Blake Shelton dominates cutthroat 'Voice' elimination, and fans are 'done'

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If you ever wondered if The Voice was really just a popularity contest among the coaches… well, now you know. Thanks to yet another ill-advised Season 16 format twist that allowed the eight contestants with the most votes to advance from the top 24 to the top 13, regardless of team affiliation, Blake Shelton wound up with five contestants automatically in the top 13 this Tuesday. And four of them were male country singers: Gyth Rigdon, Carter Lloyd Horne, Dexter Roberts, and Andrew Sevener. (The other Team Blake contestant to land in the top eight was novelty rapper Kim Cherry, proving that Blake’s very devoted fans will vote for just about anyone.) Meanwhile, Blake’s nemesis, Adam Levine — The Voice’s most hated coach after the #Bathrobegate scandal of last season and Maroon 5’s critically panned Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year — didn’t have any of his contestants voted through. “I'm shocked at the results… It didn't reflect what the coaches think should be happening,” Adam grumbled to host Carson Daly. Clearly this new Playoffs format didn’t work, just like this season’s new Cross-Battles format didn’t work. Despite being an unpopular — or at least extremely polarizing — public figure, Adam did have one of the strongest teams this season, but it seems his affiliation ultimately sabotaged his talented team members like Domenic Haynes, Mari, and Kalvin Jarvis. But even more likable coaches were thwarted by Blake’s unstoppable popularity. Kelly Clarkson only made it to top eight with one contestant: yet another male country artist, Rod Stokes. (Her two female country singers, Abby Kasch and Rebecca Howell, were cut, reflecting a larger, real-world gender-imbalance problem with the country genre nowadays.) And John Legend only landed two, pop diva Maelyn Jarmon and old-fashioned soulman Shawn Sounds. Voice viewers, especially viewers who aren’t avid country fans, naturally took to Twitter to protest the show’s alleged Blake bias. Each coach did get to save one contestant, which ensured that Team Adam wouldn’t be entirely out of the running just yet. (To be honest, Adam has been so grumpy during the past couple seasons, I wonder if his heart’s even in it anymore. Fans of his contestants may have been more upset by Tuesday’s lopsided results than he actually was.) Adam chose Mari, who definitely deserved it, though it was disappointing to see Domenic, a stylist that Adam had once declared the best singer in the history of the series, go home so soon. Meanwhile, Blake chose jazz chanteuse Oliv Blu, Kelly went for R&B/pop crooner Jej Vinson (“I'm sorry I have to pick from practically my entire team; that makes it very difficult,” she lamented), and John selected theatrical belter Celia Babini. John, like Kelly, struggled with the decision. “I was so excited to be a coach on The Voice. I thought it was going to be all fun and games,” he told his team. “Then we come to this moment, and it's really painful to look at all your faces.” So, if you’re keeping track, that meant Team Adam’s Betsy Ade, Domenic Haynes, and Kalvin Jarvis; Team Kelly’s Abby Kasch, Matthew Johnson, Presley Tennant, and Rebecca Howell; Team Legend’s Jacob Maxwell, Jimmy Mowery, and Lisa Ramey; and Team Blake’s Kendra Checketts and Selkii went home. I was especially sad to see Kendra, Presley, Lisa, and the aforementioned Domenic get cut. They were some of Monday’s biggest risk-takers and most interesting performers, but America frustratingly went for the safe, and often Blake-coached, country contestants instead. There was another rule-twist Tuesday, and that too didn’t work out. Kanard Thomas, a Bebe Rexha-coached reject from the digital-only Comeback Stage, returned to battle a Bebe-selected surprise Comeback artist, LB Crew. Aside from the fact that Bebe should’ve brought back the ousted Kayslin Victoria or Beth Griffith-Manley instead, there was no way that Kanard, a singer who’d gotten little airtime, would win over LB, who’d only been off the show for a week — unless Kanard knocked it out of the park. And Kanard did not knock it out of the park with his weak Weeknd cover. That being said, LB’s Quiet Storm remake of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” wasn’t exactly electric either. After LB predictably won that battle, pretty much by default, he got to choose his new team. If he were a smart strategist who’d been paying attention to the voting patterns this week, he would have happily signed up to be Blake’s seventh contestant. (Honestly, why would any Voice contestant willingly join Team Adam ever again?) But either LB, who was originally on Adam’s team, is very loyal, or Adam’s begging and over-the-top praise worked. (Adam jumped out of his red chair and called LB’s Tuesday performance a “perfect 10” and the best of the season.) “John Legend, I love you. I dreamed of working on your team. But I see my [old] team struggling. I see my team a little low in numbers. I gotta go back home. I'm going with Adam Levine,” LB announced. LB will probably get voted off next week. So, if you’re still keeping track: As we head into the top 13 finals, Adam and Kelly each have two contestants, John has three, and Blake has six. Are we heading towards an all-Team Blake, all-country finale in three weeks’ time? Watch this space… but, yeah, probably.