‘I don’t know what America was thinking’
Tuesday brought The Voice top 13 results show, which determined this season’s all-important top 10. At the start of the evening, host Carson Daly explained that nine contestants would be voted through, based on Monday’s top 13 performances, after which the remaining four singers would compete for the last spot via a real-time, audience-voted, Instant Save sing-off.
On Monday, I had predicted that among the bottom four would be Team Camila’s Eric Who, who drastically toned down his usual colorful and flamboyant stage presence and as a result got lost in the shuffle; Team Gwen’s Alyssa Witrado, who truly should have never made it to the top 13 in the first place; and Team Gwen’s actually most promising and unique team member, Kique, who disappointingly played it way too safe and straight this week with a bland Stevie Wonder karaoke cover. And I was right about all three.
However, I’d also assumed that Team Blake’s pop singer Rowan Grace, who I thought really fumbled her ABBA cover, would be at risk as well. But I should have factored in Blake Shelton’s rampant popularity among loyal Voiceviewers. Rowan survived — thus making Blake the only coach of the season to have all four of his Live Playoffs semifinalists make it through to the top 10. If you’re doing the math, that means that Team Blake now comprises 40% of Season 22. The man is simply unstoppable – that is, until he stops himself and retires from The Voice next year. I’ll be curious to see how the show’s voting patterns shift once Blake is no longer a variable in Season 24.
But… back to this season. One Season 22 contesting I absolutely did not worry would be in jeopardy this week was Team Camila’s husky alt-rocker Devix, who on Monday thrillingly slayed an Arctic Monkeys song – a Voice first! – and in the process seemingly established himself as an exciting new frontrunner. John Legend had told Devix that “RU Mine?” was “the right song for who you are as an artist and vocalist”; proud coach Camila Cabello raved, “You went Super star on this one!”; and even former KROQ DJ and current Voice host Carson Daly expressed his approval, telling Devix, “Thank you for bringing back rock ‘n’ roll on The Voice — a sound and feel we’ve missed for a while!”
But apparently Voice viewers weren’t missing the rock on this show — or they at least weren’t missing the Britrock. Oh well. And here I was hoping that Devix would cover a Franz Ferdinand, the Cribs, Muse, or Kasabian banger next week.
But there was still hope that Devix would be around next week, and when it came time for him to sing for the Save, he stuck to the genre he does best, with a rousing performance of the rather Anglophilic Killers’ “When You Were Young .” This performance had less of the darkness and menace and stomp of the previous night’s number – it was anthemic, joyous, evangelical, certainly stadium-worthy – and it seemed like all might not be lost.
“Listen, I don’t know what America was thinking when they didn’t vote you through yesterday,” Camila grumbled. “America, you can redeem yourself right now. redeem yourself! … America, you would be making a huge mistake to let Devix go. You want to hear that voice of his on a ballad. You want to hear that voice of his on a really emotional song. You do not want to let this voice go!”
But Devix had some stiff competition from Kique, this season’s other supercool indie-rock maverick. “I would not want to make this call,” Carson admitted.
At least it seemed clear that America would not have to make the call between Eric and Alyssa. First, Eric sang… Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” Ugh. More like Eric why, friendship? Eric is a consumer showman, an entertainer, and when he was his absolutely fabulous pastel-haired self, the one-man star of “The Eric Who Show,” he was exhilarating to behold. I’m not sure why he felt compelled to go so off-brand this week with his sappy ballad choices and fashion makeunder, but he really sabotaged himself. And I felt he didn’t go out on his own terms. When he quaveringly sang Miley’s “The Climb” line “my faith is shaken,” it truly seemed that it was, and when he ended his song with “I love y’all,” it was clear that he knew “The Eric Who Show “was over. And that was a shame.
As for teen pop starlet Alyssa, she warbled the age-appropriate “Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish, and it was actually one of her stronger performances – certainly better than Monday’s unsteady, near-blasphemous Selena cover — more vulnerable and connected, and more suited to her thin voice. But it was still an undercooked and inconsistent performance, one that indicated that she would’ve been better off waiting to audition for The Voice in a season or two.
Back on the subject of redemption, Kique was hoping to redeem himself, since after pulling off some of the most creative, leftfield performances of this season (radical remakes of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Harry Styles’s “As It Was”), he fumbled and stumbled on Monday with a generic and old-fashioned performance. So, Kique let it wave on the Weeknd’s Fifty Shades of Gray theme “Earned It” — and he earned it, all right. This was 50 shades of awesome — a supremely self-assured and sexy vocal.
“Obviously, Kique is going through, America. Right?” Gwen Stefani begged. “I want to remind everybody this is a 19-year-old boy; he has a manvoice. … I feel like this is a mistake, America. We have to push Kique through.”
And so, after the commercial break and a five-minute voting window, America considered Camila and Gwen’s pleas and saved… Kique. I couldn’t really argue with that decision, and I’m glad Kique got a reprieve. But Devix should have never been in the bottom four to begin with — not when he was just starting to break out of his shell and break the mold.
“Devix, no matter what happens tonight, I just think that you’re a huge talent,” Camila assured the 28-year-old Queens rocker right before he learned his fate. “I want to hear your songs in my car. I just think that you’re such a talented musician. You were meant to do this. Thank you for being vulnerable and open with me.”
Hopefully this won’t be the last we hear from Devix. In the meantime, the top 10 will compete next Monday, and hopefully Kique will learn from this week’s close call and go back to taking chances and script-flipping — or Kique-fying — some more outside-the-box song choices. See you then.
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