Live Semifinal Performances
It's the semifinals of The Voice - time for the five remaining artists to make that final push for the big prize. The audience is set; the coaches are in their chairs, and it's time for some music.
The show opens with Usher singing his new single "Good Kisser" and showing off some dance moves. Hot! And we don't just mean the temperature on the Voice stage, which has the singer sweating as he works his way through his routine with some smoking backup dancers. Luckily, the artists aren't competing against this guy.
The artists are all dedicating songs tonight to their hometowns as thanks for all the support the folks back home have given them. First up is Kristen Merlin, the last artist left for Team Shakira, rocking out with the country song "Gunpowder & Lead" by Miranda Lambert. It's a sterling performance. Blake is actually a little freaked out by noting that Kristen actually smiles while singing about shooting someone. It's a different choice than Blake's wife Miranda makes when she performs the song.
After Carson Daly goes over the rules for voting, Josh Kaufman of Team Usher steps up to sing John Legend's "All of Me." Legend wrote this song for his wife, model Chrissy Teigen. Josh dedicates the song to the city of Indianapolis, his home for many years, where he met his wife and is raising his family. Adam, for once, refrains from mentioning that he wishes he hadn't had to lose Josh from his team. Josh has so much range and power, we don't even notice if he's wearing his lucky hat.
In a brief interlude, Adam takes his revenge on Blake over the country star's tweeting his phone number to the entire world a few weeks ago. Seems Adam has gotten Blake's pickup truck and parked it behind the Voice soundstage. Then he has a couple of front-end loaders dump manure all over the truck. Blake is going to need a LOT of air fresheners for the immediate future.
Then Adam's artist Kat Perkins performs "Chandelier," a new pop song by Sia. It's a high-glamour, stylish production, one that has the smoke machines working overtime. It's also a risky choice for Kat, who has remained in the competition by pounding out rock songs from the likes of Heart. Adam, having seen Kat almost voted off the show the last two weeks, makes an impassioned plea for the country to send her on to the final round.
Team Blake's last artist, country-singing teenager Jake Worthington, next performs Waylon Jennings' classic "Good Ol' Boys." Anyone feeling nostalgic for "The Dukes of Hazzard"? It's a slower arrangement of the song, which Jake has dedicated to his best friends back home in his tiny town in Texas. He's a country boy through and through, and it has served him well through the competition.
Last but not least (despite being the tiniest person in the competition) comes Christina Grimmie, the other remaining artist on Team Adam. As with Kat Perkins, Adam has Christina taking a risk by singing Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek." The original version of the song has an eclectic, electronic vibe, but Christina puts a different, more traditional pop twist on it. Afterwards, Adam makes yet another impassioned plea. He explains that both of his singers are taking risks, even if it is making listeners and fans uncomfortable by doing the unexpected with their song choices.
Every artist gets two songs tonight, so we're back to Josh Kaufman. He covers OneRepublic's "Love Runs Out," a pop-rock song also out of the comfort zone of a guy who usually sings more blues and soul. Not that it matters for Josh, who seems capable of anything. Afterwards, the crowd cheers so long and so loud that the coaches barely have time to give any feedback. Josh is looking more like the favorite, at least if the only voters were in this live audience.
Kat Perkins strays outside her comfort zone for her second song, taking on Idina Menzel's huge hit "Let It Go" from the movie "Frozen." The singing nanny dedicates the song to her charges, three young kids in Minneapolis who are in the audience tonight. Kat singing a pop song? There's no question; it is perfectly lovely. Shakira in particular seems impressed by this side of herself that Kat is showing. Careful, Shakira, you don't want to talk up another coach's singer too much.
Kristen Merlin comes back with a big hit from the 1990s, Jewel's "Foolish Games." She's shown some nerves this past week during rehearsals as she comes to realize the pressure of where she is in the competition, but she pours all she has into her performance. Blake notes that it is the most emotionally connected he has ever seen her.
We're down to the final two. Christina Grimmie goes first, singing the hit "Some Nights" by fun. It's easily the most - ahem - fun performance of the night, with drummers pounding bongos in a semicircle behind Christina on the stage and hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling at the end.
We close out the night with Jake Worthington's second performance. The country artist takes a dip in a more pop arena, singing the '80s hit "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. But Jake gives it a stripped-down arrangement, joined only by an acoustic guitar and a violin. It might be his best performance of the season, more emotional than anything he has done before.
The show's run long, and as the credits begin rolling Carson quickly announces that the voting is now open. We'll be back tomorrow night for some guest performances and to find out the three finalists who will get a shot at being named The Voice.