Circle up, y’all: A lot has already been said about The Voice and its fascination with and fetishization of country music — and, by extension, the man the show sees as the genre’s maestro, the finger-pointing, professionally rude Blake Shelton. We’ve written about this problem. I’ve elbowed at it multiple times in these recaps. The Voice‘s fourth season will go down as a country season and it will go down the whole time telling everyone what a surprise it was that this was even possible, streaked by a stubbornness to an idea that country music is something to be embraced instead of, y’know, enjoyed.
And still it bears repeating: Blake Shelton has not not produced a viable country singer from The Voice (hiya, Cassadee). “Okie from Muskogee” is a very bad example of very good country music. And, like, Carrie Underwood has multiple multi-platinum albums and Miranda Lambert first broke-through on Nashville Star and Taylor Swift is one of the most famous female musicians in the world and they are all country musicians, equally diverse in their successes and their songs, so why do I have to keep typing?
But true story: There’s so much real talent squeezed in between the phony messaging. Tonight’s results show (I should start calling them variety hours; they’re more song-and-dance than hanging ax) drove both points home. After all, Team Blake is the last group with more than one performer. There are also at least three really solid performers left. The two categories do not necessarily overlap. Let’s run it down:
The night begins with a homecoming: Cassadee Pope, last year’s winner and a Team Blake alumna, is back to debut her first single, “Wasting All These Tears.” She’s surrounded by drapery and spotlights and singing a song that cross-pollinates an Avril Lavgine chorus with Vanessa Carlton verses. Girl’s singing faces are try-y but her moves are just trying. It’s an impossibly minor song — but am I the only one who thought that Kelly Clarkson would have killed it? Then the drapery all falls away and Cassadee starts to stomp. Those last notes are so nice that we can all just forget about her shaky, longer, middle-r notes.
NEXT: Michelle and Sasha go clubbin’