Kennedy 'Beyoncé Jr.' Holmes brings Beychella to 'The Voice' finale

Lyndsey Parker

Do not attempt to adjust your TV set. You weren’t watching a rebroadcast of Beychella — aka Beyoncé’s herstory-making performance at Coachella 2018 — on the final showdown of Season 15 of The Voice on Monday night. But it’s understandable how you could make such a mistake. At one point during Monday’s top four performance episode, even Jennifer Hudson shouted, “I thought that was Beyoncé up there!”

No, you were watching Kennchella — aka Jennifer’s 14-year-old “mini-boss lady,” Kennedy Holmes, closing the show with a seemingly Beychella-inspired and supremely confident performance of Demi Lovato’s “Confident,” complete with pyro cannons, an army of bicycle-shorted backup dancers and a pyramid-formation marching band. She slayed all day, and she was flawless.



A few weeks ago, Kennedy’s interpretation of “Greatest Love of All” had gob-smacked viewers declaring her “the next Whitney.”  And while I don’t want to anger the Beyhive or the Beyency by declaring Kennedy “the next Beyoncé,” one fan on Twitter called her “Beyoncé Jr.,” and that was apt.





This was for sure the best R&B production on The Voice since Chris Blue’s “Rhythm Nation” on Season 12, and, well, Chris Blue went on to win the whole show. Based on Monday’s overall performances (of originals, covers and coach duets), I think Kennedy absolutely should win — and she just might, since the other three contestants are all country singers and could split that vote.

We can’t underestimate the voting power of the country contingent, however, nor the power of America’s sweetheart and the show’s most popular coach, Blake Shelton, who has two contestants in this season’s finale and is eyeing a possible seventh victory. But I believe Kennedy is the girl who ought to run the Voice world.

These were the other performances of the night:

ORIGINALS 

Kirk Jay (Team Blake), “Defenseless” 
This weepy ballad (co-written by Season 2 Voice alumnus Nicolle Galyon!) was as generic and bland as a sack of off-brand oatmeal, and Kirk won’t have a hit with this. But since when has any Voice winner had a hit with an original coronation single? At least Kirk elevated the ho-hum material with his distinctive, vibrato-laden warble, and that is the mark of a true “can sing the phone book” future country star. “Welcome to the country music family. You’re the real deal, dude,” said proud coach Blake.

Kennedy Holmes (Team J.Hud), “Love Is Free”
This funky jam was definitely catchier than Kirk’s single. It had such a ‘90s New Jack swing vibe, it could have been Jodeci fan DeAndre Nico’s single if this season had played out very differently. Kennedy reminded me of teenage Alicia Keys here, and it was nice to once again see her giving a breezy, age-appropriate performance. This is a contestant I can truly envision becoming a star. “It sounds like you. You look like you’re being fun. … You’re doing songs I feel like you would want to do on tour, and I love that for you,” Kelly Clarkson said.

Chris Kroeze (Team Blake), “Human”
This midtempo, radio-ready song, penned by the hit-making Nashville team of Ross Copperman, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally, veered away from Chris’s usually hoary ‘70s bar-band shtick to a more modern, crossover pop-country sound. Surprisingly, Chris pulled it off. I wish he’d taken more risks this season, because this was the first time I saw him as a viable recording artist. “You can’t really put you in one category because you’re so talented and your voice can lend itself to so many different things,” Blake told him.

Chevel Shepherd (Team Kelly), “Broken Hearts”
This 16-year-old ingenue bright an endearing sweetness and vulnerability to this storytelling bluegrass ballad. It was a simple and straightforward performance, but this number didn’t need any Beychella backup dancers or an audience of glowstick-waving swaybots. Chevel could be the dark horse in this competition.

DUETS

Kirk Jay & Blake Shelton, “You Look So Good in Love”
Blake isn’t exactly a world-class vocalist, so this pairing should have allowed Kirk to be the star. Instead, it started off wonky, with Kirk randomly ad-libbing and seeming more like Blake’s background singer than partner. Thankfully, when Kirk finally got to his solo, he did shine. But that talking part? Just plain awkward.

Kennedy Holmes & Jennifer Hudson, “Home”
While Kirk and Blake’s novelty hit seemed like a throwaway performance and a missed opportunity, Kennedy absolutely held her own alongside the seasoned Grammy/Oscar/Globe-winning Jennifer on this triumph-of-the-spirit tour de force from The Wiz. This felt like another torch-passing moment. Whether or not Kennedy wins The Voice, this girl has a future — possibly on Broadway.

Chevel Shepherd & Kelly Clarkson, “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”
“Chevelly” exuded cute chemistry on this plucky Judds number, almost seeming like a mother-daughter duo themselves. Kelly has supported her winner from last season, Brynn Cartelli (Kelly’s husband manages Brynn, who just signed with Kelly’s label, Atlantic Records), so here’s hoping that regardless of where Chevel places in this competition, Kelly will also help her.

Chris Kroeze & Blake Shelton, “Two More Bottles of Wine”
Kirk may still be Blake’s best bet for a seventh Voice win, but Chris had the better night oversell. In addition to Chris getting a better original, this spirited Delbert McClinton tune was a good fit for his and Blake’s fun, rawkin’ vibe, and it worked much better as a duet than Kirk and Blake’s clumsy George Strait moment.

COVERS

Chris Kroeze, “Sweet Home Alabama”
Even though his original song strayed from the usual formula, Chris and his coach apparently decided his cover song wasn’t the time to take a chance —sSo he was back to a predictable classic country-rock with an unimaginative arrangement. I suppose this strategy was understandable: It has made Chris the No. 1 Apple Music streamer for the past two weeks, and covering the Marshall Tucker Band got Chris into this season’s finale. But did Chris play it too safe with bar-band Skynrd? I say yes. I was practically yelling out “Free Bird!” during this performance, because at least a power ballad might have packed some sort of emotional punch.

Chevel Shepherd, “It’s a Little Too Late”
The “country Tinkerbell” of Season 15 also didn’t tinker with her tried-and-true formula, sticking with vintage country, but her Tanya Tucker barnstormer was a hoot, not a snooze. She was more confident and loosey-goosey than usual, showing she has really come into her own as a performer, and her near-a cappella intro built the drama before the band kicked in. Maybe it’s not a little too late for Chevel to win The Voice.

Kirk Jay, “I Won’t Let Go”
Of course Kirk did Rascal Flatts, the band he covered at his four-chair Blind Audition. So yes, this was also a safe song choice. And his performance wasn’t perfect: Kirk seemed to pull his microphone away  at odd intervals, causing his voice to cut out. But this was elegant and stately overall, and his diehard fans will surely love it, especially the teary ending. If Kirk wins Tuesday — and it has been widely predicted that he will — it will be because of this moment.

Anyone could win this thing, although if the iTunes charts are any indication of overall voting patterns, it looks as if Kirk has the best shot. Tune in to Tuesday’s part two finale night to find out and to check out performances by Panic! At the Disco, Halsey, Dan & Shay, Dierks Bentley, John Legend, Esperanza Spalding, Kelly Rowland, the Doobie Brothers, Marshmello & Bastille, Brynn Cartelli and Kirk’s favorite band, Rascal Flatts. See you then.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Follow Lyndsey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Amazon, Tumblr, Spotify.