Trae Patton/NBC
Samantha Highfill
April 14, 2015 AT 10:23 PM EDT

Subtlety died tonight, y’all. And I’m loving it. In the final week before the season four finale, nobody’s backing down. Each of the Top Five contestants is heading home for a bit, recharging and remembering why they’re here in the first place. Combine that with the tenacity of the coaches and the amazing talents of the set builders, and we’ve got quite a show. And, might I just add, the least country-filled show we’ve had in a while.

Here’s the lowdown: Each contestant is performing two songs, one they picked and one their coach picked. For the song they picked, they get to dedicate that song to someone special. Tonight, we don’t get to see the rehearsals or the surprise appearances by Taylor Swift. Instead, we get to learn a little bit more about the contestants by understanding to whom they have dedicated their song. Grab the tissues, and let’s get to it!

Kicking off the performances is the main man of cool himself, Usher. Performing his new song, “Twisted,” Usher adds a bit of a retro feel to the stage. Has Justin Timberlake started something here? And how are you feeling about it? Look, I’m all about Usher’s moves, and his busy suit is nothing if not entertaining (though slightly hard to look at), and that mic-stand kick was LEGIT, but I’m not super into this performance. I love a man who can give us three splits in a row, but the song itself isn’t pulling me in. Maybe if I listen to a second time. I’m willing to give Ursher and his shades a second chance to win me over. Third, max. Moving on …


The song: “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger

The performance: Jumping right into things, The Swon Brothers dedicate this rock hit to all of their bandmates, both past and present. And I have to admit it: I’m really liking this rock vibe they’ve got going on here. They sound much better than they did last week, in my opinion. Plus, they have a bitchin’ drummer, and there are sparklers. Count me in.

The feedback: Usher thinks it was an incredible kick-off for the evening, and Adam is busy waving his arms in a Napoleon Dynamite fashion and inventing the “Swon Salute.” Don’t fool yourself. That thing will catch on no matter how stupid it looks. Blake is blown away by his duo, and he’s proud they have set the bar so high.

Skybox break! Up in the floating social media cave of awkwardness that we all love so much, Tim McGraw has recorded a message wishing Danielle luck on singing one of his songs tonight. But Tim isn’t the only music star with a camera nearby. Katy Perry also says hello to Amber and commends her on choosing to sing one of her most challenging songs in “Firework.” Okay, now it’s back down to Carson who seems to be encased in a cloud of smoke. But don’t worry, he’s not on fire. The smoke is just yet another not-so-subtle move setting up for Sasha’s elaborate performance of a Whitney Houston classic.

NEXT: Sasha sings Whitney; Michelle finds clarity

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