You know how usually on “The Voice” elimination shows, the element of surprise is almost completely undercut by the graphic that shows the standings mere moments before the results of Twitter Instant Save are officially announced? That didn’t happen on Tuesday’s show, when two singers -- Hannah Kirby and Corey Kent White, both members of Blake Shelton's team -- were sent home and the Top 8 shrank to the Top 6. The big reveal was actually a big reveal, and it was unexpectedly exciting.
Amid guest appearances by Jason DeRulo (who sang “Want to Want Me” with Team Christina Aguilera members Kimberly Nichole and India Carney), Rozzi Crane, and Lee Brice (who performed “Drinking Class” with White), along with other assorted time-filling business, Carson Daly let us know which of the Top 8 had been saved by America’s votes: Team Adam Levine’s Joshua Davis, Team Pharrell Williams’ Sawyer Fredericks, Team Blake’s Meghan Linsey, Team Christina’s Kimberly Nichole and, last but not least, Koryn Hawthorne, also of Team Pharrell.
That meant that every coach had at least one singer in the Top 6, and Pharrell had two. It also meant that Team Christina’s India Carney and two members of Team Blake, quirky Kirby and country-music flag bearer White, had landed in the bottom three and would have to sing for the save – and that at least one member of Team Blake would be heading home.
Kirby chose to sing Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," which seemed to emphasize her peculiarity. Her coach portrayed this quality as her biggest asset – saying he’d never known anyone like Kirby “not just on this show” but in the world of music as well. “The most important thing about being an artist is being different than anyone else,” Shelton said.
White sang Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You," highlighting his country roots. He sounded especially muted and nervously fiddled with his earpiece. Shelton offered tepid praise, saying White, too, didn’t “sound like anybody else” and saying he felt it was “very important” to have a country artist on the show. But then he yanked White’s metaphorical parachute: If any country-music fans out there wanted “to have somebody represent country music on this show, this is your guy,” he said.
Carney stepped out and gave the best performance of the three, however, lending her lush vocals to Christina Perri's "Human." Aguilera called Carney a “true fighter” and a “hard worker” and said she didn’t deserve to have landed in the bottom three. “I can’t believe there’s even a possibility that you could go home,” Aguilera told her.
But that possibility was, of course, not even remotely remote. Country singers often outlast other singers – even better singers – on “The Voice.” Often, if they make it to the live shows, they go on to the finals and even to win. And especially when you add in the cute-young-guy factor, White seemed poised to stick around for another week despite his consistently so-so singing.
Through much of the commercial break in which the voting took place, the standings looked like this:
Hannah Kirby: 22%
Corey Kent White: 40%
India Carney: 38%
Shortly before Daly banished the results from the bottom of our screens, the numbers had recalibrated to this:
Hannah Kirby: 21%
Corey Kent White: 40%
India Carney: 39%
As Aguilera and Shelton offered their final words of encouragement, it wasn’t looking good for Carney, though it was for White. So when Daly at last revealed that Carney had squeaked out a victory in the “closest vote ever,” it was a shock – and not least to Carney, who screamed and ran off before regaining her composure.
“What a night!” Daly exclaimed as the credits rolled and Kirby and White prepared to leave our midst. “What a night!”