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, and R&B artist and The Voice alum Ali Caldwell all return this week to face NEW challengers. However, rocker Jesse Kramer was knocked out of the competition last week by blue eyed soul singer, Noah Barlass.
Tonight it’s the final round of auditions. Next week features Comeback Artists–eliminated singers brought back via fan vote. The following week, The Four winner will be crowned.
Tonight’s opening group number feature The Four performing Bruno Mars’ hit “24K.”
Next, it’s a video clip featuring a mentor session with Meghan Trainor. She chats up the contestants about how she broke in the business and sustains her career.
Jeronelle McGhee – 24 – Too Close by Alex Clare – Omaha NE – He’s a classically trained singer who went to college on a music scholarship. He has been METICULOUSLY studying The Four. O rly? Cool backstory bro. I wonder which producer cooked that one up. Well. Just goes to prove that a high end education can’t impart star quality on a student. I’m sure he’s an A+ sight reader. But this performance is merely competent. After his performance, Fergie gives Jeronelle a chest bump. She’s kookie! Meghan calls his voice “incredible.” Diddy notes his “hunger” and “relentlessness.” Khalid isn’t sure he can compete and challenge with The Four. – 3 Blue Rings Jeronelle Challenges Noah Barless
Noah Barless – Chains by Nick Jonas – Noah shares about being bullied as a kid. The other kids called him gay. Is that Noah coming out? He walked up to that door last week, but did not walk through it. Noah’s range continues to impress as he hits those big notes and nails his runs. At least he brings some passion to his performance vs Jerome’s note perfect paint by numbers approach.
Jeronelle McGhee – Woman’s Work by Kate Bush (Maxwell Version) – Jeronelle fares better on this second performance, making use of a decent falsetto. However, while he hits all the notes, he lacks presence and connection.
Khaled feels Noah didn’t come as hard he he could have. Hm. I disagree. Now Khaled is foaming at the mouth…about something. What the hell is he talking about? Calm down skippy. Fake outburst is totally fake. It’s like a bad SNL skit. Noah is standing there looking totally WTF as the panel piles on him. Which performances are they critiquing? Not the two that I watched. Diddy calls Jeronelle “confident…you seized the moment.” Meghan is torn as she admits that
the producers are making her do this she believes Jeronelle won the competition. Jeronelle Wins The Challenge. Noah is Eliminated. That entire exchange smelled like scripted bullsh*t. Meghan tearfully hugs him as he leaves the stage.
Mackenzie Johnson – 25 – Bucks County PA – Love Yourself by Justin Bieber – She started writing songs at 12, but was a shy teenager. So she started posting videos online. So far, she has over 500K subscribers. Youtube artist is her job! I like her tone. Nice lower register. Her head voice is a little weak though. I wonder if she’s a good songwriter? Her vocal chops aren’t strong enough to beat any of The Four, I’m afraid. As a songwriter, Meghan relates so much. However, she felt her performance was a little shaky. Diddy loved the last four bars. “I know you could have done better.” He suggests that she play some gigs to hone her performance skills. Mackenzie admits that nerves impacted her performance. – 3 red rings ELIMINATED
Leah-Jenea Gaines – 17 – Newark NJ – Best Part by Daniel Caesar – This young singer comes from a very musical household. Her dad is a rapper. She wears crazy outfits! She’s still in high school. Oh. A+ outfit. She has a beautiful jazzy tone. And her phrasing is incredible. She has a poise, confidence and maturity way beyond her 17 years. Leah knows she’s talented as she nods confidently when Diddy asks, “You know what you did…” Meghan says “you sound like NOBODY. You sound like Leah Jeneah.” Khalid compliments her vibe and energy. 3 blue rings – Leah challenges James Graham
I figured a shot of Ali crying during the bumper preview was a fake out. The “shocking boot” the promos have been promoting might be James. No worries though. If he’s eliminated, he’ll be back on next week’s “Comeback” episode.
James Graham – Want to Want Me by Jason Derulo – James felt his performance last week fell short and plans to work harder. So this week, he’s going to take himself out of the box and sing Jason Derulo. Not sure how that’s such a big challenge? Having said that, I’m not sure singing a mid-tempo pop song was the thing to do this week? It doesn’t really show off his voice. He does manage to hit a few signature notes here and there.
Leah-Jenea – Call Out My Name by The Weeknd – Now, her song choice is the type of thing James usually kills. Will Leah beat him at his own game? Regardless, she has a unique talent and deserves a seat. She has way more potential than newbie Jeronelle. Although I preferred the jazzy subtle phrasing of her first song, she’s still pretty great here. The way these challenges are set up favors showy performances, so I get it. Khaled is blowing his air horn.
Meghan thinks both singers are incredible. But Leah has the whole package thing! She believed James was going to win until Leah came along. Khaled feels James did his thing–he compliments his consistency. But, Khaled is looking for something new. He namechecks Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige “I feel like that’s what Leah is.” Oh poor James is getting murdered. Diddy says Leah is probably the only one who could have beat him, and that he was trying to be somebody else. “Your spirit, your energy took over the room,” Diddy tells Leah. Leah-Jenea Wins The Challenge. James is Eliminated. Like I said, James will be back for next week’s Comeback. And he knows it. He doesn’t even look upset. He shouts out to Sharaya, who appears to be his favorite.
