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'The Voice' Season 4, Episode 23 Recap: Michelle Chamuel Wows Taylor Swift


(NBC)On Monday night's episode of The Voice, the final six contestants performed two songs each: One chosen by their coaches, and one by themselves. With three coaches down to one contestant each, the pressure is on to deliver pitch-perfect performances that reveal something of the artists' personalities at the same time. On Tuesday, one of the final six will be sent home.

Here's the rundown of the songs and the coaches' reactions.

TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY TUCKER
Baylor student Holly Tucker needs to set herself apart from the rest of this season's country crooners, and Blake thinks the ticket is plenty of sass. He chooses Martina McBride's "When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues," hoping to unleash Holly's hidden "gladiator." Holly, who has a brand new pair of rhinestone-studded cowboy boots for the occasion, does a rip-roaring job with it, but for those of us who aren't that into country, it's essentially indistinguishable from last week's performance.

Afterwards, Usher seems less than impressed, opening with the mystifying line, "The attitude 100 percent was there and the theatrics of that song really does push you to not only to show up." He does not remove his sunglasses as he says this, of course. Shakira says that she liked that Holly "showed how much [she's] learned to have fun on stage." Adam compliments the "different kind of character" that Holly has developed over the course of the show, and Blake says it's "by far [his] favorite" of Holly's performances thus far.

TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL
Usher knows he's found a gem in Michelle Chamuel, who he now regards as a friend. This week, he has her singing Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," hoping to illustrate a point about her navigating a brave new world. Sure. Those who've been following this season know how Chamuel operates: She starts out soft and vulnerable-like, eventually swelling to the theatrical high notes by the song's end. It works for her, as it helps to showcase one of the things that sets her apart from the rest of the contestants: Subtlety.

Everyone's charmed as ever. Shakira compliments Usher's coaching skills, Adam says she's "continuing to just impress us and carve out [her] own spot in the universe," and Usher takes off his sunglasses to make yet a grandiose point about how important Michelle is. "It's really about us finding this somewhere that only we know and being comfortable in it and that's what this song is about," he muses.


TEAM BLAKE: SWON BROTHERS
This week, the Swon Brothers are performing "Wagon Wheel," and apparently they think it's actually by Darius Rucker — there's no mention of the song's original writers. Attention, Old Crow Medicine Show fans who've been misdirecting their anger at poor ol' Hootie: HERE'S YOUR NEW TARGET.

The performance is often nasal and the harmonies are occasionally clumsy, but perhaps more embarrassing than the vocals are the dancers skittering around the hokey saloon set behind the duo. They're dressed as brothel floozies, because that makes sense. Prostitute dancers: Why not? Shakira calls the performance "fun and loose," adding that country music is having a real crossover moment: "Latinos like me who weren't very interested in country music before are interested in country music now." Huh. Blake says he was worried about giving the brothers something "so current," but that they managed to make it sound unique.

TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN
Sasha Allen chooses to sing Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way," aka her mother's favorite song. An Aretha song would probably be the kiss of death for most competitors, but not for Sasha. It's gorgeous. Allen has had missteps in previous weeks with current songs, perhaps because her Broadway-trained voice is a little too fancy for EDM-flavored pop monstrosities. But with songs built for serious vocals, she shines, and she shines hard.

Adam Levine, who let Sasha go in the knockout rounds, sighs, "We've all established that I'm a fool" before insisting that it was her best performance so far in the competition (he loves his absolutes, that man). Shakira beams as she describes Sasha's ability to "transport the audience to another place in time" with her voice.

TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY
Danielle Bradbery, the 16-year-old who looks dangerously capable of taking the entire season, is tasked with singing Pam Tillis' "Shake the Sugar Tree." Coach Blake Shelton really loves the idea of using this extremely popular young lady to reintroduce classic country songs to the American public. It's a conspiracy, people!

Bradbery's performance is smooth, fine, and honestly, a little boring. Yes, it sounds pretty, but she doesn't seem particularly invested in the song (not that we blame her, exactly). Afterwards, Adam jokes, "I'd like to say, Danielle, I'm not a bandwagon Danielle Bradbery fan, okay?" He then calls Danielle one of the best on the show. Woo. Blake adoringly admits, "You make my job so easy because your voice is so pure. There's no tricks, there's no reason for us to change things up. You are already so great at what you do." He also compares Danielle to his wife Miranda Lambert, explaining that they were both "born with a little bit something extra, and it makes their star shine a little bit brighter."

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON
Poor Amber Carrington is way too young to have ever heard of Skid Row, so naturally she's never heard "I Will Remember You," the hair band's 1989 power ballad. But in rehearsals, Adam decides to take the song in a bluegrass direction, thereby giving Amber the confidence to make it her own with a signature twang. It's quite lovely, sung with far more conviction than any of the other country performers' songs thus far, and technically impressive to boot.

