A quirkmeister and a powerhouse vocalist are cut, leaving four singers to duke it out in the semifinals

By Hillary Busis
Updated April 14, 2015 at 10:47 PM EDT
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The Voice

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Get it? The recap’s title is a pun, see, because little Melanie Martinez — she of the raspy vocals and goth Hello Kitty ensembles — was taken out of the running tonight, despite selling iTunes singles like hotcakes the past few weeks.

I’m not sure whether it’s good or bad that Mel got kicked off the show right after delivering her strongest vocal yet, a smoky, jazzy rendition of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” that she performed with fellow “distinct” vocalist Nicholas David. For once, Melanie’s breathy voice was in its element, the perfect foil for Nicholas’s sharper and more assured phrasing. It also helped that this time, she wasn’t surrounded by mannequins or paper boats or the cast of Portlandia.

If more of Melanie’s performances had been as memorable as her “Criminal” duet, I’d be more bummed that she didn’t garner more votes tonight. As it is, though, I’d like to shake America’s hand for shuffling her off before the semi-finals. Better late than never!

What I can’t get behind is Amanda Brown‘s ousting. It’s tough to say who deserved to go home more than her — Trevin, maybe, who’s been stuck in an inspirational songs rut for weeks, “Walking on Sunshine” notwithstanding? Cassadee, whose might be getting so many votes because of her preexisting fanbase rather than her performances week to week? Either way, Amanda proved consistently that she had one of the season’s most naturally strong voices. Just look at her duet on “Breakaway” with Cassadee — when placed side to side, it’s clear that Amanda’s got a richer tone and a greater range. (Though Carson didn’t seem very impressed by either of them when he spoke after the girls performed; did anyone else think his “Well, that’s nice” sounded more sarcastic than usual?) If there’s any justice, Ms. Brown will become The Voice‘s Jennifer Hudson, going on to find success despite being booted too soon.

So that was a bummer. But at least the results show compensated by giving us the next best thing to a Muppet invasion — performances by Ne-Yo and Matchbox 20! Actually, come to think of it, there’s something sort of Muppety about Rob Thomas. Just look at the way he opens his mouth when he sings the curiously sedate “Overjoyed.” It’s very Fozzie, or maybe Charlie Brown-y. Either way, I want a Tumblr devoted to “Rob Thomas’s singing face” screenshots, STAT.

NEXT: Christina tickles us pink

Ne-Yo’s performance was also entertaining, though he had to battle a fog machine, Amanda Brown, and LED screens that looked like lovesick HAL 9000s for our attention. Then again, considering how low that hat brim was pulled, it’s likely that Ne-Yo couldn’t even see all the tomfoolery unfolding around him as he sang.

If Ne-Yo had yanked the cap up, he might have noticed the night’s other biggest attraction: Christina Aguilera, celebrating being officially out of the competition by wearing a bright pink wig that evoked breakdown-era Britney Spears. Or maybe it was a subtle nod to another judge for a Fox singing show, Nicki Minaj. Or maybe Xtina just likes her some pink. In any case, I’m glad to see that her drag transformation is edging ever closer to completion. Now that’s something I’d like to see a Voice contestant imitate in next week’s “Voice Confessionals.”

So here we are, just a few weeks away from finding out who wins the whole shebang. Going into the semifinals, I’d say season 3 is still anyone’s game. Terry sounded nasal when paired with Trevin for a duet tonight, but with Amanda gone, he’s the only real rocker left. (Sorry, Cassadee.) Speaking of Cassadee: She’s got the pop-punk bona fides and that aforementioned fanbase going for her, even if — much to Blake’s chagrin — she’s only a little bit country. Trevin has those flawless vocals, which inspire rhapsodic reviews from the coaches even when he does drippy ballad after drippy ballad. And then there’s Nicholas, the competition’s most original artist by far; if anyone can inspire a worldwide ’70s revival, it’s the genial Dr. Teeth.

Adam would have us believe it’s “a weird thing” that anybody has to get eliminated. But even if he and his comrades have apparently forgotten that The Voice is a competition, the rest of us haven’t. So tell me: Who do you think will make it into the top 2 next week, and who do you think is most likely to win it all? My guess — The Voice himself will, most likely, belong to Team Cee Lo. And if he happens to do a mean Barry White imitation, I’ll be happy.

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The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

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