With an abbreviated, hour-long show for the live semi-finals, each of the remaining four contestants on The Voice had just one song with which to truly sell themselves to America. The real story last night wasn’t the continuing triumph of Cassadee Pope (who has long been assured a spot in the finals due to the cumulative vote tally) but rather Nicholas David’s tearjerking tribute to his pregnant wife. David sang “You Are So Beautiful” to her like it was a hymn, as she bounced their baby and kept a toddler in her grip in the audience. He choked up, the camera closed in on her as she wept, Cee Lo wiped away tears – there was nary a dry eye to be found. She must be a special lady to allow The Voice‘s camera crew into her check-up with her midwife for the sake of her husband’s b-roll. David has made it this far largely on his talent, but the show also has a major asset in his sincerity and familial devotion. His ambition, like that of fellow dad Terry McDermott, seems purposeful and noble rather than vain.
On to the power rankings.
Coach: Blake Shelton
Shelton has the strongest team with Pope and the still-flawless McDermott, but last night’s time-chewing ensemble number on “White Christmas,” which brought back all of Team Blake, served as a reminder that these two were the best things he had going all season. As they swayed on risers, beaming practiced looks, contestants who had been eliminated months ago looked wholly unfamiliar. There was that inexplicably saved Collin guy with the necklace, the mom from 2Steel Girls doing her parade wave to the people at home, blues grandpa Rudy. When it was his turn, McDermott did a powerful performance of “Let It Be,” which showcased his lovely, but rarely deployed falsetto. The staging evoked Seventies hippie church vibes, complete with a plainclothes choir, who lumbered slowly off the stairs and approached McDermott, which was a little distracting as their pace and manner was very “zombie horde.” In his b-roll he played soccer with his son and then went to a pub where he cried upon being surprised by his relatives from Scotland. Total awww. Pope did Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy,” and made it sound like the bitter post-divorce record that Avril Lavigne never made, all while wearing what appeared to be a Marchesa wedding gown. The staging was elegant and featured what appeared to be a very large dead tree or mega shrub at center stage. In her b-roll she went home to West Palm Beach, Florida, and played a show to what appeared to be 4,000 people before getting a key to the city. Her mom cried, and Pope looked winsome as she peered out the window of her airport limo upon the land of her youth. It seems unlikely that either of these two will be going home tonight.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
It finally happened: Trevin Hunte got around to “Wind Beneath My Wings,” meaning he has completed the entire diva classic songbook save for a Cher song. Oddly enough, his delivery had a handful of flat notes, a sharp ending and not enough control, making for the only weak performance of the night. It was more show-choir than Voice finals. He performed surrounded by string players in diaphanous angel outfits and a raging fog machine – essentially enacting Xtina’s version of what heaven is like: Hunte singing Bette Midler songs at top volume. In his b-roll his parents cried and 8th graders from his former middle school attested to the power of his inspiration. Teammate David had the most intense and most baller b-roll of the evening – seeing the new house his family had moved into since he’d been away, being feted by the mayor of a Minneapolis suburb amid screaming hordes at the Mall of America and then hearing his in-utero baby’s heartbeat at his wife’s obstetric check-up. It truly ran the gamut. His performance was the show-stealer of the night, the emotional footage a close second.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
Xtina bumps up to the third spot this week simply because of her relentless diva-dom. First, her Clockwork Orange-inspired ensemble was truly next-level; she looked like she just got off her cocktail shift at Karova Milkbar. Secondly, approximately 90 percent of her critique of Hunte was about her roots as a seven-year-old wedding singer, how she sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” at every performance and her storied relationship to the song.
Coach: Adam Levine
Levine has grown a small beard. He managed to not tell Hunte that his voice is a gift from God for seemingly the first time ever.
Most dubious honor: Nicholas David not getting a key from the mayor of Eagan, Minnesota, but rather a “golden microphone,” with a big craft-appliqué “E” on it that actually looked like it might have been a pencil someone spray painted.
Best Xtina diss-compliment: When she told Cassadee Pope that her voice is so perfect she sounds like she is auto-tuned.
Weirdest shot: Nicholas David, being shown with his face bisected by a cobwebby table leg as he stood on the “grandma’s attic” hammy visual metaphor stage set for his performance.
Previously: ‘The Voice’ Cuts Amanda Brown, Melanie Martinez