"The Voice" is down to the Top 6 finalists. On Monday evening, the remaining contestants from Teams Adam, Blake, and Christina hit the stage twice during the performance episode, hoping to garner enough of America's votes so as not to end up in the bottom three and having to pray that a bunch of Twitter retweets get them into the Season 5 finale. And although the songs were well performed, most were underwhelming. Except for those done by a couple of contestants, giving one team coach a decided advantage.
Well, a decided advantage if the voting viewers weren't watching "The Voice," listening with an objective ear, and truly understand that it is, first and foremost, a singing competition. But when has that ever really mattered in a reality singing competition?
The Monday night performance show, according to Michael Slezak's Dec. 2 recap for TV Line (via Yahoo TV), was a lesson in subtext and prompts on the part of the judges' as they attempted to sway voters without actually saying anything negative about any one particular performer. But, then, that's the nature of competition. Sometimes it's more about winning or making certain someone doesn't win their third straight title...
Anyway, the Top 6 contestants on "The Voice" got off to a very underwhelming start with Cole Vosbury in the dead spot. And after a likable but forgettable version of Hall and Oates' "Rich Girl," well...
The good news is: On "The Voice" this week, the finalists get two songs. One is picked by their coach; the other they get to dedicate to whoever. So Cole gets one more shot to wow America. He's Blake Shelton's last chance to have a four-peat but it's not looking all that promising...
Next up: Tessanne Chin sings Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." She does a great rendition, showcasing her voice. Still, the song is not one of Marley's more popular tunes, so it could cost her.
Third: Matthew Schuler performs One Direction's "The Story of My Life." It's a relatively new tune (and just performed live on "X Factor" a week ago) and, to give the young singer credit, better than the original. Still, it might not save him from the bottom, given that he was in the bottom three last week.
Will Champlin followed a new song with an old song, Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." It was powerful and a bit off. In fact, it started in the off position, Champlin getting to his microphone late from his piano intro. Still, a solid vocal because, like the professional he's shown himself to be, Champlin got the song back in time and nailed a better-than-average performance.
James Wolpert took the fifth spot, singing The White Stripes' "Fell In Love With A Girl." Not bad, but not altogether great. He's no Jack White, that's for certain. And that warble-keening, that tremolo is distractingly obnoxious. But the coaches/judges don't seem to notice or care.
Jacquie Lee has drawn the sixth spot, which means she'll sing last. As if she needs the pimp spot to make it to the finale. Good looks, killer power vocals as well as range, excellent stage presence. She's attempting Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby." She leads off shouting the chorus, which isn't a good start at all. However, from there on out, she literally nails the song. And besides Tessanne's and Matthew's performances, it's the best so far.
And then we're back to Cole Vosbury. This time around, he sings James Morrison's "Better Man." Much better than the first song, this tune showed Cole's tender, vulnerable side (and his dedicating the song to an ex was pure genius).
For Tessanne's second song, she showed Katy Perry how she should have recorded "Unconditionally." Really. But nailing a tune better than the original is only so good as it not getting undermined by a rival coach, like when Blake Shelton told her she needed to "stop focusing on Jamaica." He's absolutely correct (because reggae, ska, and other like genres are acquired tastes and not mainstream) and it could hurt her chances of winning the competition. Besides, even if he wasn't correct, it was a way to get a dig in at Tessanne's coach, Adam Levine, who happens to still have all three of his finalists in the running.
Matthew Schuler's second song may have been the worst song choice of the night. Coach Christina Aguilera chose Percy Sledge's iconic "When A Man Loves A Woman." Oh, he does a passable job but he doesn't seem connected to the lyrics. He sounded a bit strained at times as well.
Will Champlin did alright with Avicii's "Hey Brother." It showed he could handle modern tunes but there was no real "moment" in the song. The song was as forgettable as Vosbury's earlier cover of Hall and Oates.
Michael Slezak critiqued the next performance as "pageant-y" and that's exactly the way it should be described. Jacquie Lee dedicated the song, "The Voice Within," to her mentor, Christina Aguilera, who also happens to be the artist that had a hit with the tune. It was a good performance, but it had that air of false smiles and mannequin waves to the crowd one is accustomed to hearing from a Miss Whatever-state-she's-from.
James Wolpert pulled the pimp spot. He performed Meatloaf's "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." It was as cheesy as the original but not as good. In fact, it immediately took the worst song choice trophy for the night out of Coach Christina's hands and slapped it into the Adam Levine's. Truthfully, what's worse than Meatloaf doing Jim Steinman? A nerd channeling Meatloaf doing Jim Steinman. Cue the Bonnie Tyler and Air Supply and near-showtune "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights"...
Underwhelming might have been a bit of an overstatement for the entire show. Still, it was a somewhat entertaining, although not quite as well registered in the vocal department as is usual on "The Voice." Keep it up and they'll be comparable to "X Factor," and nobody really wants that, now do they?
Worst performances -- out of a sea of mediocre -- of the night went to James Wolpert's Meatloaf approximation and Matthew Schuler's Percy Sledge misstep. Best of the night was Tessanne Chin's "Redemption Song" and Jacquie Lee's "Cry Baby."
So... Who's going home? The results show will only see one finalist sent home Tuesday evening, leaving "The Voice" with five finalists. It will also be the last time viewers will be able to take to Twitter and issue an Instant Save.
Although the contestant that should be voted off would appear to be James Wolpert, dealing Team Adam it's first casualty in the Top 12, it will most likely by Matthew Schuler (judged from the fact that he had to gain the Instant Save during the Top 8 results show and that he did very little to redeem himself on Monday's performance show). Still, Matthew might find himself saved by someone that isn't connecting with the voting audience at home. But it seems a shame that perhaps the best male vocalist on the show (Matthew) might be done in by his coach's awful song choices (besides Percy Sledge, Christina Aguilera also chose that Imagine Dragons tune that just didn't seem right for the young artist).
And if this plays out the way it just might, Team Adam will leave the Top 6 intact, all three finalists still in contention for the Season 5 finale. It would leave Team Blake and Team Christina with only one finalist each. No doubt Adam Levine likes his odds of taking home the title for a second time (he won Season 1) and stopping Blake Shelton's three-year run.
Find out Tuesday who is eliminated and who makes the Top 5 when "The Voice" airs at 9 p.m. (EST) on NBC Television.