'The Voice': In Season 9 Semifinal, Most Artists Opt for Ballads

Only four artists can advance after tonight.
Courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC
The Voice

Tonight, the top nine artists of The Voice’s ninth season performed in the semifinal live show. The pressure was on, as only four artists can advance to the finale after tonight’s voting.

First up was Barrett Baber from Blake Shelton’s team. He decided to sing “Ghost” by Ella Henderson. He took the pop song and flipped it into the country-soul style that he tends to favor. It was an impressive arrangement and a strong start to the night. He connected with the emotion of the song and gave a very engaging performance. The song choice was the most interesting one he has made all season, which could send him through to the finale. “I can just see you enjoying this so much,” Gwen Stefani said of his journey.

Shelby Brown from Adam Levine’s team sang “Even God Must Get the Blues” by Jo Dee Messina next. In her rehearsal, she was struggling with her timing. Since the beginning, Brown has a tendency to get too stuck in her own head, but Levine has been able to coach her through it, and her final performances are usually technically sound. She overcame her nerves tonight and gave a confident performance. As Stefani said, it was an understated performance, but she sounded great. But it might not have been memorable enough for the semifinals. “Shelby, you have driven me crazy,” Levine said, referring to her ups and downs when it comes to self-confidence. “The feeling is mutual,” Brown joked.

Team Gwen’s Jeffery Austin went next, deciding to sing “Believe” by Cher. It’s always risky to choose an iconic power ballad, but Austin has a very distinct tone, and his personal artistry came through. It was a bold performance, and the risk paid off, his experience coming through.

After a performance from Ellie Goulding, Braiden Sunshine from Team Gwen was up. Last week, Sunshine survived the audience instant save and got another chance. Tonight, he chose to sing “Amazing Grace,” and he sounded great, but a soft ballad just doesn’t seem like the right vibe for a semifinal. “You’ve grown so much,” Levine said, also complimenting the work Stefani has put into Sunshine as his coach. As Levine pointed out, Sunshine hasn’t really established a signature sound, but he has proved he can sing just about anything, and versatility is valuable, especially when trying to connect with a wide audience.

Team Blake’s Zach Seabaugh sang “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, bringing a little more country twang to the song than the original recording. Shelton and Seabaugh both agreed that it was the young artist’s theme song, and in his final performance, he effectively conveyed his emotions. Though he’s definitely a country artist, Seabaugh has shown he is more versatile than some of the other members of Shelton’s team, which was on display more last week. Even though it was yet another ballad, Seabaugh brought a lot of energy and stage presence to the performance, making it exciting. Stefani said she’s sure they’ll be seeing him in the finale.

Team Pharrell’s only remaining artist, Madi Davis, went next, singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons. It was another understated performance, but her voice sounded beautiful, filling the room. “That was too perfect to be live,” Shelton said. As Pharrell pointed out, the production was amazing. Davis might be his only ticket to winning this thing, but she definitely has what it takes.

After her coach performed, Team Blake’s Emily Ann Roberts was up, singing “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. After many weeks of doing slower songs, Roberts finally got a chance to have some fun. She worked the stage, and it led to her most dynamic performance. Even though Roberts seemed slightly outside of her comfort zone, the risk was worth it, because she got to show a different side of her voice.

Team Adam’s Amy Vachal sang Adele’s popular song “Make You Feel My Love.” As usual, Vachal made the song her own. It was another gorgeous performance for Vachal, who always seems to mesmerize the coaches even with such stripped-down and simple arrangements. “Your voice sounds like it’s made of what beautiful clouds are made of,” Pharrell said.

Closing out the night, Jordan Smith from Levine’s team decided to sing something totally new: “Somebody to Love” by Queen. Further proving that he can sing just about anything, Smith nailed it, leading to the best performance of the night and quite possibly the season. It was big and bold — exactly what a semifinal performance should look like. And his vocals were, as always, incredible, giving him a chance to show off his impressive range. The performance brought the house down, and Levine actually jumped up on stage to dramatically drop the mic. Since the Blind Auditions, it has been clear that Smith could win it all. “I don’t need to say anything at all, because that was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Levine said.

What did you think of tonight’s ballad-filled semifinal? Tomorrow night, five artists will be voted off, and the remaining four will advance to next week’s finale.

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