'The Voice' Recap: Top 8 Perform
'The Voice' Recap: Top 8 Perform
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Happy Memorial Day! It might be a holiday, but The Voice is still live with the Top 8 performing. Without having to compete against Dancing with the Stars, hopefully this show will get a few more viewers in the final weeks. And if you're new, I hope you like the ladies, because there are seven strong female singers and only two men, The Swon Brothers.

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton still have their whole teams in tact while new coaches Shakira and Usher are down to one person each. Pretty much all of the weaker singers have been cut, leaving us with an impressive field of talent.

And don't forget that following tonight's live performance and tomorrow's results show, Blake Shelton's special benefit concert for the Oklahoma tornado victims will air Wednesday at 9pm.

This is The Voice live blog!

"Boys 'Round Here" by Blake Shelton

We kick off Memorial Day with the "rarely sober" Blake Shelton. Thanks for that intro, Carson Daly. However, I'm sick and tired of having non-contestant performances on the live performance shows. It distracts from the actual competition, and the fact that Blake is starting the show yet again is obnoxious. He's becoming bigger than The Voice itself, and if/when he has three of the final four contestants this season, it's going to be a very bad thing. We all know Danielle Bradbery is going to win, Team Blake will take the crown for the third season in a row and The Voice is quickly devolving into The Blake Shelton Variety Show.

Carson chats with the coaches and enjoys some playful Spanish banter with Shakira. Usher puts on a pair of gloriously over-sized glasses to join the online Chamuel Army.

Judith Hill: "#thatPower" by will.i.am featuring Justin Bieber

This is Judith's choice, which makes me dislike her because I loathe songs that feature hashtags. It's a heavily electronic song, but she has her own arrangement of it. As much as I can't stand the song title itself, I do appreciate Judith daring to do something original and different. And boy, is this different.

And I love it. I've been hard on Judith because everything she's done so far has seemed like a jazzy cabaret act, but this is current, funkadelic and cool. This is who she should be, not some overly technical jazz singer. She's also dressed ridiculously with a stupid giant mohawk. Maybe I just watched too much Arrested Development season 4 yesterday, but she kind of reminds me of an ostrich.

Holly Tucker: "Done" by The Band Perry

Once again, this is the contestant's choice. I like that the singers are starting to pick their own music, and that the coaches let them do it. This is the edgier, more rocking side of country, as opposed to the Christian hymn she sang last week. I'm amused that Blake Shelton's idea of a "versatile" artist is one who can do different kinds of country music. That's like saying I'm a renaissance man because I can do algebra, geometry AND trigonometry.

She sings it well, but to be honest, I don't believe Holly as a tough bad-ass chick at all. It comes across as very inauthentic to me and I have no idea why all the coaches seem to buy it. I'm far more interested in Carson Daly comparing Usher to Urkel because of the Chamuel glasses, with Usher firing back that Carson looks like Jimmy Neutron.

Judith Hill, Michelle Chamuel, Sasha Allen and Sarah Simmons: "Diamonds" by Rihanna

Aside from the individual performances we're getting two group numbers tonight. First up are the non-country singers (because you know it was decided Blake Shelton would take Amber Carrington and the others would just be lumped together). This is an interesting mix of massive talent. Judith shines as she can, Sasha does her best to avoid being Judith Lite, Michelle does a surprisingly great job keeping up with the divas and Sarah stands out like a sore thumb with her lyrical, ethereal sound.

The Swon Brothers: "Seven Bridges Road" by The Eagles

Sigh. The fact that Blake thinks singing a blue-grass song is outside the box and daring is everything wrong with his entire team. This is NOTHING compared to what others (like Judith tonight) are doing. Still, they're charming, Colton is cute and the fact that they're singing for their home state of Oklahoma gives them bonus sympathy points. They open and close with a cappella harmonies, which is interesting, but it's basically the same thing we've seen from them every time. Also, I'm partial to the version of this song the all-male a cappella group at my college sang. Feel free to look up Drew University's 36 Madison Avenue.

Adam Levine feels the need to apologize for pointing out some vocal issues. Adam should apologize for apologizing, because keeping it real and pointing out that their VOICES aren't perfect is nothing to be ashamed of on a show called The Voice.

