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The Voice recap: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Kaufman!

The last round of playoffs before the live shows holds an unexpected elimination and a powerful performance from Team Usher. Plus, we investigate the increasingly peculiar case of Bria Kelly.

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The Voice Josh Kaufman

The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson
Current Status:
In Season

Well, kids, we made it. The live rounds.

The journey was long and difficult, and I’m sure we both said and did things we regret. You said mean things, I said mean things, judgments were made, feelings were hurt, obscure entertainment entities from popular culture between 1982-2014 and select portions of the ‘60s were referenced. We had fun. We also learned a lot about each other. You, for instance, learned that I have a cripplingly small country music vocabulary, and I, likewise, learned that this is perhaps the most egregious flaw a person could have just short of being a racist homophobic anti-Semite who still defends Heroes in casual conversation. I’d also like to thank Baby Gap and Special K for providing my wardrobe and catering for these nightly recaps. I believe I have eaten so much Special K during my recapping of The Voice that they should just call it Special M, but hey, no more cereal! We’re moving on up! It’s only filet mignon and shirts with sleeves from here on out now that we’re entering the LIVE ROUNDS.

That’s right, the live rounds are finally on the horizon. They’re the magical assortment of episodes that play directly into our thirst for democracy and our unending quest for reality contestant blood. Deny it if you will, but you love seeing your least favorite artists struck with a look of total devastation as they’re unceremoniously booted back to their loving families in Wisconsin or nursing school in Montpelier or whatever other HORRID fates await them in their painfully normal lives. There’s also the glorious ability to vote for your favorite, which is a freedom we all take for granted on purpose so that we can later blame other people when our favorite singers don’t move forward.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Tonight saw one last entry into the playoffs, so let’s take a look at who sang on Team Usher.

Team Usher’s night begins with TJ Wilkins, “the music student who’s willing to take on any challenge” (except the Cinnamon Challenge, Saltine Challenge, Milk Gallon Challenge and Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes). The song is “Tell Me Somethin’ Good,” a funky, groovy tune which doesn’t really pose much of a challenge at all. It’s pretty much right square in TJ’s wheelhouse. (Unrelatedly, I’d like to think that if I ever had to enter *my* wheelhouse, I’d find my old Micro Machines collection and the giant waterwheel from Dead Man’s Chest.)

Performance-wise, TJ is expectedly solid. But was there anything here that really stood out and demanded TJ sail into the live rounds? When dearly departed contestants like Patrick Thomson and Morgan Wallen are giving their best performances and still getting eliminated, surely TJ should have brought at least a little more pizazz to the performance.

Adam astutely points out that TJ’s M.O. is to entertain people, and he sure does, but you know what else entertains people? Vegas lounge singers. Cat videos. The 3D Windows screensaver where you’re in a maze. Frankly, TJ has been a lot better, and I was disappointed in this week’s entry.

Usher busts out the “Unfortunately, this is gonna be hard” card, which doesn’t exactly signify that he’s leaning one way or another. I wouldn’t call TJ a shoo-in for the live shows, but he’s probably got a chance, especially if Team Usher’s next four singers physically bind and torture someone live on stage while singing “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Then he’s definitely a lock.

Blake also doesn’t know what a tenor sax is, which I’m inclined to say is unacceptable, but then I remember that I didn’t know what a Blake Shelton was until about three years ago, so I guess we’re even.

NEXT: MJ takes the stage and, oops, yeah, I wish she wouldn’t