After several weeks of showstoppers from Trevin Hunte and Amanda Brown on The Voice, last night's run up to the semi-finals elimination round put a few more maybes into play. Of the dozen performances, there were some surprises, but hardly a standout. Post-teen eye candy Dez Duron, Hunte and Brown were the only performers that trended on Twitter by name, rather than by song title, which confirms that people remember who they are – and could be an indication of whom America will vote off the island. Hunte might have eked out a lead, drawing a standing ovation from the coaches for his rushed and blustery take on Michael Bolton's take of "When a Man Loves a Woman," which was his second version of a Bolton cover in as many weeks.
On to the power rankings.
Coach: Adam Levine
While Team Cee Lo has the showboating Hunte, Levine has fan favorites Brown and the vastly improved Bryan Keith – which inches him into a delicate lead. Brown went with a challenging song, the Calvin Harris remix of Florence and Machine's "Spectrum," and was stalled out a little by weird staging that immobilized her atop a giant platform, which did not serve the energy of hard disco very well. She'd really have to blow it not to make the final four at this point. Keith did a Sinatra-esque update of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," that was more dynamic than expected. In his b-roll he talked about how he'd been in metal bands up until now, which makes his contemporary Rat Pack steez all the more curious. Melanie Martinez used her b-roll to explain her Cruella DeVille-inspired hairdo and how she feels like an outcast in society (ugh, high school!) and then performed "Cough Syrup" cross-legged under what looked like a giant plexiglass table, verging on tears, her metaphorical emo jail made visible. Oof.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
Hunte is the game to beat this season, but lord, why must he be given such sappy tunes to sing? One Michael Bolton song was more than enough! Granted, all the Whitney, Mariah and Celine Dion songs got chewed through early on by the entirety of Team Xtina. Anyway, Hunte is a powerhouse but really predictable. A cleaned up Nicholas David, Minnesotan soul brother number one, stomped out Huey Lewis' "Power of Love" as best as the song could allow, replete with horn section and gleaming white tie so wide that the knot was as big as a burrito. Cody Belew did Tina Turner's "The Best," and though he is a little out of his league with his teammates, the dude is "fun," as Adam put it. They should let him be on every season until he wins.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
If Duron is playing hard for the hearts and minds of The Voice's teen-y audience, it's a curious a choice that he was trying to showcase himself with a very adult-contemporary take on of Lauryn Hill's version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," which wouldn't have been out of place on lite-rock radio. Cee Lo complimented him on his "natural sexual appeal," which seems to be the foremost thing on Green's mind when he doles out compliments. Mini-Xtina Sylvia Yacoub went to the mountaintop with Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," and in the parlance of the coaches "made it her own," which is to say she followed Xtina's suggestion of Beyoncé-izing it. Her pipes are next-level but nerves made her a little shaky. Adriana Louise did "Good Girl" and got thoroughly stampy and sassy and invaded Adam's personal space for a showy finale, but ultimately her performance was buried by the contestants who followed. Team Xtina, despite formidable ranges and undeniable talent, are exactly what you expect them to be every time – good looking young people bringing the diva/divo hammer down at top volume, like sexy foghorns.
Coach: Blake Shelton
Michaela Page's monolithic fauxhawk came down and in its place was a teeny tiny hat! Unsurprisingly, Page did a solid turn with yet another Pink song, but the breakout for Shelton's team was Cassadee Pope, who might have put herself into the final four. Pope, who has already cycled through a major label deal in her previous incarnation as the singer for emo band Hey Monday, is curiously vying for another through this competition and delivered what she knew best, busting out her guitar and werking the vintage Kelly Clarkson cut "Behind These Hazel Eyes." Terry McDermott got "More Than a Feeling," and almost nailed it. Almost. It's hard to imagine him doing anything but feel-good classic rock anthems. He seems like the next replacement frontman for Styx or the Cult, not making chart-pop hits with a record deal won off this show.
Best interaction with a contestant: Nicholas David's elaborate handshake with Carson Daly, who referred to him as "brother."
Best accessorizing: Bryan Keith's elephantine pinky ring that might have just been an acorn glued to his hand. Worst: The entire sale department of a Claire's Boutique that was adorning Michaela Page. Either do the leopard-print rainbow hair or the teeny plastic top hat made for a dog, but not both. Second worst: Trevin Hunte's studded micro bowtie made him look kind of "funky prom" meets "Fruit of Islam."
Most hyperbolic coach praise: Cee Lo to Trevin Hunte: "I believe you are an angel of some sort."