We are heading into the final stretch of season 7 of The Voice, folks. Do not — I repeat, do not — call it at this point. Don’t think you know what the final results will be. Believe me, I speak from experience after getting burned with the results of this summer’s America’s Got Talent results when Matt Franco walked away with the whole kit and caboodle. Granted, he deserved the hell out of that win, but I was gunning just as hard or harder for his competitor, Emily West (whom I secretly wish would come over here to The Voice and give this bunch a run for their money). Between the two talent shows, I can’t say which I’ve enjoyed more. As my dad would say, the one that’s in front of you is the one you have to focus on. So today and this entire fall it’s definitely been The Voice.

'The Voice' Recap: The Top 8 Perform

Last week tried my patience. My top pick, Reagan James, got robbed when the Twitter fairies voted Ryan Sill as their Magical Mystery Save. I vowed — in jest, of course, because you know I can’t resist me weekly dose of The Voice — that I would abandon the show. Every once is a while a person should allow themselves a little tantrum to get out all the pent-up angst after watching something as intense as an elimination episode. I’m over it now and ready to get going tonight.

Refresh Your Browser Throughout the Show Tonight

We’re live blogging tonight, people. That means I’ll be posting my commentary as the show progresses. So, every 10 minutes or so, reload the page and follow along with me. Then feel free to comment below as we go along and I’ll respond as well as I can. We’re interested in your opinions. Do you agree or disagree with me and why? Who just nailed their performance? What the hell is Pharrell wearing on his head/shirt/feet? You know the drill. Let’s get it going and keep it going.

After tonight’s event is complete, I’ll be posting a slideshow of my rankings for all the evening’s performances. Tomorrow night, we’ll get back together here where your live blogging hostess with the mostest will be my colleague, the lovely Robin Lempel. I’ll be watching as well and praying my predictions were on target. For now, let’s get on with tonight’s show.

The Last Woman Standing

Last week, the results netted some standout single data points. First off, all the female artists have left the building except Team Pharrell’s DaNica Shirey. What does that mean? Well, nothing really, but it is interesting. Another interesting point: Team Blake has only one competitor remaining, though Craig Wayne Boyd is fan-frickin-tastic — and not just because he’s panty-tossing alluring in every manly way a man can be, but because his exquisite tone, his smooth delivery and his unending humility make you like the guy.

Now, as I said above, don’t let Mr. Boyde’s awesomeness lull you into a sense of security or irritate you if he’s not at all your favorite. As my father also used to say, it ain’t over till it’s over. There is no way to predict what will happen on December 16. No way.

Who Are the Top 8?

Other than those stand-outs, here’s how the teams shake out as the evening of entertainment begins: Adam Levine’s got the most artists, including Matt McAndrew, Chris Jamison and Damien. Pharrell Williams has Luke Wade and DaNica Shirey. Gwen Stefani has Taylor John Williams and Ryan Sill. And, as mentioned above, Blake Shelton has Craig Wayne Boyd.

Carson Daly’s Heartfelt Thanks for Making Him NBC Wealthy

In the first five seconds of tonight’s gig, Carson can’t help but thank the world for buying the 20 millionth iTunes download from The Voice. He says he NBC really appreciates it and so do the artists, though I can’t help wondering once again how much of that profit those artists will see. If anyone has any details on this, feel free to enlighten me below.

Daly shares a couple other tidbits about tonight. Gwen and Pharrell will be performing together later as well as someone called Nick Jonas. That’s gotta be one of those baby singers from a boy band, right? Maybe the headliner himself? That’s what it sounds like to me, and what I later find out is exactly the case. Booyah.

Bombs Away, Geronimo!

The final eight start off the night with a performance of Sheppard’s “Geronimo.” I have to admit that of all the group numbers performed this season, this is my absolute favorite. I’m not a fan of the group performances, so that may not be saying much, but this number is entertaining, shows off everyone’s voices decently, is upbeat and performed in time.

Visually, Ryan’s got a haircut and perhaps a darker color. Craig is wearing tighter shirts along with those nice pants, and I’m loving DaNica’s sexy yet modest cranberry dress which matches with Matt’s jacket and shirt. The whole group looks fantastic, energetic and enjoyable.

Ryan Sill Performs “Open Arms”

Carson Daly reminds us that voting is already open for tonight’s performances. It’s our job to vote for our top five favorites. Gwen brought in choreographer Jerry Slaughter to help Ryan figure out how to “non-perform”. By the time Ryan takes the floor, he couldn’t ask for a dreamier stage. Floating mist, autumn trees, shadowy billows. It’s a wonderful platform for this mellow song choice. His hair is definitely darker and it becomes him. Without a doubt, the man-child has a beautiful face. He projects the wholesomeness of a real Boy Scout from Mayberry.

