Last week on The Voice, there was a torch-passing of sorts, as incumbent coach Blake Shelton, People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2017, revealed during the live results telecast that the panel’s newest coach, John Legend, had just been named Sexiest Man Alive of 2019. The moment may have been symbolic in ways Blake hadn’t even realized.
Blake has always been the most popular coach in Voice history. Last season, in fact, The Voice was so dominated by Team Blake that this supposed favoritism reportedly led to the angry exit of the series’ other original coach, the disgruntled Adam Levine. But John ended up winning last season anyway, and now he seems on track for a repeat victory: This week, John was the only coach that didn’t have any contestants up for elimination.
By the end of Tuesday’s results episode, the three-person Team Legend remained intact, with a lineup that included the two standout performers of the week, rock ‘n’ soul diva Katie Kadan and earnest songstress Marybeth Byrd. Fellow coaches Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani also moved on with three contestants each. But now, Blake is already down to just two singers — and, surprisingly, neither of them are country artists, which hurts his chances even more. It looks like Legend may be the new star coach on The Voice. At the very least, John is settling nicely into Adam’s old role as Blake’s biggest rival.
So, the three semifinalists that had to sing for Instant Save this Tuesday were Team Blake’s Cali Wilson, Team Kelly’s bonus fourth contestant Max Boyle, and Team Gwen’s teen-pop prodigy Joana Martinez. I had appreciated Cali’s breezy and gentle Kacey Musgraves cover on Monday, but maybe it was too much of a whimper and not enough of a bang. Joana clearly has big pipes and a big appeal to the Latin market (on Monday, she dedicated her Gloria Estefan cover to her hometown of Miami), but going first in the “death spot” probably hurt her chances. As for Max, he was one of my favorites Monday, but perhaps his relatively leftfield song choice, Allen Stone’s “Unaware,” was his downfall.
Singing for the Save on Tuesday, Cali was back to doing her growly, Alannah Myles-wannabe karaoke, snarling and shouting and scenery-chewing her way through a try-hard rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” – with that “If you don’t love me now, you will never love me again” line seeming all too prophetic. However, Blake seemed convinced that “The Chain” would keep them together, declaring, “Cali, I have no doubt that every decision I made along the way moving you forward was the right decision. That performance tonight proves you deserve to be here.”
Max’s sentimental song choice, the Ed Sheeran wedding ballad “Thinking Out Loud,” seemed like a wiser move. He is a bit of a dreamboat, and he could have clinched the teen vote — if teens still actually voted for this show, that is. He did sound a bit nervous and desperate – he’d certainly had better falsetto moments than he did tonight – but he mostly pulled this off. Kelly, who admitted she was “super-shocked” to see Max in the bottom three, begged America to save him.
Joana’s song choice, the Alicia Keys empowerment anthem “Superwoman,” was clearly the smartest choice of all. And the fact that this time she was singing last – in the “pimp spot,” not the “death spot” — certainly was an advantage. It was an old-fashioned performance, but the strongest and most confident vocal of the three. “That was mind-blowing. America, she is so fearless!” raved Gwen.
When the live Twitter votes were tallied, Joana prevailed with about 43 percent, edging out Max’s 32 percent. Notably, Team Blake’s Cali placed last, with 24 percent. Could Blake, who had three (country) contestants in last season’s finale, be out of the running before this season’s finale even takes place? We will soon find out if he’s the Saddest Coach Alive.