Tyler Golden/NBC
Emily Blake
April 10, 2015 AT 09:52 PM EDT

The Voice

type
TV Show
genre
Reality TV, Music
run date
04/26/11
performer
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson
broadcaster
NBC
seasons
13
Current Status
In Season

It’s pretty much required on reality singing competition for one of the coaches, at some point along the road, to declare that this is the best group of singer’s this show’s ever seen. That point came Monday night on The Voice, from the show’s veteran coach Blake Shelton. It’s easy to disregard it as an empty superlative (and self-promotion), but judging from the top eight’s performances, Blake might be right.

It’s hard to pick out the flaws on a night of such stellar performances, but seeing as we’ve got three more singers to send home tomorrow night, it’s time to get picky. So, let’s get picky:

The leaders

It’s usually hard for me to pick a favorite, but not tonight. I’m giving the Best Performance crown to Team Pharrell’s DaNica Shirey—and no, it’s not because she’s the only woman left standing. Shirey’s performance of Heart’s “These Dreams” literally gave me chills—and that’s saying something for a song that, let’s be honest, most of us would change the station if we heard it on the radio.

Nipping at her heels were two of Adam’s warriors: Matt McAndrew and Damien, whose performances of Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter” and Adele’s “Someone Like You” (respectively) were so brimming with emotion that I thought either one of them might actually cry, right there, onstage. It was deep.

Middle of the pack

It should be a crime to lump Craig Wayne Boyd in the middle of the pack. Really, he’s not a middle-of-the-pack kind of performer, and his performance of “Take It Easy” by the Eagles was far from ordinary. As Boyd has become known to do, he took a sometimes-tired classic and spiked it with his own brand of honky tonk. It was fun and flirty and made you want to dance, but, still, it didn’t quite deliver the bang of tonight’s leaders. Same goes for Chris Jamison. The third member of Team Adam’s triumvirate did a perfectly fine job with Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” but in the end, it was just perfectly fine, and didn’t stack up to his teammates’ performances. (But hey, the ladies seem to love him, and considering he said the word “sexual,” like eight times, he could be getting a lot of votes.)

Team Gwen’s Ryan Sill wasn’t far behind. He’s been in the Bottom Three for three weeks straight, and he proved he didn’t deserve to be there again Monday night with a strong performance of Journey’s “Open Arms.” But it wasn’t quite enough to prove that he deserves a spot in the top three, either.

Pulling up the rear

Perhaps it was due to a poor song choice in the beautiful yet stagnant “Holding Back the Years” by Simply Red, but Luke Wade‘s performance fell flat. He failed to gain the steam, swag and unadulterated sexiness of some of his past performances. It was technically on point, but on a night full of performances brimming with feelings, technically on point didn’t cut it for me.

Equally forgettable was Team Gwen’s Taylor John Williams. “Royals” is another track that’s hard to make dance—it doesn’t have room for a lot of vocal gymnastics and is almost decidedly slack. But even so, Williams’ performance felt two dimensional, and to be honest, a tad boring. Pharrell may have meant it as a compliment when you told him he has “an old soul,” but his performance sounded old in a not-good way.

Check out the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.

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