Not sure who you expected to get sent home on "The Voice" this week, as the Top 8 got whittled down to the Top 6. Sarah Simmons was on my list. Judith Hill wasn't. Both were eliminated on Tuesday night in what was, at first glance, at least half a shocker.
Certainly Adam Levine, whose team both singers were on, was pretty stunned. "What?" he mouthed to Shakira, whose sole remaining team member, Sasha Allen, Levine had tossed over in favor of Hill during the Battle Rounds. Allen made the Top 6, as did Usher's only singer, Michelle Chamuel. All of Blake Shelton's singers, who performed with Sheryl Crow ahead of the eliminations on Tuesday night's show, survived.
In Levine's defense, Hill was a standout talent even in a field of standout talents. Perhaps voters figured she'd be safe regardless, and so voted to save other favorites they feared might be in greater danger. Or perhaps they thought her song and style -- especially this week, when she sported what Shelton termed a "badass" hairdo -- were too out there. Or maybe they felt Levine and the other judges had gone too far with their praise.
Any of those scenarios is possible. But it could also have been that Hill was almost too polished, too much of a pro. She'd sung a duet with Michael Jackson. Her parents were well-connected musicians. She already had the bearing of a superstar -- seemed already to have arrived. What did she need us for?
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Levine himself had driven that point Monday night. After Hill turned in an essentially perfect performance of "#thatPOWER," her coach told her he'd felt as if he were watching "not a contestant on 'The Voice,'" but "an artist performing a song" like he and his fellow coaches do. He was right. And voters may have responded by depriving Hill of her "Voice" contestant status and allowing her to pursue her life as a fully formed superstar.
And Simmons? Well, someone had to go, and Simmons seemed a likely enough candidate after Levine had given her Gotye's not-so-fresh "Somebody That I Used to Know" to tackle. Plus, for the last few weeks, it had been hard to get a bead on Simmons, who was first ethereal and then a rocker. Audiences don't always like to be surprised.
In any event, one imagines Hill and Simmons could both easily end up on Levine's record label, and the rest of the talented singers have survived to sing another day.
The way it stands, Teams Adam, Shakira and Usher now have one singer apiece (Amber Carrington, Allen and Chamuel, respectively), whereas Shelton has held onto all three (or four, if you count the Swon Brothers separately) of his finalists.
Here's something the other coaches could stand to learn from Shelton, who has, after all, won the last two seasons: At the end of the day, it's less about showcasing your singers' talents than it is about revealing their hearts. The coaches have to make us like not only the performances, but the people behind them. If a talented singer touches our emotions, he or she will get our votes.
What do you think of the results?