The top 10 artists of season 14 sang in live performances on The Voice Monday night, working with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys to challenge themselves. “Challenge” was the week’s nebulous theme, and artists had to choose songs or genres that embodied something that has challenged them on their singing journeys. Clarkson also performed her new single “I Don’t Think About You.”
First up was Team Blake’s Kyla Jade, singing “This Is Me” from Greatest Showman, which has ended up being a popular movie for singing competition shows this year. According to Jade. the song represented the story of her life, and she shared a story with Shelton about how some fans have criticized her looks. Jade channeled her emotions into a powerful, radiant performance that reiterated her strength and talent. She started the night out by setting a very high bar. Keys called it “riveting,” and Shelton said “everybody in the room felt your message.”
Team Kelly’s Kaleb Lee had the tough task of following Jade. He sang “Boondocks” by Little Big Town, declaring that he wanted to do more crowdwork, which has been one of his problem areas. He ditched his guitar but still stayed true to himself by adding a swampy edge to the song. His stage presence was much improved, and Clarkson praised his performance abilities.
Singing “Love Triangle” by season two’s RaeLynn, Team Adam’s Jackie Verna challenged herself to sing a song that doesn’t necessarily tell her own story. She had to emotionally connect to a song she couldn’t directly relate to, and she succeeded in her performance. It wasn’t the most vocally impressive performance, but she sang it well and sold the lyrics. Levine thought it was a perfect song choice for her.
After Clarkson’s performance of her new single, Team Adam’s Rayshun LaMarr was up, singing “Grant Green” by Mr. Jukes. Levine made the song choice for him, and it played to his strengths more than challenging him. Regardless, it resulted in a highly entertaining performance, his joy coming through in his vocals. Clarkson said she had fun watching him, and Levine was pleased.
Up next, Team Blake’s Spensha Baker sang her first country-pop song: “Red” by Taylor Swift. She rose to the challenge, making the song her own and bringing an edge to it that the original doesn’t have. Her lyrical interpretation was solid, and she seemed like a seasoned artist, standing out on multiple fronts. Shelton was blown away by her star potential.
Team Alicia’s Jackie Foster followed with a performance of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, challenging her to show a softer side of her artistry. She gave a vulnerable and tender performance, hitting all the goals that Keys set for her. It was a raw performance, and Keys said she was riveted by it.
Britton Buchanan, also from Team Alicia, sang Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” As a coach, Keys nailed it when it came to choosing challenging songs that would show a different side of her artists without changing their lanes too much. Buchanan admitted that he hasn’t really been taking risks in the competition, so this time he took a hit song and made it his own with a compelling, original arrangement. He slowed the song down, which allowed him to deliver a strong vocal. It was his personal best performance to date, and Keys said he nailed it.
Team Alicia’s Christiana Danielle followed, challenging herself with “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Danielle was in the bottom two last week and emerged victorious from the instant save sing-off, so she faced her fears about that situation. She did an understated but solid cover of the hit song, showcasing her artistry without doing anything too over-the-top. Keys praised her creative instincts.
Team Blake’s Pryor Baird next sang “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry, which is usually sung as a duet. But Baird took it on solo and delivered a solid cover, belting out his vocal and showcasing his usual strengths, particularly when it came to putting on a fun show. Shelton said he’s gaining momentum in the competition.
Closing out the night, Team Kelly’s Brynn Cartelli sang “Fix You” by Coldplay, dedicating the song to her family. She put a lot of power behind her vocal but also a touch of vulnerability that allowed her to connect with the emotions of the song. She didn’t change the melody much, but the arrangement played with some of the dynamics, yielding a layered performance that really centered her voice. She got to rock out a bit toward the end, which suited her.
Two contestants will be eliminated on Tuesday night. What did you think of tonight’s performances?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.