At the start of pretty much every episode of The Voice, Carson Daly tells us what a big night we have in store. But Monday, it wasn’t exaggeration, it might even have been an understatement. Not only did the Top 8 members of Teams Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan perform, but thanks to real-time voting, the results were announced at the tail end of the show. Did your favorites survive to make it to the Finals? Did they deserve to after their efforts on Monday? Read on, and we’ll discuss.
Ryley Tate Wilson (Team Niall), “Vienna” — Grade: B | On his Billy Joel cover, the 15-year-old not only tinkled the ivories but delivered a vocal that, at least at first, was so strong and nuanced, I would’ve sworn that it had been taped weeks ago, back when the show could still sweeten the odd off note in post-production. As Ryley’s performance went on, there were glitches here and there, but minor ones. The bigger letdown was that he looked scared s—tless — understandably, but still — and his number ultimately hit as hard as a bag of feathers.
Ray Uriel (Team Chance), “Can You Stand the Rain?” — Grade: C | Given that The Voice audience tends to skew older, it seemed smart of Ray to cover New Edition’s 1988 ballad. But I still wasn’t convinced that this performance was going to save him. Ray has a knack for singing like he’s whispering sweet nothings in our ear — a big plus. On top of that, he’s handsome, bright and personable — pluses one and all. He just doesn’t have the stage presence to even outshine the fancypants lighting that the show gave him, and that’s a major minus. Worse, he went a bit off the rails vocally, especially in the last third of the song, when he served up the sonic equivalent of walking into one wall after another.
Holly Brand (Team Kelly), “Rumor Has It” — Grade: A | Covering incoming coach Reba McEntire’s hit, Holly made a beyond-compelling case for why, if she was on Blake’s team or this wasn’t his last season in a swivel chair, she could’ve won. Her voice was nothing short of flawless; her range, stunning to the nth. I’ll admit, when I look at Holly, I think “plastic.” But when she sings, all I hear is flesh and blood, heart and soul. Her vocals were, as they generally have been, genuinely moving. “You’re such a competitor,” Kelly told her, “it brings your A game to another level.”
NOIVAS (Team Blake), “Skyfall” — Grade: B+ | Argh! What I wouldn’t have given to hear NOIVAS tackle a Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey Bond theme! Plus, another ballad Monday? (Yes, yes, it meant a lot to NOIVAS; I just really wanted a fresh showstopper from him.) On stage, there were glimmers of the magnificence we’ve come to expect from the frontrunner. But this was by no means his best performance. It was messy not in an altogether exciting way, just in a messy one. Nevertheless, he delivered more than enough firepower — and monumental long notes — to coast straight on into the Top 5.
Gina Miles (Team Niall), “All I Want” — Grade: A | It was gonna be tough for the 19-year-old to top her rendition of “Wicked Game.” But her Kodaline cover may actually have done it. She sang so hauntingly, I’d have believed that she gargled with ghosts before going on stage. For most of the number, I felt like she was taking my soul by the hand and leading it up to a precipice. She even managed to keep my attention on her while wearing a floral dress on a set decorated with what looked like bouquets from a dozen florists. “Another unbelievable performance,” her coach called it. Only at this point, didn’t we technically not just believe it, anticipate it?
Sorelle (Team Chance), “Fallin’” — Grade: A | Props to the sisters’ coach for suggesting that they start their Alicia Keys cover a-cappella; hella showoffy and a stunt not every act could pull off, much less as beautifully as they did. Top to bottom, the trio was straight-up fire. (Did anyone else think that Alicia Keys was joining them when the first of the background dancers appeared behind them on stage?) Had Girl Named Tom not won so recently — and again, if this wasn’t Blake’s swan song — I could actually have seen this act taking the title. If they were dart players, they’d just be hitting bullseye after bullseye.
D.Smooth (Team Kelly), “Thinking Out Loud” — Grade: A- | There is just something about this guy. One second, you’ll think he’s singing so casually that he’s making it up as he goes along, and the next, you realize, nope, he knew what he was doing every step of the way; he just managed to make it sound fantastically organic. Ed Sheeran’s hit may not be the most electric showcase for D.Smooth, but there was so much cool to his performance, and so much warmth to his voice, yeah, I gotta say it: He outdid NOIVAS Monday. NOIVAS was bigger and louder, but D.Smooth was slicker.
Grace West (Team Blake), “’Til I Can Make It On My Own” — Grade: A | Blake mentioned in rehearsal that Grace herself chose her Tammy Wynette cover. Well done, Grace. She didn’t sound good on it or even great, she sounded… divine. I feel like I’ve gone on a lot about how pitch-perfect Holly is, but really, Grace is no less stunning. (She doesn’t have a whistle note, but since when is that a requirement of our admiration?) Also working in Grace’s favor is the fact that she really seems to connect with her songs. Could she actually pull off an upset and win the season instead of NOIVAS for Team Blake? (Oh, and while we’re here, I apologize for all of the A’s. What can I say, though? Most of the Top 8 were just… really, really good!)
And when the results of viewers’ votes were revealed…
SAVED | Grace West (Team Blake), D.Smooth (Team Kelly), Gina Miles (Team Niall), Sorelle (Team Chance) and NOIVAS (Team Blake)
ELIMINATED | Ryley Tate Wilson (Team Niall), Ray Uriel (Team Chance) and
Holly Brand (Team Kelly)
So, what do you think of the Top 5? Anyone you’re especially sorry to see not make the cut? (Kala Banham for me, especially hearing her again during Chance’s number.)
This story originally appeared on TVLine