America knows what it likes, and we’re sticking with it. This week’s Voice iTunes rankings were nearly identical to what we saw last during the Top 12 eliminations, and tonight’s episode also featured a very similar ending to what went down last week.
As the Top 11 lines up for elimination or salvation, Carson announces that, like last week, every Voice contestant made it into the iTunes Top 100 and three broke through to the Top 10. Once again, Jordan Smith and Amy Vachal earned the top two spots — this time, Amy beat her fellow team member to be crowned No. 1. Surprisingly, it was Emily Ann Roberts who knocked Jeffery Austin out of third place.
But before anyone is declared safe tonight, our old friend Brad Paisley, who served as a guest advisor for Team Blake earlier this season, performs his single, “Country Nation.” It name-checks a lot of college mascots and references a whole heap of things I don’t understand — what does “cheer twenty-four and eighty-eight” mean? Being out of the loop on Brad Paisley songs is the price I must pay for my big-city livin’, it seems.
Then, we learn who the first two saved artists are: Amy Vachal (no surprise) and Braiden Sunshine (big surprise). I really thought this was Braiden’s last week with us, but he squeaks by yet again. It’s difficult to tell in what order the saves are read. Carson goes back and forth among the different teams, but was Braiden really the high scorer on Team Gwen? Surely that’s Jeffery Austin.
After a commercial, we get right back to more saves. This round, Zach Seabaugh and Jordan Smith are both told they’re moving on. Blake congratulates Zach with a pat on the back and jokes, “They didn’t make you sweat it out this time.” Blake has grown on me considerably this season, largely because he appears to have the most genuine rapport with his team members.
Team Blake and Team Adam performed during the last elimination episode, so this week is the other groups’ turns. First is Team Gwen, which takes on New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” Korin Bukowski, Jeffery, Braiden, and Gwen herself all approach this song in entirely different ways. Each performer’s interpretation is a good example of the type of artist they are: Jeffery is solid and belty; Korin delicate and sweet; Braiden seems unsure; and Gwen is all attitude. It makes for an odd combination, especially because Jeffery so clearly takes the lead. He commands all the long notes and even steps out in front of Braiden and Korin toward the end. Not that I have anything against hearing more of Jeffery, but the song feels unbalanced.
I always think the coaches should plan their Elimination Night group performances to best highlight their lowest-performing artist (thereby giving them a boost and possibly saving them from going home), but perhaps Gwen is trying to cut her losses and keep Jeffery’s star on the rise.
After “You Get What You Give,” we’re on to the third round of saves. This time, it’s Madi Davis and Emily Ann Roberts who are spared from elimination, and now every team has at least one safe member.
Team Adam performs next. They sing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. It’s an entirely expected song choice, and no one in particular stands out — expect for one off line, when Amy and Adam’s vocals clash. Like Jeffery, Jordan is clearly in charge on this one.
NEXT: Carson drops the ball
Finally, Carson is back and ready to reveal who’s in the bottom two. He announces the next safe artist is someone from Team Adam…except Shelby is the only singer on Team Adam still in jeopardy. She and Jeffery exchange nervous, confused glances before Carson corrects himself: The next safe artist is actually from Team Gwen. It was an honest mistake, but watching Shelby’s face flood with relief as she thinks she’s safe, only to realize 20 seconds later she still could go home, is heartbreaking. Team Gwen’s safe artist is, of course, Jeffery Austin. Following him into the Top 10 is Barrett Baber and, finally, Shelby Brown. I’m almost as glad as she is: Finding out she was actually in the bottom two all along would have been too cruel.
That means Evan McKeel and Korin Bukowski (for the second time) will sing for the Instant Save. They probably knew this was coming, as evidenced by their adorable secret handshake. Evan goes first with Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” It is a very predictable song choice for him, and it doesn’t give us any new reasons to keep him. His voice is still pure and on-pitch, but it also still lacks variety and emotional connection. “Let’s Stay Together” feels like it was a calculated to show off exactly the aspects of Evan’s voice and personality that he and Pharrell believe the audience most responds to. Of course, that’s exactly what it is (and what all Voice song choices are — this is a competition), but it shouldn’t so obviously feel that way.
Korin follows him with Maroon 5’s own “She Will Be Loved.” Singing Adam’s song to him is a bold move, and I kind of admire her chutzpah. This performance has a very similar pace and style to her Instant Save song from last week, “Don’t Know Why,” but it doesn’t hold the same magic for me the second time around. Korin just doesn’t look animated or excited (or nervous, which would be understandable). She just wanders around a small area of the stage, softly singing. As she enters the last third of the song, she slips down into the middle of her range and gets more passionate, but her pitch is off. Korin is my personal favorite between the two, but Evan did better on his Instant Save performance.
Just like last week, though, Korin holds a clear lead over her opponent during the entire commercial break. She’s always at least 8 percentage points ahead of Evan, and her victory is clinched before we’re even back to broadcast. She and Evan do their complex handshake one more time, and then Korin is declared safe yet again.
- Sia is performing next week!
- Adam is obviously a Korin fan. For the second time, he straight up told viewers to vote for her over the other Instant Save contender
- Pharrell is down to his final team member, Madi. But we’ve got a while to go before she has a real chance of elimination