The Voice

Song by song grades for the Top 8 on The Voice

The Top 8 on The Voice include (from left) Brynn Cartelli, Kaleb Lee, Jackie Foster, Britton Buchanan, Rayshun LaMarr, Kyla Jade, Spensha Baker and Pryor Baird. (NBC Photo)

The Top 8 on The Voice include (from left) Brynn Cartelli, Kaleb Lee, Jackie Foster, Britton Buchanan, Rayshun LaMarr, Kyla Jade, Spensha Baker and Pryor Baird. (NBC Photo)


The solo songs for tonight’s episode of The Voice have been posted to iTunes, and there are some great choices.

Those song choices alone — plus the quality of the iTunes performances — are likely to provide a boost for Spensha Baker, Kyla Jade and Britton Buchanan.

That said, DO NOT start downloading yet. Remember, downloads only count as votes if they occur during The Voice official voting window, and that doesn’t begin until 8 p.m. eastern time.

A couple other notes about tonight’s Top 8 performance show …

1. Each singer will participate in a duet. Those songs have not been released to iTunes yet. but there’s also a special way to vote for duets. And that’s by tweeting the hashtags I’ve listed below.

The tweets are not case sensitive, but you have to spell the names correctly and you have to get them in the right order. You’re permitted to cast one vote per Twitter ID. A retweet will also count as a vote. And the vote goes to both members o the duet.

2. If you’re watching The Voice semifinals for the first time, here’s how it will work tomorrow night. The Top 3 in fan voting will automatically advance to the finals. The bottom two will automatically be eliminated.

The three in the middle will compete for the final instant save of Season 14 and a spot in next week’s finals alongside the Top 3 vote-getters.

For that reason, fans of Jackie Foster and Pryor Baird need to mobilize tonight and be ready to jump on Twitter if need be tomorrow night. Both singers are from California (though Pryor now lives in Nashville and Jackie is attending college in Boston). And read this carefully: A West Coast singer has NEVER won a instant save on The Voice. They’re 0 for 11 lifetime.

Here’s tonight’s solo song list followed by the duet hashtags. I’ll be back at 8 p.m. with a live blog and song by songs grades.

See also …
Ranking the Top 8
Social media stats for Top 8
Why the duets aren’t fair
2 more lousy guest star choices
Season 14 exit interviews


Brynn Cartelli, “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Andra Day — Nice a cappella opening from Brynn. And she looks like a prom queen in that flowing black gown. This is going to be another solid performance from Brynn, who’s doing her best to enliven a song that doesn’t have a lot of pizazz considering the occasion — fighting for a spot in the finals. Grade: B+

Kaleb Lee and Pryor Baird (#KalebPryorDuet) — They’re going to sing “Hillbilly Bone” and “Hillbilly Deluxe.” This should thrill the show’s country fans. My guess is it’s going to be a little too country for my taste. Pryor has his rasp in full effect. But, honestly, this mashup isn’t something I’m going to be yearning to hear again. Nothing wrong with the vocal, though, and they amped up the energy at the end. Grade: B–

Jackie Foster, “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake — Jackie says she wants to bring back classic rock and she wants this song to be her anthem. Jackie fans, vote like crazy tonight. The Voice isn’t helping her out with placement or duet. I like that much more than I thought I might. Killer vocal from Jackie. Not to mention one heck of a glory note there at the end. Grade: B+

Kyla Jade and Spensha Baker (#KylaSpenshaDuet) — They’ll going to sing “What’s Going On” and “Rise Up.” Spensha has been doing very well her last couple of performances. With Jennifer Hudson coming back as a coach in Season 15, I’ll still very baffled as to why her background singer (Kyla) is even on this show. Spensha was very good on the chorus of “Rise Up,” but that arrangement was a mess. Or at least it sounded like a mess to me. Grade: C+

Rayshun LaMarr, “Imagine” by John Lennon — Rayshun has his work cut out for him. He’s the only singer left who’s needed an instant save and he needed one twice. Now he has to leaf-frog four singers to make the finals. Sorry, but I don’t think this performance is going to do it. If the goal was to have Rayshun dance and belt like that, there was probably a better song choice out there, somewhere. Just saying. In the sake of fairness, I should say the coaches all stood at the end of his performance. Grade: C

