The Voice: The Elite Eight

The Voice S02E18: “Live Semifinals”

For tonight's live semifinals, The Voice changed the game a little bit. Rather than be forced to instantly eliminate a team member, judges were instructed to award each singer a percentage score to be combined with the results of America’s overnight voting to determine which four will progress to next week’s final round.

And the contestants pulled out all the stops tonight. We’re down to two people on each team. For half of tonight’s performers, tonight's performances would be their swan songs. Cee Lo instructed everyone to “Sing your ass off,” and did you catch his proud papa face when Carson asked him about Purrfect? Did you? That’s love right there. So was that T-shirt.

So, here are the final eight and a quick rundown of their performances:

Team Adam:

Tony Lucca stepped away from the rock and roll persona we’ve come to associate with him, embracing a funkier sound with The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now.” Donning a tailored suit and a skinny tie that would make White Collar’s Neal Caffrey seethe with jealousy, he ditched the guitar for two eye-candy background dancers. It was a pretty radical departure from his previous Britney Spears cover, but still energetic and fun. It was a good choice to open the show with. All of the judges gave the performance favorable views, though to be fair, they pretty much fawned over everyone tonight. Carson Daly’s pitiful attempts to get Christina to OMG STOP TALKING ABOUT THE FREAKING MOUSEKETEERS so he could move on to Cee Lo and Adam was pretty amusing. The almighty censors muted an alarmingly large chunk of whatever Christina said back to him. Luckily, I have a vibrant imagination and a sailor’s vocabulary, so I filled in the blanks myself.

Katrina Parker donned her shortest skirt yet for a rather sexy rendition of “Killing Me Softly,” originally a Roberta Flack tune, but it was clearly Lauryn Hill who influenced Katrina’s performance. She really loves her '90s music, doesn’t she? I can’t argue with that. Cee Lo called it a “youthful spin” and Adam compared her to Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Hill, but ultimately conceded that more than anything, Katrina sounded like Katrina, and that’s a good thing.

Team Blake:

Jermaine Paul dedicated his performance of Journey’s “Open Arms” to his wife. It was sweet. Apparently the first time she heard him sing was in an attempt to woo her. Aww. They’re cute. The performance itself was solid. The lighting crew on The Voice had their work cut out for them tonight because it seemed like everyone wanted to be backed by a crazy light show. Adam told Jermaine that he was no longer a mere background singer. I didn’t realize that being a background singer was some sort of shameful profession, but I agree, “It's Jermaine’s time to shine.”

Erin Willett went in a surprising direction, first by choosing to perform the David Guetta/Usher tune “Without You” and then by performing it NOT as the club-friendly original, but as an epic ballad instead. Starting out very simple and slow, she steadily built up to her signature powerful belting. It worked really well and despite the emotional maelstrom behind her performance, specifically the loss of her father after her acceptance on the show, she managed to hold it together until she finished singing, an admirable display of self-control that Blake readily commended her for. Christina called her performance one of the most original so far, and I have to agree, it was pretty fantastic to see a performance that so completely revamped the original version of a song and still WORKED.

Team Christina:

It was nice to see Christina relinquish a little control and let both of her remaining team members stick to their comfort zones for what will turn out to have be, for one of them, his or her final performance on The Voice. While some might interpret it as a cop-out, I don’t think that was the case at all. Lindsey Pavao is a coffeehouse songbird and Chris Mann sings opera. They are comfortable in those roles and historically, have performed better in them, showing more confidence and ease on the stage when they were allowed to embrace their musical passions.

So, Lindsey Pavao picked up a guitar and sang “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver and...I think I might actually like her cover as much as the original. I know, I know BLASPHEMY, right? Her cover didn’t differ from the original as much as Erin Willett’s “Without You” did, but it strayed enough to make the song her own. She stood close to the mic and upped the tempo a bit to keep the audience awake. That was my initial concern when she announced her song selection, that the audience would fall asleep. I love the original, but it’s not exactly a toe-tapper.

Chris Mann gave America a preview of his inevitable adult contemporary Christmas album with “Ave Maria.” It was epic and pretty and the man finally looked comfortable on the stage. The chicks in the audience screamed and swooned, despite the fact that I can’t really picture anyone blasting “Ave Maria” in a high school parking lot. But hey, maybe I’m wrong. There were kids in my senior class who drove their tractors to school regularly, so, you know, maybe there’s a demographic of opera-loving teenagers out there somewhere who will get Chris Mann some regular radio play yet.

Team Cee Lo:

Jamar Rogers decided that it was time to introduce America to the kind of music he would make if given a recording contract and things got a little personal when he channeled soul singers Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, performing their song “If You Don’t Know me by Now.” Cee Lo called the performance “intimate” and “stripped-down” and straight-up had tears in his eyes. Jamar has often described the songs he performs as being meaningful to him, maybe even a little biographical in some way, and if that was indeed the case, then this was a fitting addition to his repertoire. Blake and Christina both complimented his decision to end the song on a low note, saying that it showed off his range and skillful command of his voice.

Adam declared Juliet Simms to be “the one to beat” following her cover of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown, but then again, he said that about Jesse Campbell too and look how that turned out. She easily has the coolest taste in music, though, and tonight she managed to find a satisfying balance between her signature belting and her pretty voice. This might just be the great successor to her amazing “Roxanne” cover that we’ve all been waiting for.