Did the boy do it? Well, the beginnings of some of his phrases lag behind and at times he sounds a little pitchy. What’s missing from Ryan is the forcefulness that DaNica, Damien and Craig possess. The power is just not there. It is a lovely performance, though.

Craig Wayne Boyd Performs “Take It Easy”

His hair may be shorter and I think he’s shortened his beard as well. Craig says he was number five on the iTunes downloads this past week. What a high that must be. He’s performing a song he’s already performed a million times in bars and barns all over the place. At practice, Blake gives him hell for not delivering his heart and soul through the song. This does not bode well, and I am nervous when the man finally takes the stage.

Okay. Craig smiles several times through the first half of the song and it feels like this is the first time we’ve seen him actually smile with glee and it’s a delight to see. He has a twinkly smile that tickles the tummy and toes (mine, that is). However, though the song is fun and the crowd is totally digging it, the music overwhelms his voice during several of the lines, making me nervous that the magic of his beautiful tone won’t show through. By the final verse of the song, things slow down slightly and Craig focuses on the words as the music fades a bit and we get to hear what we all came to hear. Wow. This was not his best performance, but it did knock boots.

Craig appears to be taming some serious nerves that linger just below the surface when the coaches comment. He’s either scared to death of losing or scared to death of wanting so badly to win. I wish we could get one of those wonderful genuine smiles now, but I’ll give him a break.

Blake admits he’s been nervous as crap for this performance all week because Craig set the bar so incredibly high with last week’s performance. I’m a little disgusted that he’s the second rather than one of the final performances tonight, but it is what it is. If Chris gets the pimp spot again, I’m writing my congressperson to complain.

DaNica Shirey Performs “These Dreams”

Danica isn’t sure about the genre of this song. Pharrell says it features her range and scale. He says the performances at this level of the competition are Grammy-worthy. DaNica is nervous about the song but is able to channel her own experience of dreaming about her deceased father into her performance. That’s what happens during rehearsals; let’s see what happens when she takes the stage.

Look how tiny she is next to Carson when she stands to take her critiques from the coaches! The performance was lovely and powerful. She has that vocal strength that Ryan lacks. Will it get her into the Top 5? We’ll have to see what happens with the remaining performances. There is something missing for DaNica and I can’t really put my finger on it. It’s not emotion, because she certainly has that in spades.

Full disclosure: my father died on the exact same day as hers did so I was reduced to a blubbering mess by this song. I keep forgetting this about her, which is a sign that she’s not leaning on backstory to win her way onto out iPods. I appreciate that about her.

Each time DaNica performs, the final consonance of the words at the ends of her phrases whispers away from her. I can’t tell if she’s run out of breath or measure or if it’s intentional. Her range begs to go higher, but it must not be able to or she would have done that for us already.

I appreciate and respect DaNica for her beautiful, powerful voice and for the things we have in common. We’re both mothers. We’ve both given up our lives to nurture our families, then finally followed our dreams. We’ve both lost our fathers. We’re both women. However, all of these considerations have to be put aside and I have to ask myself if I would purchase an album of her songs. Many would, perhaps. I would not. I want her to be more unique.

Checking in with Usher

Carson announces a video greeting from last season’s team winner, Usher, and then reads a coupe of tweets to fill the time. Blake and Adam admit that they are writing a song together called “Beer and Family.” I wonder if any of us would buy that. Put your hand down, sisters and brothers; that was a rhetorical question.

Nick Jonas Leads the Top 8 with “Jealous”

He is one of those Jonas brothers! Hell, yeah! I recognize the song from when Chris Jamison covered it for the Top 12. Nick and the group do a really great job performing together. The show must be under a lucky start tonight because this is the second group performance that kicks ass. Again, lots of energy and several brief solos. Everyone looks like they are having fun. Yeah, I think I would download that performance for my iPod.

Damien performs “Someone Like You”

This is a beautiful man who emits richness. Damien’s voice has the height that DaNica has been able to reach. He enunciates so perfectly. His vibrato is exquisite. I had to stop writing. I’m speechless. That’s the performance of the evening. I do not know how that can be topped. He slides up and down his range with ease. He’s masterfully passionate without overdoing it tonight, though he has a time or two in the past. When he gets toward the end and his fingers are curling up by his face, you can feel the tension in his heart as he “paints the air” with it, as Pharrell says. I love that phrase. I’m gonna steal it. #ThanksPharrell

I’m not sure I even want to listen to the coaches’ comments. Neither should Damien. That performance was grand enough that it needs no commentary. It is its own reward. So far, Damien is my number one pick for the night.

