Tuesday’s top 10 The Voice results show stirred up a lot of outrage in the Twitterverse, but not for the usual elimination-night reasons. It wasn’t particularly shocking for was in the bottom three, or which two contestants went home. No one sang in a bathrobe. Adam Levine wasn’t around to throw anyone under the bus.
Nope, the reason for all the online commotion was the TV debut of coaches Kelly Clarkson and John Legend’s #MeToo-era makeover of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a classic holiday duet that in recent years has been scrutinized and criticized for having date-rapey overtones. In the new version, John’s character is hardly barricading the exit door and plying innocent Kelly with secretly spiked cider, and instead respecting her agency and the grasping the concept of consent as he calls her an Uber and uncomplainingly sends her on her way.
I’ve always thought it was pretty obvious John a Kelly’s remake was meant to be cheeky. Even if the problematic original probably did some updating, this always felt like a clever parody to me, like an SNL skit, done with a nudge and a wink. I mean, a line like “My daddy will be pacing the floor/Wait, what are you still livin' home for?” is funny enough to make me spit out my egg from laughter. But some Scroogey, Grinchy, lump-of-coal-hearted viewers didn’t seem in on the joke.
“Really sorry you and John have bent to political correctness. Upset with the ‘it's cold outside’ remake. I still love you and your work,” one fan tweeted Kelly. "That was the most horrendous retooling of a song I've ever heard,” another viewer posted. Another tweeter griped that the song “shouldn't be messed with." But other viewers called the performance “brave and awesome” and said it made them “smile from beginning to end.” As of this writing the queen of Twitter, Chrissy Teigen, hadn’t chimed in, but she already told the haters to “get over it” last month, so there’s that.
I personally enjoyed seeing these two world-class vocalists join forces, and at least it was better than that time that American Idol’s very self-unaware Fantasia Barrino did this duet with disgraced original Voice coach Cee Lo Green. Um, hearing Fantasia ask Cee Lo, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Yikes.
Well, America may have been divided when it came to John and Kelly’s Christmas cover, but Voice viewers pretty much seemed on the same page when it came to sending home Team Kelly’s Shane Q and Team Gwen’s Joana Martinez, both of whom had been in the bottom two or three before.
During the Instant Save sing-off, Shane’s wheezy “Killing Me Softly,” which was plagued by pitch issues, breathlessness, a vague sense of desperation, and -- most annoyingly-- a pronoun switch to “Killing Me Softly With Her Song.” (Yes, I am aware that male artists like Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Johnny Mathis recorded this song around the same time Roberta Flack did, so this isn’t another example of controversially changed lyrics. But Roberta, who had a No. 1 with it, set the gold standard.)
Joana’s cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” was a cool and interesting choice – I would have liked to see her go in this indie direction all season, especially since she was coached by alt-rock icon Gwen Stefani – but she had a lot of rough patches too. The song started off in what seemed like too high a key for her, and she struggled and strained to keep up.
So that left Marybeth winning the Twitter Save with 49 percent of the vote almost by default, but she really did earn her victory. Her version of Leona Lewis/Calum Scott’s “You Are the Reason” – the best and most appropriate song pick among the three contestants – was beautiful, and emotional without being desperate or histrionic.
I will say it’s ridiculous that five contestants have already gone home in just the first three weeks of Live Playoffs, and with the finale only two weeks away, four more contestants will go home all at once next week. Baby, that’s cold.