The last night of individual eliminations before next week’s Semi-Finals featured few surprises and one tragic performance. But, just to be clear, this entire episode belonged to Sia.
The Voice saves the Wigged One’s song for later in the evening, and opens instead with a live performance of “Locked Away” by R. City featuring Adam Levine. The fact that Carson never mentioned R. City was showing up this evening but that we were presented with a whole pre-taped package to announced Ellie Goulding’s appearance next week tells us a lot about who NBC thinks watches this show. Which is a shame because, as I learned tonight, the two guys in R. City are a blast. Their vocals may not be the stuff of reality-show champions, but these bros are having a ball on stage. Even more enjoyable to watch are Adam’s awkward attempts at dancing. He literally flees to the back of the stage whenever the guys’ parts come up, then kind of sways silently, hoping the camera never veers in his direction. I even catch him doing a “cha-ching” motion, for reasons that remain unclear to me.
After her coach returns to his seat, Carson asks Amy Vachal what it’s like to work with her team behind the scenes. Amy tells him that the members of Team Adam are all connected by their faith and their thankfulness to God, and that they know God has a plan for all of them for the rest of their lives. This is definitely the most openly religious season of The Voice I can remember. It’s not an element that appeals to me personally, but it is interesting and rare on television to see such avowed religious fervor. It’s also a reminder that such unguarded displays of spirituality are routine in much of the country.
Then, Carson reveals that this season’s singers made history last night: seven of the 10 performances charted in the iTunes Top 10. (The three also-rans are Zach Seabaugh, Korin Bukowski, and Braiden Sunshine.) The first two contestants to be saved tonight are announced: Emily Ann Roberts and Jordan Smith (who made it all the way to No. 2 on iTunes, trailing only Adele) are moving on.
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The next four saves come in quick succession. Jeffery Austin, Barrett Baber, Madi Davis, and Amy Vachal are all sticking around for the Semi-Finals. I was never concerned about Madi’s place in the Top Nine, but it’s a relief nevertheless to see Team Pharrell still has a dog in this fight.
But then, all other thoughts vacate my mind because it is time for Sia to perform. I know Sia books big platforms like SNL and late-night talk shows, but it’s still incredible to me that this über-talented art freak gets to perform on a prime-time reality show. She shows up to sing “Alive” wearing a Cruella de Vil wig with bangs down to her lips, topped off by a black bow that’s wider than her head. It’s completely awesome. Her ragged, pained voice is a shot of euphoria after weeks of Voice amateurs. Sia’s presence even inspires a sense of humor in Carson: He tells her, “You look lovely.” I assume she’s pleased at the compliment, but I don’t know for sure because we can’t see her face.
NEXT: Is the third time the charm?
As I float back down to Earth, we learn the final two singers America spared: Zach Seabaugh and Shelby Brown. It’s disconcerting to know with near certainty that they’ll both be cut next week, even though they made it through this round. It’s as if they’re suspended in Voice purgatory for the next seven days.
A save for Zach and Shelby means two of Gwen’s team members, Korin Bukowski and Braiden Sunshine, are both on the chopping block. If Korin makes it through, she’ll be the first Voice singer to be Instantly Saved three times.
She goes first, this time courting America’s votes with Colbie Caillat’s “Try.” This is a tricky song, with lots of quick staccato notes and sudden, sweeping changes in volume. Early on, Korin misses a beat and, flustered, forgets most of the remaining words. She doesn’t give up or stop — instead she just repeats the five-word chorus (“You don’t have to try”) over and over, before getting back on track for the last few lines. Kindly, Blake tells her that every coach has had the same experience on stage at one time or another and again expresses his disdain for what he calls “this Twitter save thing,” but Korin is obviously upset with herself.
Braiden repeats Korin’s tactic from last week: Cover a Maroon 5 song to curry favor with Adam. He picks “Harder to Breathe” — finally he performs the type of soulful pop-rock record he’d like to make. It’s a better performance than last night’s “Radioactive,” but it still merely hints at the boy wonder we saw during the Knockouts. It sounds like Braiden’s range actually gets smaller and his pitch more off-key the longer he stays on The Voice. Like his teammate, he also flubs a word, but he recovers almost instantly. Adam sounds gratified that Braiden chose his song, but he doesn’t give him the ringing endorsement he favored Korin with last week.
During the commercial break, the difference between these two is as close as it’s been all season. Braiden holds on to his lead the whole way, but by the time we return to the show, he’s only up by 2 percent. But it’s enough to carry him through. Braiden is moving on, and it’s the end of the line for Korin. Couldn’t America have just Instantly Saved Sia instead?
- There was no Top Nine last season, but in April’s Top Eight, Team Adam was in the same boat as Team Pharrell, with just one singer left. That performer, Joshua Davis, made it all the way to third place. Voters seem reluctant to completely decimate a team too early on, which bodes well for Madi
- Gwen is slowly morphing into Effie Trinket
- Next week, the singers will all be mentored by Dolly Parton, and Blake is fanboying to beat the band. I cannot wait to see his face on Monday