The Voice Season 3 Semifinals Recap: To Die Four

nicholas davidThe Voice‘s Season 3 semifinals featured the Top 4 contestants travelling to faraway lands — and I’m not talking about their American Idol-esque hometown visits.

Trevin Hunte went all the way to heaven (where angels wear baby blue nightgowns and play classical instruments). Nicholas David sojourned to Miss Havisham’s burnt-out Amish-country vacation house (where a sad red wagon waited longingly for a little boy to come and play with it). Cassadee Pope flittered away to Faerieland (“Because she is made of PURE MAGIC!” cried her mentor, Blake Shelton). And Terry McDermott detoured at a vast cathedral before he continued on his way to Mordor.

(Go ahead…say “MORDOR!” in your boomingest, British-iest Christopher Lee accent. We can pick up this recap when you’ve finished.)

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All that is my roundabout way of saying the semifinal set pieces were a wee bit over-the-top. But hey, with four talented folks competing for three spots in next week’s finale (one of which really shoulda gone to Amanda Brown), you can’t be surprised that they pulled out every stop. We saw yet another Gospel choir. We saw extreme closeups of Blake resting his chin in his hands, his face gazing into the light emanating from Cassadee’s soul. We saw Nicholas’ wife getting an ultrasound! The only thing that got left out was Trevin Hunte leading a brickbats- and torches-wielding throng into his mean high-school chorus teacher’s classroom. (Maybe producers are saving that feel-good footage for next week’s finale?)

We now interrupt this broadcast to present — without comment — Cee Lo’s response to Carson Daly’s question about how what he wants Voice fans to take away about his final two contestants, Trevin and Nicholas: “I want them to be remembered as really great friends of mine, and the future!”

Carson didn’t really respond to that ridiculata with a “well said,” did he?

Don’t answer that…let’s get to grades for this week’s performances…

Trevin Hunte: Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” | Why has The Voice been leading us to believe Trevin’s a New Yorker when he’s been living in Georgia since he was 11? Did I miss the newsflash? Or did the show’s producers think his tale of being told to give up on his dreams by a teacher would somehow tug harder on the heartstrings if we believed he came from Queens rather than what looks like a lovely Atlanta suburb? Whatever the case may be, this was one instance where I wish we’d gotten less hometown visit and more behind-the-scenes insight into Cee Lo and Trevin’s unfathomable song choice. Not since his blind audition has the kid credibly covered a song from the last two decades, and instead of using his penultimate live show to try to establish some post-Voice credibility, he goes and covers one of the most mawkish, sentimental ballads in the American songbook. Even more troubling, “Wind Beneath My Wings” ranks alongside “Scream” as Trevin’s worst vocal of the competition: His pacing seemed rushed, he went sharp on almost every big note in the second half of the track, and didn’t really seem emotionally connected to what he was singing. By the time he reached the “fly, fly, flyyyy” portion of the ditty, I began devilishly rooting for Cee Lo’s pink parrot to come swooping onto the stage and drop a critique right in the center of the stage. Instead, Xtina rambled incessantly about all the times she’d sung “Wind” during her childhood. Then again, at least she stopped short of singing a few bars and then imploring us to pick up copies of Lotus, in stores now. Grade: D+

