The top ten artists performed live on The Voice tonight, and the four coaches invited top-tier producers to help shape their teams. Christina Aguilera invited Mark Ronson of “Uptown Funk” fame. Blake Shelton brought in Scott Hendricks, and Adam Levine invited Dave Stewart. And OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder came in to shape Team Pharrell.
Kimberly Nichole was the first artist up, and Aguilera picked “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James for her. Ronson helped them come up with a rock arrangement of the song. She gave a high-energy and stylized performance and set a high bar for the rest of the contestants. Nichole continues to be one of the best performers in the competition, and she has the technical skills to match. Even Levine admitted she has a solid shot at winning the whole thing.
Next, Joshua Davis sang “Hold Back the River,” and Levine and Stewart encouraged him to reach new parts of his range to really show off his abilities. It was a strong performance but not a standout one. He’s a consistently good singer, but it’s doubtful that he actually has something special enough to make him win the competition.
Team Blake’s Hannah Kirby wanted to sing “Shout” by Tears For Fears, and Shelton had some initial hesitations about it but was ultimately excited about how the song fit her voice. He worked with her, along with Hendricks, to come up with an arrangement that updated the sound. She gave a really over-the-top performance, but it was one that showcased her originality and charm.
Singing “Home” by Marc Broussard and hoping to bring some soul from her own home of Louisiana, Meghan Linsey was up next. Hendricks and Shelton encouraged her to put as much passion as possible into the verses, and she did just that, giving yet another stellar performance in a run of great episodes for Linsey. Like Nichole, she has been gathering momentum since the beginning and can’t be stopped. “Your vocals were insanity,” Aguilera said, and Levine agreed that it was her personal best.
Koryn Hawthorne worked with Pharrell and Tedder on “Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran. “Koryn gave us goosebumps in the first two seconds,” Tedder said. She already sounded amazing in her rehearsal, and it was just a tease for the final performance, which was another one of the highlights of the episode. Sheeran songs have been wildly popular on both The Voice and American Idol this year, but Hawthorne made it her own with a dark and emotional interpretation that seduced the coaches and the crowd. She’s definitely Pharrell’s shot at winning this year.
Last week’s save, Deanna Johnson, sang “Somebody to Love” tonight, and it was a different sound for her. The coaches weren’t quite sure what to make of the performance. They didn’t necessarily say anything about it, but their compliments weren’t really focused on her voice or even her performance abilities. Aguilera noted that it must have been a challenge for Johnson to hold so many long notes but didn’t necessarily comment on whether she pulled it off. And Levine simply noted that she looked like she was finally having fun. It might be hard for Johnson to survive another round of voting.
Team Christina’s Rob Taylor was up next, singing “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway. Ronson was immediately impressed with Taylor’s range. The song choice definitely catered to that staggering range, and Taylor blew the coaches away with his high note. His voice is so rich and powerful that Taylor brings an intense magnetism to any song he takes on. Team Christina is this year’s team to beat.
The only country artist left in the competition, Corey Kent White sang next. He chose “Unwound” by George Strait, hoping to really make it “Corey’s version” by adding a rock edge. Shelton and Hendricks told him to leave out the guitar on this one so that he could really work the stage, and it led to one of his more dynamic performances.
Sawyer Fredericks sang “Iris,” and while it didn’t stand out in the same way Nichole, Hawthorne and Linsey did tonight, it was one of his more engaging performances. Fredericks continues to have a technically strong voice, and the coaches are enamored of him, but he just hasn’t shown enough versatility to truly wow.
Closing out the night, India Carney from Team Christina decided to conquer her fears by singing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. The risk choosing such a huge hit paid off, and she ended the night on a literal high note. “You made the song your own beautiful thing,” Aguilera said. She certainly conquered her stage fright and provided a strong anchor for Team Christina.
The top eight will be announced tomorrow night. Who do you hope to see advance?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.