In case anyone is confused about what day it is, Carson drops the fact that it's Memorial Day about five times in the first two minutes of tonight's show. I'm hoping he came straight from a BBQ and is slightly buzzed and suffering from sun poisoning. Carson thrives when he's uncomfortable. There's some Spanish banter between Carson and Shakira, and it's just delightful.
Since we're down to only 8 performers, tonight is going to be filled with a lot of bonus performances and filler, I'm guessing. To kick things off, Blake is performing his new single "Boys Round Here." It's a ridiculous song with lyrics like "Well the boys 'round here, they're keeping it country / Ain't a damn one know how to do the dougie / (You don't do the dougie?) No, not in Kentucky." So, it's perfect, obviously.
After a lot of coach talk (Usher is sporting some giant hipster glasses to show his Michelle support), the first contestant to take the stage is Team Adam's Judith Hill. She is going to be singing the will.i.am/Justin Bieber song #thatPOWER. This was Judith's choice, and Adam seems a little concerned about taking such a huge risk. She is wearing an insane CeeLo-esque feathered number, and she's surrounded by men wearing skin tight blue turtlenecks dancing with trumpets, which is bizarre and kind of hilarious. Still, despite her band of dancers straight from the Lonely Island album cover, her performance is incredible. She's really made the song her own, and it's cool and fun and of course, she's technically wonderful.
Next up is Team Blake's Holly Tucker. She wants to show off a different side, so she's singing the sassy "Done" from The Band Perry. She's wearing the most amazing sparkly cowboy boots I've ever seen. They're so glorious that I am slightly distracted by visions of owning them myself, traveling to Nashville and line dancing on a bar wearing them. Back to reality - Holly sounds great, and she looks like she's having a ball. She sings the hell out of the song, and she lets loose in a way we haven't seen from her yet.
After some inane social media mumbo jumbo from Christina Millian, we are treated to a group performance from Michelle Chamuel, Sasha Allen, Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons. They are singing Rihanna's "Diamonds" and HOLY MOLY. These ladies are all powerhouses. I want this track on my iPod yesterday. Love love love.
Time to inject some testosterone into the night's festivities, with The Swon Brothers, the only men left in the competition. They are singing "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles. The stage has been set up like a campsite, with the boys sitting by a fire with their guitars. Man, the production people are really doing it tonight, aren't they? The entire song is sung in unison, and there are a few little tiny timing issues at the top, but overall the harmonies are right on, and they end with a really strong, beautiful a cappella chorus, as the fire slowly burns out. It's a little cheesy, but it works for me.
Team Shakira's Sasha Allen is performing the David Guetta/Usher jam "Without You." I like this song choice for her. Sasha gets emotional talking about her husband and her kids, and Shakira gets a little scary reminding her that she's her only hope in the competition. Sasha looks gorgeous. She's up on a platform, and there are some dancers doing some cool slow motion type stuff that works well for the performance. She sounds fantastic. This song is great for her voice, as she's able to really belt it out, plus its one of those tracks that is impossible not to feel something during. All the coaches love her, and Usher loved what she did with the song, which is huge for her, I'm sure.
Adam Levine has Sarah Simmons singing Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." As usual with Sarah, it's all about emoting, and she has some relationship baggage that she's going to tap into for the performance. Again with the production value! There's fog on the ground, and the big string instruments and musicians are set up on platforms around the stage. Sarah looks gorgeous, and she sounds great. By the second chorus, she's practically screaming, but in a great, beautiful, raw way. Man, so many talented ladies this year, right?
Group performance from the Country Crew! Danielle, Holly, Amber and The Swon Brothers are singing "Something More" by Sugarland. It's a fun, solid performance, but it doesn't pack nearly the punch that the earlier group number did.
Team Usher's Michelle Chamuel is taking on Bruno Mars's "Grenade." Man, so much Bruno Mars this season! After some rehearsing, Usher decides to change it up and strip the song down to piano, so that Michelle's voice is the most powerful part of it. There are a million mirrors on the stage, and she starts by singing to herself. The choice to take out most the instruments and have her do a stripped down version of this song was so smart. It's just a crazy, emotional, technically insane performance, and the staging and the arrangement all work so well. Stunning.
Now it's time for Danielle Bradbery, the darling of Team Blake, to take the stage. Blake has her singing "Grandpa" by The Judds. The stage is set up with a front porch set, and Danielle starts the song sitting on a swing. Team Blake is really bringing it in the footwear department, as Danielle is rocking the hell out of some red sparkly boots. It's a very sweet performance, and she sounds great, but this isn't my favorite song choice. It's a little boring, and it doesn't really get vocally impressive until the last few bars, so she can't quite show off in the way she's been able to before. She's undeniably talented, it's just a weird song choice for me.
The last performance is from Team Adam's Amber Carrington. Adam has chosen Adele's "Skyfall" for her. It's a bold choice, and she's nervous about being compared to Adele's insane vocals, which is a fair concern to have. They've styled her similarly to Adele, which is maybe not the wisest move, since they're trying not to invite the comparison. Nonetheless, Amber has an amazing voice, and she certainly rises to the occasion on this super ambitious song. Amber has always impressed me, but it's great to see her taking on a song that is so insanely demanding. Her range is out of control, and she manages to nail every huge note in this song.
Tonight was a night filled with great performances. Whatever happens tomorrow, it's going to be a big ol' bummer.
Stand out performance: It's a tight race between Michelle and Amber, but based on the emotional aspect, I'm giving this one to Michelle's rendition of "Grenade."
Coach MVP: Watching Usher geek out so hard over Michelle's performance made my heart swell a little bit. Plus he showed he knows what he's doing with the stripped down arrangement of her song.