"This is the part of the process that's unnatural and strange," Adam tells his contestants, just before America's votes effectively lower the ax on two of them. He assures them, though, that this isn't the end – they will all go on to robust music careers from here. (The words "state fair circuit" mercifully are never mentioned.) It's a tense moment, because it really could be any of the six people on stage whose Voice candle gets snuffed.
Only after watching the clips package at the top of the hour does it become clear how much better Team Cee Lo did on Monday's episode. Even though half of Cee Lo's acts weren't really all that amazing, the ones who were (Jamar Rogers, Juliet Simms) really were. There were no major blowout performances over on Team Adam, though, so for this elimination episode, everyone is on even keel.
Before the Reaping begins, however, Jessie J (and her almost supernaturally long legs) stops by to perform her song "Domino." Wearing an outfit that appears to be made almost entirely of embroidery over bare skin, J shows the remaining members of Team Christina (who are awkwardly flailing around beside her) how the whole "emerging pop star" thing is done.
When it comes time to reveal who America voted to save, Team Adam is up first. The perennially bow-tied Pip looks as wigged out while awaiting sentencing as he did the previous night, when he received less-than-laudatory marks from the judges. Tony Lucca looks like he totally expects to be picked, though, perhaps buoyed by a social media assist from fellow "Mouseketeer 4 lyfe" Justin Timberlake the day before. The three contestants given a reprieve are: Mathai, Tony and Pip. Although I wasn't impressed by Lucca on Monday, I'm glad he gets to stick around because Xtina's savage critique after that performance will add a new uncomfortable layer to his presence going forward.
Over on Team Cee Lo, Jamar manages to look humble and worried while waiting to hear who gets to go on to next week's show, despite the fact that he positively killed it the previous night, and that he's wearing a hat that just says "Fame" on it. It turns out, of course, that he was worried for no reason. The saved contestants this week are Juliet (duh!), Jamar (duh!), and James Massone (hey ladies!)
Social media correspondent and sometime pop star Christina Milian comes to the Sprint Lounge next to ask the very recently pardoned members of Team Adam some questions. Pip looks positively scandalized when asked who he thinks Adam will save – a question that dares to suggest the judges go by anything besides vocal tonality. He diplomatically diffuses the question without answering it.
Next it's time for the remainder of Team Adam to prove their individual worth. Kim Yarborough sings Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight," and the song suits her. I can't tell if she's wearing some kind of liquid moisturizer or if she's crying or sweating, but her face is distractingly wet.
It's becoming a trend that the contestants course-correct when it comes to picking the song they sing to get saved. Karla Davis chooses a country-ish song ("I Can't Make You Love Me") that's more in her pocket than Monday night's B.o.B. shenanigans. It would have been hilarious, though, if she'd gone even deeper in the B.o.B direction, with "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta F*@k With" or something of that nature.
Katrina Parker, ever-fated to be compared to Adele, does justice to No Doubt's "Don't Speak," putting the rasp in her voice to solid use and dredging up the emotions of the song. She gets a big reaction out of the crowd.
Blake says he heard the urgency in Katrina's performance more than anyone else's, and he picks her. Xtina and Cee Lo agree in full. Adam wants everybody to just take a minute to look around and appreciate how lucky they are to have made it this far. I'm surprised he doesn't ask them to bow before the judges for bestowing such grace upon them. "Rather than have this be a long, drawn-out thing," he then says, as though he didn't just do exactly that, "I'm going to make a decision: Katrina, you're the winner."
Random thought: the words "I love you" are thrown around way too lightly by the judges on this show. If you love everybody, then your love doesn't mean anything. Maybe save this affectionate praise for that one contestant who really rocks your face off, instead of tossing it around like the secret word on Peewee's Playhouse. Okay, mini-rant over.
It's Team Cee Lo's turn to "sing for their lives," as Carson Daly keeps unfortunately putting it. Tony Vincent sounds at home on "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," because he can pull off the sinister undercurrent of the song. Unfortunately (for everybody!) the tight close-ups of his shaved head staring straight into the camera's soul while dark storm clouds gather on the screen behind him make it look like the last thing a dying goth expects to see before ascending to goth-heaven. Scary!
Cheesa gives it all she's got on "All By Myself." Her voice is strong and clear, and it's a nice change of pace from the disco number she sang on Monday night.
There is a lovely ethereal quality to Erin Martin's voice, it must be said, but it too often sounds like an affectation, and here it's grafted onto the wrong song, one too closely associated with its originator. Elton John's "Your Song" was a gift to all of us, Erin Martin, not you specifically! Also, her elongation of the syllables here is rather clunky.
Adam Levine, who is a bit of a Chatty Cathy tonight, admits that he is pissed because the singers all finally sang like it was their last chance, and it's too late for two of them. He ultimately picks Cheesa to stay. Blake echoes Adam's sentiments. Then Carson Daly actually asks Xtina why she thinks everyone sang with such urgency tonight – a redundant question which receives a correspondingly redundant answer, of which this line is only the core: "It's their last shot, so they're going to showcase their abilities at this time." She does point out that Cheesa came in and "knocked that note out of the water," though, which is true, even if that's not an expression people say, ever.
Cee Lo pays tribute to the qualities of each of his artists before rendering his verdict. "Tony, you humble me," he says. "I've learned so much from your expertise. And your ververnism." Or whatever that word was. Seriously, if any eagle-eared Voice fanatics caught it, please post in the comments below. While we can't always understand Cee Lo, it is clear that he enjoys toying with his contestants' emotions, because he announces the winner thusly: "My mind says Tony, but my heart says Cheesa." Tony takes the news like a champ, which is something he has experience doing.
Thank you for reading this recap. I love you all.
Next week: Now that we're down to a lean sixteen, the competition will no doubt be even fiercer. Hopefully nobody will get hurt.
Last episode: This Means War