Kelly Clarkson performs and the top six become the top five

By Jennifer Arellano
Updated April 14, 2015 at 06:40 PM EDT

The Voice

S5 E23
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Merry Christmas to all and to all a frazzled night!

That was basically the gist of Tuesday night’s carol and cringe episode. In between the Christmas song performances were Carson Daly’s grim reaper “America saved…” announcements. The top six became the top five with a very surprising bottom two. Matthew Schuler was eliminated. James Wolpert won the last Twitter save of the season.

It started off on a jolly note, with a performance by the newly pregnant Kelly Clarkson. She sang “Underneath the Tree,” a shoulder-sway-worthy tune from her Christmas album Wrapped In Red. “I’m looking forward to second trimester!” the ever-candid American Idol-winner-turned superstar told Carson when he asked how she was feeling.

The first group performance featured Tessanne, Matthew, and Jacquie singing Florence and the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love,” amongst the audience and with a harpist accompaniment. Florence and the Machine songs usually have this unique sonic combination of sounding ethereal and punch-drunk-powerful. But this rendition just sounded like a shouting match. Too many singing cooks in the kitchen! I get it, I’ve got the love!

Up next was a Christmas duet by Blake Shelton and his Season 1 artist Xenia, singing “Silver Bells.” This was sweet and simple, exactly the calm the audience needed before the storm of another nail-biting Carson announcement. Also, did anyone else think Xenia’s mic could have been turned up just a tad?

The most interesting boy band to grace the Voice stage was also my favorite group performance of the night. Cole, James, Will, and special guest Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt on guitar, sang “More Than Words” (also an Extreme song). It felt like James was taking the lead on this one, with the other guys almost singing backup. I do think their harmonies could’ve used some of Nic Hawk’s higher register to help with their voices breaking at points. Also, Nuno, the camera loves you.

The final group performance featured all of the top six artists singing a mash up of “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World.” What was up with the matching mauve and black outfits? Mauve Avengers, anyone? Oh right, back to the music. So I thought this was just okay, but if I had to give an MVP award, it would go to those three backup singers who got to shine in the spotlight for a bit.

NEXT: All I want for Christmas is to not be in the bottom two…

Now to the dreaded bottom two. James Wolpert and Matthew Schuler are the dregs of the voting barrel. Upsets are to be expected considering how few singers are left and how talented everyone is, but I was genuinely shocked to see two of the most talented singers completely dissed by America. Matthew won the Twitter save last week and I thought that since he has over 20,000 more Twitter followers than James, he was going to be saved again. But no. He’s pretty much affirmed an interesting and definitive trend by the social media component thus far: If you are instant saved one week, you’re surely going home the following week. This happened with Kat, Caroline, and Matthew. What good is this innovation then, if it only “saves” a singer for at least another week?

Before Carson opened the instant save voting window, he allowed Coach Adam and Coach Christina to spew some last ditch persuasion speeches:

Adam on why you should save James: “This guy is one of the best singers I’ve ever been in a room with.”

Christina on why you should save Matthew: Along with reminding us how he hit #1 on iTunes and that he was a four-chair-turner, “I wanna make music together, I wanna bring it back — those magic moments!”

Here are the rest of the singers remaining (in order of Carson’s announcement):

1. Team Christina: Jacquie Lee

2. Team Blake: Cole Vosbury

3. Team Adam: Tessanne Chin

4. Team Adam: Will Champlin

Parting Thoughts:

Did James deserve the instant save? Were you shocked that Matthew went home? I’m also surprised that Cole has made it this far into the semifinals. He was the only singer in the top six who wasn’t a powerhouse. And finally, Christina has been making a lot of promises about Matthew lately, implicitly promising us that she has more “Hallelujah”-like song choices in her back skinny jeans pocket. “We’re not done yet,” she said during her vote-for-Matthew speech. But subjunctive song choice clearly wasn’t enough to save him. Was Matthew’s demise simply a case of peaking too early? Sound off in the comments!

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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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