It's the final night of the Playoffs on The Voice
and Team Usher is ready to fight for their spots in the live shows. Usher has a strong team in his final five, and with fan favorites Stevie Jo, Bria Kelly and Josh Kaufman, it will be a fair fight.
T.J. Wilkins ("Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus and Chaka Khan)
During rehearsals, Usher advises that T.J.'s voice sounds like the horn section on the song and wants him to play that up as much as possible. He also wants T.J. to focus on delivering his "soulful essence."
T.J. mentioned that this song is penned by Stevie Wonder, a musical fact I didn't know, and he channels Stevie's voice so clearly. He sounds great and Usher seems happy with his "soulful essence" as evidenced by the multiple thumbs-up he throws him throughout the performance.
Shakira tells him that she loves him and he is the "ace in Usher's sleeve." Adam loved the song choice and considers him a breath of fresh air because he wants to entertain people. I mean, I guess -- don't they all want to entertain people? Blake admits he doesn't know what horn he was trying to channel, but he did great.
Usher tells him he is the epitome of R&B and soul, and though he hems and haws about having such a difficult decision ahead of him, I have a feeling he will choose T.J.
Melissa Jimenez ("Halo" by Beyonce)
Melissa shares that Usher once pulled her onstage during one of his concerts at Madison Square Garden and since then she has wanted to see him again. Geez, she and Usher have had a connection from the beginning, so I guess that explains it?
Melissa chooses "Halo" because it is an emotional song and she wants to strip it down to showcase her vocals. During rehearsals, Usher tells her to round her vowels and reminds her that two people are going home. Okay, not the most helpful coaching notes.
This is such a stripped-down song that it will be easy to hear issues. Melissa has a few pitch issues, but her emotion is well-matched to the song. Her high falsetto notes are beautiful, but she falters a bit on one of the big high notes.
Shakira and Adam commend her for taking on a Beyonce song. Even though Adam points out moments of trouble, Blake shares that he can't beat her up about it because it sounded great to him despite the one off note.
Usher talks about her effort and her hard work, asking her to stay committed to the music whenever she steps on the stage. Basically, the "Yeah, I'm sending you home."
Stevie Jo ("The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King")
Stevie Jo says he chose this song because it exactly illustrates the type of artist he wants to be. He's sung a few genres since the start of the show, so that's interesting to know.
During rehearsals, Usher tells him he needs to work on his dynamics and what grooves in R&B. Usher wants him to prove his abilities as a soul artist.
I have been a fan of his throughout the show, but this is not my favorite performance of his. He throws himself into the song, and it's not that he sounds all that bad, but he doesn't seem to be connecting as much with the song as he has in the past. I guess he needs to work on his soulful essence, too.
Blake tells him that he knows he is the real deal and is a fan of his. Adam commends his song choice and throws technical analysis out the window, instead telling him he was great at emoting. We must have been watching different performances.
Shakira and I agree when she says he stretched out too many notes and she wants to see something different from him if he progresses.
Usher thinks Stevie did the song justice and commends him for a job well done. He will either choose Stevie Jo or T.J., I think.
Bria Kelly ("Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones)
Blake says that Bria is the reason that Usher's team is a threat and Shakira hopes she stops second-guessing herself during her performances.
Bria plans to play the guitar her father bought her on this song because it is like taking a piece of her family onstage. During rehearsals, Usher tells her to stay committed to the emotion of the song.
Now this is the Bria I remember from the Blinds. She is emotionally connected and her voice sounds unbelievable on the song. She completely makes this classic song her own and freshens it up without changing the rock vibe of it.
Adam agrees with me when he tells her that she is back after faltering a bit in the Battle Rounds. Shakira finds her unique and sultry. While Blake enjoys her raspy voice, he also enjoys the softer side of her voice and believes that she makes her competitors better because of how good she is.
Usher applauds her for making the song her own and it seems like he will definitely take her to the live shows.
Josh Kaufman ("It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars)
Usher stole Josh during the Battles, much to Adam's lament. Josh shares that he is singing this song for his supportive wife. Usher encourages him to channel his church gospel roots in his performance to really take it to the next level.
The performance gets better and better as it goes on. Josh has tremendous talent, leaping from big notes to a smooth falsetto and is just plain entertaining with his short pants and sweet face.
Adam removes the dagger from his heart to tell him that he is incredible and wants him to make it to the top. Blake shares that Josh is his wife Miranda Lambert's favorite performer on the show. Shakira admits that she is one of his biggest fans and tells him he is one of the best singers in the competition.
Usher thanks Adam for co-coaching Josh and tells him that his incredible performance makes his choice that much more difficult. I can only imagine he will choose him.
My predictions are that Usher will choose T.J., Bria and Josh.
Usher ends up choosing Bria, Josh, and T.J. Wilkins for the live shows and I am three for three, though I am sad to see Stevie Jo go!
The live rounds of The Voice
begin Monday at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)