Who says there’s no life after The Voice?
Season 5’s Top 5 results telecast felt like an aggressive response to the blogosphere complaint that NBC’s reality-singing behemoth has yet to produce a viable chart-topper — this week’s Top 10 iTunes milestones for covers by three current semifinalists notwithstanding. (Cue Xtina rageface, followed by an indignant, “Excuse me, but I’m No. 10 on Billboard right this very second, bitches!” No, girl, we’re talking about contestants, not coaches.)
But yes, while it’s true that no alumni of the show has reached Carrie Underwood or Fantasia Barrino or even Phillip Phillips status, it’s important to recall that The Voice only debuted in late April, 2011. (And let’s not forget that just a year after American Idol‘s inaugural season, poor Kelly Clarkson’s career was absorbing the brutal body blow of From Justin to Kelly; becoming a superstar takes a little time and nurturing, yo!)
With great ratings success, though, ought to come the serious responsibility of helping to promote the careers of the artists on whose vocal cords you’ve built your skyrocketing ad rates (and Monday/Tuesday programming blocks). Which is why it was so encouraging to see Mark Burnett & NBC make room over the course of the hour for four separate alumni performances — from Season 3 champ Cassadee Pope, plus Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery and her runners-up Michelle Chamuel and The Swon Brothers. (Truth be told, I liked the non-champs’ tunes better than the victors’ pop-country offerings. Michelle, as always, was fabulous…and made me regret not downloading her “Go Down Singing” the instant it came out. I will remedy the situation post haste.)
The show’s sudden give-back-to-our-grads vibe isn’t just about altruism — it’s smart business. What better way to signal The Voice‘s growing industry cred than by presenting Cassadee with her first Gold Record — denoting 500,000 in sales for her debut single “Wasting All These Tears” (AKA what Season 5’s Amber Nicole will always remember as the song Cee Lo used to sabotage her). When you think about it, though, is it more important as a viewer to see Voice alumni compete with the Rihannas and Biebers of the world, or for you to have access to young artists producing exciting new music that’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?
Those qualities shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, but as somebody who deeply digs the music of Voice also-rans Grace Askew, Matt Cermanski, Jamar Rogers, Juliet Simms, Vicci Martinez and Jamie Lono, I find my demands that the show deliver us a platinum artist or else hang up its shingle feel increasingly hollow (or at least churlish).
Enough philosophizin’, though. Let’s cut to the results. With three artists advacing to the Season 5 finals, it meant two had to get axed, and Carson Daly announced the first of the week’s Bottom 2 vote-getters early in the show:
Eliminated First: James Wolpert (Team Adam) — “It’s been the time of my life!” he repeated to Coach Adam, before exiting the stage. Not a huge surprise, considering James needed the Instant Save last week, and charted lowest among the remaining quintet on iTunes by the end of this week’s voting period.
After that, Carson kept it positive, intermittently checking in to announce which acts were moving forward in the competition — rather than who was in trouble.
Advancing to the Finals (in Order of Announcement)
Tessanne Chin (Team Adam)
Jacquie Lee (Team Xtina)
Will Champlin (Team Adam)
Cole Vosbury (Team Blake)
And with that, the Blake Shelton win steak ends at three — leaving either Adam to get his first victory since Season 1, or Xtina to get her first victory ever. In my mind, it’s the correct trio of finalists, too — based both on the quality of Monday’s final performances and the singers’ full bodies of work over the last few months.
Maybe that’s just me. What did you think of Top 5 results night? Did the right two singers go home? Who are you rooting for in next week’s finale? Share your thoughts in the comments!