The Voice Recap: Which of the Top 12 Sang Like They Were Bound for the Semi-Finals… and Beyond!

The Voice became a whole new ballgame Monday, as the remaining contestants vied not for the favor of coaches Gwen Stefani, John Legend, Niall Horan and/or Reba McEntire but for the audience’s seal of approval. Which of the Top 12 gave performances that seemed to guarantee them a spot in the Semi-Finals? Read on, and we’ll discuss.

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Jacquie Roar (Team Reba), “Wildflowers and Wild Horses” — Grade: B | First out of the gate, Reba’s country rocker delivered a strong vocal on Lainey Wilson’s hit, but it was undermined by a performance that was oftentimes too cutesy for its own good. In the end, despite that impressive “roar,” she left the impression that she wasn’t as connected to the song as she could’ve and should’ve been.

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Nini Iris (Team Niall), “Lovesong” — Grade: A | On The Cure’s classic ballad, Niall’s alt-rocker gave us a singularly well-modulated performance that built in intensity to the point that the song could’ve been an epic Bond theme. I suspect her vocal at times got too yelly for some viewers, but I dug it in a big way. “And the Grammy goes to… ” Nini’s coach joked when she was done. But seriously, though; she slayed.

Kara Tenae (Team Gwen), “Love” — Grade: B- | On Mega Mentor Chance the Rapper’s favorite song, Kara poured her whole heart out. But while her voice was full of emotion, her face just… wasn’t. Gorgeous, yes, but also impassive. That, combined with some pitch issues here and there on her rendition of Keyshia Cole’s ballad, were going to leave her in the danger zone Tuesday.

Tanner Massey (Team Gwen), “Thnks fr th Mmrs” — Grade: C | In rehearsal, the 19-year-old said that Fallout Boy’s rocker embodied everything that he wanted to be as an artist. “Umm… is there another option?” I thought to myself. Tanner’s cover wasn’t a train wreck, but when he wasn’t being drowned out by the band, he mostly sounded like he’d bitten off a bigger number than he could chew.

Lila Forde (Team Legend), “Closer to Fine” — Grade: A+ | At this point, Lila has become for me what Maelyn Jarmon was back in Season 16 — a singer so superlative that it hardly even seems like a competition anymore. Predictably, her take on the Indigo Girls’ hit was magnificent to the nth. Her coach further praised Lila as the first artist of the night to really bring us into their own world.

Ruby Leigh (Team Reba), “You Lie” — Grade: C | “She does it better than me!” Ruby’s coach marveled after hearing the 16-year-old in rehearsal. On stage, though… eesh. Maybe nerves got to the youngster, but she ran into more pitch issues than we’re used to hearing from her. On top of that, perhaps owing to her age, she didn’t seem to connect to the emotion of the song. (Reba disagreed, but then, we’d expect her to, wouldn’t we?)

Huntley (Team Niall), “With a Little Help From My Friends” — Grade: A | Huntley’s massive voice + The Beatles’ golden oldie = a winning formula. Now there’s a guy that the band couldn’t drown out if it tried! He was so into it, so passionate, so tastefully screechy, I wanted to give him a lozenge when he was done. Also, we’ve gotta give him bonus points for working so hard to follow Niall and Chance’s instructions and keep his eyes open.

Azán (Team Legend), “Ex-Factor” — Grade: A | OK, can we talk about feeling a number? ‘Cause Azán was 100% into her Lauryn Hill cover. Her vocal was spot on, too — gorgeous, nuanced and saturated with emotion. Her coach cheered on the radiance for which his Super Save contestant is known. I just wondered whether the song was going to resonate with the Voice audience, which tends to be pretty middle-of-the-road in its musical preferences.

Jordan Rainer (Team Reba), “Stranger in My House” — Grade: A- | Since Ruby stumbled Monday, Reba’s country lane was wide open for Jordan — and she did not stumble. She gave a tangy performance of Ronnie Milsap’s oldie that really packed a punch. My one criticism? Much as I love Jordan’s sunglasses as part of her persona, I do wish she’d ditch them so we could see the fire in her eyes as well as hear the fire in her voice.

Mara Justine (Team Niall), “Lose Control” — Grade: A+ | On Teddy Swims’ viral smash, the 21-year-old Jersey girl killed, absolutely killed, navigating a hella-tricky verse melody and turning loose the voice of a woman possessed on the choruses. And Mara wholly owned that stage. The way she embodied the song, it was like, “Whoa. There had been no one before her, and there would be no one after her.” Stunning.

Mac Royals (Team Legend), “I Can’t Make You Love Me” — Grade: B- | Ha — smart: Song selection doesn’t get much safer than Bonnie Raitt’s ballad. And everybody knows the song so well, it left a lot of room for Mac to put his own spin on it. Trouble was, the spin that he put on it was kinda boring. Was his rendition nice? Sure. But was it enough to get him to the Semi-Finals? Questionable. Let’s bring back the real Mac with the swagger and the bedroom voice!

BIAS (Team Gwen), “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” — Grade: B- | On his Johnny Cash cover, BIAS’ vocal was all fire and brimstone — well above average, at least for him. I just can’t get past the cheese factor of his performance(s). It also usually feels like, if he was a stereo, his volume control would indicate that he could go up to 11, but in reality, his voice stops at 7 or 8. Just me?

So, whose performance really blew you away Monday? And whose efforts left you thinking they were going to be led away? Vote in the poll below, then hit the comments.

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