On Tuesday’s The Voice top 10 results show, the bottom three vote-getters had perform for the Instant Save, with two of those singers ultimately going home. With Season 21 being so talent-packed, it was bound to be an emotional evening, and it was inevitable that at least one powerhouse vocalist, who could have easily made the finale in any other year, would make an early exit. But the coaches were shocked when host Carson Daly announced that three powerhouse vocalists were in fact up for elimination.
“It's hard to put together reasoning that makes sense, why people are in the bottom three, because everybody at this point, it makes no sense. You're all so talented. But it just is what it is,” shrugged Blake Shelton, after he learned that Team Kelly Christian-crossover artist Jeremy Rosado, Team Ariana belter Holly Forbes, and Team Legend diva Jershika Maple comprised this week’s bottom three. (Blake was actually the only coach to make a clean sweep this week, with all of his team members going through to the top eight). A weepy Ariana Grande also exclaimed, “I have to say, this is the craziest… How is this the three? I don't understand.”
Blake noted that he was “extra-surprised” to see Holly at risk, as he’d expected her to make the top five; Holly’s exasperated coach Ariana echoed that sentiment, saying, “This, to me, does not make any sense. And I say this with so much love and affection for everybody, because everyone is so brilliant on the show, but you have been a vocal titan, Holly.” John Legend was also “so stunned” about the Jershika result, describing her as “one of the best people on this season.” (Jershika's fearless Paramore cover was my favorite Challenge Week performance on Monday, for what it's worth.)
The good thing about Tuesday’s result was this had the potential to be an Instant Save sing-off for the ages, a real superstar showdown — one which any of the three could win, depending on song choice, performance order, and any other number of variables. But when Jershika did V Bozeman’s “What Is Love,” it was clear that she wanted — and deserved — this the most. She delivered a true sing-for-your-life moment, her most stupendous performance of the season. John raved that it “was so soulful, so powerful, so emotional, so technically perfect, and it just felt so meaningful in this moment when you knew that everything was on the line.”
Jershika, who struggled with dyslexia as a child and until recently was working full-time as a security guard to make ends meet, was reduced to tears as she spoke to her coach following her tour de force. “Thank you. This show really saved me,” she told him. “I have never been so free. I fell in love with music even more. Tonight I fought, and when you fight, it's in God's hands.”
It was also in viewers’ hands — and, after a five-minute Instant Save voting window, those viewers rightfully saved the undeniable Jershika. But that meant that viewers had to bid farewell to Jeremy and Holly.
I think Jeremy could have had a shot if he’d done another CCM song, but instead he sang Rascal Flatts’ tearjerker “What Hurts the Most” — his second country tune of the week, Blake pointed out approvingly. And while it was much better than Monday’s uptempo Brad Paisley/Jimmie Allen number — Jeremy did not rise to the challenge of Challenge Week, so he scurried right back to his ballad-centric comfort zone — he still didn’t sound entirely, well, comfortable. Somehow he sounded tired and panicked, all at once. I think he knew his time was up. But he sweetly, if resignedly, thanked his coach Kelly Clarkson for changing his life, and he graciously thanked a behind-the-scenes MVP who never gets any glory, Voice vocal coach Trelawny Rose. Kelly must have also known this was goodbye, but right before Carson read the Instant Save results, she assured Jeremy that she had “no doubt that gospel music, Christian music is going to wrap their arms around that beautiful, God-given talent that you have.”
As for Holly, she actually tackled a mighty Kelly song, “Because of You,” and she belted it beautifully. I almost thought she had this in the bag… until Jershika showed up and turned it out. I would have liked to see Holly continue instead of Team Ariana’s other prospect, Jim & Sasha Allen, but otherwise, it was hard to make a compelling case for eliminating any of the other worthy contestants (Team Legend’s Joshua Vacanti, Team Kelly’s Girl Named Tom and Hailey Mia, and Team Blake’s Paris Winningham, Wendy Moten, and Lana Scott).
So, it’s just going to get harder from here, with finale only a few weeks away. But I am excited to see what a fighter like Jershika does next Monday.
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