Somehow, even though we have half the number of contestants we had last week, the semi-final episode remains a two-hour extravaganza. I fast forwarded through all of the visits to "the Voice social media room" (it seems they've given up on the "V Room" moniker, unless I fast-forwarded through that, too) and focused on the performances. I don't think the episode needs to be two hours long, but the performances this week are worth the investment--in a word, amazing.
The episode begins with the results of last week's competitions; Team Adam and Team Cee Lo face the music and prepare to be whittled from four down to two. Team Adam said goodbye to the INCREDIBLE Jeff Jenkins of Jones Creek, TX--major bummer--and Devon Barley, whose mommy and daddy just want him to stay in med school. Javier Colon is America's choice and Casey Weston is Adam's choice, so these two continue on to semi-finals. Team Cee Lo bids adieu to Tori & Taylor Thompson and country boy Curtis Grimes, leaving Austin-based Nakia (Cee Lo's choice) and Vicci Martinez (America's choice) to rock another day.
Onward to the semi-final performances!
This week, the two remaining performers for each team will perform a song. The judges will score each performance, and the judges' scores will be combined with America's votes; the scores will have equal weight, and Carson Daly tells us the more we vote, the more power we have. I'm feeling pretty apathetic about that, Carson.
Frenchie Davis performing "Like a Prayer" by Madonna
Frenchie says she is scared and intimidated by coach Christina's song choice; Christina says she wants Frenchie to do the song "church-y and soulful." When Frenchie gets to the stage she's surrounded by backup singers in white choir robes, but the staging combined with Frenchie's leather hot pants is less "church-y" and more "Sunday Mass at Studio 54," particularly when the choir singers toss their robes to reveal wife-beater-and-suspender backup singer garb. The coaches rave about the performance, with Cee Lo calling Frenchie his "soul sister" and Blake telling her she nailed it.
Beverly McClellan performing "The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King
Beverly is a poet, and after watching her all of these weeks, she is one of my favorite artists on the show. Her look is deceiving--there is a lot more to her than a shaved head and tattoos, and I absolutely love her voice. Her performance of this B.B. King classic is still powerful and dramatic, but it's definitely a softer side of Beverly. Christina Aguilera is mostly annoying on this show, but her instincts regarding Beverly's song choices have been spot-on. The coaches all go wild for her, and we learn that her nickname is "Killer B." YES.
Team Cee Lo
Nakia performing "What Do You Want From Me?" by Adam Lambert
Nakia is initially hesitant about this song choice, but he trusts Cee Lo. I enjoy watching these two collaborate in the rehearsals, and it seems like they have a good relationship. I don't know this song, but I know I love the way Nakia sings it, and that's all I need to know. He starts playing piano and then kicks the piano bench away, and Nakia is rocking the stage! He has incredible stage presence. The coaches are swooning over Nakia, with Blake calling the performance "award-show" quality while also being "in tune," and Cee Lo calls Nakia the next big star. I have to agree--I would buy anything he recorded.
Vicci Martinez performing "Dog Days are Over" by Florence + The Machine
Vicci Martinez is a big, big talent. She owns this song, which isn't easy because Florence Welch has a very distinct sound. Vicci has a leads a huge drum line during her performance, and the total effect is like Pet Benatar and Florence + The Machine had a love child. The coaches agree that this is the most powerful performance of the night.
Dia Frampton performing "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.
I think Blake has two of the most talented contestants in the competition, because both Dia and Xenia have unusual voices and the ability to make a song their own through creative, original phrasing. Dia's rendition of "Losing My Religion" is beautiful and haunting, and unexpectedly powerful. The coaches compliment her creativity and originality; Cee Lo calls her "inventive" and Adam calls himself a fan.
Xenia performing "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script
In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit right now that I am a HUGE Xenia fan, and I think I want her to win. This girl is SIXTEEN YEARS OLD, for Chrissakes, and her voice is so exceptional--I can't imagine how gorgeous she will sound in five, 10, 15 years. I'm puzzled how she can sing these songs with very adult themes and emotions and still sell them to me; there is a quality to her voice that transcends her age. The coaches are also in awe of this age/maturity dichotomy from Xenia, and Christina says she is "baffled" by Xenia's level of maturity.
Casey Weston performing "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton
In rehearsals, Adam tells Casey he wants her to shoot for something in between the Dolly Parton and the Whitney Houston versions of this song. I officially resent Casey because Adam chose her over Jeff Jenkins in a last-minute decision, plus I don't really love Casey's voice. Or this song. Anyway, I find the song strange, because Casey has to jump between a low and a high register and she doesn't make it seamless; it sounds jumpy. The coaches love it, but I'm stumped.
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Javier Colon performing "Fix You" by Coldplay
No matter how talented the rest of the field is, I think Javier is probably the most talented; not by a lot, but he is the whole package. His rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You" is completely amazing--even if you hate Coldplay I suspect you will like Javier's interpretation of the song. The coaches fawn over Javier after his performance, although they are somewhat fixated on his post-performance removal of his hat. After they get over the hat thing, the coaches all agree that Javier is consistently amazing; Adam says Javier has one of the best voices he's ever heard, ever.
This week we get instant gratification: After tonight's Presidential address (7:10 p.m. CT) the semi-final voting results will be revealed and we shall have our final four contestants!