Chris Jamison Performs “Sexual Healing”

This is an interesting choice for a young man who looks as young as this kid is. Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of Marvin Gaye who was way older when he recorded it. Watching Adam jam out during the performance is a complete joy. I think I’m finally seeing the sexiness of Adam Levine that all the women have been screaming about and it impresses me. It also sounds like this might be a transformative delivery for Chris.

It’s a great song. As Adam said, the girls love this kid. He does a decent job with the song, but is it enough? The girls keep screaming. I still don’t see it. Granted, Damien is a tough act to follow, but Chris just does not live inside his lyric in the way that Damien or DaNica did tonight. Mr. Adam “Having-Sex-With-His-Own-Wife-During-A-YouTube-Video” Levine says he feels like Chris is the Luke Skywalker to his Obi-Wan. I see that. Anyone can see that. He’s a proud papa. And this was, without a doubt, Chris’ best performance to date.

If you could choose between Chis Jamison and Ryan Sill, who would you pick? This is what I will be wrestling with tonight. So, onward, for now. Next up is Luke Wade.

Luke Wade Performs “Holding Back the Years”

Home is a hurricane of support, reports Luke. Pharrell chooses a song that is a departure from his other song choices. This is a wonderfully smooth song. This guy has a wonderfully unique voice. I enjoy his milk chocolate tonality. The beginning of the song starts out slowly and doesn’t really display his talent as well as I had hoped it would. With the exception of one or two higher notes, he stays in a narrow range and it doesn’t serve him well.

Adam delivers the very first not so stellar comment for the evening by telling Luke that he wants to see him stop thinking and lose himself in the melody like he has done before. Blake finally vocalizes what I was trying to say above: the lyrics are so sparse in this song that it isn’t the best for him; it’s not up to par with his earlier performances. This may be a breaking point for Luke. He’s still well above Ryan and Chris for me, but let’s see what happens with the remaining two.

Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams Perform “Spark the Fire”

This is an interesting song and performance. I think it’s about dreaming and texting. Or dreaming about texting. Or texting about dreaming. Or texting while dreaming. I don’t know. I prefer some of Gwen’s other music, and I’m wondering if Pharrell ever really sings or is he just a mellow rapper. I haven’t been interested enough yet to look the guy up on YouTube, but maybe it’s time I did. Will it be worth it?

Nick Jonas in the Hot Seat

To waste a little time, Carson drills Nick Jonas from his cell phone. Three questions. Nick can’t choose who he’d want to be of the coaches on The Voice. Would he be willing to be in a boy band with Blake and Adam? Definitely, he says. “That’s a strange looking boy band.” Finally, what advice would you give to these artists competing tonight? “Enjoy the ride.”

Taylor John Williams Performs “Royals”

Gwen says they went through so many songs to get to the right one. She brings in her choreographer once again and urges Taylor to get out there and be a little crazy, creep around a bit and be sassy in a guy way. I’m not so sure Taylor actually does this in his performance of “Royals.” I know Gwen is crazy about this guy and the coaches seem to be rather impressed by him. There’s a particular kind of female who will fangirl all over this Quaker-like performer, but you will not find me in that crowd.

That being said, this performance is my favorite of all of his performances. It showcases his vocal variety and he is standing out for the first time. What do y’all think? Make sure you vote in our poll below as soon as it’s up.

Matt McAndrew Performs “The Blower’s Daughter”

Adam and Matt have a great jam session where Adam takes the guitar and demonstrates how he wants Matt to express the sentiment of the words with his instrument. Once again, we are treated with some candid Adam and it’s delicious. Adam has nothing but love for this tattooed kid from Philadelphia with the big round glasses, the supple expressive lips and the mop of maple hair. For me, Matt began in this competition as kind of an underdog. It wasn’t until his second or third performance that I became a fan. Would I buy his singles or a full album from this guy? Yes, I would … if he doesn’t go too indie on me.

His performance of the Damien Rice song is haunting and naked and pregnant with soul. Accompanied by one other stringed instrument (a bass cello?) and some background singers but only during a falsetto section of the number, Matt uses the song to display all of his range as well as his mellow and gentle vibrato. This is a phenomenal performance which equals or slightly bests several of his others only because most of them are so good.

In response to his artist’s performance, Adam delivers the most eloquent quote of the season:

“Love is this crazy thing. It’s beautiful and blissful and happy and wonderful, but it’s also brutal and painful and excruciating at times … and when you can embody that and when you can exude that as an artist and you can show people that, that to me is the most valuable thing and I am so proud that you are doing that on this show because it is very genuine and very real and I absolutely adore you.”

Tomorrow night, there’s a performance by alumna Christina Grimmie, and RaeLynn will return to debut her Top 20-and-rising hit “God Made Girls.” See y’all then!

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV