Singing Al Green’s soul classic “Let’s Stay Together,” Choice showed range and ease as the Team Adam singer effortlessly performed shimmering vocal runs, turning up the heat for his competitors in a major way.
“I am jealous,” Usher, himself a master of the falsetto, said of Choice, who auditioned in season 5 but failed to turn any chairs. This time, however, Choice was back with force, creating a vocal moment Monday that Adam Levine dubbed “terrifying.”
“It’s so effortless. There is nothing he can’t do with his voice,” Usher praised.
But the night got a whole lot harder for Team Adam when Minneapolis rocker Kat Perkins stepped up to deliver a version of Journey‘s “Open Arms” that Usher could not criticize one bit, calling it “flawless.”
“You should be very proud of yourself,” he told Perkins, a former nanny who learned to sing from her father. “You got yourself a sure thing there,” Usher told Levine.
Team Adam and Team Shakira narrowed in their teams from five to three.
Rounding out Levine’s power trio was Christina Grimmie, who picked Jason Mraz‘s “I Won’t Give Up” and captured all four judges’ attention. The petite singer offered a stylized version of the song that had Shelton gushing. “That is the best singer on your team right now,” he told Levine, teasing Grimmie about her small size but “powerful” and “poignant” performance.
Usher agreed: “You’re a little ball of fire. You’re like a baby Celine Dion or something.”
Levine praised her song choice, taking a hit from a male artist and making it her own. “I never would have thought of that,” he said. “It’s a testament to your artistry.”
It was also a powerful night for Team Shakira, as Massachusetts country singer Kristen Merlin opened and set the pace for the show. Singing Carrie Underwood‘s “Two Black Cadillacs,” Merlin prowled the stage like a pro, pushing the raw emotions of the song.
“That was just as flawless as a live performance could be – by anybody,” Shelton praised, later calling her “intimidating.”
“Shame on me for not hitting my button,” the three-time winner and country star said of not choosing Merlin for his team.
College student Tess Boyer of St. Louis, a contestant who had been passed from Usher to Shelton and now Shakira, gave her coach goosebumps in rehearsal as she dove into Christina Perri’s “Human.”
On stage, Boyer showed off her lower range, offering a slow build at the beginning of the song that was tender and vulnerable, and later captivating the coaches as she clung to the song’s sustained notes.
“You are superhuman to be able to hold on to notes like that,” Usher told her.
Dani Moz, who worked in PR in Los Angeles before auditioning for the show, earned her spot as a finalist on Team Shakira as she played piano and connected emotionally on Lady Gaga‘s “The Edge of Glory.”
Noting that she had to “sing for my life,” Moz did exactly what Shakira had told her when she urged Moz to let her soul “be seen.”
“You were completely connected with the song, with the instrument,” Shelton said of her performance. Usher said he was also transported. “The overwhelming emotion you put in really brought me closer to you,” he said.
Going home on Team Shakira were folk-rock singer Patrick Thomson of Festus, Mo., and teen singer Deja Hall of San Antonio. Leaving from Team Adam were bartender and pop singer Jake Barker of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Knoxville, Tenn., country singer Morgan Wallen.
The final playoff round on The Voice continues Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC, featuring artists from Team Usher competing for his three finalist spots.