Nicholas David: Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” | Nicholas, in typical fashion, barely missed a note while pairing up his warm, buttery tone with a ’70s-era pop-soul anthem. Okay, I could gripe that once again, Cee Lo’s song choice left Nicholas looking like a groovy nostalgia act — Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love,” from 1985, is the newest song he’s tackled since the live shows began — and far from the kind of current artist who’s ready to cast Ke$ha from the Billboard charts and back from whence she came. (FYI: I’m not saying oldies can’t be goodies…I’m just advocating a little variety!) But I’ve got to admit that the Minnesota hippie infused his performance with added emotional heft this week — no doubt in part because his wife and family were offering tearful support from the front row. That extra aggression in Nicholas’ delivery brought to life the urgency of his message, even if it might’ve taken a little toll on tone in a couple spots. It’s just a shame the show’s director chose to spend what felt like a third of the performance in extreme closeup on the Mrs. and her wriggling toddler. We’re not suposed to be voting for “Best Family” — as if having a spouse and children somehow implies you’re more worthy of a record deal — but rather, The Voice. Which is why that overbearing, “look! he’s doing it for his wife and kids!” vibe was the equivalent of going to a romantic movie and having someone repeatedly slap your shoulder and yell, “I think it’s really gonna work out for Wall-E and Eva! I really do! Those crazy kids! So romantic!” Or to be more direct, the camera work was unnecessary, distracting, and borderline hostile. (Side note: Who else is dying to know more about the behind-the-scenes tension Cee Lo alluded to in his critique?) Grade: B+

Cassadee Pope: Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” | I realize that Blake’s immense popularity is probably worth a 25% uptick in votes for his contestants, but the show simply gorges on the Cassadee-Blake connection like a 5-year-old shoveling down Halloween candy. It’s all cute and sweet — until it turns into a sudden and all-consuming urge to vomit. I mean, did Carson need to tell us Cassadee was tackling “a special song hand-picked by Blake” — as if it was a diamond engagement ring her coach had personally mined in Northwest Canada, and then cut, polished and set with a little help from his old friend Neil Lane. And don’t even get me started on Blake’s hyperbolic hoo-hah about Cassadee’s ability to connect with her lyrics like no one who’d ever previously graced the Voice stage. (Cue RaeLynn, foaming at the gums with a lasso, a bullwhip, and a microphone, ready to exact unspeakable revenge on her former mentor.) If everybody would dial it back just a hair, chances are we’d all be able to appreciate and enjoy a little more Cassadee’s very real improvement as a vocalist this season. “Stupid Boy” (which in this instance sounded more adult contemporary than country) put Cassadee in storyteller mode while reinforcing the idea that she’s got serious chops; her signature high notes never flirted with screechy or threatened to veer off pitch. Would it be too Blake of me to call this her personal best this season, or to say this is the closest I’ve come to downloading one of her tunes onto my computer? Grade: A-

Terry McDermott: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” | If I’m gonna give Carson grief for his lead-in to Cassadee’s performance, I’d better call him out on how he introduced Terry’s choice of “Let It Be” as “one of the most loved songs that unifies us all.” (“Let It Be”: It’s like the Dead Sea…only you can play it on your Bose system!) In all seriousness, though, Terry’s performance once again proved to be the trusty (and sorta blandly seasoned) starch to the telecast’s main courses. Aside from a pretty falsetto run at the very end, and a little riff on “Mother Mary come to me,” Terry colored well within the lines of the thousands of “Let It Be” that came before him. Don’t get me wrong: He’s got a nice voice. He did a good job. He hit most of his notes as easily as Kim Kardashian finds the paparazzi’s flashbulbs. And he had by far the most entertaining hometown visit package (unlike Idol, The Voice didn’t feel the need to put subtitles under his Scottish aunt and uncle — yay for progress!). But unlike Trevin (who at least tried and failed with his Usher cover) or Nicholas (who turned “Over the Rainbow” on its head with a new arrangement) or Cassadee (who’s covered both male and female artists), Terry only knows one way to hit the ball. And eventually, type of play usually leads to a strikeout. But enough of my cranky take. Let’s balance it all out with a gallon of corn(y) syrup from Blake: “In my absolute heart, I believe that was musical perfection.” Grade: B

Uff to the da! With that, let me turn things over to you:

Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s semifinal performance telecast? Who’s most likely to get booted come Tuesday night? Are you surprised there are three contestants going to the finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Carol says:

    What’s wrong with old? We all do “old” and familiar songs every holiday season. . .

    Songs endure through time because they’re good and people are moved or touched by them.

    Nicholas moved me to tears last night, and Terry did a great job too – I’m with Adam on both. Their music was uplifting.

