Last season, The Voice implemented a new
gimmick twist called the “Coach Comeback,” which allowed (well, actually, forced) each coach to invite a previously eliminated contestant to compete in the Live Playoffs. Some fans cried foul at the time, arguing that this wasn’t fair to the 20 contestants who’d made it through all three taped rounds (the Blinds, the Battles, and the Knockouts) fair and square. But then none of the Comeback picks made it through to last season’s top 12 anyway, so it was a moot point.
This season, things have panned out differently. On Wednesday’s first live results show of Season 10, there were many shockers – and I’m not even referring to the fact that The Voice gave long-neglected Season 1 winner Javier Colon some actual screentime AND referred to him as “Voice royalty!” (Unfortunately, Javier was then pushed aside, after getting about 20 seconds to plug his new album, so that reigning Voice king Jordan Smith could perform.)
(photos courtesy of NBC)
But I digress. My point is, two of this season’s last-minute Comeback artists shockingly made it through to the top 12 this Wednesday, via the public vote – effectively stealing those spots from contestants who at one time had seemed like frontrunners. Judging from my Twitter feed, Voice fans were not amused. And clearly even less thrilled were the members of Team Xtina, the talent-packed team most adversely affected by this Coach Comeback stunt.
Christina Aguilera had already built a formidable team before she brought back Nick Hagelin (an ex-Team Pharrell contestant) for Monday’s Playoffs; she definitely did not need him diluting her ranks. It’s not that Nick didn’t deserve a second chance at some screentime (he actually should have won his Knockout Round a couple weeks ago), but did he deserve to get more votes than Bryan Bautista, Tamar Davis, Kata Hay, and Ryan Quinn? That’s definitely up for debate. But that’s exactly what happened. (Side note: Not all of Wednesday’s results were shocking. Of course golden girl Alisan Porter survived.)
Yes, Christina made the right choice by saving the phenomenal Bryan (each coach got to pick one contestant to join the top two voter-getters, per team). But I would have never expected someone like Ryan to go home this soon. I don’t think Christina expected it either, judging by how she hemmed and hawed and stalled and agonized while making her on-air decision.
Team Pharrell’s results also featured a Comeback curveball. Obviously, it was no shock that pre-school-teaching powerhouse Hannah Huston made it through via America’s vote, but it was surprising was that Daniel Passino – a Coach Comeback pick and former Team Xtina contestant who sang first Tuesday, in the “death spot” – was also voted through. I had assumed that Daniel was fodder, and thought Emily Keener (whom Pharrell later saved), Moushimi, or especially Caity Peters had a better shot.
(Team Pharrell’s final three)
Team Adam’s Comeback pick, the fodder-y Nate Butler, did not survive the vote (thank gawd), and pint-sized powerhouse Shalyah Fearing prevailed, as expected. But when hairy blues-rocker Laith Al-Saadi got through, that was another Wednesday surprise – at least to Adam Levine, whose eyebrows shot right up to his hairline upon hearing Carson Daly announce the news. (Later, when deciding which contestant to save, Adam even stopped himself mid-sentence as he blurted out, “I hadn’t expected…”) It’s not that Laith did a bad job this week; on the contrary, his “With a Little Help From My Friends” was one of Tuesday’s standout performances. But I don’t think Adam ever thought he’d be in the position of having to choose to save either Owen Danoff or Caroline Burns. Adam made the right call; this season just would not be the same without Owen, and Adam realized that. But it was a shame to say goodbye to sweet Caroline, just as she was coming into her own.
After all those wackadoodle results, allow me to gloat a bit and point out that I predicted Team Blake’s results with 100 percent accuracy. Of course, everyone probably assumed that Adam Wakefield and Mary Sarah would dominate the votes, but it seems some of you Twitter-ers out there are shocked that Blake Shelton saved Paxton Ingram, when he could have predictably stuck with (admittedly worthy) country contestants like Katie Basden and Justin Whisnant. But I’m not surprised, nor am I displeased. I’m delighted that Blake saved a dynamic showman like Paxton. With a top 12 featuring some inconsistent and/or downright boring performers, we are going to need Paxton’s energy this season.
So to recap, Team Xtina now consists of Alisan Porter, Nick Hagelin, and Bryan Bautista. (I would have swapped Nick for Ryan Quinn or Kata Hay.) Team Pharrell has Hannah Huston, Daniel Passino, and Emily Keener. (I would have replaced Daniel with Caity Peters.) Team Adam has Shalyah Fearing, Laith Al-Saadi, and Owen Danoff. (I’m OK with this result, although Caroline Burns would have been an acceptable alternative to Laith.) And Team Blake comprises Adam Wakefield, Mary Sarah, and Paxton Ingram. (I’m totally on board with this particular lineup.)
(This season’s newly announced top 12)
Obviously, this isn’t exactly the final dozen I’d envisioned (or that maybe the coaches envisioned). And I am still not convinced that this won’t be the dullest Voice season ever, though I remain cautiously optimistic. Can Season 10 come back from the Comebacks? Watch this space, when the top 12 compete next Monday.