updated 05/28/2013 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/28/2013 AT 7:50 AM ET
Monday’s two-hour The Voice, featuring the Top 8 live performances, was bookended by a pair of diva-strong performances that showcased both glamour and range.
Judith Hill, a former duet partner of the late Michael Jackson, opened the show with her own disco-inspired version of the electronic pop hit of Will.i.am and Justin Bieber, “#thatPOWER.” Wearing a sci-fi Mohawk ponytail and a silver-feathered jacket that looked both rocker and angelic, the always-strong Hill owned the stage with her original vision of the tune.
“I think it was great to see you flip that song,” said Shakira.
Hill’s proud coach Adam Levine said he was skeptical when she picked that song, but then was blown away with how she delivered it. “That is the first time when I said this is not a contestant on The Voice. This is an artist performing a song, just like any one of us up there.”
Equally strong was Team Adam’s Amber Carrington, who came miles from her country roots to nail Adele’s “Skyfall.” Wearing a black gown, a side bun, oodles of shimmering jewels and performing alongside an electric red grand piano, the chanteuse theatrically rolled through the song and honored her coach’s early admonition that “you gotta sing the best you ever sang, right now.”
She more than rose to the occasion: “I think you just took the diva powerhouse vocal of the night,” coach Blake Shelton told Carrington, adding that even with all the glitz, she couldn’t hide the fact that she remains a country singer.
But Levine took issue with Shelton’s statement, and gushed over her performance, saying: “You can’t hide the country, but there are a lot of countries in the world. I think this will make her popular in every single one of them.”
Solid and heartfelt performances were given by Oklahoma’s Swon Brothers, singing a bluegrass-inspired version of the Eagles’ hit “Seven Bridges Road,” and Danielle Bradbery, holding her own with a sweet and earnest turn on the Judds’ “Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Ol Days).”
Shakira’s sole contestant, Sasha Allen, wearing big hair and a sassy black-and-white halter-top, dared to cover Usher’s “Without You.” Her performance was dubbed “fun” by Shelton, who added, “I think you bought Shakira another week on this show for sure.”
Even Usher offered his congratulations, while Shakira praised Allen as “the whole package.”
Melancholy and Moody
Team Adam’s Sarah Simmons, after a bold performance last week, offered a melancholy, moody and at times sad rendition of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” “Your performance is always spot on,” Usher said. “I think it was great for you to show a different texture and the ability to restrain.”
Baylor University student Holly Tucker, wearing a pair of sparkling, blinged-out cowboy boots, offered an edgy performance of “Done” by The Band Perry that had her coach Shelton on his feet.
“This is the first time I have ever seen you own a song,” he told Tucker. “You just chewed it up and spit it out. That song was begging for mercy by the end of it!”
Usher’s only artist still in the competition did not let him down. Singing Bruno Mars’s “Grenade,” Michelle Chamuel showcased her ability to get to the heart of a song and sell it her way. Shakira called her “spectacular” and lauded the wiry singer’s “emerging stage presence.”
Said Usher, who donned a pair of thick black glasses in solidarity with Chamuel and her signature eyewear: “The war is still on, and we are going to get through this together. Because you have the talent, sweetheart, I’m not ready to stop. Are you?”