The Voice

Song by song grades for the Top 8 on The Voice

The Top 8 on Season 15 of The Voice inclue Kennedy Holmes, MaKenzie Thomas, Sarah Grace, Chevel Shepherd, Kymberli Joye, Reagan Strange, Kirk Jay and Chris Kroeze. (NBC Photo)

The Top 8 on Season 15 of The Voice inclue Kennedy Holmes, MaKenzie Thomas, Sarah Grace, Chevel Shepherd, Kymberli Joye, Reagan Strange, Kirk Jay and Chris Kroeze. (NBC Photo)


With spots in the Season 15 finals on the line, The Voice Top 8 took the stage for a solo performance and a duet Monday night.

But this year’s semifinals came with another voting twist.

The duets are not available on iTunes, hence no streaming, hence no voting for them other than using specific Twitter hashtags, which I’ll embed now.

The limit is one vote per Twitter account, which minimizes the impact of the duets. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In recent seasons, the duets were on iTunes and did qualify for iTunes bonuses if they landed in the Top 10.

That always struck me as unfair. I mean, someone’s going to be paired with the most popular singer on the show. Someone’s going to be paired with someone who just needed an instant save.

Plus, the musical match isn’t always perfect. Simply put, there really isn’t a fair way to split up eight singers on a show like this.

Time for performances.

Sarah Grace (Team Kelly), “Sign of the Times” — As her reward for scoring last week’s biggest iTunes hit, Sarah gets to sing first tonight. Longtime fans of The Voice will know that’s no really a reward at all. Sarah says she likes this song because she can relate it to her Voice experience. The second line of the song talks about a “final show.” Hope that isn’t an omen for Sarah. Two things bothered me about this performance. First, Sarah started from behind the piano, and she’s so tiny, it’s just tough to see how connected she is to the song back there. Second, the band was so loud, I had trouble hearing Sarah in spots. The good news: While this was not a repeat of “Amazing Grace,” Sarah sounded solid throughout and delivered a prolonged glory note during an intense ending (for which she stepped out from behind said piano). Grade: B

Kennedy Holmes & Reagan Strange, “Happy”/”Tightrope” — Wondering if it was a deliberate decision to have Reagan sing that first verse. Because it sounded like a response to the haters who have been bashing her ever since she robe a bathrobe into the semifinals. Anyway, this was an fun upbeat number, but I kept wishing it’d be more fun, that the teens and good friends would really cut loose on stage. Oh, and I couldn’t help noticing that Kennedy seemed much more comfortable than Reagan, though the latter stayed on pitch throughout. Grade: C+

MaKenzie Thomas, “Vision of Love” — MaKenzie liked the fact that this song is so soulful and says it represents who she is as an artist. Jennifer suggested adding some gospel touches. Kudos to JHUD for that suggestion because in spite of all the runs — and there were plenty — this was a pretty sleepy affair until the background singers kicked in with the church vibes. MaKenzie’s vocals soared at the same time, she showed off her range and delivered a very nice ending. Standing ovation worthy? I did’t think so. But then my opinion is affected by the fact that MaKenzie does a diva power ballad every week. Still, let’s remember that this young lady failed to make the show in Season 14. Now she’s a step from the finals. Grade: B–

Chevel Shepherd & Kirk Jay, “She’s Country” / “Country Must Be Country Wide” — This was a fun performance that will please those who are already fans of Chevel or Kirk or both. But it was also one unlikely to convert many non-fans into voting to make sure they’re in the finals. I did like the sass Chevel showed on stage. And it was fun to see Kirk do something upbeat. Trust me, we’ll see neither in their solos later tonight. Grade: B–

Kymberli Joye, “Never Alone” — Kelly likes this song choice because Tori Kelly is so relevant today, but it keeps Kymberli in her gospel lane. She wants Kymberli to let viewers in by being vulnerable before taking them to church. I’m not convinced about that being the perfect song choice. But Kymberli made a convincing case for having the biggest and best voice on Season 15. that ending was reminescent of her “Break Every Chain” performance in which the chorus performs the chorus, allowing Kymberli to freelance to her heart’s content. Still, I’m not sure it’s the stirring performance the show’s best vocalist needed. How bold would it have been to have Kymberli come back and do a more traditional version of “Amazing Grace” after Sarah flipped the song so wonderfully last week. Grade: B+