Sasha Allen: "Without You" by David Guetta featuring Usher

Shakira thinks the song is about the two of them, because they need each other to win. But Sasha is singing about her man of 10 years. She's got an impressive set of pipes, and while the first verse is kind of a sound-alike, she really starts to let loose and soar in the second verse. She's really just a solid, strong performer. I hope that's enough to keep her around, though I'm a bit worried. When Blake says that he thinks Sasha "bought Shakria another week" on this show, it's one of those condescending backhanded compliments. Blake knows he's gonna win and he'll have at least two contestants in the finale, so he thinks it's quaint is Shakira's one singer sticks around one extra week.

Sarah Simmons: "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye

Meh, this song is so two years ago. I'd have a lot more respect for Adam Levine if he'd picked a DIFFERENT Gotye song ("Smoke and Mirrors" is super amazing and would've been more of a moment). Adam thinks it's been gone long enough to be kinda retro. I think he's trying to sabotage her to protect Amber. They do almost nothing to change it or make it stand out, aside from one or two growls, so it's mostly just Sarah going back to her whole ethereal thing, like last week's ass-kicking performance never happened. She's a strong singer, but there's nothing much to get excited about in this song. During the commentary Adam repeatedly says "ass, ass, butt, butt," like Sir Mix-a-Lot with Tourette's.

Danielle Bradbery, Holly Tucker, The Swon Brothers and Amber Carrington: "Something More" by Sugarland

Welcome home, Amber. It's like an adopted teenager meeting her biological parents. I bet Blake wishes he could swap Holly for Amber, because the lone Team Adam member kills it. Also, around all these older people. Danielle looks like a fetus.

Michelle Chamuel: "Grenade" by Bruno Mars

I love that Usher is the polar opposite of Blake Shelton as a coach, admiring Michelle because she's so original and different as opposed to something comfortable and familiar. The coach wisely strips away almost all of the music and let's her voice be the loudest instrument. The result is stunning.

Michelle is a brilliant singer and this version highlights that fact. The stage is full of mirrors and throughout the performance musicians wander onto the stage to join her. It's theatrical and beautiful, and every facet of this is so good. Her voice, her stage presence, her attitude, the set, the arrangement, the production value, the choreography, it all worked. This is her best yet (even better than "True Colors"). Is there anyone NOT rooting for this quirky chick?

Danielle Bradbery: "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ol' Days" by The Judds

It's one of Blake's favorite songs ever and yet another country song written before Danielle was even born. This is supposed to show how she can connect emotionally to the lyrics. I'm not sure how successful she is at it. She sings very well, but her baby face is so sweet and innocent that I don't really get any deep, serious emotions from her. Amber, Sarah, Holly, Sasha and Michelle are all so much better at emoting than Danielle is, that's just the truth.

Also, the set with the front of a house with the porch swing is quite elaborate. The production designers worked overtime this past week, because there are some crazy sets tonight, especially with Team Blake.

To be honest, I'm over the coaches talking about how important Danielle is as a country artist. And I don't like how Blake picks sentimental songs that people probably don't already have downloaded, thus making it more likely fans will do so on iTunes. Because that's EXACTLY what he's doing. He's clever like a fox.

Amber Carrington: "Skyfall" by Adele

Just like two weeks ago during the Top 12, Amber gets to perform last. Let the conspiracy theories begin! Amber is worried about being forced to do Adele (as well she should), but Adam doesn't want her to just do pop/country songs every week (that's a burn on Team Blake if ever I've heard one). Adam urges her to be operatic and cinematic. This is an Oscar-winning Bond song, after all.

Like Amber herself, I have to seriously question what Adam was smoking. They do absolutely nothing to the song, so it's just Amber singing really, really well, but not as good as Adele. If this gets a lot of iTunes downloads I'll apologize, but right now I'm left thinking Adam Levine is a pretty bad coach because his team's best performance tonight was the only song he didn't pick. Don't get me wrong, she sounds good and the song is amazing, but I prefer a little originality.

Adam ends the night by saying no one has ever sung an Adele song on The Voice as well as Amber just did. So I guess we're supposed to pretend Amanda Brown DIDN'T do an amazing version of "Someone Like You" last season during the Top 8?

That's it for the Top 8. Amber, Michelle and Danielle are gonna be safe, but I'll reserve judgment on the rest until I see the iTunes charts, which are very good at predicting who will go home. I can honestly envision any of the other five being eliminated.

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