Any previous week this season, it might have been a shocker to see fiercely talented coach fave Kimberly Nichole, the self-dubbed “Rock Ballerina,” head home on “The Voice.” But when the news came on Tuesday night that viewers had sent her home just shy of the semifinals – a week in which only one singer was eliminated, no less – it actually didn’t come as a particular surprise.
Nichole had taken risks with both her song selections on Monday’s Top 6 performance show, and even before the votes rolled in, you may have had the sneaking suspicion that those risks had not paid off. She squandered the opportunity to give a hard tug at the heartstrings in her mom dedication, unsentimentally floating through Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,’” which seemed a waste, too, of her riveting onstage persona.
She may have been saving up all her trademark preening and prowling to unleash on an over-the-top rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana,” but I wondered even as I watched whether the audience would recoil from a few of her more suggestive stage moves – whether her absorption into the song’s character had been, perhaps, a tad too complete for “The Voice” voters’ taste.
Who really knows what did Nichole in? All that’s for sure is that the audience did not embrace her this week, reducing by one Christina Aguilera’s shot at a win.
As it happened, after a parade of returning “Voice” veterans had performed (Jacquie Lee singing her Sia-penned new single, Clive Davis-endorsed Avery Wilson, Craig Wayne Boyd with a song he wrote while on “The Voice,” etc.) and Carson Daly had welcomed four of the Top 6 into the “safe” zone and next week’s Top 5 semifinals, both of the singers on Aguilera’s team – Nichole and India Carney -- were in danger of elimination.
The classically trained Carney made a more conventional choice, singing Pink’s “Perfect” with perfect poise and precision. Nichole, meanwhile, kittenishly slinked, purred and growled her way through the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Which would the audience choose?
After the commercial break, the graphic chart at the bottom of the screen and then Daly himself told us the vote was running 50/50. But soon enough the voting window closed, leaving one singer inside, and one out.
The winner was -- Carney. Kimberly Nichole would head home. Her inimitable performance style will surely be missed for the remainder of the season. (Who will sing while doing a backbend now?) But something tells me we haven’t seen or heard the last of the Rock Ballerina.