With the finish line coming into view, The Voice’s Top 5 of Season 21 took to the stage Monday night in hopes of singing their way into viewers’ hearts. You already know who I think is a lock to win. If you don’t, voila! Was that act still the frontrunner after the contestants had all run through their upbeat and downtempo numbers? Read on, and we’ll discuss…
Hailey Mia (Team Kelly), “deja vu” — Grade: B- | For her first number, the former Team Ariana member once again tackled Olivia Rodrigo, this time while backing dancers had a pillow fight behind her. And though the 14-year-old started off strong — poised and, vocally, as pretty as solid — as the song picked up momentum, she got a bit iffier, dropping a bum note here and there. Still, the way she flipped into her falsetto was cool as hell, she rapped with confidence and looked like she was at least trying to own the stage. She’s gonna slay when she fully grows into her talent.
Paris Winningham (Team Blake), “Me and Mrs. Jones” — Grade: B | After tearfully dedicating his ballad to his “No. 1 inspiration,” his dad, Paris kicked off a nice-’n’-easy rendition of the golden oldie that kept sounding like it was going to really take off… but never quite left the ground. His performance was highly enjoyable, for sure, but unlikely to make him a major contender for the win. Despite a couple of nice, big notes, it simply lacked the fireworks that had caught our attention and dazzled us in the first place. Maybe he was saving his showstopper for song No. 2?
Girl Named Tom (Team Kelly), “The Chain” — Grade: A | On their uptempo number, the first trio ever to make the finale not only demonstrated the kinda tight harmonies that have made them frontrunners throughout the competition, each of the sibs took a turn in the spotlight, with Bekah belting more than we’d ever before heard. (She nailed it, by the way, except maybe the very last big note that she went for; that got a smidgen, “Erm… ”) If the threesome had been tough to beat before, this might’ve made ’em impossible to beat.
Jershika Maple (Team Legend), “I’m Going Down” — Grade: A | Before following in Katie Kadan’s footsteps and taking on Mary J. Blige’s hit, Jershika dedicated her performance to the church community that had believed in her. And how proud they must have been, too. Against a lounge-y backdrop, she unleashed one rich, robust note after another, finessing lines like she was drawing them in the air. And her stage presence — damn! Hailey, this is how one owns a stage. Jershika gave that performance with every inch of her body. Magnificent.
Wendy Moten (Team Blake), “How Will I Know?” — Grade: A | Gotta give Wendy credit: She makes covering Whitney Houston look like it’s as easy for her as misspelling a contestant’s name is for me. Here, her voice soared, soared higher and then I’m pretty sure blasted all the way into space. If it hadn’t been for the cheers in the background, you could’ve convinced me that we were listening to a well-mixed recording. She was that good. And as an added bonus, she even looked like she had some fun with it.
Hailey Mia (Team Kelly), “idon’twannabeyouanymore” — Grade: A+ | Aw. Hailey sweetly dedicated her Billie Eilish cover to all the little kids who were struggling to accept themselves. And what a performance it was! From the word “go,” she sang with a clarity that was breathtaking, going from soft and whispery to powerful and belty. What’s more, her performance was so stunningly nuanced that, by the time she was done, I had to wonder if there was anything that could be done to a note that she didn’t do. Forget what I said about Hailey coming into her own. I’m an idiot. The kid has got it going on.
Paris Winningham (Team Blake), “Ain’t Nobody” — Grade: C | Oo, this was rough. We all know that Paris is a kickass singer. Here, though, there were only flashes of his greatness. Mostly, he sounded off, like he couldn’t get or stay in pitch. It was a blast, as it always is, when he unleashed his raspy howl. But even that wasn’t enough to save this mess. Fifth place it is, I figure.
Girl Named Tom (Team Kelly), “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” — Grade: A | The Liechty siblings dedicated their ballad to one another in a heartfelt manner that had to have had half the parents watching turning to their kids and going, “Why can’t you talk to your brother/sister like that?!?” As for the performance, it was sublime, pitch-perfect and as warm as the fuzziest blanket. I’ve read complaints that “Oh, GNT does the same thing every week,” but when “the same thing” is that earnest, that gorgeous, that perfect, why on earth change?!?
Jershika Maple (Team Legend), “Rolling in the Deep” — Grade: A | As much as Hailey impressed me tonight, as good as Wendy always is, as much as I love GNT’s sound… my heart is really with Jershika. She’s so strong and has been so underappreciated (having to sing twice for the Instant Save). On her Adele cover, she gave her all and then some, performing with a volcanic force and a ferocity that caused the water in my glass to jiggle. It was not a flawless performance, no, but wow. She. Took. Us. There. (Well, me, at least.)
Wendy Moten (Team Blake), “Over the Rainbow” — Grade: A+ | Dedicating the Wizard of Oz classic to Memphis and Nashville, her two hometowns, Wendy delivered a typically faultless (for her, anyway) performance. She went from delicate as a sunbeam to as massive as that entire damn rainbow. Just a colossal vocal. I honestly have no idea anymore who is going to win. GNT is impeccable. Jershika makes me want her to win so badly. But after a performance like that, sheesh. How could Wendy not win?