Wednesday night saw the reveal of America’s voting for the Top 12 finalists on “The Voice” — well, actually, just the Top 8, then the coaches each got to choose one each from their remaining four contestants to “save.” It’s a brutal process that should be called “The Purge” or something. To put it succinctly, the show cut the number of contestants in half in less than an hour’s time. Again: Brutal…
Michael Slezak at TVLine recapped November 11 most appropriately by comparing the halving of the contestant line-up to marching the teams on stage to be figuratively guillotined. Chop, chop, chop and both of America’s top choices were revealed, followed by each coach announcing their save, and then three were left to contemplate the shockingly swift separation. Without any last words…
Even so, producers at “The Voice” were able to put together a show that contained four music numbers from each team, a Veterans Day message from First Lady Michelle Obama, and a performance by Season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks. Returning to the guillotine metaphor, it would have been more humane to have cut the first three team performances and keep only Team Adam (Levine)’s team’s group effort on Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” (Yes, that is how poorly performed — or simply performed in an underwhelming fashion — were the other three.)
So, skipping the team songs, let’s get to recapping who made the Season 9 Top 12 and who did not. And, yes, as is customary in this en masse severing, there were a couple of surprises.
First: Team Gwen (Stefani). America saved Jeffery Austin and Braiden Sunshine. With Viktor Kiraly, Regina Love, Ellie Lawrence, and Korin Bukowski left, host Carson Daly turned to the coach to decide who among the four she wanted to complete her contingent. She chose (from her heart, she said, which we know is a mistake, because Blake and Adam are cut-throat strategic players) Korin, even though her performance was poor and her song “Adia” finished next to last in iTunes charting (Regina Love didn’t chart at all, per TV Media Insights). Who should she have chosen? Ellie Lawrence, the contestant she brought back. Why? Because Lawrence placed third in overall song downloads and, though a bit melodramatic, is nowhere near as quirky as Korin.
After a short message of support for America’s veterans, last season’s winner, Sawyer Fredericks, performed the first single off his brand new EP, which dropped Wednesday as well. The song, “Take It All,” was pure Sawyer, exactly what you would expect from the folk-inspired teen. The new eponymous EP can be found at iTunes. It also features Season 8’s Mia Z (Zanotti) on two of the EP’s four tracks.
Second up: Team Blake (Shelton). America saved Barrett Baber (Slezak gives this guy an “eh.” and rightly so) and Zach Seabaugh. The shocker here was that Emily Ann Roberts wasn’t chosen, even though she got the times-ten multiplier for having the only download after Tuesday night’s performances to make the Top 10 on the iTunes Top 200 chart, per TV Media Insights. Surprise though it was, Blake Shelton did the right thing and chose her to complete his team (from Nadjah Nicole, Ivonne Acero, Morgan Frazier).
Third: Team Pharrell (Williams). America voted in Madi Davis and Evan McKeel. McKeel? He finished with the sixth best charting song in what was a mistake (doing the same song, Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” Pharrell had asked him to sing at his Blind Audition). Regardless, this left Darius Scott, Celeste Betton, Riley Biederer, and Mark Hood. Pharrell chose Hood (who knows why, given his facial histrionics and his non-unique R&B schtick) when he probably should have chosen Darius Scott (who took a mediocre tune by Kanye West and totally reworked it).
Last up: Team Adam (Levine). America chose for him Jordan Smith (who notched three songs in the Top 100 as his Playoffs offering, Beyonce’s “Halo,” peaked at No. 3 on iTunes) and Shelby Brown. Brown was a bit of a surprise, although her performance of Warren Zevon’s “You’re No Good” was adequate (the song placed sixth in iTunes ranking). Still, she was Adam’s third best slotter. This left him with Blaine Mitchell, Keith Semple, Chance Pena, and Amy Vachal. Adam, as mentioned, plays to win, so he chose Vachal, whose Sinatra tune scored the third best charter after Tuesday night’s Live Playoffs episode.
The teams still line up with Team Adam looking every bit the winner with frontrunner Jordan Smith. Team Blake seems to have a strong second, although Emily Ann Roberts’ Top 10 placing (with its multiplier award) might be problematic in that she might not be connecting with the audience. Team Pharrell has a team of competent singers but no real standouts. Team Gwen is by far the weakest, although Jeffery Austin could very well get her a seat in the finale.
“The Voice” returns next week as the Top 12 performs. The show will return to its Monday and Tuesday format as well.