Spensha Baker, “My Church” by Maren Morris — Love this song choice, and Spensha notes that it will combine her love of gospel and country music. Wow, Spensha seemed so nervous just a month ago in the live playoffs. Tonight, she was in total control. That’s my favorite performance so far tonight and Spensha just missed creating a Voice moment by a whisker. And I say that only because there were a few odd choices on when Spensha would drop the lyrics. But she just made a pretty convincing statement of why she deserves a spot in the finals. Grade: A–

Kyla Jade, “Let It Be” by The Beatles — Blake predicts this performance will be epic. Okay, actually this is a little sleepy, which surprises me because I thought the iTunes version was superb. Now Kyla is pouring on the frills, but they’re a little too much too late for me. Not loving that at all, but I’m sure the voice will proclaim it was epic. Grade: C+

Britton Buchanan and Brynn Cartelli (#BrittonBrynnDuet) — They’re going to sing “Four Five Seconds” and “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” — Brynn and Britton sounded very good when they sang together, but I was left wondering if there weren’t a couple of slip-ups in terms of who stepped in vocally when. I really wish The Voice would have dumped the duets altogether and just let everyone sing two solo songs tonight. They would have been much more telling with the competition for the Top 4 as tight as it is. Grade: B

Kaleb Lee, “It is Well With My Soul” by Hillsong — Did Kaleb and Kelly dip into the Blake Shelton playbook, pulling out a Christian song after Kaleb has been serving up a steady stream of mid-tempo or up-tempo country songs? Love the fact that Kaleb ditched the cowboy hat so we can see his full face on a song this emotional. But I did not like that vocal. In fact, it was my least favorite of the night so far. Grade: C

Jackie Foster and Rayshun LaMarr (#JackieRayshunDuet) — They’ll sing a mashup of “Believer” and “Radioactive.” OK, I do believe this is my favorite duet of the night. Dang, love the energy and the teamwork between those two. Jackie brings ton of energy to the stage and Rayshun was a bit more controlled than he typically is. Very, very well done. Grade: B+

Pryor Baird, “Change the World” by Eric Clapton — Carson calls Pryor a blues-rocker, but he’s been a blues-rocker with a country twist on The Voice. Pryor says this is his favorite among the songs he’s done so far. Really nice song choice to match Pryor’s vocal strengths. Solid performance from start to finish, and I’ll be shocked if that isn’t a hit on iTunes. Grade: B

Britton Buchanan, “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen — Seems to me Britton already closed a show during the finals, didn’t he? If so, I cry foul. With 12 finalists and only five weeks of finals, no one should get to close twice. That said, like this song choice, and I think it has the makings of a big hit on iTunes too. That was a case where the idea might have been a little better than the execution. Not sure Britton has the maturity or the ache in his voice to make that song totally believable. That said, he went a long way toward fixing any problems with a great final minute. Grade: B–

And based on what we’ve seen since the playoffs, I’d put Britton, Brynn, Jackie and either Spensha or Pryor in the finals.

See also …
Top 8 iTunes results
Photo gallery from Top 8 night

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  1. Jim May 15, 2018 at 10:50 am -  Reply

    Britton can be as bad as he is good. He has a real consistency problem. I’m over Jackie. She’s a decent singer in a dead genre. I like Spensha or Brynn to win. Kyla and Britton could be special some day with the right direction. Pryor is a one trick pony with a decent trick. Rayshun is like a caricature of himself. Kaleb seems like a great guy but he’s not finals material.

  2. Rick Fritts May 15, 2018 at 1:03 pm -  Reply

    Jackie Foster has tremendous talent and is one of the best singers on the Voice 2018. Jackie can sing all different styles of music and deserves to make it to the finals. Jackie can win the Voice with the right the right song choices and great performance she continues to deliver each week. Go Jackie!!!

  3. Audrey May 16, 2018 at 4:12 am -  Reply

    Mr Franklin do you have any musical training at all ? Because if you did to give the duet a C+ for Kyla &Spensha is obscene do you have any idea of the precision musically and talent it took to pull that song off. In perfect sync. It galls me when non musical critics make comments on things they know nothing about. The songs were done beautifully

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