By Rami Abou-Sabe
We’ve finally reached the penultimate round of NBC’s The Voice. Thankfully, we no longer have to endure Mark Isaiah’s sophomoric pop imitations. While there were still a few lackluster performances, Monday night (May 15) was largely an impressive showing from the remaining eight contestants.
So who can you expect to see in the next round?
Frontrunner Chris Blue and country crooner Lauren Duski cemented their spots in the Top 4 with impressive performances capping off flawless seasons. Our other two spots go to Vanessa Ferguson and Jesse Larson. Both artists showed off their musical chops, guaranteeing successful post-show careers, regardless of the outcome. Our runner-up is Hunter Plake, but his straightforward take on U2‘s “With or Without You” left much to be desired from the typically innovative performer. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Plake or Aliyah Moulden manages to squeeze out one of our other choices.
Read on to watch the best performances from last night.
Lauren Duski, “Ghost in This House”
Duski’s “Ghost in This House” was not much different than the rest of her performances, but does it need to be? Lauren’s not the purest country singer in the competition (that award would go to the fledgling Brennley Brown), but her effortless delivery and raw performances have captivated Team Blake’s country nation. What’s most amazing about Duski is her ability to shed the country twang and embrace a more universal tone when needed. Dare we say it, but Lauren Duski might just be the next Carrie Underwood (different shows, we know).
Vanessa Ferguson, “Superstar”
With a simple spotlight and a slinky red dress, Vanessa Ferguson captivated the live audience with her rendition of the classic Luther Vandross tune, “Superstar.” From reserved beginnings to a gritty climax, Ferguson’s creative artistry shines through the entire performance.
Ferguson has proven herself to be one of the best all-around artists in the competition, and while she doesn’t have the same fanbase as lesser performers like Aliyah Moulden and Brennley Brown, she will certainly have a successful career after The Voice.
Jesse Larson, “I Was Wrong”
Did Jesse Larson really take on a Chris Stapleton tune last night? Stapleton is arguably the greatest voice in the music industry right now, and that’s not hyperbole. His whiskey-soaked delivery combined with an insane level of vocal control has skyrocketed the country rocker to stratospheric heights in a few short years, and Larson’s take on the bluesy Stapleton number leaves little on the table.
An equally adept guitarist and vocalist, Larson is far-and-above the most talented musician in the competition, and both facets of his artistry are on display here. Following a blistering mid-song solo, Larson steps to the mic with an electricity in his voice that is simply infectious. Squinted eyes and a finger in the air, Larson’s buttery vocal run fills the stage as his guttural grit hits you in the chest.
Chris Blue, “Take Me to the King”
Chris Blue unleashed a gospel side of his voice that we haven’t heard yet this year. His soulful version of Tamela Mann’s “Take Me to the King” was simply stunning. The powerhouse vocalist focuses on accuracy in the early moments before digging in with outstretched arms, letting the song take over his entire being.
While Blue’s status was never really in jeopardy, coach Alicia Keys‘ song choice will shore up the religious vote that will guarantee Chris a spot in the next round.