Reality TV

The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Top 8 Performances (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “Live Top 8 Performances”! Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera take their teams into battle as America decides who advances! Former coaches Cee Lo Green, Gwen Stefani and Usher return as guest mentors for this week’s show!

But what will the finalists sing? Check out the song spoilers with iTunes links below:

Team Adam Levine
Joshua Davis, “Fields of Gold” by Sting (iTunes)

Team Pharrell Williams
Sawyer Fredericks, “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (iTunes)
Koryn Hawthorne, “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys (iTunes)

Team Christina Aguilera
India Carney, “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland (iTunes)
Kimberly Nichole, “Creep” by Radiohead (iTunes)

Team Blake Shelton
Hannah Kirby, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner (iTunes)
Meghan Linsey, “Something” by The Beatles (iTunes)
Corey Kent White, “When I See You Smile” by Bad English (iTunes)

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.

The Voice 8 - Live Blog and Recap - Live Top 8 Performances (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-After coach introductions, we get a video package promoting the return of Cee Lo Green (working with Blake), Usher (working with Adam) and Gwen Stefani (working with Christina and Pharrell). Usher mentions that the last time he was here, he won with one of Adam’s contestants, and we get a flashback of Josh Kaufman’s win. but the big takeaway is just how awful Adam’s blonde haircut was. Carson adds that we’ll hear from Shakira later, and Matt McAndrew will also perform. But first? It’s time for some filler!

TOP 8 PERFORM

-The finalists sing a medley of “Hey Brother” and “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, and maybe it’s just an off night for me, but I’m just in absolutely no fricking mood for filler tonight. Lord knows, I’m barely going to be able to tolerate Cee Lo tonight, never mind any of these anemic song choices. Of course, I say all this, but the guys actually sound wonderful here on “Hey Brother,” so I can’t really fault anything they’re doing. In fact, I like this song better for the remaining males than any of the songs they’re actually going to be singing tonight. “Wake Me Up” isn’t as good of a fit on the ladies though.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: HANNAH KIRBY opens the show!

-This is the second time Hannah has opened the show since Top 12 began, if memory serves. Blake says Hannah reminds him of the kind of person who’d have been on Cee Lo’s team, and Cee Lo agrees, saying he’d have stolen him from her by now. Hannah will be singing “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which Blake notes is a very theatrical track. For whatever reason, Cee Lo feels this song needs a children’s chorus, because nothing says Mad Max like “a choir consisting entirely of children.” But Hannah is enthusiastic, feeling this will be her chance to show what a theatrical artist she can be. I think she’s done a pretty good job of that every week, actually.

-Hannah sounds good — I’d wager to say “great,” actually — but this song is just SO freaking dated. It sounds like a product of its time, such that there’s absolutely nothing Hannah can do to make this sound even the least bit current. Then again, sounding current might not actually be the point with Hannah so much as bringing the theatricality. Hell, we not only get the children’s choir on a song from the 80s, we get a children’s dance troupe doing moves tyhat haven’t been in style since the 80s. But you know what? It actually works. These kids are crazy talented, so it’s not like I can fault them. Or Hannah, who probably didn’t even pick this song (although if she did…yikes). I liked her vocal, but I see no place for her to fit into the musical landscape after this show is over. I mean, sheesh, I can barely figure out where she fits in this competition.

-Christina says the performance has Cee Lo’s stamp on it. She notes that Hannah delivered a powerhouse vocal, but encourages her to develop the lower end of her vocal. However, she adds that the kids were an awesome touch. Pharrell says that they all look forward to seeing what she’s going to sing every week. He says she represents “living the dream”. Adam says that the kids were “so friggin’ adorable” and tells Hannah she was “amazing”. Blake, meanwhile, says that Hannah sang the song perfectly. And, really, she did. But I just don’t know how she makes it through to next week now that we’re down to 8.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS is up next!

-Usher jokes that he wants Joshua to start by doing 20 pushups. Joshua then reveals he chose “Fields of Gold” by Sting as a nod to his mother, who’s a writer and a poet. That literary sensitivity really does come through in Joshua’s performances, and it comes out in the rehearsal for this song here. Usher notes that this song is very relevant for Joshua, since this is who he is. He feels this could be Joshua’s big moment, and he agrees, saying that this is him “swinging for the fences.” Well, that big risk going outside his comfort zone didn’t work one bit last week, so I’m glad he’s back in his wheel house. If you’re going to pick a safe song, might as well pick the best possible safety song you can.

