“The Voice” Semifinals: Team Cee-Lo for the Win?

Carson Daly kicked off last night’s The Voice by basically asking Cee-Lo, “Isn’t it crazy how unbeatable your team is? How do you feel about killing all the other teams and seeing if America notices? Would that just tickle you, you sassy man? Spank your own ass! You’re the winner!” Duly noted, Carson, but the elite duo of Jamar Rogers and Juliet Simms had six other singers to spar with last night. Did they conquer just as much as Carson foreshadowed? Or did Christina Aguilera — dressed like a magician’s assistant who picks up extra tips as a JonBenet Ramsey impersonator — and her team take over? I rank ’em worst to first below.

8. Erin Willett (Team Blake): David Guetta’s “Without You” (feat. Usher)

Nooooooooo! Erin Willett, my chief source of saucy hand motions, volcano goddess moans, and Mae West stank on this show, really effing blew it. She blew it big and boring. First, she picked a song by David Guetta, and that’s hurtful. Then she confused and belittled America with her veering pitch, aimless wails, and skyward stares. I dug the final note, as I usually do with her performances, but I hated her self-conscious tearfulness. I don’t care that she’s lost every member of her family, or something. I don’t even care if she killed a random family and suddenly feels bad about it. Her performance shouldn’t be crybaby pageantry, and that’s all this misfired performance amounted to. Take us to the final four, Jermaine Paul. Ugh.

Grade: C-

7. Jermaine Paul (Team Blake): Journey’s “Open Arms”

Avid readers of my verbal bile will recall that I don’t listen to Queen or Journey because they aren’t cool anymore and douchebags ruined them. If Queen and Journey collaborated on a comeback single about getting douchebags to settle down, I’d resubscribe. But “Open Arms” is a cheesy, overplayed crybaby dirge, and as usual, Jermaine Paul attacked the song with no discernible sense of identity. He took the “Livin’ on a Prayer” route and just belted for nothing or no one. And worse, he effed with the song’s chorus and tried to be creative with the phrasing. Which is such a no. I’d prefer he leave over Erin, but we know that the lady viewership eats up Jermaine like a cheap Malt-O-Meal feast.

Grade: C-

6. Chris Mann (Team Christina): “Ave Maria”

If there’s one thing we count on, it’s that Chris Mann will always be the most unintentionally hilarious contestant on The Voice. Remember when he wept because our cruel world wanted him to “shrink his voice”? I wept too. In ecstasy. And now I’m back to my lachrymose laughter again, because Chris sang “Ave Maria” like the prissiest choirboy at prep school. Which, fine. Beat us down with the Il Divo tricks. I can handle it. All I can say is Chris is the kind of singer who is so positive he’s great that all I see in his performances is showboating, manufactured emoting, and uninspired grandeur. Which isn’t to say he’s talentless, because his instrument is a big, blunt magic flute. He should really sing at some semi-popular bishop’s funeral. But he’s not who should win this competition, ultimately, and I can only conclude that Chris’ gifts are mechanically impressive, but woefully (and hysterically) shallow. I’ve posted another photo from his chilly performance below. Also: Nice fake lighters, entire audience. You’re dead to me.

Grade: C+

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