Before we get to the performances from the final eight contestants in the semifinal round (and the four duets added for the “extra special wow” factor), a little housekeeping. Last week, two contestants were eliminated to bring the remaining number to eight. Those contestants were Austin Allsup and Courtney Harrell. Aaron Gibson, who found his way in the bottom of the pack for the third week running, was again saved by America’s votes in the Instant Save.
I will post videos of the duets, but I am not sure they figured into the votes as much as the individual performances did. So on we go…
Singer #1: Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia Keys). Song: “To Worship You (I Live)” by Israel & New Breed. Christian leads off the show with another ballad, but this time it’s a gospel song that is close to his heart. You can definitely tell that what the song means to him in his performance. He usually does very well on the ballads anyway, but singing a song that is special to him shows just how much he put into this performance. Cuevas’ performance got the night off to an auspicious start.
Duet pairing #1: Aaron Gibson (Team Miley Cyrus) and Wé McDonald (Team Alicia). Song: “Four Five Seconds” by Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney. I wasn’t a big fan of the original, but this one was at least listenable. I don’t think it was Aaron’s kind of song, but the two of them sounded pretty good together.
Singer #2: Ali Caldwell (Team Miley). Song: “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston. You have to put both names there, I figure, because although Whitney’s version is so iconic, Dolly Parton gets to cash the checks because she wrote it, and after all, she performed it first. As for Ali’s version, I’ll admit that even though I believed Ali could sing the song well, she’d suffer by comparison to Houston’s version, which she certainly used as a reference. That said, Caldwell acquitted herself very well, giving a powerful performance.
Singer #3: Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam Levine). Song: “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. Of all the remaining singers, Brendan has grown on me the most. I could easily see him among the final four, and after a performance like this one, it’s pretty easy to see why. For lack of a better term, his gravelly vocal gave the song some weight, which isn’t to diminish the original in any way. I guess what I mean to say is, it sounded like a song Brendan could sing, where before I was curious to see how he would perform it. Turns out, he was just fine with it.
Duet pairing #2: Sundance Head (Team Blake Shelton) and Josh Gallagher (Team Adam). Song: “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker. Another good pairing. The song obviously fit Sundance like a glove, but Josh held up pretty well.
Singer #4: Wé McDonald (Team Alicia). Song: “Scars To Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara. For the first time (at least for me) I detected some wobbly moments from McDonald. She’s been considered a front-runner from the moment she opened her mouth, so I don’t know if this will cost her a spot in the finals. However, I’ve heard better from her, even as she commanded the stage and hit quite a few of the powerful notes that the audience has come to know and love from her.
Singer #5: Aaron Gibson (Team Miley). Song: “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams. I like Aaron, but I have to believe that his luck is about to run out. He’s been in the bottom for three weeks running and has had America save him from elimination each time. With four spots open, I’d be hard pressed to see how he survives this week. His performance was wobbly as well. There were some off-notes and he seemed to be straining a bit. And if we are comparing raspy-voiced male singers in this season’s competition, he comes up short to Brendan every time.
Duet pairing #3: Billy Gilman (Team Adam) and Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia). Song: “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors. To me, it’s a difficult song to sing, and I’m not really a big fan of the original. This might have been the worst duet of the evening; if the two of them were going to convince me to like the song a bit more, they didn’t do it. I just didn’t feel it worked for them; perhaps they would have done better with different duet partners.
Singer #6: Josh Gallagher (Team Adam). Song: “Danny’s Song” by Loggins & Messina. Color me a little surprised that Josh has lasted this long; not because he’s an awful singer, but that I thought so many were better. Tonight he gave a solid performance. I wasn’t wowed by it, but the people I watch with on Facebook seemed to like it much more than I did. Will it be enough to get him to the finals? I doubt it, but we’ll see.
Duet pairing #4: Ali Caldwell (Team Miley) and Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam). Song: “It’s Only Love” by Bryan Adams featuring Tina Turner. Apparently there was a Bryan Adams theme going through the show tonight. Whatever it was, this duet had some real spark and fire to it. Both Caldwell and Fletcher performed very well; it might have been the best of the duets.
Singer #7: Sundance Head (Team Blake). Song: “Love Can Build A Bridge” by The Judds. I’ve liked Sundance from the very beginning, and I could easily see him in the finals. Whether or not he’d win, I don’t know. But I haven’t heard a bad performance from him yet, and this wasn’t it either. In fact, it was really good. I knew he could handle this, even with Wynnona Judd telling him that her mother wanted this to be her legacy song. I think he did the tune justice.
Singer #8: Billy Gilman (Team Adam). Song: “I Surrender” by Celine Dion. Well, this is the night that proved Billy Gilman was human after all. I won’t say he was terrible, but I didn’t think it was his best performance. I still think he’ll make the finals, but there might be some cracks in the armor after tonight. Whether it was the song choice, or his performance of it or both, it just didn’t work quite as well as the other songs he’s sung to this point.
Before this episode, I would have penciled Billy and Wé into the finals with several others (Ali, Christian, Brendan and Sundance) fighting for the last two spots. But with the front two showing some wobbles, it’s anyone’s guess who will be in the final four next week. My picks? I’d keep Gilman and McDonald there, with Ali and Sundance just edging out Brendan. Then again, I can see Brendan in and maybe Sundance or Ali out. Who knows? I guess I’m as confused as anyone else.
(photo from Creative Commons via Eva Rinaldi-available for reuse).