Recap: 'The Voice' semi-final performances
Carson welcomes us to the live semi-finals, where all eight (yes, all eight!) semi-finalists will sing.
At the end of the show the coaches will score the performances, and those scores are going to be combined with audience votes to determine the final four.
As Christina says, "It's truly go big or go home."
First, some thoughts from the coaches:
Blake feels confident that his team will win this year. (Good luck with that, Blake.)
Christina is excited to have all four teams going head to head.
Carson points out that Cee-Lo has a tough choice (the only legitimately tough choice of the night) between Jamar and Juliet, and Cee-Lo agrees it's especially tough because he loves everyone and everything.
Adam believes the night will be a true test of everyone's strength. He thinks it's an even playing field, anyone can win! (But not Katrina, Adam. Sorry.)
On to the performances...
TONY LUCCA (Team Adam)
Song: "How You Like Me Now?" by The Heavy
Vote for Tony because: He has a wife and kids! They need to eat! And he used to be in the Mickey Mouse Club with Christina, Justin Timberlake and Britney, but unlike them he had to pay his dues before getting a chance at music stardom.
How did he do? I liked the assertive song choice -- it's a good way for Tony to have fun and show his confidence. I'm not sure he's really defining himself as an artist here, but the performance makes a positive impression.
What did the rival coaches think? Blake didn't know the song but he thought Tony had a badass Robert Palmer thing going on. Christina knew the song and bragged that she's the one who cleared it for the show (for Moses). She's still kind of condescending toward Tony and jokes that if he doesn't win, he can form a Britney cover band with Adam. Cee-Lo loved it.
What did Tony's coach think? Adam says he wasn't 100% about the song but Tony convinced him and he's glad about that. It was the perfect song at the perfect moment.
ERIN WILLETT (Team Blake)
Song: "Without You" by David Guetta and Usher
Vote for Erin because: They don't come right out and say it in her rehearsal package (probably because they've said it enough) but her father passed away earlier in the show's season. Also, she's a really powerful singer...according to Blake.
How did she do? For whatever reason Erin takes a fun, anthemic dance tune and turns it into a drippy power ballad and unconvincingly attempts to belt her way through it. She does break into tears at the end though, and that's fairly sweet.
What did the rival coaches think? Christina thought the rendition was bold and gives kudos for that. Cee-Lo believes the show needs to put its own spin on modern music and he appreciates Erin for doing that. Also, he loves everyone and everything. Adam isn't permitted to comment.
What did Erin's coach think? Blake thinks Erin looks beautiful and he'd give "anything to have a tenth of the talent" she has. And even more than that he wants to have her strength, and applauds her for not crying until the end. Once again confirming Blake is so emotionally attached to Erin he's not actually listening to her vocals.
CHRIS MANN (Team Christina)
Song: "Ave Maria"
Vote for Chris because: He's Opera Mann! His mom and girlfriend testify that he's always been a determined artist. And Christina is allowing him to be true to himself and sing opera whether it's cool or not.
How did he do? Whatever. If I wanted to see this I'd watch "America's Got Talent," not "The Voice." And I don't watch "America's Got Talent." If you're really impressed that opera singers exist, fine. Good luck to "The Voice" if it ever wants to compete with "American Idol" for relevance in contemporary music when it has contestants like Chris.
What did the rival coaches think? Cee-Lo, ever the insightful critic, thinks Chris is "the epitome of this show." (Because it's called "The Voice" and Chris has a big operatic voice, get it?) Adam totally agrees, loves the diversity on the show and thinks Chris makes the show classy (because he sings opera, get it?). Blake isn't asked to comment.
What did Chris' coach think? Christina "felt the heavens open up just now. I felt so moved and humbled by your performance. Most people can't get up there and perform that as gorgeously as you just did it." She's so proud she walks up on stage to hug him...and reveals she forgot to put on pants. Oh Christina.
JAMAR ROGERS (Team Cee-Lo)
Song: "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
Vote for Jamar because: His mom realized he was put here on Earth to move people at age 7, so there's no arguing with that. His whole backstory is about inspiring others and achieving the impossible. (He found out he was HIV positive after heavy drug use, but has cleaned himself up and gone after his dreams.)
How did he do? Look Cee-Lo, Jamar is the epitome of this show, not Chris, and Jamar is on your team! He has a heart-wrenching backstory that the producers love to milk, an infectiously joyful personality *and* he's an excellent performer, strong singer and has a singular contemporary sensibility. It's like he came straight out of a lab that creates perfect singing competition contestants. He did great, of course.
What did the rival coaches think? Adam wants to forget about the competition, he's so purely a fan of what Jamar does. Blake notes this was Jamar's most laidback performance and he loved hearing the low note at the end. Christina appreciates the range in his voice.
What did Jamar's coach think? Cee-Lo is happy Jamar got to strip it down and do something a little more sensitive. He believes the story of Jamar's life would be a best-seller because it's a success story.
GROUP PERFORMANCE: Team Adam and Team Cee-Lo
Song: "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers
What did we learn: Jamar, Juliet and Tony are all in it to win it. And Katrina is...in it. But seeing Jamar and Tony head to head makes it even clearer that Jamar probably *should* win this whole thing.