So this is it, one last round of eliminations before next week’s finals. Who are you cheering for?

Comments (10)
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The elite 8 shaped up to be a fine group and of all the teams, I think Team CeeLo is the clear favorite for me. Juliet Simms is incredible. I love the grittyness and frailness of her voice. Jamar always deliver a solid performance and definitely an audience favor because of his backstory.

Team Adam: Katrina has improved so much and her delivery of each song is really captivating.

Team Blake: Jermaine's performance dedication was super sweet. I like him better than Erin, but it's also because I have a soft spot for soulful R&B

Team Christina: Chris has the more unique voice and I'm surprised he's made it so far, especially since his repertoire isn't so mainstream.

Team Adam: I think that we will probably see Katrina go home. I think that people like the higher energy and upbeat nature Tony seems to have. Don't get me wrong, I love Katrina's voice and she signs the crap out of everything, but its just a matter of who is voting and I think people like high energy.

Team Christina: I like that Chris Mann actually got to show off his skill set as an opera singer. He did a great job and actually gave me goosebumps. Josh Grobin the second anyone? But Lindsey is more out there and attracts people because of her unique voice. I think that the women voters (who I think probably are the main demographic for the show) will keep Chris though.

Team Blake: I like them both equally, which can also be interpreted as I don't care about either of them. Erin has power, but sometimes she sounds kinda flat. Jermaine has power as well and I have to say that I am guessing he will move on just cuz he sings higher energy songs.

Team Cee Lo: I am rooting for Juliet. That woman has power in her voice. I LOVE how she sings. I am a fan of the older music like Aerosmith and Def Leppard so I voted for her. I think that she has so much power not to mention the fact that since she ended the show, her performance was fresh in voters minds as they voted. Jamar is talented and I love his exuberance (did you see how he was jumping up and down with a huge grin on his face after his performance?) It does suck that one of those 2 has to go, but that;s TV for you!
For Adams team it is kind of a toss up. Katrina's performance was good, probably her best. But I just don't see her there. Tony's rendition of How you like me now was good, a little to Vegas stage performance for me. But it wasn't bad.

Blake, nope on both. I like Jermaine but really there are dozens of R&B male vocalists out there just like him. Erin came out flat and it just didn't sound that great to me.

Christina, Lindsey was all right, probably her best but I just don't think she is as strong as the rest. Chris is a good Operatic singer and should stick with that. I don't see the nation giving the win to him.

Cee lo, These two are really the best performers and I think the ones with the most marketability. And of all of them I would probably buy their albums if their songs were good. B

But for me Juliet does it. If she can be produced well and given great classic rock kind of songs she would be great.

But again this season just isn't as great as last. There are no stand out songs like Dia's Heartless, which still is on my iPod.

And I agree with Barry, some of the judges need replacing. My pick is Cee Lo and Christina.
Kim made my ears hurt and Chris put me to sleep, but I agree with the rest. My personal favorite is Pavao, but I'm pretty sure we should just give this to Juliet now. Pretty sure she'll be winning. Not as sure as I was last season about Javier, but still pretty sure.
I'm cheering for the judges to be replaced. It's the only way to save this show.

Perhaps "winning" the show means you come back the next season.

Or maybe the top two judges.

Or maybe they just rotate one or two new judges in each season.

I'll give the series one last shot in Season 3 to find its groove again. But then I'm out.
How did Cee Lo get the two most entertaining singers on his team? And why does one of them have to go home!?!??! I am leaning slightly more toward Jamar than Juliet based on last ngiht but they are both so so fantastic.

I liked Chris's performance better last night and the melding of two versions of Ave Maria was lovely, but I think Lindsey will win out because I think the audience at home likes her more. Although she really deserves to continue on if shes picked. She is good.

Jermaine rocked the second half of his song after an average beginning. Erin, I usually like her, not so much this time. Don't have a favourite between them because I don't think either will win.

Katrina is my pick for Adam's team although Tony did pleasantly surprise me with his performance last night. There is no one I do not like or who doesn't deserve to be there, which is refreshing on a talent show. Some are more special than others (I'm lookin at CeeLo's team here!) but they could all have careers in music after this show.
Great Review! I didn't see the whole thing and I missed Lindsey but I thought Juliet was very good and I loved Chris Mann! I agree with Adam though, I've really grown to love Katrina's voice.

Also I went to a performing arts high school, so blasting opera and showtunes is definitely never out of the question! :P
Never would have thought, but i'm all for Katrina...all the way...

Juliette is crazy good though...but Katrina proved some to me the last two weeks...

As for the others all i gotta say is Lindsey, Tony and Erin I really don't care about...

If all three of them go tomorrow, it'd be fantastic...
I'm getting kind of tired of Tony, Chris and Javier somehow continually getting the popular vote over Katrina and Juliette (in particular). I blame the 99% tween/teen female audiences. If Juliette isn't the hands down winner of this show, it will be criminal. All performances were good tonight, but Juliette's was great. My votes are for Lindsay, Katrina Juliette and that last one is a toss up, both Jermaine and Erin were excellent.
Javier? I'm having flashbacks from last year. His name is Jamar.

Tony was great, Juliet was great, Katrina was great. Jermaine is ok but he sounds like the typical soul singer.

Never really seen what anybody else sees in Erin. Her voice really isn't that special.

If Adam doesn't give 50/50 I'm going to be upset.


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