Zhavia and three other former Four-iers returned for an intense night of competition. Mediocre challengers destined for red circles were nowhere to be found; The “Comeback” episode of The Four: Battle for Stardom was serious business.
Host Fergie has often been outshined by the mega-personalities of Diddy and Khaled. Tonight she took a share of the spotlight when the current Four (Nick, Tim, Kendyle, Jason) opened the show with the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling.
Before the Comeback-ers appeared, we had a few final challengers. The first was Vincint Cannady from Philadelphia, who has a gospel background. He sang a smooth, solid version of Coldplay’s Magic, duplicating Chris Martin’s fine falsetto.
Afterwards, Meghan said, “Your voice is so impressive, but not aggressive, and that’s what should be on radio.” The judges voted him through, and he chose to challenge Jason Warrior, setting up the series’ most bizarre moment.
Jason wanted to show “I’m not just a screamer; I’m a singer.” Though he doesn’t like being compared to John Legend, he chose to cover Ordinary People by…John Legend. At one point, he asked the audience to sing along, but they mostly did not. It was another forceful performance, but seemed to have too much force. Diddy and Khaled looked confused. It seemed like Jason lost the crowd that had loved him so much last week. Meghan wondered if he oversang the song (hint: he did), and said “We already have a John Legend,” though Diddy said he still liked Jason’s swagger.
Vincint countered with Sittin’ Up In My Roomby Brandy. He danced during the high-energy song, showing a nice counterpoint to the slower Coldplay song. The judges were clearly into it, with Meghan proclaiming, “I loved it!”
The audience voted and chose Vincint. Meghan shouted “I did not see that coming!” And neither did Jason, because he…well, take a look:
Apparently Meghan comparing him to John Legend really set him off. So many not-cool things: Referring to himself in the third person, insulting the nicest of the four judges, taking Meghan’s hand and not letting it go, singing “I love you” to Meghan… Eventually a stage manager had to escort him back to Fergie, where she could tell him to “Walk his path with pride” and get off the set. In just two minutes, Jason burned up all the love he had built up over the past three weeks.
After that, things calmed down enough for DJ Khaled to give Diddy a diamond-encrusted watch. I assume this was to fill time, as the producers edited out most comments from Charlie, who is under a cloud of sexual-abuse allegations. He has been fired from his position as president of Republic Records and quit The Four before he could be removed from that role too.
The final challenger of the season was Evvie McKinney from Memphis. She cried when she talked about her late father, who thought she would be the next Alicia Keys. She was the sob story of the night and would not be denied a chance to join the Four.
Luckily, she had the talent to back it up. She sang Andra Day’s Rise Up, hitting the high notes in a lovely, angelic way. Meghan called it “one of the strongest falsettos I’ve ever heard.” Diddy followed with “You gave me color. You gave me complexity. You gave your family and your father victory.”
Then it was just a matter of which Four-ier would be sacrificed to Evvie. The winner/loser: Kendyle, the subject of so much hate for eliminating Zhavia last week.
Kendyle sang a perfectly fine version of Alessia Cara’s Stay. But Evvie set the stage on fire with a bold, brash cover of Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. Diddy and Khaled stood and cheered during the performance. Kendyle could see her seat being taken away from her.
Meghan said, “I got chills everywhere. Evvie, you’re so good, I’m honestly speechless.” Diddy said, “You had the audacity to come in front of me, one of the most soulful men in the world, and sing Aretha Franklin! But I think she would be proud.” The producers didn’t edit Charlie out completely, showing him saying to Evvie, “A star was born tonight.” To no one’s surprise, Evvie won, and took Kendyle’s seat.
Then, finally, it was time for #TheFourComeback Challenges, as the show styled it. But instead of the returning singers just picking whom to challenge, they first had to compete in head-to-head knockout rounds.
Saaed was matched against Candice, for what Meghan called “the battle of the big, belting voices.”
Saeed didn’t belt much in his smooth, relaxing cover of All My Life by K-Ci and JoJo. Candice showed great vocal control with Love by Keyshia Cole. She has a radio-ready voice. Even Saeed was grooving to it.
After the performances, Diddy told Saae, “You have this different kind of tone that really pierces the soul.” He told Candice, “You are a very good vocalist. Tonight you became a great vocalist.”
No audience vote here; the four judges decided who advances. They seemed split, with Meghan favoring Candice and Diddy supporting Saeed. In the end, Candice prevailed. Saeed said, “Second chances are hard. They don’t come every day.” He had a second chance at a singing career and a second chance on The Four. Will he get a third?
Here, at last, was a chance for “revenge,” which is how Diddy described tonight’s episode on Instagram. Tim had knocked Candice out of her seat, and now she could challenge him to reclaim it. But before she could, Nick chimed in: “The Eagles and Patriots are in the Super Bowl, right? If one of them loses, do they get a second chance?” That was enough to bait Candice, and she chose to challenge him instead of Tim.
So the duel was on. Nick rapped All The Way Up by Fat Joe, “with my own little twist on it.” He added lines about “keeping it real” and “setting the record straight.” It was hard to compare that to Candice’s cover of Ex-Factor by Lauryn Hill.
Diddy told Nick he had “incredible showmanship.” To Candice, he said, “For you to take on a Lauryn Hill song, and smash it down, I’m very impressed.” Meghan was hoping Nick would sing instead of rap. He said he would sing in the finale.
“But you don’t believe in second chances,” Charlie remarked.
The audience voted to let Candice stay. Nick did not look happy. But he brought this upon himself. Maybe he thought he had a better chance against Candice that he would against Zhavia.
The fan favorite was matched against Ash, who said “The audience only got to see 90 second of who I am,” since he performed just once before being eliminated in Week 2. Tonight, he accompanied himself on electric guitar on When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars. Good looks, strong voice, dreamy accent, multiple musical talents — what’s not to like? Diddy said Ash “put too much stank on it,” but Meghan said, “I love your stank!”
Strangely enough, it looked like he might have a chance. Zhavia’s song was Bodak Yellow by Cardi B, and it wasn’t great; the spare instrumentals put all the emphasis on her voice, which still didn’t seem recovered from her illness several weeks ago. The audience wasn’t as enthusiastic, either.
Meghan, who cried when Zhavia was eliminated last week, told her “I wish you did something different. I’m sort of 50/50.” Quite a change.
But, of course, Zhavia won.
The only person left to challenge was Tim. He sang Earned It by the Weeknd and showed off some great dance moves. The audience loved it. The only way to counter that high-energy performance was a quiet ballad; Zhavia chose Say Something by A Great Big World. She got a standing ovation from three of the judges.
Meghan told Zhavia, “Thank you for picking that song. I felt like you were telling us ‘Please let me say.’ And I heard you loud and clear.” Diddy wasn’t sure: “This is a very tough decision. I could see myself working with both you guys.” Charlie saw the issue from a business perspective: “I want to remind everyone in this room of what we’re trying to do — Put out a record.”
The result was the closest vote of the night. By just 51% to 49%, Zhavia won. Diddy told Tim, “You have everything it takes to be a superstar in this game,” and the crowd chanted his name as he left the stage.
So the final Four are Candice, Zhavia, Evvie, and Vincint. Join Talent Recap for special live coverage before and after the season finale on Thursday, February 8.