A rather nebulous theme this week saw the remaining artists pick songs that meant something to them on their personal singing journeys.
The top 10 artists of season 14 sang in live performances on NBC’s The Voice on Monday night, working with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys to challenge themselves. “Challenge” was the week’s nebulous theme, and artists had to choose songs or genres that embodied something that has challenged them on their singing journeys. Clarkson also performed her new single, “I Don’t Think About You.”
First up was Team Blake’s Kyla Jade, singing “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman, which has ended up being a popular movie for singing competition shows this year. According to Jade, the song represented the story of her life, and she shared a story with Shelton about how some fans have criticized her looks. Jade channeled her emotions into a powerful, radiant performance that reiterated her strength and talent. She started the night out by setting a very high bar. Keys called it “riveting,” and Shelton said “everybody in the room felt your message.”
Team Kelly’s Kaleb Lee had the tough task of following Jade. He sang “Boondocks” by Little Big Town, declaring that he wanted to do more crowd work, which has been one of his problem areas. He ditched his guitar but still stayed true to himself by adding a swampy edge to the song. Lee’s stage presence was much improved, and Clarkson praised his performance abilities.
Singing “Love Triangle” by season two’s RaeLynn, Team Adam’s Jackie Verna challenged herself to sing a song that doesn’t necessarily tell her own story. She had to emotionally connect to a tune she couldn’t directly relate to, and she succeeded in her performance. It wasn’t the most vocally impressive performance, but she sang it well and sold the lyrics. Levine thought it was a perfect song choice for her.
After Clarkson’s performance of her single, Team Adam’s Rayshun LaMarr was up, singing “Grant Green” by Mr. Jukes. Levine made the song choice for LaMarr, and it played to his strengths more than challenging him. Regardless, it resulted in a highly entertaining performance, his joy coming through in his vocals. Clarkson said she had fun watching LaMarr, and Levine was pleased.
Up next, Team Blake’s Spensha Baker sang her first country-pop song, “Red” by Taylor Swift. She rose to the challenge, making the tune her own and bringing an edge to it that the original doesn’t have. Her lyrical interpretation was solid, and she seemed like a seasoned artist, standing out on multiple fronts. Shelton was blown away by Baker’s star potential.
Team Alicia’s Jackie Foster followed with a performance of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, challenging her to show a softer side of her artistry. She gave a vulnerable and tender performance, hitting all the goals that Keys set for her. It was a raw performance, and Keys said she was riveted by it.
Britton Buchanan, also from Team Alicia, sang Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” As a coach, Keys nailed it when it came to choosing challenging songs that would show a different side of her artists without changing their lanes too much. Buchanan admitted that he hasn’t really been taking risks in the competition, so this time he took a hit song and made it his own with a compelling, original arrangement. He slowed it down, which allowed him to deliver a strong vocal. It was his personal best performance to date, and Keys said Buchanan nailed it.
Team Alicia’s Christiana Danielle followed, challenging herself with “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Danielle was in the bottom two last week and emerged victorious from the instant save sing-off, so she faced her fears about that situation. She did an understated but solid cover of the classic, showcasing her artistry without doing anything too over-the-top. Keys praised her creative instincts.
Team Blake’s Pryor Baird next sang “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry, which is usually sung as a duet. But Baird took it on solo and delivered a solid cover, belting out his vocal and showcasing his usual strengths, particularly when it came to putting on a fun show. Shelton said he’s gaining momentum in the competition.
Closing out the night, Team Kelly’s Brynn Cartelli sang “Fix You” by Coldplay, dedicating the song to her family. She put a lot of power behind her vocal, but also a touch of vulnerability that allowed her to connect with the emotions of the tune. She didn’t change the melody much, but the arrangement played with some of the dynamics, yielding a layered performance that really centered her voice. Cartelli got to rock out a bit toward the end, which suited her.
Two contestants will be eliminated on Tuesday night. What did you think of Monday night’s performances?