When "The Voice" lets people go, they let people go fast.
Back in the battle rounds it was hard work just to keep track of who was who. But now that the field is down to eight, we've got a clear picture of who deserves to win (*cough*Jamar*cough*).
Tonight is about whittling down the eight semifinalists to four finalists -- one to represent each coach. So let's get to it...
First, a few words from the coaches about saying goodbye to one of their final two hopefuls:
Blake: "It's kind of a sick feeling. Bittersweet, I guess. You're as happy as you can be for one and as sad as you can be for the other. Music isn't meant to be a competition. It sucks but it's great."
Christina: "You absolutely can not compare Lindsey and Chris in the same group or category. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Tonight is the moment of truth. It's really exciting and it's also really sad because I know someone I care about and have been on a really exciting journey with is gonna go home tonight."
Cee-Lo: "I'm very uncomfortable and it's very awkward but it is the nature of this show and it's something I have to accept."
Adam: "It's so hard for all of us because these are our last two. We've seen tremendous improvement from everybody. I don't want to have to do this, I think everyone agrees it's a really crappy part of the show for us."
The less crappy part of the show (we hope) will be live performances from last year's four finalists, beginning with Dia Frampton and Kid Cudi on Dia's single "Don't Kick the Chair." Dia looks great and sounds great, and yeah she should've won last year, but that's how it goes. If you haven't heard her album "Red" yet, give it a spin.
But we're really watching for results and first up is Team Christina.
Lindsey Pavao vs. Chris Mann
Christina's thoughts: She has "that sick feeling Blake was talking about right now," and thinks both of her contenders are stars.
Christina's scores: 50 for Chris, 50 for Lindsey.
An even split, which probably means Chris gets it.
After America's vote: Chris 104, Lindsey 96.
Yep, Opera Mann is a finalist on "The Voice." Wonderful.
The fallout: Lindsey is very sad and starts crying. Chris awkwardly leaves the stage as Christina walks up to console Lindsey. Seriously Christina, this is all your fault. I expected more from you, especially after your savvy elimination of Jesse earlier in the season. Lindsey was at a gender disadvantage with the voters, and she needed support not your wishy-washy non-committal scoring.
Ah well, moving right along: another of last season's finalists Vicci Martinez performs relatively new single "Come Along" with her coach Cee-Lo. I'm reminded how much I liked Vicci -- if Dia couldn't have won in my ideal alternate universe then it would've been Vicci.
And now we've got the results for Team Adam.
Katrina Parker vs. Tony Lucca
Adam's thoughts: He loves them both so much, he truly does. They've grown leaps and bounds and all that. Adam looks at the night as a victory: "It's not so much about winning 'The Voice,' it's using the exposure that 'The Voice' has given you. The two of you can do whatever you want." (Which is a nice thought, but with last year's four finalists in the house providing a vivid reality check that the show is not an automatic ticket to success, it's a little hard to swallow.)
Adam's scores: 60 for Tony, 40 for Katrina.
Sorry Katrina, Adam was your only shot at getting an edge in this. (He explains his vote with another one of his backhanded compliments about her being the "most improved." But she can't possibly compete with his "bromance" with Tony.)
After America's vote: Tony 108, Katrina 92.
The fallout: Well, no surprise there. What has been fated since the post-Super Bowl premiere has come to pass: Tony Lucca is in the finals of "The Voice." Katrina is sad, but not as teary as Lindsey. She had to know this was coming. (Although if Adam had played it "safe" like Christina and scored the two equally, it looks like Katrina would've actually been ahead, which is interesting...)
I'm still ignoring Christina Milian's segments because she's still not adding anything to the show. But she does inform us that today is Erin Willett's birthday and maybe you care about that. Or maybe not... Especially when another of last season's finalists, Team Christina's Beverly McClellan is about to perform "Money Changes Everything" with Cyndi Lauper. I liked Beverly too -- no matter what else happens tonight, it's already clear that last season's finalists were a whole lot better than what we'll get this year -- and this duet with Cyndi is an inspired, energetic and slightly freaky pairing. Nice job.
Instead of more results, we get the final performance of the night: last year's winner Javier Colon with new single "A Drop In the Ocean." He was my least favorite of last year's finalists but I didn't dislike Javier, and he easily blows away half of this year's semi-finalists. However, this single is the sort of instantly forgettable schmaltz that reinforces why he hasn't been a breakout recording star. He's got a nice voice, but someone needs to give him better material.
OK, "moment of truth" time for Team Blake.
Erin Willett vs. Jermaine Paul
Blake's thoughts: He has "so much respect" for both of his team members. He praises Jermaine's decision to step away from steady career as a backup singer to go for his dreams, while Erin "has been through personal hell and back" and (in case you hadn't heard) Blake admires her so much for dealing with her father's death.
Blake's scores: 50 for Jermaine, 50 for Erin.
No surprise there, Blake doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. And even with Erin's tears, I don't think she has a prayer.
After America's vote: Jermaine 123, Erin 77.
The fallout: Wow. That's the biggest margin so far, but I'm not sure it says as much about Jermaine's popularity as it does about Erin's utter lack of appeal as a vocalist. She simply shouldn't have made it this far and wouldn't have if it wasn't for Blake's sentimental side.
And finally, the results we've all been waiting for: Team Cee-Lo.
Juliet Simms vs. Jamar Rogers
Cee-Lo's thoughts: He points out that he has "two of arguably the best contestants on this show." No argument there. He will "forever, unconditionally love the both of you."
Cee-Lo's scores: 40 for Jamar, 60 for Juliet.
OK then. With Cee-Lo's constant run of "I love everyone and everything" commentary on the show I wouldn't have expected him to take sides, but he has an explanation: "I couldn't do the 50/50 thing because you guys are incomparable. Juliet's performance last night was so obviously beautiful and striking and strong. Jamar you have been the consistent frontrunner this entire time. America loves you sir."
And he babbled on for a good while after that, delaying the news everyone wanted to know. But the short version of it is he just didn't think Jamar brought it to the best of his ability last night, and he thinks Juliet deserves a boost in the voting. Someone can be critical after all!
After America's vote: Juliet 121, Jamar 79.
The fallout: Holy crap! We won't have an all male finale, Jamar won't be there, and even if Cee-Lo had wimped out and gone 50/50 like Christina and Blake, Juliet still would've beat Jamar by a decisive margin.
It's a dramatic, surprising, and inevitably frustrating turn of events. And it's only going to turn up the heat on discussions about how fair the show's format is.
I think we can live with Juliet over Jamar -- they're both strong competitors -- but Jermaine over Jamar in the finals? Chris over Jamar? Even Tony over Jamar? Just because each coach needs someone in the finals? That's a pretty goofy system.
As much as I like the amount of power "The Voice" gives its coaches (especially compared to the America decides it all format of "American Idol"), there needs to be some consideration about rule changes for next season. The week-to-week ratings declines already suggest audiences are having a tough time bonding with the contestants during the byzantine battle rounds and overcrowded live shows. And now they're sacrificing popular contestants to make sure each coach has a player in the game.
Take a cue from "The Hunger Games," "The Voice." Jamar and Juliet were your Peeta and Katniss. And now one of them is gone. The Capitol will not be pleased.
Did the right four singers make it to the finals? Should the show consider some rule changes for next season? And who will get your vote to win "The Voice"?
Everything: The Voice
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