‘The Voice’ Recap: The Semifinals

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America has narrowed down this season of The Voice to what’s arguably the strongest final five in the series’ history. Will Champlin, James Wolpert and Tessanne Chin make up Team Adam; Jacquie Lee and Cole Vosbury are the last girl and boy standing for Teams Christina and Blake, respectively. Poor Cee Lo Green has no team members to root for since they all got the axe early on, although original member Cole Vosbury — now Team Blake — is still in the running and can now count on two coaches for support until the end of his run.

Last night, we witnessed a truly unforgettable semifinals show. Aside from one individual, almost all of the contestants performed as if it were their last time on The Voice stage. For two tonight, it will be. America’s Top 3 will move on to the finale, where the winner of The Voice will be crowned and — *fingers crossed* — hopefully not fade into obscurity. But before we get to that, I must divulge my thoughts on Season 5’s Semifinals Round. Below you’ll find my rankings of the penultimate performance show…

5. James Wolpert, “With or Without You” – Maybe James should be sick more often, because unlike last week when I really dug what he brought to the table in spite of being under the weather, I just found him so dull and uninspired in the semifinals. This U2 classic is a vocalist’s dream, but only if they can hit the big notes with enough emotional anchoring to swallow the entire room. I thought James was straining his voice, seemingly unsure about what to do on every note and lyric. His climb to the top was a difficult one, and when it got to the summit, the mountain just about crumbled. Adam’s bias towards James is going to turn off America even further, especially since James’ performance was nowhere near as good as his coach’s hyperbolic comments made it seem. James may be feeling better, but I’m not sure his recovery is enough to sail him into the finale.

Performance Review: (★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ENx6mMg-9HM

4. Cole Vosbury, “Shameless” – Aggressive and completely bad-ass, Cole Vosbury finally shows us his confident side and works the stage like a pro. The audience is digging this Billy Joel song variation, that’s for sure. I have no doubt in my mind that Cole’s fan base – aided by the charming Blake Shelton – will send this version right to the top of the iTunes charts. I’m not sure the song choice itself is semifinals worthy, but Cole’s self-assured approach kept me interested throughout. That being said, I still feel like Cole has yet achieve his defining “moment” on the show. Not that he needs to since being on Team Blake practically guarantees him a victory, but it would be nice to see an artistic evolution take place for Cole before this season wraps.

Performance Review: (★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9hFwU79RrVo

3. Jacquie Lee, “Angel” – I find this song choice a bit indulgent. This is not surprising considering Christina is so desperate to get into the finale that she’d probably make another disingenuous speech just to garner sympathy votes. I guess I can’t be too mad at her since she’s never won, so I’ll be polite, swallow my pride, and move on to the performance itself…which is pretty darn amazing, I’ll admit. Jacquie sometimes makes too many calculated, pageant-like gestures within her performance that come off slightly robotic, but I continually remain impressed by her vocal control. For someone who is only sixteen years old, she can command those notes like they’re her loyal servants. I’d like something younger for Jacquie to tackle if she makes it to the finale (I think she will). Her youth market would go nuts over a contemporary pop cover, and subsequently propel her to instant victory. iTunes customers are most likely already getting their diva fix with this semifinals stunner.

Performance Review: (★★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uay9ZmxTZwU

2. Will Champlin, “Carry On” – Thank you, Will, for giving me my first goosebumps of the evening. I’ve never seen Will commit so much of his soul to a song. He truly felt every lyric he was vocalizing, so much so that he even slowed down the tempo to allow us to hear the story being told. Will’s demeanor was upbeat and inviting for a change, hopefully resulting in some new fans after an exceptional anthemic delivery. Will continues to be the strongest, most impressive vocalist of the bunch and completely deserves to be in the finale. Maybe his diction wasn’t as perfect as it normally is, but can you blame him with such a wordy song? No matter, since Will is one of the most amazing vocalists to be discovered on a singing show. Whatever happens to Will tonight, he should be extremely proud of himself since he went from underdog to true contender despite having almost zero support from his coaches all season long. That’s what I call resilient.

Performance Review: (★★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CPs7XmmWSXM

1. Tessanne Chin, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Here comes the Grammy performance! I’m being partly sarcastic. And a brat. As much as I want to root against such a predictable closing number, it’s simply impossible when Tessanne’s vocals and emotions are so concentrated that she’s literally feeding our souls with this Simon and Garfunkel classic. Pouring warmth and pain into every lyric, Tessanne is opening her heart and showing us deep vulnerability. I almost feel like I’m intruding since this is such a personal moment for the Jamaican songstress. Judging by the reactions from the judges, studio audience and internet, this could be the performance of the season. I’m willing to bet it is.

Performance Review: (★★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-1rfHRrbuz0

Should Go Home: Cole Vosbury and James Wolpert

Will Go Home (Because America hates me and loves Blake Shelton): Will Champlin and James Wolpert

And that is it for the semifinals! It’s obvious that James Wolpert is getting the boot, but who else is joining him on the long walk home? My gut is telling me Will Champlin but I am PRAYING I am wrong and it’s the inconsistent Cole Vosbury who goes instead. Blake can’t win every year, can he? Ugh…damn cowboys. Anyways, sound off your thoughts below in our comments section. I’d love to hear everyone’s take on the remaining group of singers.