It’s Semifinals Results Night for “The Voice,” people. I’ll be standing in for Fienberg tonight, as he’s busy polishing his chops to compete for inclusion in the second season of the show. As Dan noted yesterday, it was pretty incredible to see how much more fun this show can be when actually good singers take up the majority of the airtime. Tonight, the show is going to take us from eight contestants to four. How? Damned if I know. The tax code is less complex than the rules on this show. It has something to do with audience votes, artist downloads, and judges’ scores. (The latter element led to the unexpectedly riveting scene of Christina Aguilera struggling to do math on live television. “Breaking Bad” doesn’t feature scenes this tense, people.)

 I’ll follow Dan’s house style for this recap, if not his expertise. So it’ll look the same, even if it won’t always sound the same. For the record: I’m predicting Vicci Martinez, Beverly McClellan, Javier Colon, and Xenia. Kidding! Just seeing if you’re paying attention. Dia Frampton will move on, and Xenia’s family will finally be released from whatever hostage situation they are currently in. (OK, fine: YOU explain her abject terror each time she performs. Honestly, if she continues onto next week, we might be looking at the first live human rights’ violation in television history.)

Onto the recap!

8:15 p.m. EST: We’re starting fifteen minutes late tonight, thanks to President Obama’s announcement of withdrawal from Afghanistan. To show her patriotism, Aguilera has agreed to start withdrawing her cleavage from “The Voice” starting tonight.

8:16 p.m.: Carson Daly introduces all eight semi-finalists, performing a mash-up of George Michael’s “Freedom” and “Faith”. Because hey, why not? Xenia is screaming “Freedom!” with extra zeal, apparently sensing her long national nightmare is on the verge of ending. Well, this is one way to pad the hour, I suppose.

8:18 p.m.: I knew who the finalists were, but seeing six females and two males on stage really helps differentiate this from previous seasons of “American Idol” quite forcefully.

8:23 p.m.: Out first trip into The Media Room! I know you were waiting with bated breath for this. I love how they only choose to show tweets onscreen that are run by people employed by the show. Watching Alison Haislip interview Beverly McClellan while Haislip’s tweet sits below her is Haislip overload, y’all.

8:24 p.m.: Bald Women Hugging! Haislip claims they are sisters, but one would probably throat punch the other for the chance for a recording contract. That’s an observation I could make about any of these final team pairs, not just these two. If anything, the lack of interpersonal drama has both helped and hurt the show. It’s nice to have a reality show without “Real World”-esque anger/backstabbing, but the proceedings have almost been a little TOO nice. Each person has pursued the prize on a parallel path. I don’t really have a definitive answer if this is definitively a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s certainly interesting all the same.

8:28 p.m.: It’s Elimination #1, y’all. Team Cee Lo is up first, with clips of last night’s performances by Nakia and Martinez setting the stage. Nakia gives his boyfriend in the audience a heartfelt thanks for his support over the course of the show. Martinez says that she feels like her father is there with her.

8:30 p.m.: Cee Lo makes the direct connection between “Freedom” and Obama’s speech, at first omitting the fact that females serve in the military as well. Oops. Cee Lo’s scores from last night: 51-49, Nakia. That’s a little surprising, although he mostly gives the edge to Nakia thanks to the overbearing drums in Vicci’s performance drowning her out. (Remember: this show is called “The Voice.” Also, ostensibly, the drums were his idea in the first place. Just saying. Sigh.)

8:33 p.m.: Vicci Martinez advances! Not a surprise. At least America looked past the overproduced number from last night, even if Cee Lo couldn’t. Still, I’m actually a pretty big Nakia fan, and think he’ll have as good a shot to make it in some fashion when the show’s over.

8:38 p.m.: “This is The Voice!” Someone got paid to write that. Who says the economy’s in bad shape?

8:39 p.m.: Cee Lo takes the stage, giving off a “Lawrence Welk meets Barry White” vibe. He’s performing “Bright Lights, Bigger City.” Every time one of the judges performs on this show, it’s like a stage parent that keeps kicking his/her kid off the stage to hog the spotlight for themselves. We know these judges can bring it. They have the track record. Let’s cede a little more time for the semi-finalists, eh?

