Blake Shelton kicked off The Voice‘s Season 4 Top 6 results night with a declaration that wasn’t entirely believable: “I cannot wait to see who the Final 5 are gonna be!” Yeah, okay, maybe that was part of the story, but the only coach not to lose a single contestant in almost a month had legitimate reasons to be nervous, too.
“People rely on iTunes,” Blake added — or rather, where each contestant lands Tuesday morning on the music-download service’s Hot 200 singles chart — to gauge who’s most likely to be evicted from the show each week. And with a pair of Blake’s acts — The Swon Brothers and Holly Tucker — faring the worst in digital sales, it looked as though the country judge might be raising his “special Starbucks cup” in sorrow, rather than celebration, this time around.
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Before we learned the fate of the contestants, though, we had an hour’s worth of musical performances — three contestant duets and the debut of Season 3 champ Cassadee Pope’s new single — to ratchet up the suspense. (Plus, a heart-wrenching trip for Teams Blake and Usher to participate in Blake’s Oklahoma fundraiser.) Let’s break down the action:
* Cassadee Pope: “Wasting All These Tears” | The Season 3 champ returned in a sparkly silver minidress to deliver her new single that, to my ears, is more pop-rock than country, but nevertheless moderately catchy. I liked how the swaths of fabric hanging overhead dramatically fell to the stage on the final chorus, and Blake singing along from his swivel chair was a nice touch, too. On the flip side, Carson’s post-performance hug went on about two beats too long, and now I feel like a heel for pointing it out. Grade: B+
* Michelle Chamuel & Sasha Allen: Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” | The ladies were in pretty solid voice for this one, but the “choreography” was more rigid than a strict nun teaching a classroom of spastic second graders. Why not let the ladies get loose instead of forcing them to march up and down the mid-audience peninsulas? Alas, said staging sapped some of the energy from what should’ve been a real winner. Grade: B
* Holly Tucker & The Swon Brothers: The Wreckers’ “Leave the Pieces” | I really loved the song choice, but putting the emphasis on Colton’s tinny voice over Zach’s more muscular growl was a bit of a head-scratcher — especially since his chemistry with Holly was muted at best. Not a bad effort, though, and a good fit stylistically for both acts. Grade: B
* Amber Carrington & Danielle Bradbery: The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” | Oh I do love a good, late-80s power ballad, and despite the Sway-Bots’ best efforts to ruin everything (which is their natural instinct), I dug this duet most of all. To my ears, though, Amber dominated the matchup, her voice proving richer, more evocative and more on pitch than her more hyped rival. I just wonder if the voting public felt the same, and if next week’s iTunes tallies might reflect that. Grade: A-
Anyhoo…I could talk about the non-starter questions Carson asked the nervous contestants while they awaited their fates, but the answers were almost comically dull. (At one point, Danielle actually uttered, “I’m here now.” Yes girl, you are!) So let’s cut right to results!
Sent to Safety (in chronological order)
Final Two in Jeopardy
The Swon Brothers
Poor Holly, reduced to tears without so much as 30 seconds of airtime to say “adieu!” to her fans. Blake, though, gave her props by insisting that she and the Swon Brothers had “worked their asses off” to get as far as they had. Nevertheless, I wish Coach Blake had challenged the Baylor University student to try something outside her predictable country-Gospel wheelhouse, because even if it had failed, it would’ve stretched the boundaries of her artistry (and been a lot more thrilling to watch). That said, unless Holly’s ouster makes like a Doors lyric and lights Blake’s fire to break from the safest contestant trajectories this show has ever seen, I suspect next week we’re in for more Pam Tillis or Rascal Flatts, no?
And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 4 Top 6 results night? Did the right contestant get the boot? Wasn’t it kind of sad to see just one person picked off this time around? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!