On week two of The Four, Fox’s new reality singing competition, Ash Minor, Alexis “Lex Lu” Boyd, Zhavia and Saeed Renaud were back to defend their seats. Renaud and Zhavia unseated members of the original four during the premiere last week. Fergie was back to host, and Sean “Diddy” Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk were back as the panel of experts.
Here’s how the show works: Potential challengers sing solos, and the four panelists have to unanimously vote in favor of the newcomer directly challenging a member of the four. If voted through by the panel, the newcomer chooses which member of the sitting four they get to sing against, and after both sing, the live studio audience votes on who gets a seat. If a newcomer unseats a member of the four, they are then safe for the rest of the evening.
The first potential challenger was professional recording artist Candice Boyd, who has worked with Nicki Minaj and French Montana but has had trouble breaking out as a solo artist after all her experience of being a backup singer. She sang “I’m Going Down” by Mary J. Blige, and her runs were very smooth and natural. She brought a lot of experience to her performance, and she showcased impressive range. “You did your thing with that rendition of that song,” Combs said. “And I would love to see you go toe-to-toe with one of the four.” Boyd was moved to tears. Trainor said she had not been this affected by a performance on the show yet, and Walk called her a star. The panel obviously voted for her to challenge the four. Boyd chose to sing against Minor, the only member of the original four who had not had to sing to defend his seat yet.
Minor sang “Adorn” by Miguel and really leaned into the ad libs, but it worked. Minor managed to make the song sound like his own and show a lot of layers to his voice. Trainor could be heard saying “killed it” after the performance.
Boyd then sang “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande, and she outshined the original recording. It was the tightest competition on the show so far, Boyd and Minor so equally matched that she probably should have chosen a weaker singer on the sitting four to go up against. Trainor said she was stressed. Walk said that Grande would have been proud of Boyd’s performance.
The fans voted for Boyd in the closest vote of the season so far. She secured 55% of the votes and took her seat in the four, safe for the rest of the night. “Ash was one of my superstars up there, so I’m heartbroken right now,” Trainor said.
Stevie Brock was the next potential challenger. He achieved some success as a professional singer when he was young, but he was looking to take his career to the next level. He sang “Sugar” by Maroon 5, but he sounded a little too much like Adam Levine. He didn’t stand out. Trainor said his pitch was shaky, and Walk said that he had no promise and therefore no brand. All four panelists voted no for Brock.
Cheyenne Elliott, the granddaughter of Dionne Warwick, was up next. She sang “Wings” by Little Mix and proved her musical lineage proud. Combs said it was a strong performance but also said she needed to sing every part of the song as if it’s her favorite part. Trainor liked the song choice in particular. The panelists gave Elliott a chance to challenge for a spot in the four. She chose to sing against an original member of the four Lex Lu, who pointed out that this was the first cross-genre challenge.
Lex Lu sang her own rendition of “Bad and Boujee,” bringing the fire in a way we haven’t seen from her yet. She worked the crowd well and put on a great show. She stumbled over her own lyrics but covered it well, recovering with a freestyle verse.
Elliott sang “Too Bad at Goodbyes” by Sam Smith, bringing a lot of soul to her performance. Walk said he could feel her emotions. Combs praised Lex Lu’s ability to make her fumble a part of the song. Fans voted for Elliott to replace Lex Lu in the four in the first real surprise of the season.
Cocoa Sarai, a musical theater and vocal teacher from Brooklyn, was the next potential challenger. She sang “Jealous” by Labrinth, dedicating it to her mother who passed away from cancer. It was an emotional and vocally impressive performance. Sarai ended in tears. Trainor called the performance beautiful. “I was getting deeply emotional,” Walk said. But Walk surprised by not voting her through.
The next potential challenger was Kayla Ember, singing “Bad At Love” by Halsey. It was a bit of a karaoke performance, which is exactly what the panelists say they aren’t looking for. “You can sing, but a lot of people can sing,” Khaled said, adding that she isn’t on the same level as the rest of the four. She did not advance.
Jason Warrior, an acting and poetry coach for high school students in Chicago, was up next, singing “Love Me Now” by John Legend. He made it his own and gave an authentic and original performance. Khaled said he felt the pain and emotions in his singing. The panel voted for him to challenge the four. Only Renaud and Zhavia were on the table, and Warrior chose Renaud.
Renaud sang “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, and he proved how he made it to the four in the first place with his soulful, smooth voice and strong vocal intuition.
Warrior sang “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, and he pulled off the improbable by making the song, which is oversung on singing competitions, sound new. Trainor said she was having the best time of her entire life, adding that she would pick Warrior as the winner. Khaled said he liked both of them but that Renaud was “nothing to mess with.”
Fans voted for Warrior to take Renaud’s spot in the four. With all of the original members of the four gone, anything could happen. What did you think of tonight’s performances?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.