First up from our Top 8 are Judith and Michelle dueting on Calvin Harris' "Such Sweet Nothing." The set design smashes a kaleidoscope against a dance club inside another kaleidoscope. Judith is rocking some blue eye shadow. Their voices sound lopsided in the opening bars: Judith's fills a room like liquid; Michelle is narrow and sincere. I was all set to meh until they started singing on-top of one another, at which point I wanted to woo, happy to hear voices that blended rather than broke. It's a nice change to see an up-tempo pop performance this season and enjoy it -- instead of enjoying it because it isn't slow or Southern.
AMERICA SAVES: Michelle Chamuel
Usher is so excited! Michelle is probably also so excited but mostly shocked. Bonus: Meeting her mother, who was struck speechless, later in the evening up in the Christina Milian Skybox
Next dueting are The Swon Brothers and Sasha Allen, singing Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson's "Don't You Wanna Stay." The original track pre-programs its emotional moments -- the runs are built into the melody and the Big Moments are built into the runs. Sasha and the brothers hit the runs (though Sasha's big voice wants for deftness), just not really together. Compared to Judith and Michelle, the trio have barely any interpersonal chemistry, which would power the performance, despite Sasha's repeated attempts to look anywhere, at anyone. Plus this was the first time this season that her natural emoting became uncomfortable, considering how little heft there was elsewhere on the stage. Who bought her those pants anyway? What's their story?
AMERICA SAVES: Danielle Bradbery
Did Danielle know she would be saved? Carson drew out the tension as far as he could without breaking it, but she kept up a smirk while her teammates fretted. Real talk: I don't like Danielle and I don't know why -- and I don't know that I don't like her, I just know that I don't like being told how great she is when there is so much evidence pointing to how much work she still has to do. CliffNotes: Why was Danielle smirking? Because people smirk sometimes when they're nervous.
Speaking of: Danielle and Sarah duet on Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" in a field of lanterns, which is a great idea in theory and execution. The bad news: Both women sound not-great on the song and not-great together, though they warm up away from the plodding first verse. Danielle is uncharacteristically flat at the start while being characteristically low-watt. Sarah's feathery falsetto and complete commitment cover some of that over. She's standing right next to you, Danielle, feeling something. Just do what she's doing.
In a blink, the stage is back to its Voice-ian red (who else was a little jarred by the quick-fire transformation?) while Carson cues up another installment of confessionals.
Here's what you didn't know about our contestants and judges that you do now: Danielle loves cheesecake; the Swons love The Notebook (Lies! Holly says because maybe we should be friends); Usher loves "beautiful feet"; Adam loves feet as things that help you walk; Michelle eats straight-up lettuce (I'm going to start referring to most produce now as "straight-up"); everyone else pretends to eat straight-up lettuce; Judith is obsessed with superheroes; Amber thinks Blake and Adam could totally be a superheroic duo -- Adam would not be the sidekick; and Sasha speaks for America when she says that Usher "does have a nice body."
NEXT: So many things I don't care about because Sarah goes home