JERMAINE PAUL (Team Blake)
Song: "Open Arms" by Journey
Vote for Jermaine because: He's got a wife and four kids! (Take that father-of-two Tony!) The former backup singer for Alicia Keys has toiled outside the spotlight for too long.
How did he do? I wish I liked Jermaine more, but I don't see any star quality in his performances. At least when he really rips into the song he's a more convincing power singer than the fake divas -- Katrina and Erin -- left in the competition.
What did the rival coaches think? Christina wishes Jermaine was on her team, she's always been a fan. Cee-Lo loves to hear a strong male vocal from a sweet song and thinks Jermaine did a wonderful job. Adam congratulates Jermaine on no longer being a background singer -- he's in the front for good.
What did Jermaine's coach think? Blake thinks Jermaine is the one to beat and he's peaking at the right time.
KATRINA PARKER (Team Adam)
Song: "Killing Me Softly" by The Fugees
Vote for Katrina because: She's the underdog! Adam saved her from elimination the past two weeks, and even though she's showed very little personality on the show Adam has deemed her the most improved throughout the competition.
How did she do? It's a refreshing song choice and Katrina actually pulls off a few believably sultry moments, but she's never going to match the personality that Lauryn Hill permanently stamped on the song, so it's ultimately a mistake. And of course she tries to end it with a big note.
What did the rival coaches think? Blake can't believe Katrina used to work in a cubicle because she has such a seasoned quality to her voice. Christina has fallen in love with Katrina and she wishes she was Katrina's coach because she would've changed up the song to suit Katrina. Oh yeah, and also Christina urges Adam to put his support behind Katrina instead of Tony because Katrina is a star. (P.S. In case you didn't get the memo, Christina really doesn't like Tony. At all. What the hell did he do back in their Mouseketeer days?) Cee-Lo thinks Katrina admirably reinvented Lauryn Hill's take on Roberta Flack's song, because Cee-Lo loves everyone and everything.
What did Katrina's coach think? Adam points out that Lauryn Hill paved the way for Adele and Amy Winehouse, and now Katrina can follow in their footsteps. (I guess because she kinda looks like Adele and the show keeps styling her to emphasize the pointless comparison.)
LINDSEY PAVAO (Team Christina)
Song: "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver
Vote for Lindsey because: She's quirky, and she makes Christina cry. Also, she signed up to be Christina's finalist, so let's make it happen!
How did he do? After a couple of slightly off vocal performances, Lindsey said she wanted to prove she can actually sing. And after sticking with mainstream pop songs by Katy Perry and Gotye in the past couple rounds, she's made a bold choice of going with something more obscure by the narrow standards of music competition shows. I think both risks really pay off: she sounds great and it's an excellent song selection.
What did the rival coaches think? Cee-Lo makes a joke about being more into "big love" but he's glad Lindsey stayed close to the mic during the performance and she did great. Adam wants to celebrate the diversity of the show again and thinks anyone can seriously win. Blake appreciates Christina taking both Lindsey and Chris back to where they started (indie rock and opera, respectively).
What did Lindsey's coach think? Christina loved seeing Lindsey "in her element," and again she takes the stage to hug her contestant.
GROUP PERFORMANCE: Team Christina and Team Blake
Song: "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga
What did we learn: This is the kind of cheesy group trainwreck I expect from "American Idol." But I like Jermaine more here than I did during his solo. Erin and Chris are somehow even worse. This does nothing for Lindsey either way.
JULIET SIMMS (Team Cee-Lo)
Song: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown
Vote for Juliet because: She's been trying to find success in the industry since she was 16, and she looks like she'll collapse at any given moment if she doesn't finally get a break.
How did she do? Tackling the song that Christina Aguilera memorably took on at the 2007 Grammys, Juliet steps up with an appropriately gritty, soulful and powerful rendition. I wish she stepped away from the mic stand a little earlier than the end, but otherwise it's hard to imagine what else she could've done to try to take down Jamar.
What did the rival coaches think? Adam says everyone was captured in that moment and that Juliet is the one to beat. (Again throwing his own team under the bus!) Christina mentions her Grammy performance and relates to how much the crowd responded to Juliet (somehow complimenting herself while complimenting Juliet). Blake doesn't get time to comment.
What did Juliet's coach think? Cee-Lo says Juliet "killed it!" and "murdered it!"
And that's it for the semi-final performances.
I started the night as a fan of Jamar, and I ended as an even bigger fan of Jamar.
But one of the biggest complaints people will have about this season is sure to be the rule that puts one person from each team in the finals. Why should Cee-Lo only have one finalist when both of his contenders are so worthy? And why should Blake have anyone when neither of his can match up to the competition?
Last week I predicted Tony, Lindsey, Jermaine and either Jamar or Juliet for the finals. I'm afraid we may see an all male final four, but since Lindsey did so well on Bon Iver I'll be bold and stick with Tony, Lindsey and Jermaine, and add Jamar.
Still, Chris and Juliet are the real wild cards here, and it will be interesting to see how their coaches side. I'm expecting Christina will skew her vote heavily towards Lindsey, realizing Lindsey will need the extra support and that she's a more unique artist than Chris. And Cee-Lo will continue playing the diplomat and split his vote evenly between Jamar and Juliet, leaving Jamar with the likely edge in the public vote.
How do you think the coaches will split up their votes? Who deserves to be in the finals? And where did Christina leave her pants?