  2. jaxguy says:

    Didn’t watch. Don’t care. I wouldn’t buy anything by any of them. But since I’ve watched all season I wanted to read Michael’s recap. I love the hypocrisy of people who come to these sites and criticize people with great technical voices being bland and boring and not current enough, yet would give Nicholas a pass when he sings nothing but old, old covers. (I’m not saying anyone said that here, but I just wanted to get that out there. And I do love all music so for me it’s ok as long as it’s well done no matter how old the song.)

  3. Magically Suspicious says:

    Cassadee gets better each week. Last night was definitely her best yet. I don’t care for her style of music, but her talent is undeniable. And she’s the only one that’s shown a lot of range in what she’s tried to do. She’s done pop, country, ballads, rockers, etc. I think she deserves credit for that.

  4. Becka says:

    Not quite sure why there is all the Terry hate when they mention Amanda Brown. I hate to tell you that Terry isn’t the reason that Amanda isn’t there. it’s Trevin. If you want to blame someone…blame him. Yes…Terry has a defined style…so does Nick…and so does Cassadee. Trevin tried to do something different with The Pretenders’ “Walking on Sunshine” and it was HORRIBLE. I mean that was a LAUGHABLE performance…and that should have sent him home and left Amanda in his place. Melanie deserved to go home the week before because of Adam’s awful song choice.

    This is definitely the season of predictability…Not to say that the people left aren’t talented in what they do…aside from Trevin…sorry..he BUTCHERED “Wind beneath my wings” so badly that I had to change the channel.

    So hopefully america will do the right thing…vote Trevin off…and i do think Cassadee will win…

  5. jnickolai says:

    Was it me or did Nicholas look kinda hot?

  6. Sinclair says:

    Even though they cleaned Nicholas up last night, I still feel kind of dirty and itchy watching him perform. Like I need to jump in the shower and wash my hair.

  7. Julio says:

    iTunes rankings:

    No. 1: Cassadee.
    No. 2: Terry.
    No. 4: Nicholas.
    No. 32: Trevin.

    Bye-bye, Trevin.

    (BTW: iTunes downloads are counted cumulatively in the finals. Cassadee’s been in the Top 10 every week and has frequently topped the chart. It’s hard to see a way in which she doesn’t win this thing.)

  8. Katie says:

    Are people really comparing Cassadee’s vocals to that of Taylor Swift???? That’s just silly.

  9. Ruby says:

    I realized when I turned this on last night that I couldn’t care less about any of the final four contestants. All of my favorites were systematically eliminated before the live rounds even started, and the couple left that I grasped onto to try to remain interested went home last week. This started out as their best year yet, but after some awful mistakes by the judges, turned into the most “who cares?” I’ve ever felt about one of these singing competitions.

    • jaxguy says:

      I am so with you. This year started out as the best by far but has become ordinary. I’ve concluded that America never votes for the best. They find an excuse to eliminate the best contestants and this happens on EVERY ONE of these singing competition shows. I didn’t watch and I won’t watch American Idol either. It’s kinda too bad that more often than not there are contestants that are really good that get eliminated too early and are never heard from again. The people who keep justifying voting for average talent always have the “it’s ok if they don’t win, somebody will sign them.” I’m not sure this is good logic. Does a record company want to sign an act that doesn’t finish in the top 2 or 3? In most cases no.

      • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

        Yeah, especially in this day and age now that we’ve had like a decade of these shows and now that there are three they flood out so many people how can all top ten possibly have a shot, there is no room even if every last one were the most exciting greatest ever. I do kinda think there is also the well they couldn’t even hack winning a ‘dumb’ tv show don’t even give them a look sorta thing perhaps too at this point after so many years now.

        That is why is sort sucks that say Haley didn’t even get #2 even as #3 you already have it tougher for promotion and pay to play on radio (which probably matters more than ever now for people from these shows). I would bet the contract would not have been so ridiculous as to allow dropping before a full year was up and at least a couple singles were dropped (they never even bothered with a single one that she wrote or co-wrote herself) if you are #1 or #2.