-This is Joshua’s best performance, and one of the best vocals of the season, in my opinion. No frills, no bombast, just a simple arrangement, beautifully performed on Joshua’s guitar and a minimalist backing from the band. Joshua’s voice takes center stage here though, coming through with a simplicity and purity that’s been sorely missed after last week’s fiasco. In a season of excessive vocal gymnastics, Joshua’s heartfelt earnestness is incredibly refreshing.

-Blake loves that Joshua is getting back to what he’s best at, noting that last week was a bit of a “left turn” from what he normally does. He feels this is the best kind of performance, with just his voice, a guitar, and a little piano to go with it. Adam says there are so many giant, bombastic voices in this competition that he just loves how Joshua goes out there and does something very different, with a class and elegance he’s grown to admire.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Joshua Davis sings ‘Fields of Gold’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: KIMBERLY NICHOLE is up next!

-Kimberly is stoked to be working with “two blonde bombshells,” as she’ll be singing “Creep” by Radiohead. Christina notes, however, that they’ll be adding some unique jazzy inflections to the arrangement. Oh, come on, Xtina, don’t try and act like your ass came up with this arrangement. While trying to illustrate how Kimberly needs to dig into the lyrics, she demonstrates how it should be done, making this a record for how quickly she starts outsinging her contestant in a rehearsal. Seriously, I think we got about 30 seconds of video before Christina was taking the mic and blowing Kimberly out of the water. That said, Kimberly still sounds absolutely wonderful, which makes it all the more poignant that she ends up breaking down over her insecurities. She’s one of the most talented people in this competition!

-Even though it’s basically just the Postmodern Jukebox/Haley Reinhart arrangement, it’s still an absolutely gorgeous rendition that delivers one of the biggest moments of the season, and easily Kimberly’s biggest moment of the competition. Pharrell hardly makes it halfway through the performance before he’s on his feet cheering. By the end of the episode, all four coaches are standing up for her, as Pharrell looks to be wiping away tears — or maybe sweat from the realization that she’s the biggest threat to his victory with Sawyer. Gorgeous, gorgeous performance with vocal inflections that were unique to Kimberly.

-Pharrell says that if that’s what insecurity sounds like, we could all use some. He’s proud that she was on his team, and his proud that she’s still in the competition. Adam says he’s never heard a version of that song that was THAT unique or worked that well (I don’t blame Adam for not living on the internet). Blake says that’s the kind of performance that you’d expect an artist to spend months rehearsing, yet Kimberly delivered that track with just a few days in rehearsal. Christina, meanwhile, is proud of Kimberly for making the song her own, and for being herself while on that stage. It’s going to be hard as hell to top this for best of the night, but I’ll be interested to see Sawyer, Meghan and India give it a shot.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Kimberly Nichole sings ‘Creep’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

-We get a video greeting from Shakira, who lets the coaches (and Carson) know how much she misses them, and wishes luck to the Top 8. She sends them a big kiss from Barcelona, as she chills with her ever-growing family.

BLAKE SHELTON PERFORMS

-Blake performs his new single, “Sangria,” and full disclosure: I’ll never complain about getting to listen to Blake sing live. His voice is so tragically underrated, and there’s this clarity and subtlety to it that I just find impressive. It helps that this song is probably the best Blake Shelton single I’ve heard in a while. It’s a bit dark and bluesy, with an old fashioned country-rock feel to it. It also has a sense of broader, radio appeal, making this all the more impressive, considering how hard it is to tick all those separate boxes. I dug this, even if it was filler.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY is up next!

-Meghan is adorably stoked to meet Cee Lo. She then reveals she’s chosen “Something” by The Beatles, noting that this was the first song she performed as a solo artist. She recalls crying the first time she heard the song, so it has a very personal meaning to her. Meghan feels it’s important for her that Cee Lo and Blake are combining their respective visions for her on this song, since it will help her have another breakout moment. Honestly, no matter what Cee Lo or Blake do, this is going to be fantastic. I just can’t imagine how this doesn’t end up being one of the best performances of the night.

-Meghan serves up a nuanced vocal that matches well with the absolutely stunning string arrangement and choral backing. I also love the standing, with Meghan surrounded by giant stairs on either side with the string musicians siting on each step. The waterfall in the background is a bit much, but I still love this overall, from her vocal to her stage presence, right down to how gorgeous and classy Meghan looks in her Old Hollywood black dress and hair-bun positioned to the left side of her head. Yes, I notice these types of things, even if I don’t always know what I’m talking about specifically.

