On a special Thursday results show this week, "The Voice" Season 5's top 12 finalists were revealed, three per team. The top two vote-getters per team automatically advanced, and then each coach got to save one contestant. There were no real surprises, no crazy upsets, but there were some sad goodbyes. Because that's the way the "Voice" cookie crumbles.
Here's what went down on the first live results show of Season 5:
America's picks: Austin Jenckes, Cole Vosbury
Blake Shelton's save: Ray Boudreaux
Going home: Shelbie Z., Nic Hawk
My thoughts: Austin is a solid singer, but I don't know if he has true star quality. However, I knew America would root for a regular-guy rocker like Austin, so his victory came as no surprise. I was thrilled that Cole, one of my favorites in the competition, rocked the popular vote (also not a surprise), and I endorsed Blake's pick of Ray, who has real potential.
I'll miss Nic's sass, but I'm not surprised that he didn't go far; his peacocking performance of "Blurred Lines" was just too polarizing. There was a time when I thought country diva Shelbie had a chance to win this whole show, and I thought Blake may have had her back…but I guess this season will not be country-dominated like Season 4. Apparently when Blake said he chose to save the contestant he could "affect change with the most," he meant he didn't want to mentor yet another country singer.
But threepeating champ Blake is still playing to win, obviously, because this year, he has built a team of formidable WGWGs.
America's picks: Caroline Pennell, Jonny Gray
CeeLo Green's save: Kat Robichaud
Going home: Amber Nicole, Tamara Chauniece
My thoughts: I'd predicted that Amber and Tamara — who'd been so blatantly thrown under the bus with their respective song assignments, their performances may as well have been sponsored by Greyhound — would go home. Such a prediction hardly makes me Miss Cleo; those two were set up as fodder to begin with, and were lucky to get as far as they did.
I was a little shocked that Jonny's underwhelming "Bittersweet Symphony" performance garnered more votes than Kat's fearlessly rockin' tour de force, but then again, Jonny was the only boy on CeeLo's team — and a cute boy at that. So there you go.
CeeLo made the right call by saving Kat, but I worry about her future. With Caroline gaining momentum, is there room for two quirky alt girls on Team CeeLo? I sincerely hope so.
America's picks: Jacquie Lee, Matthew Schuler
Christina Aguilera's save: Josh Logan
Going home: Olivia Henken, Stephanie Anne Johnson
My thoughts: It was obvious that Jacquie and Matthew were Team Xtina's strongest two players; that's why they sang last on Tuesday's show, to end the episode with a double-bang. America got this one totally right.
As for Christina, I don't know if she got it right. Josh is talented, but I think he lacks charisma. Please note, he only came in ninth back when he was on another Mark Burnett Productions talent show, "Rock Star: Supernova." Basically, I am not sure if he's a rock star or a supernova. I was hoping perpetual underdog Stephanie would get a shot; she seemed to be peaking at the right time, coming out of nowhere this week with a fantastic "Georgia On My Mind." Oh well.
As for Olivia, I thought the country audience might vote her through, but apparently all those people who bought Cassadee Pope's album and put both Danielle Bradbery and the Swon Brothers through to last season's finale have stopped watching "The Voice." Olivia's elimination made it official: There are NO country singers left on "The Voice" Season 5, unless you count Austin (which I don't, really). What a difference a season makes.
America's picks: James Wolpert, Tessanne Chin
Adam Levine's save: Will Champlin
Going home: Grey, Preston Pohl
My thoughts: This was the one cut I knew was going to hurt. With Adam having the most talent-packed team, I knew it was inevitable that at least one stellar contestant — someone who, on any other team, may have had a real chance — would sadly go home. And that person was Preston. Seriously, Preston could have won this thing, under different circumstances.
It's not that Adam made a bad call here. Will's "Secrets" was one of Monday's standout performances, and Will earned his spot. But as Adam put it, speaking for me and probably every other "Voice" viewer at home, "There was really no scenario that I was going to be happy with...This is terrible."
Of course, I knew James was a lock, and deservedly so. His cover of "A Case of You" was the only performance this week that made the top 10 on iTunes chart (thus giving him that all-important "iTunes Bonus"), and it was flat-out amazing. Tessanne was amazing as well, morphing from former Jimmy Cliff backup singer to centerstage superstar with her rendition of Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" in a true feelgood, goosebumps TV moment.
So overall, this is a strong top 12, and the one I'd predicted we'd end up with all along. And even without Preston, Adam still ended up with the strongest team.
Do you agree with America's choices? With the coaches' choices? Let me know on the message board below.