“We’re gonna win The Voice with Blake Shelton’s song!” giddily declared Gwen Stefani — Blake Shelton’s offscreen girlfriend and onscreen Voice rival — as her star contestant, soul belter Rose Short, made the audacious move of covering Blake’s monster hit “God’s Country” on Monday’s top 10 show.
“My fear is she's going to make it seem like she's the person that should have been singing that song all along,” confessed Blake — and honestly, Rose did sing it better than him. Even he couldn’t deny that. As Voice host Carson Daly cheekily worded it, after watching Rose’s stunning, choir-backed rendition: “That made Blake Shelton's original sound like the demo.”
Gwen advised Rose to take the song “to that church place,” but Rose sort of took it to that Beychella place. She was serving some Beyoncé realness with her Southern swag, big hair, big voice, and even that big inverted-pyramid production. More like “Goddess’s Country,” amirite? Blake admitted, quite readily, that he’d been outshined, doing a little worshipful I’m-not-worth Wayne’s World bow to Rose and telling her, “That makes me rethink my entire arrangement. ... Was that the same song? That was incredible.”
It’s possible that Gwen’s prediction with come true and Rose will win Season 17. Her powerhouse gospel/soul crossover performance this Monday certainly felt like something she’d do on the finale in just two weeks’ time. But let’s not count out Team Legend’s Katie Kadan and Will Breman, who also owned Monday night. Below, let’s assess this week’s other nine performances.
Marybeth Byrd (Team Legend), “Lose You to Love Me”
This Selena Gomez breakup ballad was a good choice for Marybeth, who’s usually at her strongest when she’s being fragile and broken and soft. She had a storytelling quality that made me pay attention to the lyrics in a way I never had before, and the staging — the mirrored prisms, the crimson-clad string quartet — helped her sell the drama. But this performance ultimately did not build as much as I had hoped; it stalled and felt anti-climactic. John Legend, however, praised Marybeth’s subtlety, telling her, “You didn't oversing. You picked your spots. You got big when you needed to. It was such a great build in the story. I thought it was your most artistic performance you've given on the show so far.”
Kat Hammock (Team Blake), “Still the One”
Here, we saw more supercool, big-budget staging, as Kat performed in front of a giant, gnarled bonsai tree in a glass box. But the staging swallowed up Kat’s tiny voice and even tinier presence. This performance had such an emotionally flat affect and felt so dreary and draggy, not romantic at all. I seriously do not understand all the hype about this girl. Gwen called her “magical” and Blake compared her to a Christmas angel, but she’s not “The One” for me this season.
Shane Q (Team Kelly), “Caribbean Queen”
OK, I love this song when Billy Ocean does it, but this was pure airport-lounge karaoke, so cringey and corny. And Shane, one of the technically best vocalists of this season, sounded uncharacteristically winded, trailing off his lines like he’d simply given up. John praised Shane’s “Michael McDonald vibes,” but only a fool would believe that this was any good.
Jake Hoot (Team Kelly), “That Ain’t My Truck”
This was an unimaginative song choice with a straightforward arrangement, but Kelly Clarkson and Jake know where Jake’s cornbread is buttered. And let’s face it, as the only country singer, male or female, left in the top 10, he can easily coast to the finale with safe performances like this one. Even Blake, who has made it to the finale with many mainstream male country singers in the past, knows that. “Kelly is doing an incredible job with you. I got to be honest, man, it sounds great. You're with the coach you need to be with. You're killing it,” Blake told Jake.
Joana Martinez (Team Gwen), “Impossible”
This was quite an ambitious a song choice, since it was originally recorded by two former Voice coaches, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. Joana had the pipes to pull it off and nail all the notes, but she lacked those ladies’ passion, probably due to her youth (she just turned 16 last week). Her hairography-filled, air-punching performance felt actress-y and try-hard. But John told her, “It's so fun to watch you physically convey that emotion,” and Gwen raved about Joana’s confidence, calling her a “dream come true.”
Katie Kadan (Team Legend), “Rolling in the Deep”
I am really, really tired of Adele covers on all singing shows, and most of the time they are a mistake, because no one can sing like Adele. But no one can sing like Katie, either. Katie was good enough to make this song sound fresh and fiercer than ever, bringing such fire and ferocity and rawness and bunny-boiling rage to the stage. She reminded me of why “Rolling” made such an impact when it came out years ago. “I was like, this can't be real. This can't be really happening on this show right now. She can't be that good. This is like a set-up deal. No way somebody is this good hasn't already made it in the music industry. That's what I was thinking,” said Blake. That’s what I was thinking, too.
Hello Sunday (Team Kelly), “Stone Cold”
This anguished Demi Lovato ballad seemed like such a dark and heavy song for two sweet-faced 14-year-olds who should probably have their own Nickelodeon show — but whaddya know, they pulled it off. These girls brought a gravitas I didn’t know they had in them. (Apparently their rehearsal had been very emotional: “A lot of people don't know the depth of the conversation that was had that day,” noted their tearful coach, Kelly.) This was an out-of-nowhere rebound after a couple of shaky weeks, with an intensity and laser-focus that made me feel like Hello Sunday were growing up right before my eyes and ears. If they can keep this up, they could be the first duo to make the finals since Season 4’s Swon Brothers.
Ricky Duran (Team Blake), “Born Under a Bad Sign”
With this, Ricky fully stepped into the role of this season’s token blues-guitar rocker, and he owned it. On a fiery stage that looked like a reproduction of Post Malone and Ozzy Osbourne’s American Music Awards performance, he brought the fire. You know, Adam Levine would’ve loved this guy for his team, and if he’s still watching the show, Adam is probably experiencing major FOMO that his former nemesis, Blake, could win with Ricky instead. Blake certainly feels he has a chance to win with Ricky, telling viewers this week, “I want everybody at home to take the remote right now, rewind that performance, and try to find anything that's not magical about it, from the singing to the guitar-playing. America, if this guy doesn't belong in the finale, I will kiss your collective butts.”
Will Breman (Team Legend), “My Body”
Will used to perform in a metal/screamo band, and he brought some of that unhinged, manic energy to the stage tonight with this rowdy Young the Giant cover. It was wild and crazy and just exploding with rock ‘n’ roll joy. Everything about this performance, which John called “masterful,” was authentic and fun — like a real concert, not some canned reality-TV performance. I absolutely loved it. “You just let me know where you’re playing, I’m going to show up. It was like your show and everyone opened up for you,” raved Kelly.
So now, it is prediction time. Who’s going to be in the bottom two? Based on this week alone, I think Marybeth, Kat, and Shane could be in danger, and Shane will likely be the one to go home. But anything could happen, so we will all have to tune in Tuesday to find out.
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