'The Voice': Usher, Cee Lo Green and Gwen Stefani Return

The Voice Top 8 Perform - H 2015
Trae Patton/NBC

The Voice Top 8 Perform - H 2015

The Voice hosted a reunion tonight, bringing back three past coaches to help out the top eight artists. Usher came for Adam LevineCee Lo Green for Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani for both Christina Aguilera's and Pharrell Williams’ teams.

The first artist up was Hannah Kirby, singing “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” Green’s vision for the song played into Kirby’s theatrical side, which led to her most elaborate performance yet. On the final chorus, a children’s choir joined her on the stage. But Kirby didn’t get lost in all the spectacle. Her voice remained as powerful as ever in her upper register, and she demonstrated great vocal control. Aguilera advised her to focus on her lower register if she advances in the competition.

Joshua Davis sang next, meeting with Levine and Usher to work on his arrangement of “Fields of Gold." Usher told Davis to remember that viewers vote with their hearts and their ears, pushing Davis to bring emotion to his performance. He sounded great, but that emotional connection didn’t quite get there, and his understated performances were a little overshadowed by some of the bigger performers in the competition. That risk would have yielded higher rewards if his vulnerability were more palpable, but it ended up just being an unexciting performance.

Meeting with pop vocal dream team Aguilera and Stefani, Kimberly Nichole rehearsed her arrangement of “Creep” by Radiohead. She added jazz inflections to really make it her own. Her choice to sing a ballad paid off better than Davis', as she really brought a magnetism to the performance that made the whole thing engaging. It was an interesting arrangement that suited her voice, and she brought all four coaches to their feet. "That was masterful," Pharrell said. She showed a level of artistry that other competitors just haven’t reached yet. Nichole could be headed for the finish line.

Meghan Linsey decided to sing a song about being in love rather than her usual sad, heartbreak songs. She picked “Something," and Green suggested she sing it with an orchestra, which created an intimate and rich performance. The song played to her rocker tendencies and showed off her range. She sang the soft sides and the bigger, harsher parts with equal success. "I expect to see you in the finale of the show this year," Shelton, her coach, said.

Next, Team Christina’s India Carney also went the ballad route, singing the iconic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The stage transformed into a forest, and her voice sounded gorgeous. “That was magic,” Shelton said. It was definitely an enchanting performance and one that will likely carry her through to the next stage of the competition.

Sawyer Fredericks sang "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and both Stefani and Pharrell pushed him to emote and bring in more dynamics. It was a very strong song choice for him, and he put a lot of power into it. At just 16 years old, he already has a strong sense of who he wants to be as an artist, and he grows every week.

Green told Corey Kent White he'd been impressed with him since the beginning of the season. Shelton gave White "When I See You Smile" by Bad English, telling him to bring his country style to the rock song. The performance built, and by the end, White really pushed his voice and achieved his best personal performance.

Koryn Hawthorne closed out the night with “Girl On Fire,” which was another perfect choice. It was one of the most powerful vocals we’ve heard from Hawthorne, and it was an explosive way to end the episode. Stefani hoped in their rehearsal that she would be able to back up the vocals with visceral emotion, and she did just that, leading to a rendition of the song that just might outshine the original recording.

The competition is so tight right now that it’s hard to imagine the results of tomorrow’s show, when the top six will be announced. Who are you hoping will make the cut?