'The Voice' Recap: Top 5 Perform in the Semifinals
'The Voice' Recap: Top 5 Perform in the Semifinals
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The Voice has reached the semifinals of season 4. At this point last season there were only two coaches left standing: Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green. But this time, all four coaches are still in the game as the newbies hope to prove themselves and Blake goes for the three-peat.

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After last week's country-heavy performance show, I'm hoping the contestants and coaches will pull back a little bit and offer something different. And based on the spoilers, that's what we're getting as Danielle Bradbery is the only one doing real country. The Swon Brothers are taking on classic rock and the rest are doing a nice hodgepodge of Katy Perry, Donna Summer, recent Tony Award winner Cyndi Lauper and more.

There are plenty of exciting storylines for the semifinals. Will The Swon Brothers finally go or will their undeniable charm keep them around? Can Sasha Allen or Amber Carrington do anything to make it competitive, or are we destined for a Danielle Bradbery vs. Michelle Chamuel photo finish? And are you ready for Usher to perform?

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Taking a page out of American Idol's playbook, the contestants all return to their hometowns. Also, we're going back to TWO contestants going home tomorrow, leaving us with a three-person finale. Tonight each contestant will sing twice: once a choice by their coaches and once as a special dedication.

"Twisted" by Usher

We open the show with a performance by one of the coaches, doing his best James Brown impression. In fact, the song is VERY James Brown-inspired. And, of course, it features a very long dance sequence. Usher seems to be sweating a lot.



The Swon Brothers: "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger (Dedication)

The song is dedicated to all their past and present bandmates from Oklahoma. Maybe it's just because it's not a country song, but I actually like it more than I usually do. It's a little darker and more melancholy, but rocks pretty hard. As always, Zach Swon is the star while Colton barely does anything. I can't decide if he's more like Boo Boo (Yogi Bear's sidekick) or Scrappy Doo.

Adam Levine makes up some dumb "Swon" hand gesture for their fans to do, but I think he's mistaking swans for doves. Blake Shelton makes up some total nonsense about how The Swon Brothers have grown more than anyone else in the competition. That's just a lie. Compare them now to their audition and you will see very little difference.



In the Sprint Skybox, Danielle Bradbery and Amber Carrington get special video messages from Tim McGraw and Katy Perry, whose songs they're singing tonight. Cute.

Sasha Allen: "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston (Dedication)

The song is dedicated to her children. Aww. I know the song is by Dolly Parton, but she's doing the Whitney version. As sweet as the dedication is, I do not approve of this song choice. It's just not one of those songs you should touch. Ever. She does a serviceable job with it, but this is definitely setting the stage for Sasha to go home tomorrow night. Why would you download this version when you already have Whitney's?



Michelle Chamuel: "Clarity" by Zedd (Coach's Choice)

Michelle goes home to Amherst, Massachusetts where she's adorably dorky. Her Ella Riot bandmate from Michigan is there too, and she geeks out. She even gets to sing at Fenway Park. The entire homecoming is like a visit to Quirky Girl-ville, USA. However, I don't like how they're mixing up the dedications and home visit packages. I prefer the Idol format of doing one theme first, then the other.

If you like Michelle, this is right up your alley. There's a kaleidoscope projected behind her and lasers pointing everywhere. It has Usher's fingerprints all over it and it's fun, but I'm not blown away by her like I have been in the past. Like last week, the audience reaction is insane. She's definitely the fan favorite. Blake praises her squatting.



Danielle Bradbery: "Please Remember Me" by Tim McGraw (Coach's Choice)

Danielle goes home to Houston, Texas. It's basically like a Justin Bieber concert or a Taylor Swift music video with a whole lot of cheery teens. She even sings Swift's "Mean" at her high school. She's also singing the National Anthem for the Astros. Is everyone getting to sing at a baseball game? And why does she get the National Anthem while Michelle only got "God Bless America"?

There's a bit of a disconnect when she takes the stage with a serious, emotional song. I'd much rather be hearing some more Taylor Swift from this girl. I just don't see ANY connection between her face and the emotion of the lyrics. Yeah, she has a great voice, and she gets bonus points because I think she's wearing Izzie's prom dress from Grey's Anatomy, but light, fun, teen-friendly pop country is what she should be doing. Adam Levine praises her "technical" singing ability, which makes me think he agrees with me about her lack of connection but he's afraid to say ti for fear of being labeled an anti-American liberal.