Chris Kroeze (Team Blake), “Can’t You See” — He says he chose this song because it’s one everyone knows. I’ve gotta confess to being a little disappointed when I saw it on Apple Music. I was hoping Chris would take a major risk tonight. I’m pretty sure there’s another song out there he could flip “Burning House” style. That said, this was another rock solid performance from Chris. And probably my personal favorite to this point in the show. The way the guy performs, you can tell he’s done a ton of shows in the past. Oh, and by the way, here we are at the semifinals and The Voice has yet to let Chris or Kymberli sing a solo near the end of a show. Hmm. Wonder who’ll get the pimp spot tonight. Grade: B+

Kymberli Joye & MaKenzie Thomas, “Best of My Love” / “Got to Be Real” — Good idea making MaKenzie go upbeat because it’s not something we’ve seen lately. That said, this wound up being my least favorite of the duets, because it got pretty shouty by the end. It did get Kymberli a chance to show how comfortable she is working the stage, in spite of her background as a background singers. But by the time it ended, I was yearning for the days when each of The Voice’s semifinalists sang two solos and there were no duets. Grade: C.

Kennedy Holmes (Team Jennifer), “This is Me” — Jennifer feels like this is a great transitional song for Kennedy. And Kennedy gets emotional during rehearsals, partly over the fact that she’s made it this far on the show. The staging for this number if pretty special. Do you think Kennedy has enough background singers? Vocally, it was a mixed bag. Kennedy’s normally reliable pitch betrayed her in a couple of spots. But she also hit one heck of a glory note, and that tender part near the end was really special. I would have liked to have seen a bit of that emotional connection from the rehearsal room make it to the stage, but I won’t be at all disappointed if this young lady breezes into the finals. From a crowd-pleasing standpoint, that was probably the night’s best performance so far. Grade: B+

Reagan Strange (Team Adam), “You Are the Reason” — For starters, Adam tells Reagan to put last week’s controversy behind her. She certainly appears to no longer be “under the weather.” As for this song selection, Reagan credits her mom for helping with it. Let’s see if she’s picked something 14-year-old Reagan can handle. Nope, we were good until about the one minute mark. But the music swelled, Reagan went off pitch and would have been better off not reaching for that glory note late in the song. There are moments when Reagan connects vocally and sounds really special. But overall, watching her perform I’m reminded of a teenager singing during the talent portion of a Ms. Something pageant. That doesn’t happen as often when the show’s other teens take the stage. Grade: C–

Chris Kroeze & Sarah Grace, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” / “Chain of Fools” — Now that was fun. Sarah behind the keys. Chris on his guitar. Both rocking out and having fun. On paper, this looked like the biggest mismatch among the duets. On stage, it turned into a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Did you see Sarah rock out? And she matched Chris’ guitar solo with a little solo on the keys. It would have been nice to see a little more interaction between them once Sarah stepped out with the mic, but that’s quibbling. I’ll be surprised if that isn’t my favorite performance of the night. Grade: A–

Chevel Shepherd (Team Kelly), “Blue” — Another of my least favorite song picks when the list came out today. I mean, how often has this song been done on shows like this? That said, it was a good match for Chevel’s voice, allowing her to show off that natural yodel. And, while dressed in a blue gown — of course — at least she didn’t look like a Loretta Lynn doll on stage tonight. The song pick seemed awfully safe though, and the standout moment of the performance didn’t come until the very end when all the background music faded and Chevel reminded us of what a nice country tone she has. Grade: B

Kirk Jay (Team Blake), “I Swear” — Well, gee, The Voice, think you’re playing favorites enough? In four live shows, Kirk’s gotten to sing next to last twice. Now he gets the pimp spot, which he also had when Team Blake performed in the live playoffs. And then, given the pimp spot, a dedication to a cancer patient, and another tear-jerker of a country ballad, Kirk fails to deliver vocally, yet gets another standing ovation? Like I said last week, fairness on The Voice? Better look somewhere else for that. Bottom line: Kirk’s voice sounded shot on this song. The emotional connection was there, and Kirk has a nice tone, but this was far, far from his best performance. Grade: C+

My dream finale — and I don’t for a minute expect it to happen — Kymberli Joye, Kennedy Holmes, Sarah Grace and Chris Kroeze.

And then force everyone to take two popular songs in the finale and make them their own and see who comes out on top.

See also …
Ranking the Top 8
Social media rankings for the Top 8
iTunes results for the Top 10
iTunes results for the Top 11
iTunes results for the Top 13

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1 Comment

  1. Robert Moore December 11, 2018 at 8:47 pm -  Reply

    You leaving chevel and Kirk out in the finale is an absolute joke to the point you probably shouldn’t even be allowed to review this show anymore. It’s comical. A c- for Kirk?! Yea he sounded awful ok. Cause the judges are wrong, the fans on iTunes are wrong but you’re right lol. I know it’s an opinion but your opinions really really suck

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