Blake says he's glad to see her taking risks, especially when country is involved. Shakira echoes the sentiment, insisting "Monotony is an artist's worst enemy." Adam gives a speech about how he was the only one who heard something special in Amber in the blind auditions, and now it's just the two of them against everybody, concluding, "Amber, you're incredible."

TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS
The Swon Brothers choose to sing Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" and they feel really awesome about it. Naturally, there are several mentions of the tornadoes that have ravaged the duo's home state. Emotional manipulation: We've got it! This is reality television, after all. Zach and Colton Swon seem positively giddy as they sing about not smoking weed or LSD and being happy, happy squares in Oklahoma.

"It's great that you're able to have fun and also represent where you're from," Usher offers. Adam applauds their happy energy, saying, "You guys did something great tonight, I know [Blake's] a happy man." And Blake is indeed happy, noting that the Swon Brothers have consistently dipped into their "real country" roots and that while 10 percent of the population is going to "bitch and moan" about it, the rest will really appreciate it.

Uh huh. Let's just wait until the voters weigh in, Mr. Shelton.

TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY TUCKER
Holly Tucker has chosen to sing Rascal Flatts' "My Wish," which she considers a tribute to her loving and supportive parents. In rehearsals she seems to have trouble with figuring out where to breathe and zzzz. Boring. But the performance is not boring: It's actually delivered with ease aboard a mini lighthouse. Novel!

Shakira has nothing but faint praise about how Holly "consistently delivers." Adam notes that she's shown "range and scope," and thinks she's really shown "every side" of who she is. Blake says she's the "most diverse" artist he has, noting that she's not capable of "reeling it in" vocally, but compensates for the lack of restraint by taking those notes all over the place. Afterwards they share a warm hug. Aww.

TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL
Michelle Chamuel has chosen to sing Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" because she wants everyone to see that she can totally rock "Top 40 straight-up pop." Mid-rehearsal, she's visited by a very special guest: Ms. Taylor Swift, who walks in just in time for the chorus. Michelle, flabbergasted, asks, "Do I really have to keep singing right now?"

Taylor has nothing but gushy praise for Michelle, gasping, "That was so emotional!" adding, "The way you doubled over with your hair in the face and everything, just don't stop doing that."

At the risk of sounding like Adam Levine, it's one of the best performances in the show's history. She hits all the notes without sounding even remotely like a goat, and that's not even the best part. You absolutely must watch the video and right now.

The crowd goes absolutely batty, prompting Carson to quip, "That's like TRL, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync loud." He offers her a congratulatory fist pump. Adam Levine states the obvious: ""I don't need to say anything, listen to this guys, It's unbelievable, stop it already." Blake admits he's "so freaking jealous right now." Usher knows he's struck gold.

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON
Amber Carrington wisely chooses Patsy Cline's "Crazy," hoping that she can land her "big country moment." The producers thankfully exercise some restraint with the stage setup for once, letting her and her surprisingly sensual voice take center stage.

Blake admits he was worried about her venturing into "sacred ground," but concedes that she did very well. "I didn't know that you could do this airy voice, and I thought that it was beautiful, it was dreamy, and a great song choice," Shakira dully opines. Adam, whose entire season now rides on Amber, calls her "a breath of fresh air in general, I think."

TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY
Danielle has chosen to sing Sara Evans' "A Little Bit Stronger," telling Blake that she's keeping her sister and her recent breakup in mind as she sings it. Yeah. She's 16. She's a little pitchy in auditions, but there's none of that during the show — there's just one epic high note that naturally, Adam refers to as "one of the most powerful I've heard in this competition." Yay for absolutes!

Blake is thrilled 'cause Bradbery knows how to "pick and choose" when to really belt it out and show off, and she's done it with precision tonight. "Oh my god, it's so freakin' special!" he practically screams.

TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN
Last but not least is Sasha Allen, who is performing Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" — a Shakira pick. In rehearsals, Shakira explains that she wants to move the song from the country to the city. She wants to see Sasha "New York pissed." Allen has no problem working the attitude, even ripping off her skirt as she makes her way down a terrifying set of stage stairs in some major heels. She's made this song her own.

Blake Shelton seems really happy that Sasha took her dress off. Usher brilliantly but casually states, "Man, I guess there's more than one Sasha Fierce," adding, "That was really remarkable, I didn't see it coming at all." Shakira, who does all kinds of GIF-able things in reaction to the crowd's applause because she's amazing, gushes, "You just worked that stage like a star!" and then proceeds to explain Usher's joke to the audience. Aw, Shak. You get cuter by the week.


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