Amber Carrington: "Firework" by Katy Perry (Dedication)

The song is dedicated to her best friends who love driving around screaming Katy Perry songs. Huh, I think maybe this should've stayed in the car. I don't like her lower register and the rest is just kind of shouting and all over the place. I find this quite unpleasant, actually. It sounds like she's trying to make the song slower than it is and it just feels wrong. I always think it's a mistake when someone picks a song because they like it, not because it's the right song for them. Shakira clearly hated it and completely avoids any and all criticism. I'm getting worried that Sasha and Amber are going home and The Swon Brothers will defy all logic and reason by making the finale (when they should've lost in the Battle Rounds to Christian Porter).



The Swon Brothers: "Danny's Song" by Loggins and Messina (Coach's Choice)

They go home to Oklahoma (again). They return to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame where they used to work and they get put on the wall. It feels like an ad for the Oklahoma Board of Tourism. Yawn.

The performance is fine, if not electric. I get why they're popular, and I imagine this will sell quite well on iTunes, but it's hard for me to get too excited by them. Colton does get one solo line in this performance, although it's only for about four words. Hey, you have to start somewhere.



Sasha Allen: "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer (Coach's Choice)

She goes home to New York City. She picks her daughter up from school. OK, if Sasha makes the finale, it's due ENTIRELY to this hometown visit, because how can anyone not root for a mom? She goes back to the Village Underground, where she started her career.

I can only assume Shakira doesn't want to be in the finale, because why else would she pick a cheesy disco song? You can't win with disco. Ever. And they don't even try to lessen the disco-ness of it all. Remember that speech Shakira gave two weeks ago where she vowed to take full responsibility if Sasha went home? Well, this week that's really going to be true.



Danielle Bradbery: "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews (Dedication)

The song is dedicated to her best friend and her mom. It's obvious this is probably going to be the best-selling song on iTunes. The video wall of baby photos of Danielle combined with her going into the audience to hug her mom when it's done is the icing on the manipulative cake. Yes, she sings nicely, but it's impossible for me to ignore the dopey grin she has permanently stuck on her face no matter what she's singing. Blake then sells her to America as the bestest, most sweetest, most amazingest, most nicest human being that has ever lived. I hope America is as tired of having this girl shoved down their throats as I am.



Amber Carrington: "Sad" by Maroon 5 (Coach's Choice)

She goes home to Dallas, Texas. Thank God Holly went home or we'd have THREE Texas homecomings. Amber's little sister is the cutest thing ever and, unlike Vedo, they only briefy reference her late mother. Does Amber remind anyone else of Julie Taylor from Friday Night Lights? It's not just the way she looks, but the way she acts.

Adam picking his own song for his contestant to sing seems self-serving. Or at least it would if the song wasn't absolutely PERFECT for Amber. It's slow, emotional, powerful and lets her prove why she's a million times better than Danielle in every way, shape and form. She connects to it and her voice soars. This is definitely the kind of redemption she needed after that Katy Perry nonsense and it might be enough to save her.



Michelle Chamuel: "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper )Dedication)

The song is dedicated to Usher, who is like family to her. In a weird way this is my favorite dedication of the night, because it's not a knee-jerk "I love you, mom" kind of thing. She clearly put thought into it and eloquently states why she loves her coach so much. The first time Michelle proved herself as a legitimate contender and not just a novelty act was when she did Lauper's "True Colors" in the Live Playoffs, so this is the smartest choice of the night.

It's everything I could want. It starts off slow and sweet, as the song is, and just when you think "OK, this is just another emotional Michelle performance," the clock busts and it turns into a full-on Usher-style performance spectacle that she takes to the next level. I know I've been saying Danielle is the frontrunner, but Michelle now has all of the momentum and I think it's hers to lose at this point. Of course the praise is a little over-the-top (Shakira calls her an "incremental crescendo" while Usher claims Michelle is "medicine for the whole world"), but at least she's good enough to kind of warrant it.



That does it for the semifinals of The Voice season 4. What do you think? Can Michelle be stopped? Who will join Sasha in getting eliminated tomorrow? Is it insane for me to hope or pray that maybe Danielle goes home in the biggest shocker of the season?
 

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