‘The Voice’ Recap: Top 5 Belt it Out in the Semi-Final

Tessanne Chin (NBC)

Every contestant gave their all on the Top 5 week of “The Voice.” It was a night full of power songs with each person vying to give the most meaningful and/or emotionally connected performance. Trying to do that, of course, usually defeats the purpose, since it’s not really meaningful to act emotional on cue. But this isn’t “Breaking Bad,” and it’s not time for deep analysis.

First, the remaining performers joined forces for a peppy number, “The Best Day of My Life.” It was a little too upbeat for the second-to-last week of the show, when really, everyone should be viciously attacking one another.

Last week’s Instant Save, James Wolpert, was up first. Now, seeing as how every person who was instantly saved was canned the following week, James is not feeling super confident. To give him a boost, his coach Adam Levine decides over breakfast to give him one of the best songs ever, U2’s “With or Without You.” So that helped. James can’t quite carry arena rock, what with his whole ceramic doll face and his “I’ll just walk aimlessly around the stage while I sing” thing that he does. But as long as he stuck to his upper register, he did sound pretty great. (The low notes though, ugh.) Adam tells him the performance was beyond his expectations, and Blake Shelton says he might have dug himself out of the hole he is in right now.

But Christina Aguilera had other fish to fry. She used her speaking time to bitterly protest the song choice, since she had proposed it for a coach group number and her pitch was overlooked. She started her critique with “Um…” So, yeah, James is probably still in trouble.

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Will Champlin up next got Fun’s song, “Carry On,” which for him had to do with his wife’s health problems, but was essentially the same anthemic song as James’ previous one. This is Adam’s headspace right now, obviously. Will takes off his glasses for the performance, which I always like, because then you can see that he actually looks like a tiny puppy. With the thick black frames, all I see is hipster armor and not the baby animal face underneath that’s so endearing. He takes a much quicker approach to get to the big part of the song than the original, but hey, it’s only an hour tonight and we’re pressed for time. So it’s lots of big notes and positive uplifting messages. Adam talks about how Will is so hard on himself usually, so it looks good that Will is smiling after that. Cee Lo Green calls him “swaggy.”

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Jacquie Lee, born 1997, sings Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” of 1998. For rehearsal, Xtina puts her in a recording studio and they work on some flourishes and details there that pretty much wind up in the live performance verbatim. They also talk about the usual with Jacquie, which is how to connect to something when she is too young to have ever experienced love. Rather than the more important conversation, which is, how to give this girl age-appropriate songs. She sings it amazingly well—it’s absolutely gorgeous. But also freakish that it is coming out of this cute little girl. Xtina is definitely grooming Jacquie to join a cohort of young powerhouse singers similar to the one she grew up in—only there’s no “Mickey Mouse Club” to showcase a talent like that these days. So what ever will we do with her? My guess is she will win and then be forgotten soon after.

Xtina tells her it was her best performance, and Cee Lo says it reminded him that “this all belongs to me. We belong to each other.”

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Team Blake’s Cole Vosbury went to a barber shop, and Cee Lo was there. That should be the first sign that this is not a very good barber shop, when a head like Cee Lo’s frequents it. Then, I even saw a guy put a scissor up next to Cole’s beard, but guess what—nothing happened! That brillo pad was still there in full force by showtime. Anyway, he sings Garth Brooks’ “Shameless,” and for once ditches the guitar for the piano. He does at one point get up and walk forward, looking super awkward because Cole needs to be behind an instrument. He made Blake happy, though, and Cee Lo thought the song sounded like it was originally Cole’s.

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Finally, Tessanne Chin is up. At breakfast, she compliments Adam for his “good eggs.” Wait, so Adam actually cooked? And they are actually at his house when they say they are at his house? I thought that kind of thing was always fake, like on the “X Factor” when they went to “Demi Lovato’s apartment” and it was the same apartment they used on “Top Model.”

Anyway, Tess cries in rehearsal for her own anthemic masterpiece, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” They don’t tell us why, and later, when Adam praises her phenomenal, typically solid performance, he alludes to whatever stuff is going on in her life that the cameras respectfully edited out. He talks about it a lot, actually, which is kind of rude. He ends the whole thing by saying he is “speechless,” which has as much truth to it probably as his claim that he made the eggs.

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Everyone was really good tonight, even the folks I normally don’t like that much. But if history means anything, James is going home tomorrow. Also tomorrow: Big and Little Swon return! Michelle Chamuel will squat for us again! And two past “Voice” winners remind us that they still exist! See you then. In the meantime, tell me who you think is going home: @sharynjackson

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

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