It's here: For the first time this season on The Voice, the power is truly in America's hands. There are no judges' steals or saves. Viewer votes alone will decide the fate of the top 12 contestants. Based on those votes, two will be eliminated – no matter which team they're on. (Although it was revealed that for the first time ever, viewers will have an insta-save, where live-tweeting will pull one contestant back from the brink.)
Separating the wheat from the chaff is the primary goal now, and some coaches are better at it than others.
In a confounding night of "shaking things up," the coaches' strengths and weaknesses were on display just as much as the contestants'. They were all focused on taking their singers out of their comfort zones and switching things up – but what they don't get is that just being able to finally vote is exciting enough for viewers. America isn't bored yet. America simply wants to reward its favorites for doing what they do best. Fans don't want to see Caroline Pennell turn into an EDM act or Austin Jenckes tackle a country song (nice try, though, Blake Shelton). Take those chances in a few weeks, when things actually get boring. Right now all the coaches are doing is jeopardizing their best players.
Last week it seemed like Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine had the teams to beat, and that didn't really change. But never underestimate the power of song selection. (Or the appeal of Blake in Middle America.)
While Christina soared with Matthew Schuler and Jacquie Lee, who sang the crap out of contemporary classic "Hallelujah" and Jack White's "Love Is Blindness," respectively, Adam's out-of-the-box frontrunner James Wolpert sank like a stone with an awkward rendition of the Killers' "Mr. Brightside."
Although James was in the top 10 on the iTunes songs chart last week, he dragged the bottom half of the top 100 this time around, leaving the door open for Matthew to rise to the top. With Jacquie hot on his heels, it's easy to say Christina had the best team this week – despite the fact that she's going to have to pray for a miracle to keep her personal pick Josh Logan in the race, since his raw rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" didn't even crack the top 100.
Although Wolpert spiraled out of control, Team Adam still had a decent showing since all three of his contestants charted – the only team to do so. Will Champlin became the new team frontrunner with his take on Imagine Dragons' "Demons" – but only because he was given the coveted pimp slot – while Tessanne Chin, who probably has one of the better voices on the show, got lost in the shuffle and didn't really get a chance to shine on Emeli Sandé's "My Kind of Love." Perhaps working against all three of them is the fact that Adam is an attention whore who actually changed outfits mid-show because he felt like "Mr. Rogers" while sitting next to a Zorro-clad Cee Lo Green.
Speaking of Cee Lo, is it just us or does Blake seriously rub him the wrong way this season? The normally jolly Cee often turns downright nasty at the mere sound of Blake's voice. This time the devil reared his head after Blake proclaimed that, of all the contestants this season, Jenckes is the one fans most want to have a beer with. (In Oklahoma, anyway.) And Cee Lo wasted no time in calling Blake a bald-faced liar.
We know it's going to be a tight race for third place, guys, but let's keep things civil. It's not Blake's fault that he knows what his people want. Or does he?
After using Jenckes as a country guinea pig by giving him "It's a Great Day to Be Alive" by Travis Tritt, which Blake thought was a sure-fire way to get country fans to embrace him, Austin fell off the iTunes chart completely, so Cee Lo just might find himself gloating during eliminations.
Still, Team Blake found iTunes success with wild-bearded Cole Vosbury, whose risky rendition of Miguel's "Adorn" seemed to have paid off, while Ray Boudreaux's performance of John Legend's "All of Me" also charted.
So, Cee Lo was probably just seething at being in last place, since he obliterated everything that was appealing about his frontrunner Pennell by giving her the ill-fitting "Wake Me Up!" and nasally-voiced Jonny Gray fell to the wayside with Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise." However, we have to hand it to him for somehow making Kat Robichaud likeable in an obnoxious rock star kind of way by going "balls to the wall" on AWOLNATION's "Sail. "
Working in her favor was the fact that the song isn't very well known and that the night was rather lackluster when it came to stage presence, so when Kat showed up with some strobe lights and sequined hot pants, things seemed rather exciting for a minute. She even strategically stage-dived into the crowd (which was obviously choreographed). Now, if he could just stop her from speaking when the music isn't playing, he might have a viable contestant on his hands.
While it probably won't be Kat, now the question is: Who will be the first to go?
Previous recap: Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera Pick Strong Teams