The Top 8 continued their steady march toward victory—the moment when the audience decides “THIS is ‘The Voice.’”
With fewer contestants in the running—but still a two-hour broadcast—Robin Thicke was brought in to open the show with his new single “Feel Good.” Later, Robin (looking more and more like Alan) tells Carson Daly that he attributes the success of “Blurred Lines” to his performance of it on the show last season, just before the summer that that song dominated. Hey, at least someone is becoming more famous as a result of this show, even if the contestants so far have not.
Two Team Adam contestants kick things off. We see them all meeting together and toasting over some bubbly about being the only team still intact. First up, James Wolpert chooses “Somebody To Love,” and Adam Levine decides that James simply must wear a tux for the performance. But one James in a tux is not enough! Pretty soon, there’s a whole army of backup James Wolperts in tuxes swallowing him whole! It’s almost as scary as the absolutely lack of depth in James’ dead stare as he sings one of the most passionate songs in history. Adam, blind to his contestant’s shortcomings, tells him he could sing with Queen tomorrow. Christina felt like she was a watching a Broadway show of little Adam and James baby clones.
Next up was Tessanne Chin, who so far hasn’t turned in a bad performance. Tonight, she topped herself again, with “Underneath It All.” Adam took Christina Aguilera’s suggestion last week that Tessanne sing with her Jamaican accent, so he steered her to the reggae song, and encouraged her to do some high pitched squeaks and other quirky things. Plus a full reggae breakdown in the middle. Cee Lo Green tells her that she represents “the immense beauty that’s born out of” Jamaica.
Cee Lo’s only contestant still standing (and narrowly so, after near elimination last week), Caroline Pennell got a free gelato from her coach to lift her spirits. They decide she should do something surprising, so they pick the least surprising song possible: Florence and the Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over.” She sounds clear and good, but I realized what I don’t like about her. There’s too much baby powder in her voice. There’s a softness under the sweetness that is just excessive at this point. I did like her deco dress though. Cee Lo professes his love to her in the most heart-meltingly mushy way: “You are the only thing that matters to me at this moment,” he says. “If you win nothing else, you win because you win my heart.”
At this point, someone via Twitter asks Robin Thicke if he dances in front of his mirror at home, and Robin, completely out of touch with irony or even whimsy, is like, “Uhh…absolutely not,” in about the most awkward way possible. Robin, what is so wrong with dancing in front of your mirror? Embrace geekdom! Everyone else has.
Tessanne gets another reggae moment to shine in a group number of Matisyahu’s “One Day” with Cole Vosbury, Ray Boudreaux and Will Champlin. They all sound totally competent as Tess’s backup singers.
Cole is the first on Team Blake tonight, and we learn in his video that Blake Shelton brought Cole and Ray along to an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” where the two guys had to sit quarantined in the Green Room while Blake made a few thousand dollars. Afterward, Leno comes out and offers Cole the advice that if he is nervous, he should act nervous. But then a few minutes later, Blake tells Cole to be more aggressive on his country love song, “I Still Believe In You.” And his version of aggressive is twinkling candelabras and a string quartet, so… Blake tells him that he left his heart on the stage. You know, in an aggressive way.
As a 21st birthday gift to Matthew Schuler, Christina gives him “It’s Time,” and the idea to do military-themed choreography for it. They really went all out, with projections of American flags all over the stage and lots of stomping in time. He sounded consistent, but is becoming less memorable as the weeks pass. His coach told him he comes “from a place of integrity.”
The second group number features Matthew, James, Jacquie Lee and Caroline on Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House.” So THAT’S Ed Sheeran! Ok, now I get it.
Will Champlin took off his glasses to sing “At Last,” and it turns out they are very twinkly! And from the front, he looks like “Tootsie”-era Dustin Hoffman. From the side, like Sean Penn. So I feel like we learned a lot about Will tonight. Adam made much during the intro video and his commentary later about how Will is the most hard-working of all the contestants, and how he wants “to hit the highest possible note in the history of music.” Did he? I don’t think so. Christina says that since she eats, sleeps and breathes this song “for my entire career” she will have lots of notes to give Will after.
Ray got better advice from Leno than Cole did. “All show business is is high school with money,” Leno tells him. Now he knows. Blake wants Ray to come across as an entertainer, so he gives him “Gimme Some Lovin’” which will never sound like more of a song than what we used to play in pep band for the high school football team. And Ray’s backup pep band totally delivered, trumpeting some super crazy high notes that were way more exciting than Ray’s own notes. All the judges start saying “swag” about the whole thing, which is diversionary at best.
In the pimp spot of the night was Jacquie Lee, who closed the show by going back to her soul roots, according to coach Xtina. Her song: Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You.” Christina wants Jacquie to sing with anger, to drop down to her knees and get all accusatory in a random person’s face. She does all of that, and well, AND sings the hell out of it, but I still wouldn’t say it sounds at all like those lyrics mean anything to her. Christina says it was all an exercise to prove that “below the surface you are a complex person.” So this is an ongoing problem with Jacquie—her lack of complexity, depth, basically just experience. Adam tries to pretend he does believe her about the lyrics, and says she has to meet a nice boy because she’s singing about all this heartbreak. Cee Lo closes out the show with the best judgment of the night: “It’s like you swallowed an old lady or something.”
Prediction: Matthew Schuler was the worst of the night, in my opinion, but he hasn’t been in the bottom three yet, so who knows. Will Caroline Pennell follow her teammate Kat Robichaud’s lead of the last two weeks and go from save to farewell? And maybe James Wolpert or Ray Boudreaux will finally be eked out. Stay tuned for results on Tuesday to find out!