AJ Reynolds – 25 – Lee NH – Cheeks (Original) – He’s a rapper. Which means he is just about to lose to Shayrana. Heh. As a kid, he was inspired by Eminem. His day job? Garbage man. He’s performing an original which he describes as a “party song.” I’m sensing some douche bro vibes here, people. Sharaya is rolling her eyes. “She’s walking by just look at them cheeks,” he raps. Yup. Dumb bro. This is embarrassingly bad. Khaled is impressed that the crowd sang the hook with him “You got something.” Meghan calls him “sick” and “lit.” Diddy thinks he dropped a hit record. Sadly…he is probably correct. AJ pulls out an asthma inhaler, which adds nerd to those douche vibes. 3 blue rings – AJ Challenges Sharaya. Talk about eat. She’s about to make him her snack.
Sharaya J – I Don’t*** With You by Big Sean (The Four Version) – She’s writing lyrics every week, which Is more than the other singers have to deal with, she notes. Nobody can battle like Sharaya. She’s right up in his face–the queen of diss. Khaled’s blowing his horn.
AJ Reynolds – King (Original) – He needed another shot from his inhaler after that. His rhymes are super juvenile. He’s like Eminem–if he were a third grader.
Meghan felt his second song had “zero hooks.” Still, she thinks AJ has a future. Diddy compliments Sharaya on how she fights for her dream, “You have what it takes.” Sharaya J Wins The Challenge AJ Reynolds is Eliminated Sharaya J is the longest seat holder in The Four history. AJ says it’s just the beginning of “Cheeks.” He’s quitting the trash truck, he says. Good luck with that.
Anthony Gargiula – 19 – Orlando FL – In My Blood by Shawn Mendes – After singing the National Anthem at a local basketball game at 9 years old, the video went viral. He appeared on Ellen. He posted more videos, moving on to Vines. With Meghan Trainor? Huh. Then his momentum slowed. He performs at a theme park now. Meghan recognizes him right away (as if she didn’t know). He’s throwing everything he’s got into this performance. Not sure I like his voice though? He reminds me of a subpar Cher. Meghan compliments his aggression. Khaled wants to see how good he is. He wants a battle with Ali. Diddy’ not convinced, but decides to give him a shot. 3 Blue Rings Anthony will Challenge Ali Caldwell
Ali Caldwell – No More Drama by Mary J. Blige – Her hardworking mom is her biggest inspiration. Ha. She cries as mom gives her a pep talk. That’s the clip the show was using as a fake out in promos that teased a SHOCKING elim. Oooh. She’s breaking out “No More Drama.” Definitely swinging for the fences here. Ali pours her heart out. Every big note! All the runs! What a voice on that gal. She’s hard to beat.
Anthony Gargiula – I’m Not The Only One by Sam Smith – Anthony has an interesting tone. But he’s missing something, even as he works the stage. His phrasing and adlibs are ordinary. No magic. I feel kinda bad for him. He got attention as a cute kid, but then grew up. Hope he can eventually come to terms with all that.
Khaled says it feels like Ali has 11 albums. That’s a pretty random number. Still, she’s a pro and it shows. For Anthony, he pulls out the classic Simon Cowell diss: You belong on Broadway. Which shows that Khaled knows nothing about it. The Great White Way boasts some of the world’s best singers. Adding insult to injury, he suggests that Anthony would do great as a theme park performer. It’s literally the thing Anthony hopes exposure on The Four will take him away from. The audience boos as Khaled insists its a compliment. Good lord. Meghan is covering her face. Diddy doubles down on the “Broadwayish” and “Theatrical” descriptions, saying he’s not a great fit for pop. What’s more, he didn’t do enough to dethrone Ali. He should have just left it at that. Because that’s what’s really happening here. Ali outsang him. The End. When Anthony reveals that he actually does work at a theme park (as if they didn’t know), Diddy and Khaled–so impressed with their own brilliant assessments–dramatically walk off the stage. After the two return to their seats (drat!) Diddy adds that Mary would be proud of Ali’s rendition of her song. For her part, Meghan says she did not get the Broadway vibe so much. “I got aggressive young artist willing to do anything.” She adds, “The tough part is that you’re up against [Ali] a beast.” And that’s exactly it. No need for the uninformed and mildly homophobic Broadway bullsh*t. Oh oh oh. Michael’s speaking voice, giggles and all, reminds me of David Archuleta (His singing voice not so much.) The crowd chants for Ali. Poor kid. He knows he’s a goner – Ali Caldwell wins the Challenge. Anthony Gargiula is eliminated.
OK. So what the heck? The image below flashed up on the screen for a split second after the promo for next week’s Comeback episode. By the way, Season 1 winner Evvie McKinney and fan favorite Zhavia will be in the house for special performances.
But this: “Due to technical issues with the in-studio voting application, the winner of the final challenge was determined by the judging panel.”
I wonder what happened? Good thing the outcome wasn’t really debatable. Still seems a little unfair, though.
Tonight: Hip Hop artist Sharaya J, and R&B artist and The Voice alum Ali Caldwell defended their seats. Meanwhile, former X Factor UK contestant James Graham was knocked out by 17 year old singer Leah-Jeneah and newbie Noah Barlass lost his seat to R&B singer and music student Jeronelle McGhee.
Next week, FOUR former The Four contestants will return, determined by fan votes, and will face off against The Four.