Aw, Emily Keener. I am very sorry to see you go.
The 17-year-old folk singer with the old soul and the Joni Mitchell-esque tone was voted off the “The Voice” on Tuesday night, the first time this season America got to have complete say in who stayed and who was sent packing (and a show on which, for the record, Gwen Stefani performed her song “Misery”).
Neither I nor “The Voice” judges believed it was Keener’s rightful time to go.
“I am shocked that you’re in the bottom two,” Christina Aguilera told Keener, of Team Pharrell, who herself looked rather alarmed to be vying with Team Adam’s Owen Danoff to nab the instant save and the final slot in the Top 11. Keener had just finished showing her range and singing the heck out of Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” delivering it with her usual intensity and commitment.
“I can’t believe it because yesterday you blew my mind with ‘Lilac Wine.’ You just did such an amazing job with it,” Aguilera said, referring to the Jeff Buckley song Keener had sung the previous night, a standout performance that had earned her a standing ovation from all four coaches. “You are from another time. And you’re so beyond talented for your age. You have a raw natural gift.”
Then, calling Keener “a blessing to our show,” Aguilera addressed the audience directly: “Guys, she deserves to make it beyond this moment.”
Later, after Danoff had given a somewhat (and understandably) shaky performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House,” Keener’s coach, Pharrell Williams, issued a similar plea.
“I just want to talk to America.… This is a 17-year-old girl … she was so good, she got four of us to turn around. That’s unbelievable,” Williams reminded us, reaching way back to the blind auditions. “America, you’re going to do whatever you’re going to do at the end of the day, and we have to respect your taste. But I’m just telling you. That is a special not just singer, not just entertainer, but that’s a star right there on that stage.”
I’m going to miss Keener’s alternately delicate and strong takes on songs we don’t always hear on shows like this, especially from teen singers. But she’s young, talented, driven — I imagine she’ll go on to make music and pursue her dreams. We have to respect your taste, America, but I, for one, sincerely hope Keener finds her supporters, and her success.