There was a major bloodbath on The Voice on Wednesday night (Nov. 11). This week, 24 singers performed, but for week two of the live playoffs, there are only 12 performance slots. Yes, the show cut its field properly in half. Previously, letting two of five singers go was painful but not a punch to the gut. This season, with the new comeback artist twist, this is just brutal.
The night wasn't without a few short moments to cut the tension. First lady Michelle Obama made a video appearance to thank the troops on Veteran's Day (and to crack a joke about Adam Levine's hair). Also, season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks popped back on the show to perform a song from his new EP, "Take It All," which coincidentally was released earlier that day. His vulnerability and that sweet, sweet vibrato played as well last night as it did last year, and he was a welcome return.
Team Gwen kicked off the night by performing "Ooh Child," and they actually blew this out of the water. Typically, these group performances read as incredibly cheesy and reminiscent of that dorky high school glee club that you had to sit through every Christmas, but the harmonies here were really rich and everyone's moment to shine hit well. The well-executed solos made it even more clear just how brutal these eliminations were going to be.
After a lengthy montage where we relived all of Team Gwen's moments from Monday night, the slaughter began.
Jeffery Austin was the first Team Gwen member to be saved, following his vocal gymnastic performance of Jessie Ware's "Say You Love Me." He had the best performance of Team Gwen and was a logical choice to stick around. The second Team Gwen pick from America went to Braiden Sunshine. His performance of "Everything I Own" fell flat, but he has a likability. Hopefully, next week Gwen can focus less on his personal style and more on his performances so he truly earns this spot.
Then, it came to the save, and Gwen went for her heart, saving Korin Bukowski. Korin slipped a little with her performance of "Adia," but she has the potential to truly blossom in both her style and vocals, which is certainly appealing to watch. That means, it's the end of the road for Viktor Kiraly and Regina Love, who felt like frontrunners at certain points of the show. Ellie Lawrence also is sent packing again after failing to fully redeem herself with "Ex's and Oh's."
Before Team Blake was cut in half, they performed Rascal Flatt's "Stand," which worked pretty well for Blake's country-heavy team. Nadjah Nicole stuck out like a sore thumb on stage, but she made do with what she could.
After, yet again, an incredibly long montage (seriously, we all have things to do and clearly watched the show on Tuesday night), Team Blake's American choices were made. Barrett Baber played well into the Veteran's Day hand with his performance of "I Drive Your Truck" and was an easy and clear pick. Zach Seabaugh also made the cut after finally showing his big ol' country chops with a hip-shaking performance.
So, the ladies of Team Blake were left on the cutting room floor. Blake emphasized that there are millions of ways to make it in the music industry and he had to go with who needed The Voice the most and who would do best on this show. He went for... Emily Ann Roberts? What? Morgan Frazier and Nadjah Nicole are more talented, so they could just be fine without a reailty show. But, Ivonne Acero has shows leaps and bounds of progress, and even though her performance of "One of Us" wasn't amazing, that felt like a song choice thing. Hopefully, Blake can help Emily Ann to improve her stage presence so she doesn't make that save a total waste.
"Everybody Hurts." Get it? Because this elimination round is really brutal, so Team Pharrell sang some R.E.M. to help celebrate the occasion. Like Team Blake, Team Pharrell is a homogenous group and this performance gelled really well together. Darius Scott and Celeste Betton really let loose
The surviving members of Team Pharrell are a both really surprising and not that surprising. Madi Davis gets the first vote from America after a stunningly simple performance of "Songbird." I wasn't sure if it would be enough versus some of the loud and proud moments on Team Pharrell, but you know, I'm not perfect. The other member of Team Pharrell played right into the coach's hand. Evan McKeel's full performance of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" got him through to the next round. Grumble.
Pharrell has one of the best teams on this show, and his choice between Celeste, Darius, Mark Hood and Riley Biederer isn't inherently easy. And Pharrell really drags it out, pushing the producers for time. We are all sick of watching him think at the end of this segment. In the end, Pharrell goes to save Mark Hood. This is... a choice. Celeste had a better performance on Tuesday, but she had already been saved. Darius can be much more interesting but fell to a bad song choice. Mark really tends to just overdo his whole... thing. I guess you can never call him boring, so that's a plus.
Team Adam took on the Johnnyswim song "Diamonds." At first, it felt like we may have been relegated to an insufferable Rihanna cover, but the end result was actually more satisfying. Though this country-leaning song was a bit of an odd choice for Adam's pop-rock heavy team, their voices actually all sounded really pretty together.
The first save from Team Adam went to Jordan Smith. This may shock you, but he was the only artist to reach the iTunes top 10 with his performance of Beyoncé's "Halo." (It's really not that shocking at all; Jordan is very much this year's frontrunner.) Team Adam's second most-voted artist was Shelby Brown, which is a bit of surprise. But, The Voice audience loves a good ol' country gal, and that trickled over to Team Adam.
So, his final four to pick from boiled down to Amy Vachal, Chance Pena, Blaine Mitchell and Keith Semple. Adam has been majorly crushin' on Amy this entire time, and her cool jazzy sense brings a different element to this show, even if it can be a tad bit underwhelming. But, it's a relatively safe choice, so that's where Adam goes, leaving his three rocker boys on the floor.
Chance's cut means that none of the four returning singers (Celeste, Chance, Ellie, Nadjah) made it into the top 12, rendering that surprise comeback totally pointless.