he sits down to the piano to sing, I wonder how a challenge with Saraya would work out because she’s the only one left. Hm. He sings a ballady piano driven version of the song. Not bad. He would have been a decent challenger for James. Meghan felt so many emotions! She loved it. “You tore that down,” says Khaled. Diddy is proud of him for being so strong. – 3 blue rings Brennan will challenge Sharaya J
Sharaya J – Go Raya by Sharaya – She has been battling cancer–competing while undergoing chemo. The treatment is wreaking havoc on her vocal cords. They are ruptured and need to heal, so the doctor has put her on vocal rest. She’s rapping an original tonight. Let’s see how that goes. Performing battles against fellow rap artists heightened her previous performances. This is OK. But if Brennan performs well, she could be in trouble.
Brennan Villines – Let it Go by James Bey – This time out, he takes the stage without an instrument. I don’t like this as much as his first performance. He sounds a little flat. His thing is hitting big, long, extended high notes, which could get old if he doesn’t change it up.
“You are the definition of hip hop the way you perform,” Khaled says to Sharaya. He liked Brennan’s first performance more. Sharaya realizes that she sang two bars off the mic. Diddy felt Brennan brought out the beast. “It was the best night of battling in the history of the four,” says Diddy. HYPERBOLE ALERT. Sharaya J wins the Battle Brennan is Eliminated. Brennan was honored to challenge Sharaya and give her a little bit of a hard time.
Tonight: Former X Factor UK contestant James Graham, Hip Hop artist Sharaya J, and rocker Jesse Kramer all defended their seats this week. R&B singer Whitney Reign lost her challenge to The Voice season 11 alum Ali Caldwell. All will be back next week to face new challengers.