As we get close to the end, the pressure rises on the remaining artists. Tonight the Top 8 will sing for a shot at going to next week's semifinals. Here is what you need to know about tonight's performance-packed showdown.
Blake and Adam are bringing in new advisors to help them with their remaining artists. For Blake, it's Gwen Sebastian, a Season 2 contestant on The Voice who joined the country star on his latest album. First up tonight, they will coach powerhouse diva Sisaundra Lewis as she tries to out-Tina Tina Turner with a rendition of "River Deep-Mountain High." Sisaundra is particularly excited because her 76-year-old mother will be attending her performance for the first time in her life. With Mom in the audience, Sisaundra belts out Tina's hit song to the rousing cheers of the audience. What is there for the coaches to even criticize? They'll spend more time critiquing Adam's new platinum-blond hairdo.
After Sisaundra, soul man Josh Kaufman is up. He's the last member of Team Usher. (Pretty glad you stole him then, huh Usher?) Josh is singing Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," a classic country song that received a soulful remake a couple of years ago from indie artist Bon Iver. Josh has a similar ability to sing falsetto so it's a perfect song for him. With his wife and daughter in the audience, Josh takes the stage, of course wearing his lucky hat! The mojo must still be working, because he totally kills it, earning himself a standing ovation from his coach and nonstop cheering from the audience. Blake is particularly complimentary, and maybe a bit nervous for all his performers' chances against this guy.
But Blake doesn't fret for long, because he is performing his new single "My Eyes." Gwen Sebastian, who also sang the song with him in the studio, joins him for the smoldering ballad. It's a moving and mournful song and the audience roars its approval. This season's artists are no doubt happy to see that a relationship with a coach does not necessarily end when the season does.
Next, tiny rocker Kat Perkins is taking on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," though she wisely eschews the robot helmets the duo is famous for. This is an electronic song that Kat, determined to go big and give herself a breakout moment, has turned into a hard rock arrangement. It's a staging and performance that calls to mind Metallica, or maybe her own former band, Scarlet Haze. She gets down in the crowd and jumps up and down with the audience, rocking it so hard she has Adam out of his seat yelling "Yes!" as the song ends. Shakira says it was a Kat Perkins she had not seen before. Good enough to keep Kat out of the bottom three this week, though? We shall see.
The last member of Team Shakira, country singer Kristen Merlin, is up next to sing "I Drive Your Truck," an emotional song about a soldier lost to war. Kristen takes this song very personally and knows she has to connect to the emotion of it to really make it work. She does just that, moving the entire audience and seemingly coming close to tears herself. A great singer and possibly the inspiration for Adam's new hairstyle. Shakira still has a shot at her dream of being the first female coach to win The Voice.
We get a break from the artists to let new Voice coach Pharrell Williams perform his song "Come Get It Bae" with a fleet of backup dancers. It's a good lesson for the artists: now THAT is how it's done.
Singing barista Delvin Choice of Team Adam is next, singing R. Kelly's hit "I Believe I Can Fly." During rehearsals with Adam and his advisor, Maroon 5 bandmate James Valentine, Delvin is so overcome thinking about how far he's come to make the final eight that he breaks down in tears. Adam recognizes a turning point and underscores it for him: this is a good well for him to tap into for his performance. As the first notes sound, the smoke machine is going, the background chorus is rolling, and Delvin is on his game. Blake is so blown away he can do little more than make a Susan Powter joke at Adam's expense. Delvin leaves the stage having done what he set out to do.
The next singer is Audra McLaughlin, the young woman with an old soul's love of classic country songs. She is singing Rebecca Lynn Howard's song "Forgive," which she'll get to just as soon as she and Gwen Sebastian finish annoying Blake in rehearsal by talking about shoes. The lights rise on her performance as she stands next to a giant white piano covered with lit candles and proceeds to hit all the big notes. Shakira calls it an "awesome" performance.
We get another break from the artists to let new Voice coach Gwen Stefani join Pharrell Williams for a rendition of "Hollaback Girl," Gwen's first solo hit that she and Pharrell co-wrote in 2004. Gwen looks like she's still got the same energy she had when No Doubt first broke through; it's a rollicking good time. Afterwards, the two have a short Q&A with host Carson Daly and proclaim their excitement for getting to be coaches on the next season of The Voice.
We're down to the final two artists of the night. First we'll hear Team Blake's Jake Worthington, the teenaged self-described "redneck" taking on a real hillbilly country song in Brooks & Dunn's "Hillbilly Deluxe." Jake is sick during rehearsals and really struggling. Tonight is show night, though, and he puts that all aside as he struts across the stage, owning the song. He even gets Shakira air-drumming, which she assures him is a good sign. He seems a little more subdued than normal after his performance, still suffering the effects of his illness, but inside he knows he gave the fans a rocking good show.
The show closes with Christina Grimmie of Team Adam. Christina's still coping with her emotions after last week's show. She's happy to have moved on but upset because her two closest friends on The Voice, Tess Boyer and Bria Kelly, were both eliminated. Tess tells her to use that emotion in all her performances going forward. First, though, she and her coach have to agree on a song. He wants her to sing Lil Wayne's "How to Love." Christina is reluctant, thinking she has already given a pop arrangement to a rap song with last week's cover of Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home." Adam talks her into it, and it's a good thing he does. Her performance tonight proves that this sort of song is in her wheelhouse. She blows the doors off the soundstage and has the crowd on its feet. When you really commit to your craft, good things will happen.
With that, another night of fine performances is in the books and fans are voting for their favorites. Tomorrow we find out who stays and who goes home. It's going to be a tough call, but it always is at this stage of The Voice.
The Top 8 artists perform live for America's votes, along with guest performances from Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams.