Let’s talk about the most important thing first: Adam Levine has bleached his hair. Not to a light dusting of blonde that might grace one’s tips in the late ’90s, but no, full blonde that calls for a host of comparisons to a slew of familiar blonde faces. Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element. Billy Idol. Tilda Swinton. Meg Ryan. The Goombas in the Super Mario Bros. movie. Rolf in The Sound of Music. Miley Cyrus in Miley Cyrus.
Sigh. I can’t harp on Adam tonight because there were plenty of divine artists to gush about—plus Kat Perkins—and I’d just like to get started right away. It’s the Top 8, a phrase I haven’t heard since my MySpace days, and certainly a phrase I hope never to hear again.
Performer #1: Sisaundra Lewis
Gasp: Sisaundra is singing “River Deep, Mountain High.” One of my absolute favorite songs, especially when performed by someone who can match the sheer crazy-before-crazy-was-a-bad-thing power of Tina Turner. And you know Sisaundra is more crackers than a pre-school lunchbox, so this is truly a match made in vocal heaven. (Let’s also acknowledge that Gwen Sebastian, a former back-up singer and standout contestant in season two, is on hand to consult, thereby becoming The Voice’s own twisted version of Travis Wall.)
Sis emerges like a grand dame, dressed like Aida by way of Alexander McQueen. She begins her performance not with any slow, easing-in approach, no. That’s not Sis’s style, and you know it, we know it, Sis knows it, and even Adam’s awful new hair knows it. No, Sisaundra doesn’t do subtle—she’s on full blast all the way through, but this song is all power, so it works. I can’t even understand the lyrics in the last third because she’s just yelling, but it’s the most gorgeous, diva-ready yelling ever, like if Jennifer Holliday was scolding you. If you don’t like Sisaundra, this performance is basically everything you hate about her, and if you do like her, then you might think she’s never been better. Both are accurate responses.
The added gimmick of the evening is that Sisaundra’s something-genarian mother is in attendance. She hasn’t been to a single performance of Sisaundra’s that wasn’t in a church, which could suggest that (1) she has no interest (2) Sisaundra only performs in seedy nightclubs and youth establishments (3) Sisaundra performs in church every week and thus she sees enough of her as is (4) she’s a Bria Kelly fan.
Either way, Sisaundra’s mom doesn’t cry. She kind of looks a little confused. I assume she enjoyed the performance, but she’s got Elderly Resting Face so I really don’t know for sure. Am I heartless that I still don’t buy Sisaundra’s tears? I mean, I feel for you, girl. I made my parents go to every one of my horrible school plays and musicals, and she couldn’t get her mom to see her with Celine Dion. It’s rough. But Sisaundra WANTS you to see her cry, which in turn makes me not want to see her cry.
Performer #2: Josh Kaufman
The last remaining member of Team Usher is singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” which couldn’t fit more perfectly in Josh’s adorable bespectacled wheelhouse. It’s Josh’s uncanny ability to make any soft song into an absolute power ballad, and this song is one of those that just begs to be transformed. Josh does an unsurprisingly stellar job. I don’t want to exaggerate or anything, but he transcends time and space while he sings. But you know, I don’t like hyperbole.
Shakira throws me for a confusing little loop. “There are artists in this world and there are artists with good taste, and I think that you belong to the second group.” So, like, he’s not a part of this world, but he has good taste? Are those mutually exclusive? Blake says Josh was perfect, and Ush says it was his greatest performance of the season. I wouldn’t disagree—it was damn near perfect—although I still have very fond memories of “Stay With Me.”
NEXT: “Kat Perkins does a little Daft Punk” (nooooo)