It’s down to 10. Team Pharrell’s Evan McKeel was sent home on “The Voice” Tuesday night, just shy of making it into the Season 9 Top 10. Clearly, the perpetually upbeat fellow has his fans or he wouldn’t have made it as far as he did, but because someone had to go this week, I, personally, wasn’t terribly sad to see him, as opposed to any of the other singers, eliminated.
Even though McKeel has a pleasing enough singing voice and seemed to have his heart in the right place, something about him has never clicked with me. At the risk of sounding churlish, I found his overweening enthusiasm, unwavering beatific smile and overall air of self-satisfaction (not to mention his taste in sweaters) to be a bit grating.
In part, McKeel’s coach, Pharrell Williams, may have been to blame for not helping the church-worship singer from Virginia to find dimension. On Tuesday’s elimination show (on which Brad Paisley performed his song “Country Nation”), when host Carson Daly asked McKeel what he had learned about himself “as an artist” during his time on “The Voice,” he replied that Williams had taught him to use “music to connect with people through your heart” and find “emotions that speak to a lot of people on a grand scale” and “have an impact.”
“That’s what I try to do with all of my performances now,” McKeel said, “and I think that’s something really powerful that everybody can feel.”
Typing that now, it doesn’t seem so bad, but at the time, I don’t know, it felt a little grand.
To be fair, McKeel had turned in his best performance of the season on Monday, showing a more subdued side of himself with Nat King Cole’s “Smile.” He did fine, too, with the song he sang for the Twitter instant save on Tuesday, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” but it also came off as a bit calculated and like more of the same.
Meanwhile, Team Gwen’s Korin Bukowski, with whom McKeel apparently has a now-not-so-secret handshake and who landed in the bottom two for the second week running, delivered a compellingly calibrated version of “She Will Be Loved,” a Maroon 5 song co-written by the band’s frontman, Adam Levine.
Singing Levine’s song, which Bukowski said was a favorite of hers, right in front of the man himself -- and while in dire danger of elimination -- was a bold choice, but one that paid off. Levine seemed more than impressed; he seemed ... moved. He had never heard a woman sing his song before, he said, and thanked her repeatedly for singing it. Then Levine encouraged everyone to vote for Bukowski.
Who knows if it was Levine’s endorsement that gave Bukowski the edge, but she had it -- with 54-56% of the vote to McKeel’s 44-46%, according to the graphic we were shown ahead of the announcement of the final results.
For the second week in a row, the Twitter instant save gave Bukowski the opportunity to remain in the competition. Also for the second week running, it sent home a member of Team Pharrell.
That leaves only Madi Davis in Williams’ stable of singers. Of course, all you need is one talented singer -- and Davis is supremely talented -- to win it all.