Kat Perkins (Team Adam)
I’ve been very vocal about how uninterested I am in Kat, but even I have to take my imaginary hat off and admit that she’s never been better than tonight. The coaches say she’s a force (but so is inertia and nobody cares about inertia). I think she’s hard to stomach, but I will happily concede that her performance of Heart’s “Magic Man” was transcendent. TRANSCENDENT. (Unrelatedly, Johnny Depp's Transcendence was a total bomb this weekend at the box office.)
Kat says that "Magic Man" is her favorite song, which means it’s likely one she cut her teeth on when she was younger. I have to believe that if you get the opportunity to sing your favorite song on national TV, it’s going to be your best performance, and luckily for everyone involved, it is. Tonight marked the most likeable Kat’s ever been, and the best she’s ever sounded. I genuinely can't say whether I'll enjoy her performance next week, but I give credit where it's due, and this week she definitely delivered something worthy.
Big points go to Incredulous Blake (the best type of Blake): “She was a nanny!?”
Jake Worthington (Team Blake)
Story: My friend recently fostered a puppy which he named Scout. It kind of looked like Frances Conroy. In mere weeks, our entire friend group became enamored with Scout, buying him treats and showering him with love and pretending not to be disgusted with his horrific puppy farts. We allowed him into our lives and our hearts and let him seduce us with his big eyes and chubby cheeks. And then, Scout was adopted, and the removal of this innocent puppy from our daily existence was a painful reminder that all sweet lambs eventually get sacrificed.
And so it goes with Jake, the adorable country singer who, if he is ever eliminated from the competition, will serve up the most heartbreaking display of emotion on television since [something about Parenthood]. I don’t think Jake stands to be booted anytime soon, but I fear for the worst the more I fall in love with him and his tender honesty and sweet nothings and soothing vocals (this week to Travis Tritt’s “Anymore”). He needs to stop being so damn charming all the time if I’m ever going to be able to let him go without hurling myself off the back of the Titanic.
Tess Boyer (Team Shakira)
It’s nice to see Tess Boyer get a primo slot in a line-up that is almost always designed to save the best for last. Shakira commends Tess for being one of the best vocalists on the show, and they select Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You” in the hopes that it will bring out the “tough girl going through law school.” I don't know if that necessarily came through in Tess's performance—no, it most definitely did not—but it was still another solid chapter in the Book of Tess.
Tess really shines when she's singing power-rock ballads, so I'd be interested to hear her try another genre for a change. Then again, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, and Christina Aguilera have built their careers on the power-rock ballad, so there's no reason Tess can't join their ranks and launch into her own lucrative career involving stage silks.
After Tess's performance, Carson also reveals a quickie bit of news that some of you voters might find interesting: If an artist's song makes it into the top ten on the iTunes singles chart by noon eastern tomorrow, the iTunes download numbers will be multiplied BY FIVE for the artist. This basically translates to, "The highest-selling artist doesn't get eliminated," which itself translates to, "Go spend money now."
Josh Kaufman (Team Usher)
I laid on heaps of praise to Josh in the week since we last saw him, and tonight reminded me that it's all deserved. The second I learned that he'd be singing "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith, I knew we were in for another treat worthy of a place on the sturdy IKEA shelf that is Josh's past performances. There was NO way this wasn’t going to be the most incredible song of the night. If you’ve heard the tune before, you know how beautiful it is, and how perfect it is for Josh's voice. When Sam Smith performed it on SNL a few weeks ago, the heavens opened, and Josh is—in truth—actually a much better performer and singer than Sam Smith.
In a hilarious little bit of fun (sorely lacking in tonight's episode), Usher makes Josh run around the room “to give [his] energy to the entire room.” I suppose that’s a good exercise, although I have to imagine that if Usher ever gave me a command like that, I'd be far less Josh Kaufman and far more Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect.
It's also worth noting that Josh gets the best visual backing of the night, a super cool black-and-white rain set-up that almost makes it look like we're watching a musical version of Sin City. Oh, if only.
So, that's it. Tonight's recap is, I'll admit, light, but only because we're at a weird crossroads right now and I'm anxious to see how America votes. Up until now I've only gone on my own opinions and our shared predictions in the comments, so tomorrow is truly the great equalizer. Will America share my love for people like Josh, Delvin, Jake, and Christina? Or will Bria Kelly return to unleash a greater evil on the world than we have ever known?