millions of viewers watching The Voice
experienced a collective shock in the episode's last minutes. Coaches Christina and Blake were tasked with choosing one of their four contestants to be eliminated immediately. The clock was ticking and host Carson Daly had to rush the coaches into the surprise twist elimination, creating a sense of urgency in the show's final moments. After an incredibly lengthy prologue (giving Blake no time to justify his decision), Christina Aguilera unceremoniously said "Jesse Campbell" and the room went silent in disbelief.
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According to Carson
, everyone in the audience was stunned after Christina uttered the name of her strongest singer. The host even likened it to the end of The Sopranos
and said he failed to remember the last 30 seconds of the show, that's how strong his reaction was to Christina's decision. Jesse Campbell
has been a frontrunner from day one, being one of the few artists to get all four coaches to turn their chairs in the blind auditions. Since then, he has given consistently solid performances and last night he gave a particularly heart-wrenching rendition of Beyonce's "Halo" in dedication to his daughter. As a 42-year-old single father, Campbell also has the tender underdog story to add an emotional appeal to his clear, soaring vocal abilities. Also an incredibly grateful, humble individual, he seemed to have all the makings of a contender for the ultimate winner.
Christina prefaced her elimination by saying people would be upset with her no matter who she chose. While this may be true, it's evident she eliminated a singer with considerable support, thereby upsetting many, many fans. Some could argue Ashley De La Rosa
, the 18-year-old singer who has only recently come out of her shell in the past couple weeks, should have gone over Campbell. Her tougher take on Jewel's "Foolish Games" last night was her best yet, but should someone who's improved remarkably be given precedence over someone who has shined consistently from the beginning? I'm willing to bet most would say no.
And then there's Chris Mann
, the token opera singer in the competition. Yes, he has a classically trained, impressive operatic voice, but it's a specific genre we've seen and Christina was right to push him outside that label this week when he sang Coldplay's "Viva La Vida." Unfortunately, he didn't excel the same way he does with an opera song. You could definitely argue Mann has met his potential on the show, and with nowhere to go outside his opera expertise, he doesn't have what it takes to be proclaimed 'The Voice' at the end of the day. My vote? Mann should have gone before Campbell. While you can argue De La Rosa could possibly supersede Campbell in the final weeks if she continues on her self-improving streak, I think Mann has hit the end of the road as far as this show is concerned.
But here's Christina's reasoning: she wants a final artist who has shown growth on the show and has room to grow even further. She wants someone she as a mentor and coach can mold and develop so that at the end of the competition she can proudly say "I helped create that artist" -- and hopefully that person will be better than the other teams' finalists. Clearly, by Christina's estimation, this show is not solely about the voice. If it were, she wouldn't have chosen Campbell to go home last night. For her, it seems to be about who can be shaped into a star - who is that diamond in the rough whose transformation will win over America? And from this perspective, I don't think Christina's choice was unfounded. Jesse Campbell, while having the best voice, probably can't be helped much more by Christina. He is the best he can be - which is a singer of the highest caliber - but probably won't get any better.
But is Christina's approach the right one? Last year's winner Javier Colon was probably the best singer in the competition, with a widely appealing voice not unlike Campbell's. I don't think he was the most improved singer; I think he just had the best voice. The runner-up, Dia Frampton, was someone who blossomed a bit due to the coaching and confidence-boosting elements of the show. But still, both singers started out strong and while they may have improved in subtle ways, they were ultimately in the finale because of their innate talents. Maybe if Christina can take someone like Ashley De La Rosa or fan favorite Lindsey Pavao
(who still seems too shy for the spotlight) and magically change them into a star, she'll have the winner. But I still think she should have kept Jesse Campbell for another week, just in case that lofty plan doesn't work out.
What do you all think? Did Christina send home her best singer? Was her reasoning sound? Is The Voice more about growth than it is about pure vocal ability?
Lastly, as a good-bye to Jesse Campbell, watch his final performance:
(Image courtesy of NBC)