'The Voice' live blog: The top 8 take the stage

the-swon-brothers-the-voice-nbc.jpgAs "The Voice" presses on to a summer victor, the Top 8 must take the stage and sing for America's vote. With newbie coaches Shakira and Usher only having one artist each left in the game, this could be the last week for one of their teams to prove they're worth voting for. Meanwhile, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine's teams are still sitting pretty at three artists each. Who will prove they deserve your vote tonight?

First, a little music from Blake, performing his new single "Boys 'Round Here," an ode to how country folk don't like nothing but country. Naturally, I'm not the audience for Blake's brand of honky tonk, but I'm sure his fans are eating this up just fine.

After much chatter from the coaches (gotta fill those two hours somehow), it's time for Team Adam's Judith Hill to take the stage. She's going to be performing will.i.am and Justin Bieber's "#thatpower," which is going to be quite a risk. That song is a bunch of cold electronica, so its up to Judith to reinvent this song completely. Which she completely does. On the stage, she's turned this into same sort of funkadelic party that's unrecognizable from its source material and magnificently better. As Adam says, she's no longer a contestant -- this is an artist.

Up next is Team Blake's Holly Tucker, who has chosen to sing The Band Perry's "Done." She's hoping to present an edgier side to her artistry, which is needed. Also, she reveals that she's been taking college courses throughout this competition process, which is really impressive. On stage, Holly sounds great. She looks a little uncomfortable putting up a sassy front, but it doesn't matter -- she sings the heck out of the song.

After some inane Christina Milian chatter, it's time for a group number with Judith, Michelle Chamuel, Sarah Simmons and Sasha Allen, taking on Rihanna's "Diamonds." Um, can I have a studio version of this immediately? One of my favorite RiRi tracks, with my four personal favorite female vocalists in the competition -- perfection. America, this must be your Top 4. These women just blew my mind.

Up next, it's Team Blake's The Swon Brothers who are singing "Seven Bridges Road" from The Eagles. There's a lot of talk from Blake about how they're the only duo to get this far in the show's history, but they have an extra challenge because one can ruin it for the other, especially on a song like this with such tight harmonies. On stage, the opening sounds a little wonky with timing issues, but the harmonies sound on point. When they strip the song away for the coda at the end, again the harmonies sound delicious. This is a really good performance from these two. Adam point out the few issues, but writes them off as being picky, which he really shouldn't do. Growth can't happen if criticism is written off as just being too picky, and everyone should always be looking to grow.

Watching Christina try to interview Holly's grandpa was a little brutal, huh? After squirming through that, it's time for Team Shakira's Sasha. She's singing "Without You," which is risky because it's Usher's song with David Guetta. His critique ought to be interesting. On stage, Sasha is a total powerhouse diva, killing the vocal just like you'd expect at this point. She's clearly having a blast, singing for her family. It's a great performance. Usher tells her that she did a great job, saying she did the song proud.

Up next is Team Adam's Sarah, who is tackling Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" at the insistence of her coach. During rehearsals, he demands that she push back a delicate approach and tap into an angrier, broken emotion. While I think the staging of the performance threatened to overshadow her vocal, she sounds incredible. I just think it could've been more powerful if she was alone on stage, standing in a spotlight. That stark image would've complemented the emotion much more authentically. In the end, it doesn't matter much. She slays the song, continuing to prove that she's a force to be reckoned with in this competition.

Now it's time for the country crew to take the stage together on Sugarland's "Something More." The Swon Brothers and Holly are joined by Danielle Bradbery and Amber Carrington, and, naturally, they sound good. By this point, it's no secret that I'm no big country music fan, but I do love me some Sugarland. (Why? I don't know.) So, I found myself a little more personally invested in this performance than usual. Amber, in particular, sounded great on the vocal.

Up next is Team Usher's Michelle, who's going to tackle Bruno Mars' "Grenade." Usher's not ready to be out of the competition, so he's really working Michelle during rehearsal. On stage, Michelle sounds really good. She's selling the emotion with real authenticity, and her vocal is on point. How she's able to get into that squat stance and still belt a high note confounds me. Usher is overjoyed with her performance, as are the rest of the coaches. Could Michelle be the dark horse of Season 4?

Team Blake's Danielle is up next, singing "Grandpa" by The Judds, as Blake wants to prove that she's not just a preternaturally talented teenager, but an artist. During rehearsals, she struggles to remember lyrics. On stage, the start seems a bit awkward. It could just be my unfamiliarity with the song, but it seemed like she missed her entrance. It's a bit of a snoozy performance, though that's not really her fault. The song just ages her incredibly, sapping out her youthful energy and not replacing it with anything else much of note. She still sounds good, just an odd song choice.

To close out the night, it's Team Adam's lone country singer Amber. Adam's having her sing Adele's "Skyfall," which is a gigantic risk. Tackling Adele takes real guts, but Adam's right in wanting her to step out of just singing country pop songs. I find Amber to be a much more interesting artist when she's stepping outside of her country routine, and she handles the cinematics of the this song with gusto. I'd say the risk paid off, and judging the audience reaction, I'm not the only one. Song of the night? I'd say so.

Did your favorites shine tonight, "Voice" fans?
Photo/Video credit: NBC