(NEW YORK) — The Voice kicked off its semifinals on Monday, with the top eight artists competing for America’s votes, and a spot in next week’s finale. Along the way, they were advised by their coaches Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend.
Each artist performed twice: a new song on his or her own and a duet on a 1980s song with another contestant.
Here are the highlights of Monday night’s show:
On the suggestion of her coach John Legend, Katie Kadan got things started with Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” because, as he explained, Katie needed to sing “one more powerhouse song,” and if she got to the finals, “a grand ballad.” Stefani called it Kadan’s best performance so far, simply for her ability to “work the room.” John called her a “superstar.”
Team Blake’s 18-year-old indie pop singer, Kat Hammock, picked Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” explaining that, quoting a line from the song, her semifinals performance “could be the end of everything” as far as her time on The Voice was concerned. Kelly said Kat had a voice that “touches” people. Her coach called it her most powerful performance so far in the competition, assuring Hammond that regardless of her outcome on the show, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to see this through with you. You need to be making records.”
Team Blake’s Ricky Duran and Will Breman from Legend’s team kicked off the duets, singing — and trading guitar licks — on The Outfield’s “Your Love.”
Marybeth Byrd, representing Team Legend stepped up for her solo performance, showing off her tougher side on Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” The song also returned the country artist to the genre that brought her to the competition in the first place. Legend told the audience that Byrd, whom they saved last week, came back with her best performance yet.
Team Kelly’s duo, Hello Sunday, consisting of 14-year-old duo Chelsea and Myla, tackled Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and they showed off some nifty dance moves as well. The performances delighted the fans and all four coaches, including Kelly, who declared the girls brought their “‘A’ game.”
Byrd returned, this time with Team Blake’s Jake Hoot for a duet on Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes’ 80s hit, “Up Where We Belong.”
Duran followed with a song he personally picked for his solo performance, The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” which has become a family anthem following the loss of both his parents, most recently, his mother, to breast cancer. Ricky, started off the song on piano and moved to the guitar, before finishing the song standing in front of the microphone, as pictures of his parents appeared on a large screen behind him. Duran’s coach, Blake Shelton dubbed it “the vocal performance of [Ricky’s] life.”
Breman then took center stage on Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” — his coach, John Legend’s pick, because it was “a good hybrid of pop and rock” the audience would love. Following Will’s live performance, Legend praised his artist for an “electric and magnetic” stage performance, coupled with a “strong voice.”
The duets continued with Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” performed by Kadan and Team Gwen’s Rose Short, followed by Hammock teaming up with Hello Sunday for Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.”
Next, Short — who is Stefani’s last remaining artist — belted out Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” and dedicated the performance to her parents for having enjoyed a long and lasting love. Gwen praised Rose for having the guts to venture into a “more vulnerable place.” Barely able to keep her composure, Stefani said she was honored to work with Rose, before breaking down in tears. Kelly followed.
Hoot, who told his coach Kelly during rehearsals that he was one of six children, closed out the show with one of his mother’s favorite songs, “Desperado,” by the Eagles. Legend noted Jake’s voice “feels like home.” Kelly hailed the performance as “eloquently delivered” and “perfect.”
The Voice returns Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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