Elimination nights on The Voice are always sad affairs. But Tuesday’s top 12 results show was especially somber, as it began with a teary tribute to Season 6 Team Adam finalist Christina Grimmie, who was tragically gunned down by a deranged “fan” last June during a meet-and-greet at an Orlando nightclub.
“As you know, family is very, very important to us here at The Voice,” said host Carson Daly, looking ashen and distraught. “And last year we tragically lost one of our own, the incredibly talented and beautiful Christina Grimmie. Tonight, in memory of our good friend and along with Christina’s family, we’re honored to help announce the creation of the Christina Grimmie Foundation, benefiting those impacted by guns, and families just like her own affected by breast cancer.”
The Grimmie family — Christina’s parents Bud and cancer survivor Tina, and musician brother Marcus, who was present at Christina’s murder and tackled her assailant at the scene — were sitting misty-eyed in the Voice studio audience, as Adam Levine proceeded to address them directly.
“God, I loved her so much,” Adam said. “I miss her. It is unfair she is not here. We are going to sing a little song. I am going to be singing every word to her in her honor. Thank you for being here. Christina, we love you.” After Adam and his Season 12 contestants (Mark Isaiah, Lilli Passero, and Jesse Larson) performed the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” in Christina’s memory, Carson added, “Christina, we feel your spirit here at The Voice every single day, and we love and miss you dearly.”
After that emotional segment, a 12th-place elimination really didn’t feel like that big a deal in the big scheme of things. But eventually, Carson had to get back to the business at hand. While it seemed like Lilli might be in danger — she only charted at No. 120 on iTunes with a poorly chosen cover of guest mentor Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and she’d been so sick this week that she’d been hooked up to an IV drip in Urgent Care — she did make it through, much to her and Adam’s relief. Instead, it was another Team Adam singer, Mark Isaiah, who landed in the bottom two (not a surprise, considering that his tepid cover of Drake’s “One Dance” didn’t even crack iTunes’ top 200), along with Team Gwen’s Troy Ramey, who learned the hard way that when it comes to the songbook of national treasure Tom Petty, it’s best not to mess with the melody too much.
For the subsequent Instant Save sing-off, Troy, arguably the better vocalist of the two, did drift away from the recognizable melody of “Drift Away.” But that wasn’t the issue here. Why on earth would he pick Dobie Gray’s easy-breezy, almost downright lazy-sounding tune for a “save me” performance? “Drift Away” is not a fight song. It’s not the kind of song that fires up the fans and makes them hop on Twitter to hashtag their hearts out. With this song choice, Troy cracked open the door for a results-night upset… and Team Adam stepped right through that door.
Mark’s performance of Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man” wasn’t spectacular — the kid has about 1/10000000th of Bruno’s swag — but at least this was a song with a bit of passion, a bit of a battle cry. Mark gave a very heartfelt performance… but then Adam, who during his Grimmie speech proved he feels a real connection to his team members (and who over the past 11 seasons has proven he’s a fierce competitor), sealed the deal with an equally heartfelt plea to voters.
“I’m just telling you, this guy, so young, on a mission, getting better every day. Really would be a shame to see you go before everyone knows your full potential,” Adam began. “I am willing to put myself on the line to make sure everyone gets to see everything you can do. You deserve it based on the performance alone. All the things you have done have been amazing… There is still more.”
Adam continued: “I would urge people, vote for this kid. He is really, really just kind of reaching the tip of the iceberg of what he can do. I’m telling you right now, I rarely kind of put my neck out there in these situations, because you never know, but I just know about you. I know how your story is going to unfold: You get more weeks and more opportunities to shine on the show. That makes me passionate, doing what I do, helping someone like you… It’s a miss if we don’t get this guy through. I really believe that.”
Well, that worked. After the real-time, East Coast Twitter vote, Mark squeaked through, with the more seasoned Troy making a surprisingly early exit in 12th place.
It remains to be seen if Adam can really whip Mark into competitive shape — after Adam saved Mark in last week’s top 24 round, he promised to do better by the 18-year-old pop singer, yet Mark still ended up on the brink of elimination this week. So come back next Monday, when the top 11 compete, and find out what happens. In the meantime, enjoy the flashback performance below of Christina Grimmie in happier times, when she and Marcus Grimmie visited Yahoo Music’s studio in 2015.