The Voice looks like a fever dream with hilarious IF movie-inspired performances

There’s no other way to put it: On Monday night, The Voice season 25 Semi-Finals got…weird. 

The Top 9 remaining artists were asked to do double duty as they performed for America’s votes to earn a spot in the final five for next week’s big finale. First, they each got to sing a solo song dedicated to their hometowns. Business as usual, right?

Where things got strange was in their second performances of the evening: The artists were placed into trios and asked to perform songs inspired by the new Paramount Pictures movie IF, about imaginary friends, and imagination in general. IF writer-director John Krasinski even taped some messages for each group to get them motivated. The movie tie-ins on stage for each performance were…let’s call them strong. Perhaps, too strong, some might say?

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The Voice Live Semi-Final

Nathan Chester, Maddi Jane, and Bryan Olesen in ‘The Voice’ Live Semi-Final Top 9 Performances.NBC

Out of the three performances, the only one that doesn’t end up feeling like some sort of Furry fever dream is the country trio, made up of Karen Waldrup, Tae Lewis, and Josh Sanders, who performed Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” around a cartoon campfire. It’s very sweet! And not at all alarming!

On the flip side, there is the trio of Bryan Olesen, Nathan Chester, and Maddi Jane tasked with using their imagination to dream up something big — like a performance of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” but one where backing band members wear animal headpieces. Is it meant to represent imaginary friends? Or a wild (no pun intended) dream you might have when you eat too close to bedtime? I don’t know, but the horse head costume is very disconcerting. The three artists do their best to sing around it, but the musical menagerie is quite distracting.

The Voice Season 25 Coaches

Speaking of, the third trio of the night — Asher Havon, Serenity Arce, and Madison Curbelo — get saddled with the toughest job of all: singing an emotional Coldplay song whilst a giant blue bear attempts a contemporary dance representing imaginary friends supporting a child through a hard time on stage in front of them. The vocals on “Fix You” are gorgeous (Asher HaVon, especially, was meant to sing this song), but they are mostly overshadowed by…well, you know. The bear is a lot, okay?

The trio performances are meant to be more for fun than to be voted on (that’s what the solos are for), which is good news for everyone. As far as marketing for IF, well, it certainly was memorable.

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.

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