-Adam calls it an awesome performance, saying that he loves seeing Meghan do a song that isn’t in Blake’s wheelhouse, since it forces him to branch out in his coaching. Blake says Meghan is so classy, and notes that she’s growing more confident each week. And he’s growing more confident as well, saying he now has no doubts that she’ll be in the finale. I could easily see it happening, actually.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Meghan Linsey sings ‘Something’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: INDIA CARNEY is up next!

-India has chosen “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland, noting that she’s been daring to dream this dream her entire life, and this song represents reaching for that impossible dream. She calls it one of the most beautiful songs she’s ever heard, and she sounds terrific on it right now, to boot. But Gwen expresses her concern that she doesn’t really know who India is as an artist. She says Christina has so many things that make her memorable, from her technical prowess to her style, but she doesn’t feel the same uniqueness from India. India says she would want to make an Adele-type album, and the rehearsal basically becomes an overlong reinforcement of India’s talent. And hey, she has a whole hell of a lot of it to spare.

-In one of the more stunningly beautiful decisions of the season, India starts off the vocal a cappella, and she kept it going for so long that I wondered when the backing music would actually kick in. But if it never did, I wouldn’t have minded, since this was absolutely DIVINE. The runs she hit here were effortless and killer. I’m probably overselling it, and I’ll definitely go back and listen to it again tomorrow with fresh ears, but right now, this is one of my favorite performances in the history of The Voice. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how stunning India looks. Her hair is just beautiful, and she’s wearing what looks to be a modern wedding gown of some sort. Turns out it’s white. The lighting had me thinking it was blue. Either way, looks great. Also, I’m rambling, because I find it hard to run out of superlatives for this.

-Blake feels that, after that performance, she’s absolutely going to advance to next week. Christina, meanwhile, notes that she knows “Over the Rainbow” is India’s favorite song in the whole wide world, and says she did it justice. She adds that she knows that all dreams come from somewhere, and India is reaching for those dreams with each performance. Or something to that effect. I’m sorry, I’m just distracted by how pretty India’s hair is.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: India Carney sings ‘Over the Rainbow’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

-Back from break with some #VoiceReunion silliness as Carson reads tweets, and Blake wonders how the hell old Craig Wayne Boyd really is. But now, we’re on to the return of a Season 7 finalist…

MATT MCANDREW PERFORMS

-Matt performs his new single, “Counting On Love”, and it breaks my heart to say I didn’t love this. I actually do like the song, although it’s harder than I’d have expected from Matt’s first post-Voice single. I never really saw him as a hard rock artist, but I do enjoy the structure and the lyrics. It sounds like something I could hear on the radio. Then again, I felt the same way about Chris Jamison’s “Velvet” (which I still maintain is the best Voice winner’s single ever). But back to why I didn’t love this: the audio leveling issues on this show continue to plague its performers, as I could barely hear Matt during most of this. I think they mic’d Maroon 5’s James Valentine better than they mic’d Matt. You know, maybe it’s just my TV? Hell if I know, but this wasn’t the blowaway it should have been. Still, I’m supporting Matt by picking up the single on iTunes (and you can too!).

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: SAWYER FREDERICKS is up next!

-In an endearing little moment, Sawyer is authentically starstruck to meet Gwen Stefani. He then whips out his guitar and reveals he currently owns 11 guitars, two from his grandfather, one of which he played in his blind audition, and another one from Ray Lamontagne that is 13 of only 30 such guitars ever made. He’ll be singing “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Gwen is immediately taken by his uniqueness from the moment he opens his mouth. Pharrell, however, challenges him to walk around stage with his guitar, which throws Sawyer a bit. Still, both Gwen and Pharrell appear to have a lot of confidence in him. And they should, considering he’s the frontrunner to take this thing.

-Sawyer sounds pretty damn great here, although this is one situation where I wish the band had never kicked in, since I thought this was downright brilliant as an acoustic track. Still, Sawyer is growing by leaps and bounds every week when it comes to stage presence, as he looks almost natural when he traverses the stage, mic in hand, guitar strapped over his shoulder, and singing to the crowd. And he seems to enjoy the response they’re giving him, which makes him all the more endearing, since he comes across as a kid who’s only just realizing the magnitude of what he’s accomplishing. This wasn’t my favorite Sawyer performance, but I definitely enjoyed it.

