Monday night, on what was perhaps the most controversial episode in the entire history of "The Voice," Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton respectively cut two of their strongest singers, Jesse Campbell and Jordis Unga, in a seemingly last-minute and not fully explained "instant elimination" round. And public outrage ensued. Jesse's elimination in particular seemed to really anger "Voice" viewers, and on Tuesday's results show, even Christina's co-coaches Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine respectfully expressed confusion over her decision. However, on Tuesday, neither Blake nor Christina backed down from their choices, and Christina even declared, "I am no stranger to controversy, and I am okay with that. I am fearless in the face of what I believe, and I defend any action that I make. I do have a strategy."
Well, maybe that strategy worked. After all, I'd hoped that Chris Mann and Lindsey Pavao (Team Xtina's top iTunes sellers, it should be noted) would ultimately be Christina's last two standing, and Christina redeemed herself when that's exactly the result she ended up with this week. Chris was the top vote-getter on her team, thus automatically advancing to the top eight, and when Christina then had to choose between Lindsey and her other remaining contestant, Ashley De La Rosa, she wisely went with Lindsey.
Ashley's last-chance performance of Lady Gaga's "You And I" was solid, but it was generic; it was hard to imagine that this was the performance of the future Season 2 winner. Lindsey's haunting and goosefleshy cover of Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go," however, was a revelation. I worried that, since Lindsey is more of a song stylist than a full-on belter like Ashley (or, come to think of it, like Christina), Christina would pick Ashley instead--and when Lindsey started bawling after her emotional performance, and then Christina started crying too, I prepared myself for a sobfest of my own. But soon I was brimming with happy tears, when Lindsey was saved.
So with Christina, all was forgiven. But I was even more worried about Team Blake's outcome, since all season long Blake had demonstrated a bizarre amount of loyalty to country singer RaeLynn, despite the fact that RaeLynn was arguably one of the entire season's weakest vocalists. So after Jermaine Paul made it through as Team Blake's top vote-getter (a little bit of a surprise), I feared that Blake would make another mistake, and save RaeLynn over the undeniably more talented Erin Willett.
But when Erin and RaeLynn gave their last-chance performances, Blake's decision could not have been more clear. Erin's "Proud Mary" was pure fire, perhaps her best effort yet, full of diva attitude; she really sold the song. RaeLynn's "If I Die Young," however, was weak. Her voice was so affected (RaeLynn is the Erin Martin of country), and even the one thing that she'd always had going for her, pure sass, seemed to be missing from her performance. It almost seemed like she'd given up. Even Blake had to admit that he was a little disappointed.
And then, with literally only seconds to spare in the broadcast--the credits were already rolling--Blake thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, saved Erin Willett. RaeLynn seemed crushed, but Blake has historically been the most loyal "Voice" coach--he had his finalist from last year, Dia Frampton, open up for him on tour, and he hired this year's top 48 semifinalist Gwen Sebastian to be his backup singer--so I wouldn't surprised if Blake continued to help out RaeLynn on his own time. She just wasn't right for this show. Sure, RaeLynn was button-cute and possessed some undeniable star quality, but she really didn't deserve to stay over a powerhouse like Erin. This show is called "The Voice," after all.
So Blake redeemed himself a little bit as well, but since RaeLynn hadn't deserved to stay over Jordis Unga, either, all was NOT forgiven with him--at least not yet, and not by me. If it were up to me, Team Blake's last two standing would have been Jordis and Erin. But it wasn't up to me, obviously. Sigh.
Still, Blake and Christina (especially Christina) ended up with strong teams of two, so the situation could have been worse. Next Monday, Team Cee Lo and Team Adam will compete in the quarterfinals, and it will be interesting to see what choices those coaches make in their own "instant elimination" rounds. Cee Lo is no stranger to controversial decisions himself (Erin Martin, cough), and Adam is the ultimate "Voice" game-player/strategist, so who knows what might go down? Watch this space.