The Voice is like a snow globe this season – it loves to be shaken up. And last night's performance show lived by that philosophy, as the artists and coaches once again focused on making risky choices. While it paid off for some, others – including one-time frontrunners – might find themselves in trouble, especially because it's about that time in the season when "shocking" eliminations start happening.
The biggest blunder of the night came from Matthew Schuler, whose rendition of contemporary classic "Hallelujah" from two weeks ago is still floating around the top 100 of the iTunes songs chart. But after two ballads in a row, he went back to his rocker roots with Imagine Dragons' "It's Time."
Featuring a choreographed "military theme" conceptualized by coach Christina Aguilera, Matthew definitely looked like he was enjoying himself, trading in his usually serious demeanor for smiles. Unfortunately, though, his voice wavered amid all the movement and he gave what was probably his worst performance so far. It was definitely his worst showing on the iTunes chart, as he came in dead last among the contestants and barely cracked the top 100.
On the flip side, Will Champlin from Adam Levine's team gets a gold star for his rendition of Etta James' "At Last," an unusual choice for a male contestant that worked because he sounded rather feminine. In fact, for the first few lines you probably wouldn't have guessed it was a guy. (Sorry, dude.) But the ballsy move (see what we did there) paid off in spades, as he hit every note and soared into the top 10 on the iTunes chart, ensuring his safety and putting him in the lead. For the time being, at least.
The rest of Team Adam didn't fare as well though, as the experimental coach turned James Wolpert and Tessanne Chin into musical guinea pigs. (Apparently Adam hasn't learned any lessons from season after losing season.)
Giving powerhouse vocalist Tessanne No Doubt's reggae-tinged "Underneath It All" could go either way when the votes roll in, as Tessanne's accent was more on display than her vocal abilities. So, now the question is: Will viewers embrace the blatant nod at her Jamaican roots or are they tired of being reminded? According to Adam, the song was "tailor-made" for her and he was "overjoyed to be able to tie Jamaica to America." But he could soon be mumbling "I hate this country" again if she gets cut.
Also on rocky ground is Wolpert, who still can't seem to pinpoint a niche. He's gone from singing Joni Mitchell to the Killers to, now, Queen. While James held his own on "Somebody to Love," he's no Freddie Mercury. But he did make a spectacle by singing among a sea of bespectacled, tuxedo-wearing lookalikes. Christina gave him a backhanded, kiss-of-death comment: "I felt like I was watching a Broadway show [featuring] an army – as if Adam and James cloned themselves and made babies." And while slick Levine-like looks might work for, well, Adam Levine, fans probably miss the nerdy Wolpert they fell in love with.
Another artist seemingly losing sight of what fans like is Caroline Pennell. But you can't really blame her, as she's only 17 and someone else is clearly carving her path at this point. And whoever it is needs to seriously stop caking on the makeup and sticking her in flashy dresses and high heels, because what was charming about Caroline was that she was so innocent and frumpy. Now, watching her wobble around sporting raccoon eyes is just sad. Did The Voice already forget how well Michelle Chamuel did last season by being herself?
Still, as the last contestant standing on Cee Lo Green's team, Caroline seemingly dug herself out of the elimination ditch by singing a spot-on rendition of Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over," which was upbeat, contemporary and well suited for her voice. Plus, she and Cee Lo are getting along much, much better – a warm serving of humble pie can do that to a coach. After practically reading her the riot act last week, this time he read her a poem: "The only reason you're alone is because you are the only thing that matters to me at this moment. If you win nothing else, you win because you win my heart." Aw, that’s the kind of team spirit America likes to reward. But is it too little too late?
Also taking a risk that will probably pay off is Cole Vosbury, who went the country route with "I Still Believe in You" by Vince Gill because, well, he's on Blake Shelton's team. A consistent performer – both onstage and on the iTunes chart – Cole could be this year's Swon Brothers.
Meanwhile, Team Blake's Ray Boudreaux stayed the course that worked for him so well last week by giving another kitchen-sink performance – of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" – that could go either way. And Xtina's Jacquie Lee stayed in her wheelhouse with the Jackson 5's "Who's Lovin' You," which left a couple coaches scratching their heads as to why she keeps singing such deep, emotional songs about love when she's only 16. "It's like you swallowed an old lady or something," Cee Lo quipped. But since she got the coveted pimp spot, she'll be safe no matter what. So who'll be the shocking elimination this week?
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