8:42 p.m.: It’s Team Adam’s time. Before elimination, we get some footage of Levine performing earlier in the week with Gym Class Heroes. Because this happened before last night’s eliminations, we get to see some ghosts in the recent past for “The Voice”: Jeff Jenkins and Devon Barley. Awkward. More judge pimpin’ in this results show. Alas.

8:44 p.m.: “That was totally unplanned!” says Levine, lying through his perfect teeth.

8:45 p.m.: Elimination time, with Casey Weston and Colon onstage. Weston calls “The Voice” one of the most incredible experiences of her life. (More amazing than the one time she was in love?) Carson Daly kindly reminds Colon of all the other times in his career that he’s come close and failed, because Daly is one classy dude.

8:46 p.m.: Levine’s scores: 65-35, in favor of Colon. Wow. Levine tries to say the score isn’t as bad as it seems. He need not justify it. He’s totally correct, and I appreciate a judge for once being honest in a critique on this show. He still manages to praise Weston’s potential to the heavens, and insists she’ll be great down the road. Not sure about THAT, but he’s on point about the rest.

8:48 p.m.: The “Saturday Night Live” nerd in me hopes that either Aguilera or Blake Shelton gives one of their finalists a “Threeve” as a score, a la Jimmy Fallon’s French Stewart in “Celebrity Jeopardy.”

8:52 p.m.: Back from the break, which was put in just to delay Weston’s agony. And indeed, Colon advances. Not exactly a “tastes great, less filling”-esque decision there. Levine jumps up immediately to comfort Weston, who has seventeen years to go until her inevitably least favorite birthday ever.

8:53 p.m.: Flashback time: Shelton takes his finalists on a meet-and-greet, and then onstage with them during his concert to sing “Honey Bee.” At this point, I expect Shelton to adopt Xenia the way Daddy Warbucks adopted Annie.

8:56 p.m.: The pair is now onstage with Daly. Xenia tries to use her outside voice to thank her coach for the opportunity, but by and large fails. This POOR GIRL. Frampton threatens to cry while thanking both her coach and her teammate. And then chokes up. Probably staged, but still effective.

8:58 p.m.: Shelton’s score: 50/50. Totally ridiculous. Yet totally expected. Shelton’s not a judge, he’s a dad. It’s endearing from a human perspective, but makes me long for the harsh criticisms of that abusive “Idol” judge. No, not Simon Cowell. Steven Tyler. He’s positively Cowell-ian compared to Shelton.

9:00 p.m.: During the commercial break, Shelton calls every eliminated contestant to inform them they are back in the running to win “The Voice.”

9:02 p.m.: Dia wins. America’s not as wishy-washy as her coach. Shelton avoids being a bad guy, calling Xenia a “superstar” while Frampton cries next to him

9:04 p.m.: Obama ran over, but it looks like this show is going to try and end at 9:10 p.m. as planned. Last segment of the show? All about Team Christina.

9:05 p.m.: The biggest toss-up of the night, and therefore the smart choice to put on last. Frenchie Davis or Beverly? I honestly have no clue. I do know I’d probably watch a spin-off of these two living together and scream-singing at each other from opposite sides of the mansion.

9:07 p.m.: Aguilera’s often been loopy in her live comments, but she’s really solid in expressing her admiration for her finalists. Can’t hate on that.

9:07 p.m.: Another 50/50 score. Still wishy-washy, but at least you could semi-argue that it makes sense. But seriously, “The Voice”: next year, make it a rule that there can’t be a tie. “50/50” is hereby banned. You make up rules EVERY WEEK. Make up another one. Please.

9:12 p.m.: We’re back from final commercial break. The last person to advance to the Final Four: Beverly McClellan! Looks like my predictions were right, which means that I joined 95% of the audience watching “The Voice” to earn that achievement.

9:13 p.m.: If you have to give a single example of a contestant to represent the ideal of the show’s title, it has to be Beverly, right? That’s NOT a knock on how she looks at all, and completely a statement about how her looks defy the typical finalist in a competition like this.


Bottom line:
That’s a super strong final four. I don’t think I’d have a problem with any of them winning, which is not something one can often say about the Final Four of a certain other singing competition. My gut says Frampton’s in the lead right now, but the other three are right there with her. Also? Levine’s the only one with a semblance of guts on that judges’ panel. That’s really damning him with faint praise, but that 65/35 score went a long way towards me actually paying attention to any future critiques he might make

Next week, Fienberg will be back to recap the show. Many thanks to him for letting me stop by tonight!