Contestants Team Up and Throw Down on the Duets Round of ‘The Voice’

Tyler Golden/NBC

The Voice‘s Top 8 episode featured 16 performances of varying quality — eight solos, four duets, plus four holiday mash-up songs in Target commercials. Here’s how it all went down.

Adam Cunningham – I’m Already There (Lonestar)

Adam led off the two-hour show with an emotional version of the country ballad. What did the judges have to say?

Blake: “I’m so glad you’re choosing your own songs now. You sang the hell out of it.”

Adam (his coach): “Not only do you make it through, look at you now, man! You were standing alone, in the bottom three. This dude deserves to be in the finale.”

It was a solid performance, but it doesn’t change the fact that Adam’s only real competition is fellow country singer Red Marlow.

Duet: Chloe and Noah – Wicked Game (Chris Isaak)

This was an odd performance, bathed in red light that somewhat drained the singers of their personalities. Chloe was forced to sing some of the song in the lowest part of her register, which isn’t a pleasant sound. What’s worse, the two seemed kind of awkward, without much chemistry. In fact, their holiday mash-up in the Target commercial that aired right after showed them having far more fun.

My “conspiracy” theory about the producers using Chloe to boost Noah’s iTunes sales turned out to be pretty popular:

And it seems to have come true. As of this writing, the Chloe-Noah duet is #3 on iTunes, while Noah was just outside the top 10 with his solo cover.

Davon Fleming – Gravity (John Mayer)

If any contestant is on thin ice, it’s Davon, who was in the bottom three last week and had to be instant-saved by America. During his rehearsal for Gravity, coach Jennifer told him “You should damn well be on your knees by the time you’re done.”

That didn’t happen. Most of the song is quiet, though it did allow Davon to show off his amazing voice at the end. As for the judges:

Adam: “I’ve always thought you’ve had this ability that’s unlike any other ability I’ve ever heard.”

Jennifer (his coach): “What you just did, I can’t coach you to do that. I ain’t gonna sit here and lie and say that I did. That was all you. I couldn’t take off my shoe because I couldn’t even move.”

Red Marlow – Go Rest High on That Mountain (Vince Gill)

As I tweeted at the time, “I think Red just showed Adam Cunningham the door.” I don’t believe both country singers are going to advance, and Red did a great job with this lovely, sad ballad. It was one of the few times he performed without a guitar. “There’s so much feeling, so much emotion, you don’t need anything in your hand,” he said after he finished.

Miley: “You’re so authentic. You let us all feel you.” She also said that begging for Red to join her team at the start of the season was the most embarrassing thing she has done, “and I swung naked on a wrecking ball!”

Blake (his coach): “Every country music fan that loves and appreciates that song realized what you just did for country music. I know Vince Gill is sitting back right now somewhere with a huge grin on his face.”

Duet: Brooke and Davon – Earned It (The Weeknd)

Brooke and Davon have the biggest smiles of the eight finalists, which were on full display here. They seemed to be having the time of their lives as they sang this fun, upbeat song to each other. Their holiday mash-up Target ad was pretty great, too. Maybe they’re destined to team up professionally?

Keisha Renee – What Hurts the Most (Rascal Flatts)

During rehearsal, coach Blake was optimistic about Keisha “getting back to the country lane you wanna be in,” with this song, but he also said it played to Keisha’s soulful strengths. Indeed, Keisha somehow managed to mix a country song with a belting aria, as her daughter and grandmother beamed from the front row.

Miley: “Classics you do your way. It just seemed so original, and so your own.”

Blake (her coach): He said Rascal Flatts probably thought “I should have been singing it that way the entire time!” He finished with, “I don’t know what else you could have done to get yourself into the final four.”

Duet: Adam and Red – Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band)

The big twang-off, at last. As if to make sure neither had the advantage, both country hopefuls had their guitars. To be honest, when placed right by each other, they sounded very much alike (to me, at least). I don’t think the performance will make any difference in the final voting; Adam will be eliminated and Red will advance.

Also, their holiday mash-up was dumb.

Chloe Kohanski – I Want to Know What Love Is (Foreigner)

The chameleon of the season was back, all glammed up, in what I have to assume is a wig. She said this song shows “who I really am,” despite the artifice.

This is a great ’80s song, but it doesn’t have the sheer power of her other covers, like Total Eclipse of the Heart. To my ears, the verses were too low for her register. Still, Chloe is an undeniable presence and the odds-on favorite to win the season.

Blake (her coach): “This is the biggest night you’ve had on this show so far. America, listen to me: If you record this show, rewind this performance, and tell me that’s not the most iconic voice we’ve ever had on this show.”

Duet: Addison and Keisha – Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow)

A disappointing performance all around. It’s always a risk when you sit down to sing; half your energy just disappears. 

Addison’s and Keisha’s vocal talents are indisputable, but this performance felt like an afterthought. A mellow song that’s just too casual and low-key to wow audiences — especially considering the special effects Noah and Brooke got later in the show. Was this the best they could do?

Noah Mac – River (Bishop Briggs)

After a slow song last week, Noah went with raw power — even anger — this time. He was accompanied by six giant bass drums, and even played a drum himself at the end. Noah always struck me as something of a lightweight heartthrob, but this performance shows I was mistaken.

Miley: “You brought something youthful and really modern to the show. You’ve created an amazing story for yourself.”

Jennifer (his coach): “Mama Hud is very proud. [My team] is all about believing in yourself. You made me forget this is a competition. You made me think this was your show.”

Addison Agen – Both Sides, Now (Joni Mitchell)

Addison took a risk by picking a song covered by plenty of stars over the years, from Pete Seeger to Frank Sinatra to Tori Amos. She was backed by a string section and created a heartfelt rendition of what is undeniably a beautiful song. But, as I’ve asked before, is it simply too slow for today’s short-attention-span youth (yes, I’m a Generation X’er)?

Blake: “You [are] the flagship person on this show for teenagers and for [the] singer-songwriter torch you’re carrying. You’re so beyond your years.”

Adam (her coach): “You have changed the way I view the game… This girl is ‘The Voice’ and she’s even beyond that. Even if you don’t win, I don’t care, because I think you’re one of the most special gifts I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with you.”

Brooke Simpson – Faithfully (Journey)

My personal favorite this season, Brooke has conquered pop, vintage soul, and other genres, but is yet to wow us with a power ballad. She absolutely did that with this ’80s favorite. The arrangement managed to isolate and highlight her voice, without being too quiet. When she belted the end with flames soaring in the background, dry ice filling the stage, and circus performers (?!) prancing around her, it’s hard not to think that the show’s producers want us to keep Brooke in the running, Mission accomplished.

Miley (her coach): “If you aren’t in the finale, I don’t know what this show is. Your winner is standing right here.”

Four of these superb performers will be leaving the show by this time tomorrow. Who had the best performance? Who sang the best duet? Who do you think will survive? Let us know in the comments.

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