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'The Voice's Top 8 artists perform: Hunter Plake sparks "rare" reaction, Chris Blue lets his walls down


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/16/2017 

The Voice's Top 8 artists took the stage for home viewer votes on Monday night's Season 12 semifinals performance show on NBC.

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The live shows continued last night with the eight remaining artists singing for home viewers as well as the show's coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys.

In a night of awesome performances, Hunter Plake from Baton Rouge, LA, took the gold medal and Chris Blue from Knoxville, TN, took silver.

For the semifinals, each artist was required to sing two songs -- a self-selected tune and then a duet with a fellow Top 8 The Voice contestant. Fans at home were afforded the chance to vote for both performances.

Hunter sang "With Or Without You" by U2 and received a standing ovation from all four coaches. The Voice host Carson Daly called the audience and judges' enthusiastic reaction to Hunter's performance "rare."

Blake told the artist it was his best vocal "by a mile" on the show and he admires how Hunter makes every song unique.

Alicia admitted she got lost in the song, and Adam pointed out it was the "most straightforward" rendition of a song Hunter has performed so far on the show and it was very refreshing to hear a classic take on the U2 hit.

Hunter's coach, Gwen, then told America to vote for her team member because he's "so talented" since he can produce and write, not to mention his voice is "unusually strong and beautiful."

Gwen said Hunter's voice has so much range and he performs with so much heart and personality.

For his duet, Hunter sang "Let It Go" by James Bay with "Team Blake" member Aliyah Moulden from La Habra, CA.

Chris performed "Take Me To The King" by Tamela Mann on behalf of Alicia's team, and all the coaches got up on their feet except for Adam. Alicia said Chris let all of his walls down for that performance and tapped into a place inside himself to harness all the pain, frustration and joy he has experienced in life.

Chris also sang "If I Ain't Got You" for his duet with fellow "Team Alicia" member Vanessa Ferguson. The pair earned a standing ovation from all four coaches.

For Blake's team, Terry "TSoul" Pinkard from Richmond, VA, sang "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin. Blake expressed how proud he was of his team member, saying TSoul took advantage of an opportunity to show the world what he can do.

TSoul sang with "Team Adam" member Jesse Larson from Minneaopolis, MN, for his duet. They performed "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder.

On behalf of Gwen's team, Brennley Brown from Apple Valley, CA, took the stage with "Suds in the Bucket" by Sara Evans. Blake said Brennley, 15, actually acted her age in this song, which was a great thing because fans tend to forget how young she is due to her poise and stage presence.

Gwen whole-heartedly agreed with Blake, telling Brennley that she's "so gifted and strong." Gwen -- who said Brennley "tackled" the song -- also noted how uptempo songs can be harder to sing because they require more confidence and personality that an emotional ballad.

Brennley also performed a duet with "Team Blake" member Lauren Duski from Gaylord, MI. The girls sang "Good Hearted Woman" by Waylon Jennings.

For her individual performance, Lauren performed "Ghost in This House" by Shenandoah. Blake pointed out that it was not an easy song to sing, that fans of country music often view the tune as an "untouchable song." Because of that fact, Blake said her success singing the song was a "monumental" moment for her. 

Vanessa, on behalf of Alicia's team, belted out "Superstar" by Luther Vandross.

Alicia explained she had lost her mind and went crazy over that performance because Vanessa "uncovered" herself for America and sang from "a beautiful place."

Alicia added that Vanessa is blooming and opening up in this competition because she's "unafraid of her greatness and the phenomenal woman she is."

Jesse sang "I was Wrong" by Chris Stapleton for "Team Adam."

Adam reminded fans how he was the only coach to turn about for Jesse in "The Blind Auditions." Adam said his belief in Jesse "is so real" and he genuinely believes the artist is the best The Voice has this season.

Adam admitted "the slim chance he might not be in the finale is a crime," so he promised that Jesse will blow people's minds if he's still around next week.

And last but not least, Aliyah performed "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me for her individual song on behalf of Blake's team.

Blake gushed about how he had signed up to do The Voice in 2011 with the hope he'd eventually meet and work with an artist like her -- a person with talent who shows "change, development and growth" throughout the competition. Blake called her "the model The Voice contestant."

On Tuesday night, May 16, the eight remaining artists will be cut down to the Top 4 finalists during The Voice's live results show.



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