Every Voice season seems to take longer than Gwen Stefani takes between solo albums to get to the live competitive episodes — with a seemingly endless cycle of Blind Auditions, Battle Rounds, Knockout Rounds, Coach Comebacks, and, of course, “Best of the Blinds” and “Road to the Lives” clip shows. And yet, by the time we finally get to the Playoffs, NBC acts as if Mark Burnett has a plane to catch and hurries the proceedings along. It seems like Season 12 is just getting started, and yet the finale is only two weeks away.
So this Tuesday, barely three weeks into the top 12 semifinals, two contestants went home. (It was the first double-elimination of the season, but that’s nothing compared to the quadruple-elimination that’ll take place next week.) And with this week’s odds — and this season’s overall excellent batch of hopefuls — it was inevitable that at least one worthy contestant would land in the bottom three.
Team Adam’s Mark Isaiah wasn’t a shock — this was his fourth time up for elimination, and his unStyleish cover of Harry Styles’s “Sign of the Times” went in one just direction, south, on this week’s iTunes chart. (Carson Daly may have noted that all of this week’s performances “made the top 100,” but I’m sorry, squeaking in at No. 97 is nothing to brag about.) And Team Adam’s other also-ran, Lilli Passero, sealed her fate with a somewhat forgettable performance of “Unforgettable,” which stalled at No. 69. But Vanessa Ferguson? The Fergalicious Team Alicia soul sensation totally delivered the goods Monday night with a confident cover of the Grammy-sweeping “Doo Wop (That Thing),” which the reclusive Lauryn Hill had actually cleared especially for her. It seems America is a bit “miseducated” when it comes to spotting true talent. Vanessa does have that thing, and she should have charted way higher than No. 89 this week.
(Side note: What’s up with all results-night Taylor Swift surprise-faces this season? Hunter Plake and Lauren Duski made iTunes’ top 10 this week — did they really think they were in any danger? They’re probably the two contestants mostly likely to survive next week’s big bloodbath.)
Singing first for the Instant Save was Lilli, sticking to her languid, classic style with “Stormy Weather.” I’ll give the woman credit for knowing exactly what type of artist she is and staying on-brand, but it seemed by now that America wasn’t buying whatever brand of Old Hollywood glam Lilli was trying to sell. This was a solid performance (better than Monday’s shaky effort), but there probably wasn’t anything Lilli could to save herself at this point, unless she wore a Lauren Duski mask or something.
Then Mark Isaiah — “no stranger to this vulnerable moment,” as Carson said shadily — gave it one more go. He also stayed in his lane, with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” (Mark got his first break winning a Bieber talent contest), but it was too late to say sorry — or to sing it. This was a song of defeat, plain and simple. He’d run out of chances, and the poor kid knew it. He knew he was the Aaron Gibson of Season 12.
And finally, there was Vanessa, dressed like a Prince protégé in her natty “U Got the Look” ensemble doing Steve Wonder’s “For Once in My Life.” It wasn’t the “Save Me” song I would have picked for her– I would have gone with something much more passionate and feisty, a real fight song — but Vanessa no doubt gave the strongest performances of the three. The woman entertained. She earned her rightful spot in the top eight.
Viewers — or, more specifically, Twitter-savvy East Coast viewers — were impressed, and they saved Vanessa with nearly 50 percent of the real-time vote. That meant Adam Levine lost two-thirds of his team in one fell swoop. And with Adam’s lone remaining team member, Jesse Larson, unlikely to survive next week’s elimination purge, this may the first time since Season 4 that Team Adam is not represented in the finals.
So as I mentioned, next week, eight contestants will be slashed to four. Sheesh. The Voice is going through contestants like Gwen Stefani goes through clip-on hairpieces. Like Blake Shelton goes through vodka. Like Adam Levine goes through bleach and grandpa sweaters! It’s going to be interesting. See you then.