The live playoff eliminations! So many teenagers choking back tears – it was kind of brutal! Since there were no big surprises about whom America chose and, apart from Maroon 5 playing "Daylight," there were just a couple of 10-deep group revues for live performances, including a tandem-team reworking of Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger," a song that feels like someone has performed it on every single episode this season. Regardless, it was a good way to pump up the positivity before finding who, as Carson Daly puts it, has been "saved by America," and who has been put out like so much recycling.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
Even though Dez Duron was not even Top Three-best on Team Xtina, you could tell that he was getting the popular vote by the way girls in the audience were screeching his name like they were warning him to get out of the way of an oncoming car. And he might cruise all the way to the finals on the speed-dial votes of young gals and guys who would like to French him. America's second choice was Sylvia Yacoub, who was near tears on the piano the other night and last night borrowed Patti LaBelle's hair circa 1986 in anticipation of celebration. For some unexplainable reason, Aguilera saved Adriana Louise, and sent packing the superior talent of the kinetic De'Borah. Devyn DeLoera made a face of pure terror running up to her elimination; someone should cast her in a horror-musical movie.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
Team Cee Lo's finals shoo-in Trevin Hunte was hand-picked by America (duh) but who came in second? Why, Minnesota's freakiest funkateer, Nicholas David. Although he didn't quite feel like a sure thing, the man has talent. Green picked ginger cowboy Cody Belew, who seems newly confident after making it into the upper echelon of the top 20. While David and Belew are unlikely to win, the fact that they got this far is an exemplar of the purported spirit and aim of The Voice – of giving a shot to people who are not cookie-cutter, but have definite talents.
Coach: Adam Levine
Seems likely that if Amanda Brown throws down next week like she did on Monday, she will take this thing, Dez Duron be damned. The woman's talent cannot be denied and she has a pop artistry than no one else in the competition has. The rest of Team Adam is what knocks their rank down to third place. America chose the perpetually behatted Bryan Keith, and though this is no shade on him, he was kind of an easy choice next to Lovato-alike Joselyn Rivera, and Loren Allred's fourth quarter breakout. Naturally, Levine chose to save Melanie Martinez, who before then looked like spontaneously vomiting was a genuine prospect. It's too bad she didn't rip her gigantor bow out of her hair and use it to dry her tears.
Coach: Blake Shelton
The best thing that Shelton's uneven team has going for it is that Michaela Page cannot hit a wrong note. Nevertheless, America chose to save Scottish dada Terry McDermott and emo-era castaway Cassadee Pope, with Shelton shoehorning Page back into play. Gone is Julio Cesar Castillo, who got some celebrity real-talk b-roll from, awkwardly enough, Lou Diamond Philips, who played Richie Valens in La Bamba – the connection being, one assumes, that Castillo auditioned with "La Bamba," so it was like having the ghost of Richie Valens mansplaining cultural pride. C'mon, doesn't The Voice tape in L.A.?Couldn't they at least get Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or the guy that hosts Univision's Sabado Gigante? Also nixed was Liz Davis, but she already won a reality singing competition – P.Diddy's Starmaker a few years ago – so this is just, like, seconds.
Seemed like a good idea at the time: Folding Michaela Page's massive duo-tone fauxhawk down into a giant curl softened up her look, but also made her look exactly like she had her hair done in Munchkinland.
Most WTF line from a coach's pre-elimination pep talk: Cee Lo Green telling his contestants they were "soldiers of fortune" and to "invest this gold in the communities you come from."
Thanks, Coach: Given a moment on the mic after her elimination teenage sweetheart Joselyn Rivera gave a message to everyone who had been booted so far – "You don't have to win to be a winner!"