-Adam loves the purity of Sawyer’s voice in its raw form, saying that you can’t teach someone the sort of talent Sawyer has. He’s happy Sawyer got to do a song like this, since it challenged him. He didn’t just have the security blanket of his guitar, he had to interact with the audience, and not get swallowed up by the band. Ultimately, he feels Sawyer did a great job. Pharrell, meanwhile, talks to Sawyer’s fans, saying if you’ve ever had a dream, if you love folk music, CCR, Ray Lamontagne or any kind of music in this genre, you should vote for this kid and support him. Hell, I think even if you don’t like that kind of music, Sawyer has shown enough variety in his song choices to deserve support. At least enough support to move forward.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Sawyer Fredericks sings ‘Simple Man’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: COREY KENT WHITE is up next!

-Corey is thrilled to meet Cee Lo, saying it’s an honor to have someone of Cee Lo’s caliber take notice of him. Corey is singing “When I See You Smile” by Bad English, and Blake says if this were a record that came out today, it’d be a country song, not a rock song like the original. Blake thinks this is the best Corey has ever sounded, but Corey is worried about the song choice, saying that he feels the only thing country about it is the fact that he’s singing it. Blake explains that when you take a song that isn’t country and make it your own, it can show just how country you really are. Cee Lo agrees, saying he can help Corey find the country heart of the song, which alleviates some of the pressure for him. He does sound good on the track in rehearsals, and it sounds like the arrangement is different enough (in the beginning at least) to make it sound more country oriented.

-This is probably Corey’s best vocal, and I’m genuinely impressed by the restraint of the arrangement. It actually does sound like a country song now, whereas it would have been easy to stick to the old fashioned arrangement of the original, a la Hannah’s performance, and end up delivering a performance that, while technically proficient, sounds dated and old. I don’t know if this will be enough to get Corey through to next week, considering he seems to be fighting to be heard over the band during the verses, but I thought he showed real fire here. I didn’t know he had this level of passion and grit in him. Overall, I liked it.

-Adam loves that as a song and as a song choice for Corey, although he wishes the explosion of emotion that happened towards the end of the performance had happened earlier. But he admits this is just him being selfish, and he apologizes by saying Corey did an excellent job. Blake then tells Corey that was his best performance of the season, and he created a moment people will be talking about. I’m not 100% sure about that, but I guess we’re talking about it for now, so mission accomplished.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Corey Kent White sings ‘When I See You Smile’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

TEAM PHARRELL: KORYN HAWTHORNE closes the show!

-Koryn is thrilled to work with Gwen Stefani, since she doesn’t always do the normal thing. While she loves working with Pharrell, she appreciates the female perspective Gwen delivers. She’ll be singing “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys, and Pharrell can’t wait to hear what Alicia thinks of the song, since he absolutely loves Koryn’s version. However, he essentially produces the track live in rehearsal, giving her notes on tempo and cadence, which Koryn thinks is awesome. Gwen also advising her on her vocal, which she should leave out on the stage like “pieces on the ground,” which Pharrell loves. Koryn feels she can identify with this song, considering everything she’s been through in her young life so far, and Gwen agrees, feeling Koryn’s talent is effortless. I’ll admit, I’m not (nor have I ever been) crazy about this song, but I’m anxious to hear Koryn’s take on it.

-Again, I’ve never particularly liked this song, but I think it’s absolutely GENIUS to have the song be an almost entirely piano-driven arrangement. It highlights Koryn’s vocals, making her voice the star here. And the fact that she doesn’t have to fight with any band for volume makes it so that her voice COMMANDS attention. The band eventually does kick on, but only towards the end, which is another smart move: let it build to a crescendo before kicking up the tempo. Koryn does a positively phenomenal job here. This is easily my favorite version of this song, as Koryn (with Pharrell and Gwen’s help) morphed this into something entirely different from the original. I loved it.

-Adam says that Koryn “IS the dream that is this show,” saying she’s gone from blind auditions to having all these breakout moments. He says she’s had the biggest evolution of any artist on the show, noting she’s gone from “girl” to “grown-ass woman.” Christina says it’s the part of the competition where people either make it or break, as many either thrive or crumble under the pressure. She says Koryn is absolutely thriving. Pharrell, meanwhile, repeats his Koryn critique for a THIRD straight week (although it’s no less applicable now), saying if you like Christian music, Gospel music, or Inspirational music, you have got to vote for this girl.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Koryn Hawthorne sings ‘Girl On Fire’ on The Voice 2015 Top 8 (VIDEO)

-And that’s a wrap! Two artists go home tomorrow as eight become six! What did you think of tonight’s show? And which three artists will battle for the Instant Save? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow, thanks for reading and hanging out!

And don’t forget to add your predictions on who’s going home by voting in our official poll! Thanks again!

GOODNIGHT!

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