And, then there were 11... The Voice season 9 is now in the real thrust of its live playoffs, with this week marking the first time the finalists truly got to show who they were. And, while the performances were wide ranging in their quality on Monday night, the show's new elimination schedule made the stakes pretty low... only one person would be going home. But, who was it?
When the show wasn't running through results, Team Pharrell and Team Blake got the chance to tackle new songs with their coach. Blake clearly has a personal connection with his remaining trio, as they palled around on "Lean On Me," with a bit of a country twist, of course. Pharrell tapped in to his own discography and "Just a Cloud Away." The coach himself struggles with the high notes, but his team carried the weight just fine.
But what were the results, you ask? Let's get to it!
The first save of the night was no big surprise; it went to Team Adam's Jordan Smith. Smith has already been a fan favorite, with his performance of Beyonce's "Halo" from the first live playoffs even reaching the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to its massive sales. This week, he showed a purity in his voice with his take on the gospel song "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." He even reached the top of the iTunes charts with it.
The second save went to Team Gwen's Jeffery Austin. He may not be the flashiest singer of the bunch, but he certainly is dependable, and his Monday night performance of James Bay's "Let It Go" was effective and showed off his big range while not being too show-y.
The results were spread out evenly and done quickly throughout the show, though host Carson Daly kept randomly asking the singers questions in the awkward way that only he can. Really, there's no need for him to talk to these singers. They're nervous, he's not great at connecting emotionally, and please, let us just move on.
And, as we move on, expected results were expected and rolled out. Emily Ann Roberts, Team Blake's save, executed her country classic "Blame It On Your Heart" flawlessly and was rewarded for doing so with America's vote. Team Pharrell's first save went to Madi Davis. Her performance of Jewel's "Who Will Save Your Soul" may have had an odd arrangement, but her genuine brand of singer-songwriter music does well on The Voice.
Other saved artists were less obvious than the first four. Braiden Sunshine and Shelby Brown squeaked through. Amy Vachal, whose performance was a bit overshadowed by some Gwen/Blake romancing, got her dues thanks to her unique spin on "Hotline Bling." Barrett Baber of Team Blake was also safe before the final commercial break.
Then, the final low four were revealed: Evan McKeel, Zach Seabaugh, Mark Hood and Korin Bukowski. None of these people had their best night on Monday, and even though Zach broke out during week one of the lives, he still falters a bit in his middle range. But, The Voice loves its country, and Zach made it through. Similarly, Evan struggles thanks to Pharrell's lame-o song choices (seriously... Kenny Loggins), but he still delivered a decent vocal and squeaked through.
Mark went for the save by returning to his funky soul roots with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." As always, he struggled a bit with his notes at the front of the performance but he injected a lot of soul and personality into this short 90 seconds or so. He is by no means the best singer on The Voice, but he has the most stage presence, and that works when you're immediately trying to grab an audience's attention for something like a Twitter save.
Korin, free from Coach Gwen's insistence in making her a mini-Gwen, returned to her emotionally captivating roots and channeled some of that "Samson" magic for "Don't Know Why." She doesn't quite have the throaty, pretty tone of Norah Jones, but she delivered this well. On some level, this seemed a little simple for something so dramatic like a Twitter save, but she sounded sweet, even if she missed the sort of big emotional heartbreak that triggers this sort of songwriting.
However, that sort of emotional play (and her superior vocals) played to Korin's benefit, and she moved on to the top 11, as Coach Gwen screamed out "OH MY GOD!"