‘The Voice’ Semifinal Eliminations: Cry Me A Winner

Jamar Rodgers and Juliet Simms on The Voice (Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

There haven’t been this many tears on television since the cast of “Jersey Shore” found out the tanning salon was closed for repairs. Welcome to the last elimination night on “The Voice.” Next week, it’s a Final Four showdown, meaning that the Elite Eight had to be cut in half. Cruel? Yes. Unfair? Completely? Necessary for maximum dramatic and ratings impact? Definitely. Some of the sobbing was for sad reasons, some for happy ones. And it’s still surprising NBC didn’t cut some kind of promotional deal with Kleenex.

The upshot of the evening is that Chris Mann, Tony Lucca, Jermaine Paul and Juliet Simms are all moving on to the final round while Lindsey Pavao, Katrina Parker, Erin Willett and Jamar Rogers are done. I know, I know….there are no losers here, only non-winners who put in a valiant effort that fell just a bit short. I have to confess that I never believed that line whenever I heard it from former Little League coaches and every woman who has ever dumped me. To be honest, I’m still a bit misty from all the evening so if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to whip through the evening’s emotional exits so I can get to wallowing myself.

Lindsey And Chris

First of all, it’s worth noting the complete contrast between Monday and Tuesday night. Monday night, the set was the most raucous it had been all season. The performances were the best we’d seen. And after the show, all eight singers seemed more relaxed than ever as they worked the press line. Then came tonight….the set was so tense you could hear someone’s hopes drop. Just before the show started, the singers all stood on stage waving nervously at their family and friends, and some anxiously accepted the offer of sips from whatever was in Blake Shelton’s cup. (According to Chris, the liquid inside is referred to as “happy juice” and is some form of sweet-tasting whiskey.) There was not an ounce of fun to be had in the room, unless you count what Blake was serving

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Then, it was Christina Aguilera with the first rejection of the evening. She split her vote 50-50 between Lindsey and Chris, saying that comparing them was like comparing apples to oranges (a saying that’s never made sense to me, by the way….they’re both fruits. Comparison made. You’re welcome.) She’s right. Their styles are completely different, leaving you to wonder whether American preferred opera or ethereal folk pop. The answer came very swiftly thereafter, as the total score rattled on screen like this was a basketball game and Chris lived for another week while Lindsey was unfortunately done.

Her tears began there, as you might expect, and they were still flowing when she came back to talk after the show. (Much as the tears will flow tomorrow when my 10-year-old finds out her new favorite singer didn’t make the finals.) “I cry all the time, so it’s okay,” Lindsey said, dabbing at her eyes. “It’s a little bit embarrassing, like being dumped in front of America. But I’m happy. I’m going to finish writing and recording an EP that I’ve started work on. This show has given me very distinct direction in my life so I want to continue heading that way. I’m happy with myself which is a very foreign feeling. I’ve spent a lot of my life getting down on myself and I’m feeling confident now.”

So it’s not a sad ending but a happy beginning of sorts. Still, maybe it’s my paternal instinct kicking in but I was actually getting choked up saying goodbye to Lindsey for the last time. And all I can think of now that she’s gone is that everyone needs to buy that EP of hers because a) I’m certain it’ll be great and b) if it’s taken her this long to gain some very justifiable confidence, don’t ruin it now.

Katrina And Tony

Once again, here’s two very nice people who should both be winning something other than a hug from their coach and a promise to listen to whatever they do next. At least a fruit basket or something, with plenty of apples and oranges. Unfortunately, they had to wait a while for their fate to be revealed, thanks in part to performances from two of last year’s finalists, Vicci Martinez (who did a duet with former coach Cee Lo Green) and Dia Frampton (whose song included an appearance by rapper Kid Cuti…and by the way, why is it that every pop song now has to have some rapper show up in the middle….I think I now want a rapper just to wander in halfway through my day to start doing his thing just so I can appear hipper).

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Finally, though, it was results time. And after all the continued praise Adam Levine has tossed Katrina’s way, he went 60-40 in Tony’s favor. This was another one of the evenings sad moments, and it looked like Katrina started to tear up as Adam explained that his “bromance” connection with Tony was too strong. Left unsaid was what I can only assume is his desire to dig at Christina a bit, especially after she told him last night he should go with Katrina.

