Christmas came early on The Voice, with multiple holiday-themed performances happening three weeks ahead of Santa's schedule and Adam Levine and Blake Shelton receiving the gift of intact teams. In fact, both coaches pulled off near-impossible feats, with Blake's last-man-standing Cole Vosbury and all three of Adam's contestants earning spots in the semi-finals, virtually ensuring that one of them will win the Season Five trophy. (Team Adam, cough cough. Duh.)
But one contestant was handed a big, fat lump of coal: Matthew Schuler, who was naughty in the eyes of viewers, apparently, and sent home in plenty of time to trim the tree. Bah, humbug, America.
It was the first time this season that a presumed frontrunner got kicked off the show, but it wasn't too surprising. Matthew has struggled the past few weeks to maintain the huge impact he made with "Hallelujah" (which is still floating around the top 100 of the iTunes songs chart), and it was the second time in a row that the Christina Aguilera mentee dragged the bottom.
It was also the last time this season that viewers could use the Twitter-based instant save. And unlike last week, they didn't think Matthew deserved to be pulled from the brink of oblivion. Instead, that honor went to James Wolpert from Team Adam, who had an off night during his performances. Our faith in the power of the pimp spot remains unbroken, even though it was a close call.
Yes, it was definitely a nail-biter, as neither hopeful deserved to go. (Although it was definitely sad to lose Matthew, who probably had more overall potential than James.) And for possibly the first time in reality show history, two guys held hands as they awaited their fate – a small but sweet reminder of how The Voice has changed the face of reality singing competitions.
Kelly Clarkson cut through the tension with a festive performance of "Underneath the Tree" and showed off her baby bump while doused in red glitter. Blake brought back Season One finalist Xenia for a duet on "Silver Bells," proving not all past contestants have been left for dead by their coaches. And the top six sloshed their way through "Joy to the World."
But the surprise treat of the night came when Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, who now tours with Rihanna, made an appearance on "More Than Words." Although Cole, James and Will Champlin basically slaughtered the song, it was still a nice walk down memory lane. "I enjoyed that way more than I'd ever admit on live television," host Carson Daly said.
Now it's time to see if Blake and Christina, who have just one contestant each, can hang on for dear life and avoid the wrath of Team Steamroller – er, we mean Team Adam – during the semi-finals. Good luck with that, guys. Let the coronation begin.
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