        And these days an Elise at a #6 you never even hear from again.

  10. Nickfan says:

    Cassadee can sing but I am so tired of her raising her arm in the air…I am like girl…get some new moves…do something…geeze…Still hoping Nick for the win but it is NOT going to happen…Trevin will go home tonight and I think it will get down to Cassadee and Nick with Avril…errr…I mean Cassadee winning

  11. Chris says:

    Nicholas is the man with the voice . His performance was heart felt and beautiful. I don’t care where the camera was pointed; I got what he attempted to do. I wonder which song Cee Lo picked for him that caused tension since the one performed was his choice? THRILLED he’s still in this thing!

    Terry – outstanding. THRILLED he’s still in this thing.

    I’ve said before that Trevin is talented but musically lost. I don’t believe ballad’s are what he’s aiming for should he garner further success… I’m bored with him now. Super sweet kid though.

    Cassadee did a pretty good job but I thought the beginning was a little pitchy and off. It took her a minute to get it going. But I do think Blake could have made a better song choice….

    Here’s hoping Terry and Nicholas stay in this thing – too many Cassadee’s on the radio.

    • jaxguy says:

      Not to be smug or disrespectful but there are too many Nicholas and Terry’s on the oldies stations. I like everyone left but I wouldn’t buy anything by them. I stopped watching after last week when they eliminated the last great contestant they had. OVER For me. And if i watch next year it will only be to see if the new judges bring anything but I’m doubtful right now that I will.

      • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

        Still, you can’t discount them as contestants. Nicholas, in particular, has a rich tone and lots of connection to the lyrics. He isn’t a joke of a singer making the top 4. And in some ways it is too the show’s credit he didn’t get quickly voted off.

        That said it was interesting to see that his home town crowd, held in a Mall (i.e. home of the teenager), appeared to be 90% 50-60 year olds (quite an impressive draw for a crowd seeming to be relatively devoid of teens though) while Cassadee’s home town crowd appeared to be 90% teens and twenty-something. I’m sure the show might prefer a Cassadee win she seems a lot easier to market since it is not the 70s or early 80s.

        • JJ says:

          I don’t know that Cassadee is really that marketable. I mean she’s the pop-rock girl we know that, she knows that, and she already did that with her band. She did it with her band because that was the fad, that was what was big, and now it’s not really. Avril had her big moment, Cassadee had her not as big moment, and now she’s trying to squeeze out a second moment. But no one really wants that stuff back on the radio again. I mean after all… he was a Skaterboy… we said see you later boy… cause he wasn’t good enough for us. ( I hate myself for that )

          • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

            I guess we’ll see. (I have to say that I actually like Avril Lavigne though. Although I know she isn’t too popular on this board.)

  12. Yo' says:

    Yeah, the performances were a little OTT last night and a couple of singers were not as good as usual. I’m going to conclude that will not profoundly influence the vote, as we all know by now who can actually sing. I gather Cassadee will win. It could be worse.

  13. SKS says:

    I think that this is it for Trevin. CeeLo once again screwed him over with his song choice. Trevin saved himself two weeks with the song that he chose. I adore Nicholas David but I agree with the TV Line guy, that the camera should not have been focused on his family while he was singing…almost felt like manipulation. A miracle may save Trevin tonight, but I doubt and he needs to get over his middle school teacher already. Final 3: Terry (love him, but his lack of emotion is a bit off putting, then again he is Scottish), Cassadee (great voice but isn’t it time for something different), and Nicholas (he’s that something different who should win).

  14. karenb says:

    OMG Slezak! You make me LOL every time I read your recaps!!

