At the outset of "The Voice" results show on Tuesday night, on which the Top 11 shrank to the Top 10, the smart money was on Owen Danoff, of Team Adam, to head home.
Not only had Danoff been in grave danger of elimination last week, snagging the Twitter instant save away from Team Pharrell's almost inarguably more vocally talented Emily Keener, but he had also turned in a fairly uninspiring performance of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" on Monday.
So it wasn't any kind of surprise when, after Thomas Rhett had performed his single "T-Shirt" and Teams Pharrell and Christina had performed with their coaches (in the latter case, singing "Live and Let Die" in the midst of a circuslike production complete with balloons on sticks, smoke, flashing lights and flipping gymnasts), Danoff again ended up in the bottom two.
The big question was who would land there with him. And the answer, we eventually learned, was Team Pharrell's Daniel Passino, who had actually done just fine with Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" the previous night. Had his coach's possibly profane refrain, "Damn, Daniel," done poor Passino in?
Still, Passino's sunny smile wavered only just a little, and he tackled his instant-save song, Nick Jonas's "Jealous," in his usual vocally solid, emotionally upbeat way. Williams admired the "topography" and "range" of Passino's performance, as well as his cool control.
Danoff, alas, didn't do so well with his instant-save performance of Cam's "Burning House," appearing to forget the lyrics and veering off-key, in parts.
The coaches tried to offer Danoff comfort. Shelton urged him not to beat himself up for bowing under pressure. "I believe in you and I think you're on the right path," he said. Levine, who had sold Danoff to voters so hard last week, took a lower-key approach this time around, calling him "extremely genuine" and "truthful" and saying he thought "it would be a shame" if Danoff didn't advance.
It appeared that even Danoff didn't seem convinced that he was the best singer to keep around, shaking his head and pointing to Passino, as if to urge the audience to vote for his rival.
Whether or not Danoff did feel ready to depart the show and embark on wherever his path would lead him next, that is ultimately what he got. During the commercial break, the vote hovered around 53 to 47 in Passino's favor.
Williams' final plea for the vote to head Passino's way seemed almost unnecessary. Passino snagged the final spot in the Top 10.