The Voice recap: Live Top 12 Eliminations
The very first Instant Save of the season goes to...
The second live results show of the season didn’t feature those bloated flashbacks to past performances like last week. Instead, we got pageant questions posed to nearly every contestant and coach throughout the episode. I know that overwrought suspense is the bread and butter of these totally inflated results episodes, but hearing twelve canned, bland, and pre-planned responses to Carson’s softball queries had me bored to tears.
To start the night, Amy Vachal tells us what Adam’s support means to her (“everything”), and Barrett Baber tells us what his family’s support means to him (“their dreams are my dreams”). Everyone on stage seems to experience a momentary delusion that they’re competing for Miss America. But soon enough, the first two contestants to move ahead are announced: It’s Jordan Smith and Jeffery Austin. No surprise, considering they both cracked the iTunes Top 10. They’re carted off to wherever Voice royalty are sequestered during the week, while the remaining peons must continue standing awkwardly on stage, pretending to be happy for them.
Following the first round of saves, all four coaches get their chance to compete for the title of Least Substantive Soundbite. Blake is the only one with anything real to say. When Carson asks him what he hoped America saw in his team last night, Blake says, “I hope they saw there’s potential in all of them, not just on this show but moving forward after. All three of them, I can envision them having careers after The Voice.” Hint, hint, America: Blake wants you to still care about these people several weeks from now.
Next, Carson asks Mark Hood what other sides he’ll show America next (“I’ll show more sides of myself.” Not an answer, Mark, not an answer). Madi Davis expounds on how Pharrell instilled confidence in her (“by choosing me”). Then, the next two saves are announced: it’s Emily Ann Roberts (who giggles like a creepy doll for one frightening moment) and Madi Davis. All four teams now have at least one safe artist.
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The first group performance of the night comes courtesy of Team Blake, which sings Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” At least the banjo instrumental and the singers’ twangs make the rendition sound a little fresher, but they’re not fooling anyone: This is a lame song choice. It’s a good thing there’s little likelihood tonight’s eliminated singer will come from this team, so we’ll get to hear them all together again. Just like last week, their voices meld seamlessly, and coming off her save, Emily Ann has one of her best solos so far.
And then, we’re back to more filler. It would “mean the world” to Zach Seabaugh to continue in the competition, and Evan McKeel declares The Voice has taught him to “do what you love and love what you do.” Three more of America’s saves are then announced: Braiden Sunshine (who never gets his pageant moment, poor thing), Barrett Baber, and Amy Vachal, who was the third artist to muster an iTunes Top 10.
NEXT: Gwen and Korin are caterpillars
Team Pharrell takes on the other group performance of the night. Mark, Madi, and Evan sing Pharrell’s own “Just a Cloud Away” along with their coach. During the performance, Pharrell demonstrates why he is not primarily a singer. His vocal issues are especially noticeable tonight, considering he’s surrounded by three really good singers. There’s almost too much going on in “Just a Cloud Away,” but the four parts work well and add more dimension to the original. It serves Mark and Evan particularly well (which might be strategic: Madi doesn’t need the help). She’s not a belter or a riffer, and seems unsure what her role in this quartet is.
Before learning who will face off for the Instant Save, Korin Bukowski must first share Gwen’s best piece of advice (“stay true to who you are”), and Shelby Brown tells us why picking Adam as her coach was the right decision (“How was picking him not the right decision?” she laughs, in the only natural-sounding bite of the night). We then learn who the final three safe singers are: Evan McKeel, Shelby, and Zach Seabaugh. That means Korin and Mark are facing off to claim that eleventh spot, and both Team Blake and Team Adam are guaranteed to remain whole for another week.
To make his case for America’s Instant Save, Mark goes with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” He chooses right by picking an upbeat song that excites the audience. Now that he’s on the brink of defeat, I actually feel a little bad for him, and his antics on stage are much less annoying. And antics there are aplenty (no “new sides” of himself tonight): Mark puts on the full display, including, at one point, getting down on his knees and slapping the stage. But for all his drive, if you close your eyes, this does not sound like an outstanding vocal. There are several attempted runs that don’t get where he wants them to go, and the whole thing sounds forced, just like his performance last night.
For her last chance, Korin sings “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Korin’s voice shares a lot of similarities with Jones’, and this song in particular is such a good match for her. If she’d been showing this part of herself all along, she might be in a better position right now. The performance came off like a more mainstream (if less nuanced) version of Amy Vachal. The song isn’t high-energy like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” but neither is it a heavy ballad, so it works. Adam says this is his favorite Korin performance so far and that he found it touching; Blake and Gwen concur.
After endorsements like that, the winner of this pseudo-Battle seems all but confirmed. Throughout the commercial break, Korin is beating Mark in votes by 10 to 12 percent. But before the winner is announced, Pharrell and Gwen have final words for their singers. Pharrell tells Mark that this is the beginning of his road to the future, but it’s Gwen who has the really juicy comments. She tells Korin, “I feel like we were put together for a reason. Both of us are busting out of a cocoon world, ready to fly. You have a whole new world ahead of you, and so do I.” Not only do those words sound like they should be song lyrics, but they’re also the closest we’ve come to an on-air comment about Gwen and Blake’s relationship.
And then, Carson strikes the hammer: Korin Bukowksi will live to sing again, but Mark Hood’s journey ends here.
- Pharrell wore completely opaque sunglasses throughout the results show (by the brand Celine, he’s sure to tell us). It comes off as pretty uncaring to the contestants when he can’t even remove them to give his comments or to bid Mark farewell
- Every artist made it into the iTunes Top 75, and three were inducted into the Top 10 (Jordan, Jeffery, and Amy). Jordan made it all the way to the top spot by the end of the voting period