  15. Hector says:

    Cassadee’is in te show because she is good! and look who her coach is! Blake sing country he heard her sing country and know if she contune to sing she would win. Cassadee’ said she a pop rock artist so she she sang anyother song she would have been gone! i hope terry win

  16. Leela says:

    Terry is great. If there’s any justice Cassadee will not win – she has been pushed and pimped beyond reason. Last night’s “she’s the only contestant who’s ever connected with the lyrics” was the last straw. And she’s hit her share of bad notes and she shouts. Sure would have been a better finale with De’Borah and Cody though.

  17. Kristina says:

    I just hope Nick sticks around. Nick, Cassadee and Terry are still in the top ten on iTunes. Don’t know if Trevin made it, but if not then like Amanda and Melanie last week who never broke the top 10, I think he’ll be heading home.

  18. Teeny Bikini says:

    Never, ever liked Cassadee. Couldn’t stand her. But she won me over last night. She has truly grown through this competition – the reed thin voice that she had in the beginning has been crafted into something quite beautiful. You go girl. You took this opportunity and truly made the most of it.

  19. syb says:

    Lots of agreement here. I can’t believe nobody called Trevin out for pitch, or are the afraid to be cast as friends with the mean music teacher? I mean come on. That was painful. He’s a great kid with a big voice, but if you’re going to do melodrama, you better land everything square or it becomes unbearable.

    I too was disappointed in Nicholas’s song choice, and I too would love to have been eavesdropping on the song choice discussion–or at least I’d like to know what Nicholas wanted to sing instead. I bet it would have been a more interesting song. But as usual he nailed the interpretation, and sounded great. Hope he’s safe, or I’m done.

    Cassaddee (or whatever the spelling is) definitely had the best performance. But maybe it’s the overkill from the coaches, or maybe it’s her fairly bland forgettableness vocally. I can’t get into her at all. I expect she’ll win or come in second at least with all the pimping, but I just don’t think she adds anything to the world of music.

    Same with Terry but he isn’t as a good a singer as the lady with all the double letters in her nammee.

    Ah well, let Nicholas make it through or I’m out.

  20. JJ says:

    Is it or is it not true that misspelled Cassadee has a record deal? Like a current, active, record deal? It’s one thing to HAVE had one… it’s another thing if she still does. I think both Shelley and Aylin made very good points. If all you have to do is go to facebook to see the advantage Cassadee had going into The Voice over her competitors then I find that pretty hard to argue against. At the very least facebook seems to be saying that she had six times the number of people already aware of her and her band… and maybe even a lot more than that. And what Aylin said about her charting so well early on makes it pretty clear people were voting for her for other reasons than what they were seeing on the voice, considering in battle rounds they didn’t ever see her.

    Trevin was such a mess on Monday that I’m not surprised to see him go and see Cassadee stay, but I’m not all that fond of her even being on the show in the first place. I want to see someone unique win the voice (like Nicholas) or someone who really represents an important genre of music that no one does properly anymore (like Terry). I feel like all this talk about Cassadee being marketable is like arguing that she sounds like a thousand other artists… “oh she sounds like people on the radio so she should win”. I think that’s a horrible reason for someone to win and I honestly don’t see it anyway.

    To me she sounds like everyone on the radio ten years ago… and it wasn’t really very good then… and sure as heck shouldn’t be allowed to come back. One Avril is enough, we don’t need Avril with a country twist.

    It’s definitely discouraging to go on a site like Tumblr where all the youngsters lurk and see so many posts (with terrible grammar) bashing on any contestant over 25 or who doesn’t look like they were manufactured at the Pretty Store. There is no denying the high number of Pro-Cassadee posts that talk about how much they loved her Band, how much they loved her BF (maybe ex I didn’t want to research that nonsense), and how many times they downloaded her song. I mean if she already has 300k followers or more and they’re all downloading her song 5 or 6 times on Itunes… well then yeah… she’s gonna win… but that doesn’t have anything to do with what she’s done on The Voice.

  21. linda wesson says:

    If trevor or Nicholas are not signed to a top label its a shame. Nicholas is one of the best singers I have ever heard and I have heard some goos ones in my 72 years. He is one in a million. This is the best voice ever where can I get his music?