The Voice Recap: Too Close to Call

Paxton Ingram. Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC
The Voice
The Voice
Episode Title
Live Top 9 Eliminations
Editor’s Rating

Well, wasn’t that a pleasant little variety show! I laughed. I cried. I was anxious. In that way, it was very similar to every other day of my life.

We begin our night with a ritual check-in, where Carson Daly asks the judges non-questions and then the judges do not answer them. I have come to look forward to these quiet moments. It is so rare that Adam Levine and I get to spend quality time together anymore. “What has working with Hannah been like?” Carson asks Pharrell, but lo, Pharrell cannot hear him. It feels symbolic, somehow, like something in a Kafka story.

On that note, Carson says it’s time to get to “the important stuff,” just as soon as we have a heart-to-heart with country cupcake Mary Sarah about being popular on Twitter. While we are on the subject of Mary Sarah’s Twitter, I’ve recently done some reconnaissance, and I can now say with confidence that Mary Sarah owns “1215 pairs of boots.” How many pairs of boots do you own? I would say that I have zero to two pairs of boots.

At last, a result! America saved — wait for it — Hannah Huston! Well-deserved and thank God, I say. Hannah looks profoundly relieved, or like she has been hit by a truck. It is hard to tell with Hannah. That is what I love about her.

Next, special musical guest James Bay sings his worldwide hit, “Let It Go.” I would say that it is very long. “Why are we doing it, doing it, doing it anymore?” he drones, and in truth, I cannot tell him. Why does Christina have barbed wire in her hair? Why can no one hear Carson Daly when he screams? Everyone troops back on stage for more judgments, and thus ends our collective existential crisis.

And we’re going two at a time now! Personally, I was hoping we were going to have eight long marches on and off the stage, but I understand The Voice is about compromise. This time, the winners are … Bryan Bautista and … Adam Wakefield! Everything is working out exactly as it is supposed to! It is almost enough to give one faith in the democratic process.

To spice things up, Andy Samberg’s pop icon alter ego “Conner4Real” descends to give the artists some advice about artistry, and also to promote the Lonely Island’s upcoming masterpiece, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. This is followed by an elaborate performance of Conner’s hit single, “I’m So Humble” (ft. Adam Levine). It is funny, I think! The trick is that you have to surrender to it.

More news! When he is not rehearsing, Paxton Ingram prefers to hang out with his best The Voice friends, Alisan, Nick, Bryan, and Hannah! Alisan loves being a working mom! Also, America saved Laith Al-Saadi and Mary Sarah! There is nothing surprising about any of this, but I am glad Paxton and Hannah are friends.

There are now but four contestants remaining: Two of them are about to be saved by their countrymen, and the other two will be abandoned in a distant field to be devoured by the wolves. First, though, Carson has Nick Hagelin give a remarkably thoughtful speech about how The Voice has taught him to integrate his family life and his career. It really is getting hard to resist the charms of Nick Hagelin! I would say that I am a fan, except when he is singing.

The moment has arrived. Carson Daly is going to call two names now. Are you holding your breath? I hope not. I tried, but I could not do it. Anyway, America voted to save Alisan Porter and (keep breathing) Shalyah Fearing! I also would like to note that I really love Shalyah’s ensemble tonight. It looks a little bit like she is in the chorus of Pippin, but like, in a really tasteful way.

Carson reiterates that this means Nick and Paxton had the lowest number of votes, because America did not like them. Why is he being such a bully, do you think? I think it has to do with childhood.

In a final bid to prove his worth to America, Paxton takes the stage first with a slow, soulful rendition of “How Will I Know,” by his old standby Whitney Houston, and it is lovely, in a rich, mournful way. “Dude, that was the way that you sing to save yourself!” cheers Pharrell. “You sang with zero fear.” “Every time, you take a song and you honor the original artist, but you also make it your own,” says Blake, quoting himself.

Then Nick Hagelin croons Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” and the most notable thing about this performance is his medieval tunic. Don’t you think he looks very knightly in it? Christina tells him that his “soul shines so bright,” and Pharrell observes that America loves his family.

Twitter is really conflicted about this one! I did not see this coming, but they are locked at 50/50. It is very exciting! Also, what is wrong with America? That is perhaps a larger question we can discuss another time. Nick and Paxton clutch each other for the verdict. They are both so good at being on reality television! And the winner is Paxton Ingram, by less than 100 votes! Whatever. As I always say, it doesn’t matter how much you win by, as long Carson Daly says you won. And with that, graceful Nick is sent back to the Kingdom of Flower Crowns from whence he came.

Next week: the semi-finals, when we will cull our field from eight to four! I ask you: Who are your picks for the top? If Carson Daly falls in the forest, does he make a sound?