"You're all incomparable in your own right. And you all deserve to make it this far," Cee Lo assures his team. "America has good taste, though, and I'm going to accept and embrace the decision, and so should you." It's an elegant way of describing the situation here in the quarterfinals, without resorting to the "everyone's a winner!" platitudes increasingly common as this season of The Voice winds down. More on that in a moment.
At the top of the hour, Florence and/or the Machine stop by to perform a new song. Florence Welch's voice has a haunting, quivering echo on nearly every syllable, which is very effective in a live performance. Also, she is wearing zombie-ish makeup tonight for some reason. The three remaining members of Team Cee Lo appear on stage toward the end of the song and stand right behind Florence, nearly melting the camera by projecting so much gravitas directly toward it.
When it comes time to find out who America saved on Team Adam, Tony Lucca appears most confident of the three, to the point of almost looking smug. Katrina Parker, on the other hand, is literally crossing her fingers. The near-smugness turns out to be well-founded, though, as Tony is America's pick, leaving Katrina and Matthai to battle it out.
Define "treading water." Literally, it is the act of making otherwise pointless motions with one's body in order to stay afloat. Figuratively, though, the phrase describes a certain type of speech pattern wherein words are spoken, but they mean absolutely nothing. For example: "Guys, I think you've all done an incredible job and regardless of who America chooses to save, and regardless of who I save, that doesn't really diminish anything you've accomplished," says Adam. Okay, fair enough, but then he continues. "There's three of you up there, so it's a victory. You should all be happy. There's got to be one winner, but there's three winners up there."
So much time is spent assuring the contestants who are not going to win The Voice that they are still winners. After a while it has the cumulative effect of de-fanging some often-sharp TV. There's got to be some way for the judges to show that the decisions are getting tougher as the field narrows down without resorting to the Participation Awards, which is a recurrent theme tonight.
Speaking of tough decisions, the race is much tighter over on Team Cee Lo than it is on Team Adam. Jamar Rogers would have the sympathy vote even if he wasn't so talented, but he is. Very much so! Although Juliet Simms, who is a badass, definitely gives him a run for his money, and Cheesa has made her presence felt lately, America chooses to save Jamar.
Now it's time for Team Adam's last-chance songs. Matthai misses her cue to enter on "Cowboy Casanova" (live TV, ladies and gents!), but she quickly recovers. She seems to rely less than usual on the affected Billie Holiday lilt in her voice this round, and it suits her. "It's hard not to love Matthai, just because she's so cute," Blake says, delighting Jezebel readers everywhere to no end. "I'm glad to see her embrace her hillbilly side and do a country song." Cee Lo and Xtina also approve of the singer, who does in fact look quite fetching in her bright orange dress.
Katrina Parker is up next, performing "Perfect," which I'm at least 60% sure is actually called "Fu@#ing Perfect" because of how P!nk is so super edgy, you guys. (Sidenote: ugh. Infinite ugh for P!nk.) The backup vocals are a little intrusive here, but Katrina seems to effortlessly convey such emotional depth that the audience has no problem giving her a true clap-along. Blake says what everybody is thinking (and by everybody I mean me): "I know Tony got the vote from America, but Katrina's the best singer on that team." Xtina agrees heartily – perhaps owing to how we know she feels about her former Mouseketeer buddy, Tony.
Social media correspondent Christina Milian continues to interview everyone backstage, which is notable only for the eye makeup on Lindsay Pavao tonight, which is like a thin white unibrow that goes underneath her eyes and over the bridge of her nose. Is this a thing? Let me know in the comments and then put me out of my misery because I am one thousand years old.
As previously mentioned, Adam is quickly turning into the king of blowing sunshine up his contestants' asses, and his moment of elimination here is no exception. "You both need to know that – and we say this all the time, it's getting boring – but you made it. You both made it." After complimenting Katrina on her surprising improvement, he tells Matthai that he kept waiting for her to explode, which is how we know that he's definitely going to keep Katrina. And that Matthai is going to explode. Run for your lives, people!
Back on Team Cee Lo, Cheesa sings the very on-the-nose "Already Gone," which is neither as impressive as her spot-on Whitney Houston number from the night before nor that much of a departure. Blake and Xtina make sure to let Cheesa know she had both flatness and pitch issues, but other than that, they're on board. Adam also seems hell-bent on making Cheesa cry. "You nailed it yesterday, and today wasn't as strong," he says. "Obviously it really matters today, so it's bittersweet, but you went out there and showed them your stuff." Oof! Now I feel like I just came in second place for something.
Finally, Juliet Simms is on deck to manhandle the relatively lighter Natalie Imbuglia tune "Torn." Everyone expects to see Juliet rocking out hard by now, and they've had ample opportunity, so this performance counts as a curveball. The judges are pleased.
"I think the softer voice you use in the verses on the last couple songs isn't my favorite," Xtina says. But she even qualifies that by assuring Juliet it's her job to say something critical. Although she prefers the vocal stylings on "Roxanne" from a couple weeks ago, it's clear that Xtina's just as much a fan of Juliet as the others.
By decision time, Cheesa looks utterly dejected. Then Blake and Xtina both cast their lot for Juliet, and Cheesa looks like she's being tortured. And that's before the audience starts chanting "Juliet! Juliet! Juliet!" Cee Lo asks to see both contestants smile in the face of adversity before he lowers the boom: "America, their energy is invested in Juliet, and I can't argue with America." Oh well, at least Cheesa went out there and showed them her stuff.
Next week: It's semifinals time, where the decisions get even rougher and Adam gets even more inventive in assuring his contestants they are both winners.
Last episode: Crying Uncle