The Voice season 18 Semi Finals air tonight. But due to coronavirus concerns, the artists and coaches, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas will do their thing from home, while Carson Daly hosts from The Voice Universal studios in Los Angeles. It’s Fan Week! The Top 9 perform songs suggested by YOU.
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The Voice 18: Semi-final Format Change Plus Kane Brown, James Taylor
Tonight, Kane Brown and Doja Cat perform. James Taylor and his son Henry sing “Moon River.”
The show opens with the coaches and the Top 9 singing “I Love Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone. In the middle of the song, fans and essential workers dance along.
Joanna Serenko – Lean on Me by Bill Withers – Team Blake Shelton – Joanna won the Instant Save last week. This week, she’s dedicating her song to her half-sister Jamie, who was in college when she was born! Big sis introduces her song. With only 9 performances, we have time to watch the coaches mentor their teams, although it’s a little awkward over the internet. Blake calls Joanna one of the “leading artists” on The Voice. She performs in a beautiful backyard setting without any wonky backgrounds. If there was less competition this season, Joanna would have a shot at the finale. She delivers a warm and soulful version of the 70’s classic. Her deep alto reminds me of sweet toffee. So nice. Nick and John both coached her, and are full of compliments. Blake calls Nick a bonehead for letting her go. “You’re voice literally floats like a butterfly,” he says.
Micah Iverson – I’ll Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie – Team Kelly Clarkson – Micah is dedicating the song to Kelly. Aw. “Kelly has been an amazing inspiration,” he says. “Make every line count,” she advises. Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional contacted him! His friends from Japan are supporting him from around the world. Joel from Singapore introduces him. Micah wears a black outfit against a black background. SO DEEP. This song gives me pause, because it seems to romanticize death and even suicide for a young audience. But anyway! Micah adds a few more bells and whistles than necessary. But I love his tone and phrasing. Nick loves his creativeness. He calls the performance awards-show worthy. “You are not just a great vocalist,” says Kelly, “You are an enormously great artist.”
Todd Tilghman – Love Me by Collin Raye – Team Blake Shelton – His church people are ready to vote for him. He’s rehearsing from the pulpit of his church. Blake calls him “the happiest person on the planet.” His kids sing “God’s Country” back to Blake. The Homan family introduce his song. I had to look it up: “Love Me” was released on the country charts in 1991. It’s an old fashioned song. Like something your grandma would love. But I guess that traditionalism is why his fans appreciate him. He’s a good singer, though. I said this before, but I get major Danny Gokey vibes from Todd. Kelly compliments his “full storyteller voice…” she says, “You’re amazing.” Todd is very emotional right now, a thing that Blake appreciates.
Oh. Remember how the winners of that Lay’s contest John Legend was pimping were going to be flown to Los Angeles for a live show? They’re hanging out remotely from their homes.
Now, taking a break from contestant performances, Kane Brown sings his latest single “Cool Again.” How does this song even qualify for country radio? There’s barely a country lick in it. Remember the Team Blake contestant, Cam Spinks, who turned up his nose at Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina’s “What Ifs?” Good times!
Zan Fiskum – Never be the Same by Camila Cabello – Team John Legend – John notes that so many artists in modern times get discovered digitally. At home, Zan is performing for her local hospital. John encourages her to use her fuller voice. “You gave it a rock energy,” he says. She got a shout out from the Indigo Girls and Maggie Rogers. She dedicates the song to her little brother who loves pop. Her big fan, Anna Katherine introduces the song. Even if Zan sees herself in the indie/folk lane, she’s got the chops to sing pop. Although her head voice is weak. Her range is not that rangy. She tries to do too much. This performance will not propel her into the finale, like John says, however. Nick notes it’s not an easy song to sing. John reveals that she works hard on the arrangements. “It’s just incredible,” he says.
Thunderstorm Artis – Home by Michael Buble – Team Nick Jonas – Thunderstorm dedicates his song to his new wife! He married her on Good Friday. Nick suggests some new phrasing here and there. He wonders how Thunderstorm isn’t on the radio already. A young fan, Kate, introduces his song. Thunderstorm is surrounded by twinkle lights and candles. It’s very romantic. He delivers a sweet, gentle and tender rendition of the song, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. His phrasing is gorgeous. He’s my pick to win the show at this point. Blake, who also covered the song, compliments his guitar playing. “You’ve shown up and made everything your own,” says Nick.
Megan Danielle – What Hurts the Most by Rascal Flatts – Team Kelly Clarkson – Kelly gushes about how much they have in common. “You remind me of a younger me.” She’s already crying! Megan dedicates her song to her sister. The song starts with a close up on her face, and pulls back. Who is working that camera? Maybe panning is created in post production. Megan has a cool raspy tone. But the song choice is boring. I know it fits the narrative of her difficult childhood. But. Zzzzzz. “I love you,” says Kelly, calling her tone “magical.” Kelly says she sounds “beautifully broken.”
Doja Cat is a huge social media star with a hit song. She performs the platinum selling “Say So.”
Allegra Miles – Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder – Team Nick Jonas – Allegra dedicates her song to grandma. She lives in assisted living, and Allegra can’t visit. Nick thinks it’s the perfect song for the moment. He remembers singing it with his dad. Her fan, Aseda introduces the song. The bird and brook noises remain. Literally, the arrangement isn’t changed up at all. Allegra has such an unusual tone. She stands out, no matter what she sings. OK she’s adding a few nice adlibs to mix things up. She shows off her range at the end. Still. I wish the arrangement wasn’t so similar to the original. That backing track verged on bandzilla. John notes that the key moves around a lot, he’s impressed with how she handled it. Nick loves that she “came out swinging.”
Now, Mega Mentor James Taylor returns with his son Henry to sing “Moon River” from his album of standards. Wow. I remember when Henry was born. He’s sure grown up. Fun fact: He’s a twin.
Toneisha Harris – Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion – Team Blake Shelton – Her son is a cancer survivor. She wants to thank all the medical people who helped when he fought leukemia. She and her husband just celebrated 24 years of marriage. Blake advises Toneisha to save the ad libs for later. He declares that she’s headed to the finale. Hm. Only if she wins the wildcard. Hope from Illinois introduces her song. What’s with this corny fake background? Is her home not suitable to fix up for a performance? Anyway, Toneisha is a talented soul singer. I don’t love this song pick, at all! These short finals mean most artists won’t step out of their box. I’d love to hear her sing something modern, or cross a genre. Kelly noted the power from Toneisha. She invites her to perform at her Vegas residency next year! “You are an incredibly gifted vocalist.” Blake calls her “so special.” He adds, “My God you deserve to be in the finale.”
CammWess – Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves – Team John Legend – John is so glad Cam is back on his team. His local bowling alley is celebrating him? He’s dedicating his song to a cousin who struggles with health issues. John suggested Cam change the key. “Put some stank on it,” he says. Brian, from York, makes the introduction. This is why Zan doesn’t stand a chance. Camm’s song choices are on point. A country song? No problem. He sorta came out of nowhere, Cam did. I don’t think he’ll win, but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t make the final. I MEAN HOLY COW THAT PHRASING. Incredible. That was the performance of the night. Kelly pulls out a tissue! John calls it “stunning, emotional,” adding, “Your voice is honey butter! VOTE FOR THIS MAN.”