Monday night's episode of "The Voice" seemed to be make-or-break for many of the contestants, and with the semi-finals upon us, and just three episodes to go, the clear winners are finally breaking free from the pack. The rest? Well … let's just say I had some pretty visceral reactions to the remaining eight contestants.
How This Works Now: Audience votes and coaches scores now, finally, have equal weight. At the close of Monday's show, scores from Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton were written down, to be revealed with the audience votes Tuesday. Votes get a certain percentage, coach scores get a certain percentage, and the contestants with the highest score from each team move on to the finals.
Tony Lucca: The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?"
Tony said he's realized now, the show isn't just about the "voice," it's about have the right song at the right moment. The Britney Spears cover last round was the song for that moment, and this moment was something else entirely. I think Adam wants to prove Tony's versatility, because gone was the guitar, gone was the hat, and — oh my, God — Tony was wearing a suit. He was slick, he was smooth, he was show-stopping.
Katrina Parker: The Fugees's "Killing Me Softly"
Remember how I said it was finally clear which contestants should stay and which should go? Katrina needs to go. Katrina is phenomenal when it comes to covering songs, but she doesn't bring anything new to them; there's nothing unique in her performances — there's no her in her songs. And giving her a Lauryn Hill song? She couldn't carry it.
Erin Willett: David Guetta's "Without You"
Many people cried Monday night. Erin was one of them; she put everything she had into her rendition of "Without You," and it packed an emotional punch. Blake said it could very well be her "breakout moment" on the show," and while I don't think I would go that far, I was floored by how emotionally invested I did become during her song. But if I have to pick between the remaining contestants on Team Blake, I'd have to go with …
Jermaine Paul: Journey's "Open Arms"
I'm surprised by my sudden change of heart as anyone; I hadn't been a real Jermaine fan till this performance. I blame the song choice. But with this powerhouse, dynamo of a song, Jermaine set himself miles ahead of the competition. Maybe it was his time as a back-up singer that kept him under my radar, just through the sheer nature of what it means to be a back-up singer. I'm betting he's the man to beat.
Chris Mann: "Ave Maria"
Just, wow. This man was born to sing this song, and it was so refreshing to see him placed back in his element, especially after Christina worked so hard to get him out of his comfort zone in the past weeks. This is how Chris came into the show, and if he has to go, it's how he should leave the show, too. But, I want him to stay, because that would mean we would finally get to say goodbye to …
Lindsey Paveo: Bon Iver's "Skinny Love"
This was the final nail in Lindsey's coffin for me. A cursory glance at Twitter indicates much of the American public enjoyed her sanitized, stilted cover of the "Skinny Love," and if that's the case, America is dumb as a rock. "I love this song," Christina said. "People connect with this song; it's a special thing, and people see you as a special thing." It is a special song. I can list you one-and-a-half-dozen pleasant moments I have associated with this song over the years, but Lindsey is not a special performer. Can we please, please realize that?
Team Cee Lo
Jamar Rogers: "If You Don't Know Me By Now"
Jamar wanted to bring something new to this classic R&B song, changes like adding a healthy dose of electronica that Cee Lo at first called peculiar, but I found it awesome right from the get-go. It was good to see Jamar get back to his element as well, especially after the lack-luster Bon Jovi cover last round. He was back on his A-game, the song was fresh, his voice was smooth, and Jamar, I hope, makes it to the final four.
Juliet Simms: James Brown's "It's Man's World"
Damn. Where did this girl come from? Why have I only recently started paying attention to her? This was the perfect song for Juliet tonight, and she offered up a dynamic performance. Her voice, how strong and vulnerable it is at the same time, always surprises me, and I want to keep on being surprised by her. Team Cee Lo is the only draw for me this week.
Group Performances: With so few performers remaining, the group songs were finally able to showcase each contestants individual talents. Teams Adam and Cee Lo took on The Killers's "All These Things That I've Done" — the standout here was Juliet, and in contrast, Katrina just fell flat. She seemed so out of place, utterly lacking any stage presence. Teams Christina and Blake hit the stage with Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory," and while every one rocked this one, Jermaine was still the standout.
Fashion Observation of the Evening: Who'd of ever thought Christina would out-Cee-Lo Cee Lo? The red glitter fan and tiara (TIARA!) made her look like a child-diva playing dress-up.
Why Blake Shelton is Awesome, Vol. 769: I usually like to pretend country music — outside of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and any and all Jenningses — doesn't exist. The performance of Blake's new single "Over" made me realize that I really have to stop ignoring the genre.
Can Christina PLEASE Give it a Rest? It seems her new lot in life is to be a bee in Tony Lucca's bonnet. Let's observe: She said she had cleared the song "How You Like Me Now" for her contestant, Moses (and we all know how he turned out), and if "The Voice" didn't work out, Tony and Adam could just start a Britney Spears cover band. That's not clever banter; that's catty.
What We Have to Look Forward To: "Voice" past finalists return Tuesday for performances: Vicci Martinez, Beverly McClellan, Dia Frampton and Javier Colon. And yes, we know the Bieber is performing during next week's finale, but so is Lady Antebellum, Flo Rida, and HALL & OATES.