‘The Voice’ Quarterfinal Eliminations: It’s Reigning Men

Ashley de la Rosa, Chris Mann, and Lindsey Pavao on The Voice (Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

I hate to sound rushed, but I really have to hurry up and get through this blog. It’s not that there isn’t a lot to say about tonight’s edition of “The Voice.” It’s just that after watching what turned out to be the show’s first-ever Boys Night, I’m suddenly in the mood to buy a big tub of Buffalo wings, a six-pack of beer and curl up with the director’s cut of “Roadhouse.” So let’s get moving here. These cheap cigars aren’t going to smoke themselves.

The macho moments took over pretty much from the start., right after the show opened with Blake Shelton’s and Christina Aguilera’s teams center stage. After Monday night’s truly unexpected eliminations of Jesse Campbell and Jordis Unga, this group fidgeted like it was that first day back at work after the person who always brought in their daughter’s Girl Scout cookies to share had been let go. All bets were clearly off. Nobody was safe. The party was over, and now it was time to clean up.

And then….they all left the stage. After all the build-up, after all Carson Daly’s dramatic dialogue about this being another night of tough decisions, the singers gave way to One Direction….I mean, Big Time Rush….no, older than that….a Backstreet Boys reunion….oh, wait, it’s another boy band, called The Wanted. They sang some song about something that nobody over the age of 17 will probably ever know the words to. Meanwhile, with all this stalling, all that seemed to get accomplished was giving the contestants even more time to get nervous.

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Finally, Team Christina came back on stage and turned to face their coach, who was busy spilling out of her tiny tank top (the perfect treat for Boys Night, giving all the guys watching because their wives/girlfriends made them something to look at rather than listen to the words coming out of her mouth.)  And there were plenty of words, as she took ages justifying letting Jesse go (“I’m no stranger to controversy!”). Once she finally stopped, Carson eagerly announced that Chris Mann (how appropriate, a Mann-ly evening) had been saved by America. Lindsey Pavao and Ashley De La Rosa would have to sing for their save.

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Then it was Team Blake’s turn and Carson predictably announced that the one male team member up there, Jermaine Paul, was America’s choice to stay. He seemed to practically bounce offstage while his two teammates – Erin Willett and RaeLynn – couldn’t have looked less surprised if they’d been told that they’d have to sing a “Weird Al” Yankovic song in their battle to be saved.  So, America voted a clean sweep for the guys and the women would have to battle amongst themselves to see who got to stick around. Somewhere out there, Rush Limbaugh was probably smiling.

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At this point, the show was rushing along so fast that the battle between Ashley and Lindsey seemed almost like filler slipped in-between promotional announcements about the impending premiere of Justin Bieber’s new video and an appearance by a “special surprise guest” (hmmm, who could that be? I’m guessing it’s not going to be “Weird Al”). Ashley hopped all around the stage while performing “You and I,” but after all the surprisingly big performances she’d given lately, this one seemed a bit small and ordinary. Nonetheless, both Adam Levine and Blake got to weigh in, and made it clear they’d save Ashley no matter how Lindsey did.

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Which turned out to be just a bit premature. A shaky yet still stunning Lindsey took her turn with a very soft “Please Don’t Go.” Usually, she doesn’t so much sing as she lets notes kind of float out of her mouth with a quiet confidence. Tonight, she seemed much more fragile, even breaking down in tears at the end of the song. In some cases, that might be considered a negative. But when you weep in front of Christina, she’ll start sobbing too.

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And in that moment, it was pretty clear that these two were connected in a way Christina and Ashley weren’t. There was no way Lindsey was going home, and sure enough, Christina opted to save her a few minutes later while explaining that very connection.

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But once again….this was Boys Night. There’s no crying on Boys Night! So, rather than leap into the emotional battle between Erin and RaeLynn, “The Voice” decided to take a little Bieber Break. Yet another male taking centerstage….Carson gushed all about David Cassidy 2.0 and actually pretended to be surprised when young Justin walked onto the stage. I can understand why he might have been confused. The kid’s pumped up hairdo made him look more like a “Beverly Hills 90210” extra who had shown up for his scene 20 years too late, so I wouldn’t have recognized him either. But c’mon, NBC’s been promoting this for a week so how much of a shock was it really?

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Eventually, after Justin finished giving bro-hugs to Carson and the coaches, the show settled back down to business. Erin came out and turned in a picture (and pitch) perfect performance of “Proud Mary.” The match of that roughhouse song and her roughhouse vocals made for the best performance she’s given to date, burning with more firepower than all the sparklers in her “Set Fire To the Rain” Monday night.

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Just as it was apparent when Lindsey finished up singing that she would be sticking around, it didn’t matter what RaeLynn did when she came out. She was going to be history. It probably didn’t help that somehow, she managed to work several near-yodels into her version of “If I Die Young.” I wasn’t surprised to hear her tackle a slow song for the first time. She’d explained to me after Monday night’s show that she wanted to offer up her softer side for a change, rather than punch America in the face with country music. The plan just didn’t work as well ash she’d hoped, since even Adam picked up on the odd inflections in her voice.

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It’s been clear for weeks now that, as the one country artist remaining, RaeLynn will have a record deal waiting for her no matter where she finishes in the competition. So there was no point in weeping for her when Blake finally bid her goodbye in the face of Carson’s repeated instruction to “Give me a name! Give me a name! Give me a name!” like he was the lone wolf cop who liked to do things his way in some explosive summer action film. At first, this seemed kind of annoying but then, I realized that was the perfect note to end with on a night when testosterone ruled. If only they’d then cut to a Cialis ad….

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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