'The Voice' recap: Justin Bieber appears as 2 go home
The untold number of Justin Bieber fans who tuned in to see their idol appear to introduce what turned out to be only a brief clip of his forthcoming video, "Boyfriend," may not have noticed, but two more contestants were sent home on "The Voice" on Tuesday night, leaving Teams Blake and Christina with just two contestants apiece as they head into the semifinals in two weeks.
(Don't despair, Beliebers. Your heartthrob, whose new album will be released June 19, will return to perform "Boyfriend" – and perhaps make more confusing chit-chat with the coaches – on "The Voice's" finale, which is only three weeks away.)
But somewhere between the high-pitched, lovelorn screams of Bieber devotees and fans of the Wanted, which performed live on Tuesday's show, "The Voice" got down to the at times tearful business of narrowing the playing field.
Of course, "Voice" fans may still have been reeling from the previous night's jarring instant eliminations, in which coaches Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton each sent one contestant home, without any post-performance input from "Voice" voters. Aguilera, in particular, had startled viewers and stirred up controversy by eliminating a perceived frontrunner, Jesse Campbell. Her decision apparently surprised her fellow coaches, as well.
"I was really shocked, and I'm not easily shocked," Adam Levine said, noting, however, that it was Aguilera's decision to make.
"I am no stranger to controversy and I am OK with that," Aguilera reminded viewers, saying she had a strategy, had thought long and hard, and had, ultimately, followed her heart. "I am fearless in the face of what I believe," she added, before directing attention to her remaining team members, looking frightened as they clumped together on the stage.
Ashley De La Rosa, Chris Mann and Lindsey Pavao: One of them would be saved by the fan votes. The other two members of Team Christina would compete for Aguilera's save.
Classically trained opera singer Chris Mann got voter save, leaving De La Rosa, Pavao and Aguilera all looking unhappy.
America voted to save ... former Alicia Keys backup singer Jermaine Paul. That meant Shelton would have to choose between Willett and RaeLynn. He had a special bond with each of them. How would he choose?
De La Rosa performed Lady Gaga's "You and I" and was met with overall praise from Aguilera's fellow coaches. Levine said that De La Rosa had made him a believer and, though he didn't think her Last Chance song was her best performance, he'd keep her around. Shelton agreed, saying she'd won him over as well and that, while it was a bit premature to say without yet seeing Pavao's performance, "If I had a choice to buy Lindsey's record or Ashley's, I think I'd go buy Ashley's. I really would."
The coaches' words or perhaps just the sense that it could all soon come to an end seemed to take a toll on Pavao, who broke down at the end of her transfixing whisper-sung Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go," leaving Aguilera, too, in tears. Cee Lo Green called Pavao's performance "wonderful" and "endearing" but seemed to suggest she was sunk, saying, "Good luck to you, darling." Shelton lauded the "mysterious" quality in Pavao's voice, but then said, "I think I've still got to stick with what I said before."
And after the Justin Bieber screams died down, a damp-eyed Aguilera delivered her verdict. She praised Pavao's vulnerability and revealed that she had a "special connection" to her voice. She hailed De La Rosa for her dynamic performance style and rapid growth. "You both are complete superstars," she told them, but, again trusting her heart, she said, "I have to go with Lindsey."
"Ashley De La Rosa, so sorry to see you go," host Carson Daly said, as Aguilera rushed the stage to shower De La Rosa, as she was uttering her thanks, in hugs and kisses and repeated declarations that she was "amazing."
And what of Shelton's tough call? After yet another reminder of how bonded the country-star coach is to his team – he brought them each up to sing with him during a recent concert, and they, in turn, serenaded him with a surprise song – his bottom two remaining contestants took the stage to test his love.
Willett, whom he had supported when her father died during Battle Rounds, sang a powerful "Proud Mary." "I loved your spirit and I loved your energy," Aguilera said.
RaeLynn, the teen country spitfire, tackled "If I Die Young" by the Band Perry. Levine offered modest praise, questioning the song choice and some of RaeLynn's vocal habits, but praising her command. "The song doesn't play you," he said. "You play the song."
And Blake? After expressing his love and admiration for both and declaring that making the decision was "way rougher" than he'd imagined it would be, he finally, as the credits rolled and the seconds evaporated, offered a name: Willett would be saved. Country cutie RaeLynn would stomp off to whatever came next for her.
That means, advancing to the semifinals will be …
Team Christina: Chris Mann and Lindsey Pavao.
Team Blake: Jermaine Paul and Erin Willett.
Do you think America and the judges made the right call?
"American Idol" vs. "The Voice"
Each week our experts and readers rank the best of the best between the two blockbuster singing competitions. Last week, after nearly 50,000 votes, readers ranked "Idol's" Jessica Sanchez first with 43% of the vote.
Who will come out on top this week? So far "The Voice's" Jesse Campbell, sent packing by his mentor Christina Aguilera on Monday night, is far out in front. Use the poll below to vote. Check out last week's performances and see what our judges had to say at latimes.com/idol-voice.
— Amy Reiter