I have to say that, not only did she prove herself to be a fantastic singer (whose first album I promise to buy right after I get Lindsey’s) with a flair for the sultry and elegant. She’s also tougher than I at first figured, holding in the tears while giving Adam a very generous thank you. I never did see her on the press line later, so perhaps the flood came later, but I give her credit for a great season and for not using up all the tissues that her fellow semi-finalists were in need of.

As for Tony, while he’s certainly happy to be moving on to the final week, he did admit that he’s already thinking about how much he’ll miss it all the week after that. “It’s been like a really cool job these past months. And I’ve been unemployed for God knows how long. I haven’t really had a job since my TV days as a kid, really. I’ll miss the rhythm of all this, the routine, the knowing that for the next few weeks, I have somewhere to be. Getting back home and re-acclimating to life will be nice, and getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time in two months will be fun, but I’m going to miss spending all this time with my peers.”

Erin And Jermaine

I wish I could say I was surprised by this one. But even Erin didn’t seem to be able to say that, judging by her nodding reaction when her basketball score scrolled by and Jermaine trounced her as if he was the Globetrotters and she was the Washington Generals. Blake hadn’t helped her much with his 50-50 split, although his reasoning for not picking a favorite was at least honest (“I don’t want to be part of the decision-making process anymore”).

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While Erin seemed totally resigned to her fate, staring at the floor a lot, Jermaine stood on the stage looking like he was already planning his songs for next week. There’s no reason he shouldn’t. He’s been one of the prohibitive favorites for a while now. Still, considering all that Erin’s been through up to this point, and the volume of tears she’s already shed, it would have been nice for someone with her vocal power and back story to have made it all the way.

At least she had a good attitude about it all, truly recognizing all the she’d managed to accomplish in the past few months. In amongst all the tears. “Everybody is so talented that every week when we’ve said goodbye to people, we haven’t said backstage that they were eliminated. We just say they’ve graduated and are moving on because there’s such great talent here and we’ve all proven ourselves.”

At this point, with three boys in the finals, I was starting to believe that somewhere out there, only 14-year-old girls were voting. Which brings me to the last announcement of the evening…..

Juliet And Jamar

Right around the time that he worked with guitar-playing women on stilts, Jamar became the force to be reckoned with (oh, if I only had a dollar for every time somebody’s said that about me….). If anyone seemed like a sure thing for the finals, it was him. The only problem was, the one person keeping pace with him week after week was his teammate, Juliet. They were probably the most dynamic pairing in the final eight, as well as the team most in need of a Kleenex box given how often they both shed tears of happiness and/or relief. It seemed like the waterworks were turned on full blast after every emotional performance they gave.

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Tonight was, not surprisingly, no exception. Shortly before coming onstage to learn their fate, Juliet was already sobbing so much she couldn’t be interviewed in the Sprint Lounge. When she and Jamar did emerge to get their news, neither of them seemed particularly confident, holding onto each other as if they were both pairs of crutches. (And truth be told, Jamar did have more reason to fret than she did, seeing as how his performance of “If You Don’t Know Me” by now was no match for her Mac truck of a performance of “It’s A Man’s World.)

Their lower lips started quivering even more when Cee Lo surprisingly made his split 60-40 in Juliet’s favor. Even worse, he went into some long explanation about problems with the sound on Jamar’s performance that tipped him toward Juliet. This left the usually enthusiastic singer looking like he’d just heard that due to budget cuts, Santa was being retired and placed on the federal “Doesn’t Exist” List.

Although, when the public vote rolled in and Juliet won pretty resoundingly, the bawl was back in her court. She ran offstage in tears, only to be met by fellow winners Chris, Jermaine and Tony, who marched her right back before she could grab a tissue. Which, as she told me later, was pretty much the theme for her entire day.

“We’ve all been so emotional since this morning,” she explained. “We couldn’t look at each other without being in tears. We couldn’t talk to each other. We couldn’t even hug each other tonight and say, ‘It’ll be all right, no matter what happens….’ We just couldn’t do it. And yet last night, we all went back to the hotel and watched the show together and had such a good time with each other.”

Now that she’s moving on as the only girl in the group, though, the time for tears is over. At least until she takes the stage again.

“The moment my name got called, I started thinking about what I’ll do next week. I’m the only girl left and I have to say to all the those young girls who didn’t vote for me this time….this is for us, girls! I’m the on nly female left standing after the semifinals and I want to be the only one standing at the end of this whole thing so I can show girls everywhere, if this is your dream, go for it!”



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

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