The Voice skipped all preamble on tonight’s eliminations, jumping right into it with all 12 of Blake and Christina’s artists up on the stage ready for the slaughter. I took this to mean that we’d be on a tight schedule during this episode, and sure enough, The Voice has decided to throw in a few more kitchen sinks into the mix to keep us on our toes during eliminations. Carson (who is on a rather short fuse tonight, no?) informs us that the top three contestants on each team will be automatically granted safety, while the bottom three must sing for their lives, with the hopes of grabbing one more judges’ save per team. That is a lot of Singing For Your Life, and not a lot of time. We probably won’t have time for a special guest musical artist, will we? Oh, we will? Well then.
Yes, before anything important happens, it’s time to let Gym Class Heroes and some sort of Z-list popette/red priestess make some sounds for us. While watching this bizarre, seemingly thrown-together performance, it became glaringly apparent that we live in an age where our female pop stars must wear papier-mâché bustiers and day-glo wigs, while the boys are free to shuffle on stage in their in dirty hoodies and saggy corduroys. This seemed like some pretty bargain-basement fare as far as musical guests go, but the producers probably jumped at the opportunity to remind us that there are people every bit as unremarkable as our finalists that still manage to get radio play right now.
With that nonsense out of the way, it’s time to see who’s safe on Team Blake’s side. But first, in a last minute effort to get us invested in these people, we go on a field trip with them to Go Country 105, a radio station in Los Angeles, apparently. Little RaeLynn is eager to connect the dots between this outing and the competition: “Blake is teaching us stuff that will help us with our career long term. You see, radio stations—well, they play music, which is the same stuff I like to sing for y’all on television, and television is like radio, but with a YouTube on top.” Then it’s back to the Voiceatorium, and in whiplash-inducing short order we learn that Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, and yes, RaeLynn are safe. RaeLynn goes bounding off the stage squealing ecstatically. I suspect that girl is turning up the cutesy antics in an effort to get as much screentime as possible, and it will probably work better than is right or reasonable.
Team Christina’s field trip is decidedly higher rent: She takes her charges to perform on The Tonight Show, and get some showbiz advice from noted pop diva Jay Leno. Once we get the requisite car joke out of the way, it’s back to the chopping block. Jesse Campbell is safe—rightfully and obviously. Lindsey Pavao is also safe, surprisingly, a decision that can either be chalked up to America’s love of Gotye or its love of mimes. (Or perhaps just their love of people who paint themselves.) Chris Mann is the last to be saved, proving that as long as you’re not hideous and say you’re from Kansas, nobody will hold your dead eyes against you.
Then it’s time for a lightning-round tear-soaked singoff, starting with Team Blake’s Naia Kete covering “If I Was A Boy.” Once again, she whispers the whole thing, and when she does get to the first big note, it’s flatter than Carson Daly’s effect tonight. (Heyo!) After the performance, Blake says he wished she would have sung something more reggae, and Naia looks like she’s about to cry: “I wanted to! They wouldn’t let me!” They, Naia? They?Pay no attention to that Mark Burnett behind the curtain.
Charlotte sings “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, and while listening to and remembering the lyrics, I realized that while they looked nice and angsty scrawled on the inside of my 8th-grade journal, this song was secretly tailor-made for a save-me situation on a reality-singing competition. (“You’re the closest to heaven that I’ve ever been/And I don’t want to go home right now”; “When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.”) Charlotte wept and bellowed through the whole song, and it was far from pretty. Jordis, however, turned out a perfectly lovely rendition of “Wild Horses,” and once again placed herself at the top simply by singing the right notes. Christina, Adam and Cee Lo all unanimously advise Blake to save Jordis, and he wisely agrees. Charlotte and Naia are unceremoniously ushered off the stage, then Carson immediately and awkwardly segues into a plug for some kind of wristband that supposedly aids job creation—great news for our recent eliminees!
It’s Team Christina’s turn to vocalize their way from the brink of certain death. Ashley de la Rosa offers us the next step on her “Oh wait, I might serious about this” vocal journey, with an energetic, sassypants performance of Grace Potter And The Nocturnal’s “Paris,” this time adding a little more personality on top of the impressive vocal flair she decided to start showcasing last night. Sera Hill is up next with “Vision Of Love,” but I was barely paying attention to it, still thinking about how fun it’s going to be to root for an unpredictable late-bloomer like Ashley. Sera was technically fine, but even duller than last night. And with the assimilation complete, Moses Stone finally gives up rapping altogether, turning in a messy, flat version of “Falling To Pieces.” Christina commends his bravery for embracing the vocal skills he never came there to show off, then rewards him by kicking him and Sera off the show and saving Ashley.
All in all, the eliminations on tonight’s show were the right ones, and both Blake and Christina’s teams are looking markedly better after them. Who knows; with a bit of audience-assisted housekeeping we could actually end up with a not-bad Top 8. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my best John Rzeznik voice for my next karaoke outing. If Charlotte Sometimes can sing Goo Goo Dolls songs nonironically in public, then that means it’s officially socially acceptable, right?
- The “save me” songs tonight were the contestants’ own choices, as opposed to last night and during the battle rounds. Maybe the coaches should let them pick more often—many of the songs seemed much more suited to the vocalists tonight than previous picks have.
- Carson seemed downright pissed at times tonight, resigning to just barking “gimme a name, gimme a name” at Christina and Cee Lo when asking for their input on Blake’s save. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him who just broke up with his bikini model girlfriend, so I’m not sure what was eating him.
- There was also a strange lack of filler and incidental music during tonight’s proceedings—it felt like we had all been summoned to the ER in the dead of night for an emergency amputation.
- Zero Sprint Lounge tonight! How am I going to know what people on Twitter are saying about The Voice if Christina Milian isn’t there to point at some hastily set-up computer screens?