Two contestants went home on The Voice’s top 10 results show Tuesday — meaning for the first time this season, three contestants had to sing for the Instant Save. Two of those singers were, as I’d predicted, Team J.Hud’s Davon Fleming and Shi’Ann Jones … along with Team Miley’s Ashland Craft, who’d delivered a solid comeback performance on Monday but just wasn’t able to make up for the momentum she’d lost in previous weeks.
So, if you were reading the above paragraph closely, you may have noticed one very surprising omission from that bottom-three list: country crooner Adam Cunningham, who’d been up for elimination twice (including last week, when he controversially prevailed over Janice Freeman in the Instant Save sing-off). Somehow, the guy bucked the odds and emerged unscathed this week. And no one seemed more surprised than Cunningham himself; in fact, he had that same dumbfounded, unblinking, dropped-jawed expression that he wore last week when he found out Janice was going home. At least this week his coach, Adam Levine — who’d sat unsmiling in his red chair when last Tuesday’s shocker verdict was read — seemed happy for his team member this week, as the two Adams locked in a celebratory bear hug.
Actually, if you’d paid close attention to iTunes this week, Tuesday’s results weren’t a surprise. For the first time during Season 13’s live shows, the iTunes chart accurately reflected America’s overall voting pattern. Shi’Ann was dead last at No. 76, with Ashland at No. 48 and Davon at No. 31; Cunningham, conversely, peaked at a respectable No. 17, right in between Noah Mac and Red Marlow.
So, singing first for the Save was Ashland, looking like her fighting spirit was already totally crushed. The fire she brought to Monday’s Joan Jett cover was snuffed out, and her Save Me song choice, the Keith Urban ballad “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” was all too prophetic. This was a decent effort, but the languid tune and Ashland’s staid delivery didn’t make much of an impact.
Miley, who was still reeling from the loss of a team member last week, seemed to know this was Ashland’s swan song, but she gave Ashland a heartfelt send-off, saying: “I want to just talk about all the performances you have done since Blind Auditions. … You have done so much. You have shown so much.”
Shi’Ann Jones’s song choice, Etta James’s “At Last,” was the sort of sentimental, passionate ballad that garners votes, so that could have given her an edge over Ashland. But this song was not prophetic. Shi’Ann’s time had not come along. If she’d waited a couple seasons to mature before auditioning, she might have had a chance to go further on The Voice, but the 15-year-old’s raw talent has always been, well, just too raw. “At Last” was actually her worst performance yet. She sounded frog-throated and out of tune, jarringly so, and the song even seemed in too low a key for her already-low voice. Jennifer Hudson rambled on and on about Shi’Ann’s tender age and “potential” and “sponge”-like ability to learn, but it was clear that it was Shi’Ann’s time to go.
However, all was not lost for Jennifer, because her other contender, Davon, came out and mowed down the competition with Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” This was a classic Davon performance: a gender-flipped song choice, a perfectly paced vocal that built masterfully in intensity, a palpable emotional connection … and did I mention his awesome floral pants? Ain’t no way he was going home after this.
“A vocalist like that does not deserve to be in the bottom nothing on the show called The Voice,” declared Jennifer. “No matter what, you are a star regardless.” On a double-elimination night, Jennifer was going to have to bid farewell to at least one of her contestants — and it was pretty clear that she was hoping that contestant would not be Davon.
…And it wasn’t! After the Twitter votes were tallied, Davon won the Instant Save by 49 percent. Next week’s pre-finale showdown will be a bloodbath, with the top eight dramatically slashed in half, so I am worried that Davon might not be so lucky next Tuesday. No matter what, four very talented singers will for sure go home. But for now, I am glad Davon is still in the mix.