It's Challenge Week on The Voice. Now, you might be thinking, well, shouldn't the artists be challenging themselves every week? And you know what, you're not wrong! But this is the Official Challenge Week. The coaches will be helping their artists select songs in genres outside of their comfort zones in the hopes of pushing them to show different sides to their vocal performances. It works better for some than others, but that's the name of the game, people. Only eight artists will be moving on tomorrow night, and everyone needs to take some sort of risk to earn a spot in the semi-finals. Which risks will pay off? Let's take a look at the performances.
Team Ariana: Holly Forbes, "Last Dance" by Donna Summer
What a fun choice for Holly! She's going full disco, baby. Well, sort of. This song is certainly a challenge for Holly, who seems nervous even while she's ripping off her giant tulle skirt as the song picks up. She never fully commits, and there are also some pitch issues. Still, Holly is so compelling to watch; I don't think this will be an issue. John Legend loves that she could still show her "soul" and "class" with this dance hit. Holly's coach, Ariana Grande, is floored that she continues to "show us so much more" in every performance. She especially loves that Holly's tone brought a new "edge" to Donna Summer's song.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten, "Jolene" by Dolly Parton
Last we saw dear Wendy, she was feeling fine despite taking a big fall onstage. That was only partially true — it turns out she broke her elbow and fractured her wrist on her other arm. So tonight, Wendy's singing with both of her arms in casts. The show tries to nip the whole "Wendy already sings country" debate in the bud by repeatedly telling us that this is more storytelling and less hitting those huge R&B notes, but, come on; Wendy has a pretty large country background. Regardless! We haven't seen her go this acoustic up to this point, and it's not surprising that she nails this song. Kelly Clarkson praises Wendy's "sorrowful" delivery, calling the whole thing "beautifully sad." And Blake is, as always, proud of his artist — especially this week because she chose to honor this country classic by simply singing it the way it was meant to be sung. And, again, doing all that while in two arm casts.
Team Kelly: Jeremy Rosado, "Freedom Was a Highway" by Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley
Kelly Clarkson wants to get Jeremy Rosado away from the ballads he's been coasting on throughout the competition and get his vocals on something a little more uptempo and a little more country. He knows he'll be challenged not just to work on breath control — this song is wordy, plus he'll be using the stage as much as possible — but also to get away from that R&B smoothness he does so well. He needs to lean into the punchy poppiness of the song. It's not his best performance, but it is full of so much joy. Kelly loves his vocals on this kind of song and, even more so, loves seeing Jeremy having a good time on stage. She thinks he's getting better and better each week.
Team Legend: Jershika Maple, "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore
Jershika's taking on pop/rock for her Challenge Week song. Her coach John Legend knows she's been "polished" and "soulful" up to this point, annihilating gospel and R&B songs, so he wants to see her take on this more upbeat, fun anthem. It's not as impactful as some of Jershika's other performances, but she's such a great (and entertaining!) vocalist; she can really do no wrong here. Plus, she looks likes she's having a blast. Kelly Clarkson is particularly impressed that, yes, Jershika went with much of the original version of the song, but kept true to herself as well and tossed in some of those intricate runs Jershika is known for. John Legend couldn't be prouder. He thinks this performance was unexpected and showed off Jershika's versatility is as an artist. It was just "tremendous," he tells her.
Team Blake: Lana Scott, "The One That Got Away" by Katy Perry
It seems like everyone else is going country this week, but our one full-out country artist is taking on a pop ballad. This Katy Perry song is all about story, so it makes sense that Lana would want to "countrify" it a bit to make it fit her style more because it could easily fit into the country genre. Still, Blake tells her not to waste this opportunity to show off something different, and he doesn't want her to avoid leaning into the big pop notes here completely. Lana takes that note, and the back half of this song explodes with some major power vocals. Ariana Grande calls this song "one of the most perfectly written pop songs ever" and is impressed Lana could put her own spin on it. Kelly, too, is impressed and thinks Lana brought a "Faith Hill country-meets-pop kind of vibe" to the entire thing.
Team Legend: Joshua Vacanti, "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys
Joshua's been living his best life in pop, rock, and Broadway songs, but for Challenge Week, he's doing a soulful Alicia Keys ballad. And he's well aware that having John Legend there to guide him through such an iconic soul song is invaluable. He decides to put his own flair on things and changes the melody, going big and "orchestral" for the first half of the song. The performance actually works much better in the second half when he seems to stick closer to the original. Blake Shelton admits that even he, a "redneck country music fan," looks forward to seeing what Joshua will do each week because it's always surprising. John Legend thinks Joshua is "a game performer" and always shows up and shows out — this time, not only did he take on an unfamiliar genre, but he also "showed more falsetto" and continued to take "creative risks" that paid off.
Team Ariana: Jim and Sasha Allen, "Stay" by Rihanna
After winning the Instant Save last week, Ariana Grande's father-son duo perform a more contemporary song tonight, finally getting away from the classics they've been attached to so far. It's a breath of fresh air! Ariana's right when she calls it their best performance of the season, and once again, Jim's vocals really stand out. Kelly Clarkson agrees — she thought the "beautiful, broken, painful" ache in Jim's voice was a highlight and loved the rasp in Sasha's voice, too. Ariana reaffirms this, noting that both Jim and Sasha can "hold [their] own" as solo vocalists.
Team Blake: Paris Winningham, "Amazed" by Lonestar
Blake must be stoked that he gets to coach all these country songs this week. Paris Winningham is performing a huge country ballad, but it's one that he has a strong emotional connection with: He used to listen to this song a lot while he was growing up and trying to process some of the anger he was feeling in regards to being adopted. That emotional connection is completely apparent throughout his performance, and Paris remains in tears well into the post-performance critique. The end of the song, where Paris "unleash[es] the beast," as Blake puts it, is the clear highlight. He tells his artist that he's "going to the semifinals; there's no doubt about it."
Team Kelly: Hailey Mia, "Peter Pan" by Kelsea Ballerini
Kelly thinks Hailey is "one of the best storytellers in the competition," so giving the teen pop singer a country song seems like the right move here. In rehearsals, Kelly wants to keep pushing Hailey Mia to stretch her range and take some vocal risks, and you can hear her taking that on in the performance (hello to you, big money note). After her performance, Kelly tells Hailey that she was never afraid of how Hailey would do this week because her young age lends itself to a certain type of fearlessness when it comes to trying new things. "You did that song flawlessly," she tells the teen.
Team Kelly: Girl Named Tom, "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay
Kelly wants to take her sibling trio known for their intimate folk harmonies and toss them into a giant Coldplay pop/rock anthem. It's Challenge Week, baby! This could certainly be a big ol' mess, but Girl Named Tom has demonstrated time and again that they know how to arrange songs to highlight what they do best — this is no different. And while Blake isn't wrong that "all three have so much to offer as vocalists," it's really Bekah who steps it up and shines in this song. So much power! Kelly is pleased with how her little experiment goes, and she especially loves seeing a different, lighter energy from this family group. She thinks it doesn't much matter what they're asked to sing, their family bond is apparent and it will always see them through their performances.
And that's a wrap on Challenge Week, kids. If those performances didn't do it for you, we were also treated to a medley from Måneskin, who sang both their enormously popular cover of "Beggin'" and their new single "MAMMAMIA." But our Top 10 artists weren't too shabby — who would you like to see make it through the cuts tomorrow night?