Top Five, y’all!
Song #1: Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”
Song #2: Jewel’s “Foolish Games”
With Audra gone, Kristen is our sole country powerhouse. Not singer, but powerhouse. Although Jake Worthington shares the twangy spotlight with K-Mer, she’s far superior to him vocally, and she showed tonight that she could really own a crowd as well. If Jake’s approach is to present himself as a teddy bear and hope that’s endearing enough (which, yeah, it kind of is), then Kristen’s approach in "Gunpowder and Lead" is to immerse herself in the audience like she’s a middle-aged sitcom star making the best of her guest stint at the Kids’ Choice Awards by entertaining and delighting folks young and old (that analogy is a compliment, FYI).
Kristen’s “Foolish Games” is also really lovely. One thing I love about Kristen is the way she can go from fast to slow in a heartbeat and be just as much at ease with both. There were moments in her second performance that gave me total chills.
The judges applaud Kristen’s total coolness on stage, as they always do. Has anyone noticed that as opposed to past years on The Voice, this year every judge is never NOT (double negative, whaaat) complimenting the performers in the Top 20? In seasons past, the coaches used to at least try to throw their competitors’ best singers under the bus, maybe in an attempt to salvage at least a handful of votes from the obvious favorites. This season’s theme appears to be Universal Kindness, which I suppose is good for us as a human people, but it doesn’t exactly make for compelling coach-on-coach banter. Show me some side-eye! Give me some drama! Throw me more shade than the possessed tree in Pocahontas! I just have to hope that when Christina Aguilera returns, we’ll get some much deserved sass. (There's potential that Gwen Stefani could also be a gem when it comes to throwing shade, if her songs are any indication.)
Oh, and did you hear Shakira’s kind of weird backhanded compliment to Kristen? “You also represent all the people who nobody believes that they can make it as far as you have, you know? Because a lot of people, believe me, a lot of people didn’t think that you would get this far.” Oh, Shakira. I do adore you and your tiara-thing. I mean, I know what Shakira meant to say, but much like my fourteen-hour attempt trying to cook Julia Child’s recipe for lamb stew printaniere, it just didn’t come out right.
I don't know what to make of Kristen at this point. She could be a major dark horse here.
Song #1: John Legend’s “All of Me”
Song #2: OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out”
It’s adorable that Josh “Teddy Ruxpin in a Fedora” Kaufman met his wife while they were both working at a book store. I suddenly envision a Barnes & Noble in the very late ‘90s, when Tuesdays were with Morrie and Harry was just meeting Sirius and bookmark choice was kind of important and Kindles hadn’t yet ruined everything. Josh is the only contestant left who has a fully functioning adult family, so he’s already got the family vote tied up. It also helps that he’s far and away the best singer left.
Josh sings John Legend’s “All of Me” and as expected, it’s actually a lot better than John Legend’s version. I’ve said it before but Josh always manages to out-sing the people whose songs he covers, which is the mark of real talent (unlike the boy in my 9th-grade talent show who sang a John Mayer medley and sounded like the AOL dial-up noise). Now, for Josh's second song, he chooses OneRepublic, which is my absolute favorite band and Ryan Tedder is essentially my version of Hercules (post-bulkup). I won't say Josh sounded better than Tedder, but he does perhaps as much justice to the band’s newest single. (Truth, they kind of sound the same anyway.)
I kind of love basically everything about Josh, from his silly hats to his scrunched-up face and those little ears and the copious scruff that would make Gaston jealous. Josh Kaufman, winner of The Voice season six? Obvi, right? (Not quite. See: Christina Grimmie.) I just genuinely hope that whatever he does after this competition, nobody ever has to see this awful shirt.
NEXT: Jake's hats are getting bigger and bigger