The most important episode of "The Voice" Season 5 so far — the top five semifinals, the show that'll determine which three contestants (with no help of an Instant Save) advance to next week's finale — took place Monday night. Hypothetically, it could be an all-Team Adam finale next week, if all of Adam Levine's contestants make it through. There's also a chance that one of the other coaches still represented in the mix, Christina Aguilera or three-time champ Blake Shelton, could be out of the running after the votes are tallied, leaving them sitting on the sidelines alongside poor, jilted CeeLo Green.
But enough talk about whether Adam will win, or Christina will win, or Blake will win. The stakes are obviously much higher for the actual contestants, the ones who are trying to win an actual record contract, not just bragging rights. So let's recap how they all did…and then predict which three will make the cut.
James Wolpert (Team Adam) – Going first in the "death spot," after his near-elimination last week, could have meant trouble for James. But as Blake later told him, "You needed a moment like that. Heck, you might've dug yourself out of the hole." Adam assigned James a big, big song, the U2 classic "With or Without You" — and while James lacked Bono's famously messianic charisma, and the verse started off a bit rough, once James was allowed to belt the chorus, his Brandon Flowery nerviness somehow worked with the moody ballad. It was a solid performance of a song that could've been many a contestant's undoing. "I don't even care about the competition at this point," said Adam [easy for him to say, when he has three contestants left and is therefore guaranteed representation in the finale], "I just know how incredible that performance was. That was even beyond what I thought you could do." Will this be enough to get James to the finale, which I am sure he still cares about? I'm not sure, but I do believe "The Voice" would be a little less exciting without him.
Will Champlin (Team Adam) – Adam's underdog did a cover of fun.'s "Carry On," an anthem that applied to his own show-must-go-on attitude and real-life situation (his wife is battling a brain tumor). I wanted to like this a little more — fun. are, well, fun, and they kind of rock, but here was Will looking staid and old-fashioned in a suit, minus his trademark geek-chic glasses, and he was even seated for part of the performance. Later he picked up the pace, which I appreciated, but then he once again let his passion get the better of him and he missed a few big notes. (Nate Ruess ain't easy to emulate, y'all.) However, both Adam and Will seemed immensely satisfied with this effort. "Look at that smile, man! Trust me, if Will is smiling, he knows he did well, because he's so hard on himself and such a hard worker. I'm gushing, I'm just really proud of you," said Adam. "It is really cool to see you all swaggy up there," said CeeLo. "We all enjoyed that, because you seemed to be enjoying that for a change," agreed Blake. It annoyed me that the coaches, even Will's own coach, implied that Will is usually some frowny sad-sack; I never thought that about him before. I am worried for Will now; I do think he deserves to be in the finale, based on his overall body of work, but I don't know if he'll carry on after this.
Jacquie Lee (Team Xtina) – I'm not sure what Christina was thinking when she picked Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" for Jacquie. Why give Jacquie a song associated in most viewers' minds with sad-eyed, doomed stray cats and dogs? Did Christina want to bum out all of America? Did she want viewers picking up their phones to make donations to the SPCA instead of calling Jacquie's voting number or buying her songs on iTunes? I'm not saying Jacquie didn't do a lovely job with this evangelical weeper; she did, because she's a formidable talent and can sing almost anything. I just would have preferred something a little less depressing, and a little more youthful and edgy. But Christina seemed convinced that this song would resonate with America. "Wow, you did things I didn't even know you were going to do tonight. You blew me away…You straight-up won in my heart," said a delighted Xtina. I suppose we'll soon know if Christina made the right song choice, when the iTunes numbers are finalized on Tuesday morning.
Cole Vosbury (Team Blake) – CeeLo, having lost his last contestant weeks ago, continued to take credit for originally turning around for Cole (while conveniently failing to mention that he foolishly sacrificed Cole in the Knockout Rounds for the soon-to-be-eliminated-anyway Jonny Gray). How shameless of CeeLo! And speaking of that, Cole did Garth Brooks's "Shameless" this Monday. It was a smart song choice on Blake's part. The tune was penned by Billy Joel, so it hit the sweet spot where rock, pop, soul, and country meet. Much like Donny & Marie, it was a little bit country, and a little bit rock 'n' roll. And it was all very Cole. I enjoyed seeing Cole back on the piano, too. My one concern was that I didn't think the song was ambitious enough — that it didn't have enough range or dynamics to showcase Cole's voice at this crucial stage of the game. But then Cole got up from his bench and turned "Shameless" into a Black Crowes barnstormer. And it was fantastic. "Incredible job, dude," said a proud Blake. CeeLo called Cole a "bona fide rock star" and bragged that he'd "seen the potential immediately" in Cole all along. I think America sees it, too. I think Cole will be safe.
Tessanne Chin (Team Adam) – Jamaican diva Tessanne, arguably the strongest singer of this top five, got the pimp spot, and Adam was NOT playing when he gave her "Bridge Over Troubled Water." He obviously wanted to ensure that, regardless of whatever eventually happened to James or Will, Tessanne would make it to the top three. And with a performance like this, I am certain she will. This performance was perfect: emotional, dynamic, tasteful, and infused with emotion stemming from some private, personal stuff she had the class not to discuss on camera. When she was finished, Tessanne was sobbing, and the audience was screaming so enthusiastically, none of the coaches could even get a word in. Finally Adam blurted out, "That's crazy, what just happened. I've never been speechless on the show before…That was probably the most flawless and graceful performance I've ever heard on this show."
So now, it is prediction time. Who will make it to the finale? My guess is the top three will be Tessanne, Cole, and Jacquie — with Team Adam's two quirky indie-rock boys, James and Will, unfortunately canceling each other out.
But really, it's still anyone's game. Unlike past seasons of "The Voice" (the Javier Colon-dominated Season 1, the Cassadee Pope-dominated Season 3, the Danielle Bradbery-dominated Season 4), there is no OBVIOUS frontrunner here. Everyone has a chance. So Tuesday's results show is going to be mighty suspenseful.
Tune in to find out what happens…and see you then!