There were nine little monkeys (artists) jumping on the bed (The Voice season 9 semifinals). By this time next week, there will be not just one little monkey crying on the floor, but five. The votes for these nine performances determine which five artists will be demoted to back-up singer status for the finale, and which four will remain to compete for the title. The semifinals is the Most. Brutal. Event. Of the season. Period.

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We’re Live Blogging During the Performances

You’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but we are live here at BuddyTV during the two-hour semifinals of The Voice. Refresh your browser often, leave comments below, bla bla bla. In the interest of keeping things moving in a timely manner, this blog will likely be plagued by typos, inappropriate punctuation and misspellings. Rest assured that before the night is over, the editing fairies (including myself) will wave our magic wands and catch all those hiccups.

The Semifinals Event Has a Formula for Entertainment

At this point, America has weeded out the riffraff; all that remain are the practiced, polished and extraordinarily gifted artists. Not only are the performances supposed to be of higher quality, but the have come to fit comfortably into one of several typical categories. You have your I-Can’t-Believe-He’s-Still-Here ‘not so wunderkind’ category (Braiden Sunshine), your More-Fun-To-Look-At-Than-To-Listen-To hotties (Zach Seabaugh), your highly motivated and energetic family man/woman giving it their last shot (Barrett Baber) and a couple of adorable twangy country artists (Emily Ann Roberts and Shelby Brown) who should already be on the radio even though they may not take home the golden statue. 

Next up are the deliciously unique, visually beautiful and pleasurably mesmerizing artists (have I gone too far?) who make watching The Voice worthwhile (Amy Vachal and Madi Davis). That leaves the frontrunners (Jeffery Austin and Jordan Smith), out of which everyone expects a winner to emerge. Now, these final four — Amy, Madi, Jeffery and Jordan — could honestly switch places between now and the final curtain as a result of a break-out performance in the semifinals. That’s what makes it interesting. 

As it stands, tenured coaches Blake and Adam still have three artist each. And the other coaches, Pharrell and Gwen, are down to two and one artist, respectively. By the end of the semifinals, the entire ballgame may shift like tectonic plates.

And We’re Off to the Races with Celebs on the Schedule

Is that a seaweed dress Gwen’s got on? Gwen is well known for her fabulous style, so I love to giver her crap. Her hair is also entertaining. Let’s call this one ‘The Pocahontas’. Wow, there are six Grammys between the coaches? Thanks for that tidbit, Carson. I don’t watch those award shows. Too many speeches. I digress…

So, Ellie Goulding will be on The Voice during the semifinals to grace us with her new single, “On My Mind.” Apparently, Blake is going to hit the stage later to pimp his own new song, “Gonna.” Gotta make sure those Grammy winners can still put food on the table next month.

Barrett Baber Opens the Semifinals with “Ghost”

Blake reminds Barrett that this is a monumental round because he’s nervous as a coach. No worries, Blake, you have two other chances to be in the top four this season. Together, Barrett and Blake redesign Ella Henderson’s 2014 song. It just sounds like “Walking in Memphis” all over again to me. And are those cranberry-shirted zombies surrounding him there or is that my imagination? Fake fog — or whatever that stuff is called — always reminds me of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” hence the zombie concern.

Gee whiz, can the coaches blow any more sunshine up Barrett’s skirt? I know they have to remain supportive of their proteges, but the comments get more and more disingenuous as we progress.

Shelby Brown Performs “Even God Must Get the Blues”

Shelby struggles during practice with Adam. Poor kid sheds tears about her timing problems. Adam says she’s the best performer left in the competition. Of course, he’ll tell Jordan and Amy the same when it’s their turn.

Shelby is in an orange blossom sherbet pageant dress and performs with only one or two flat notes. She’s got the pipes, no doubt, but Shelby is her own enemy. She needs to believe in herself. Man, she looks like Trisha Yearwood here.

Jeffery Austin Performs “Believe”

Jeffery’s doing a Cher song. Wait, this doesn’t sound like Cher’s song at all. Jeffery’s got live people distractedly making shadows by opening doorways behind him. I’ll probably get tomatoes thrown at me, but this is not an improvement over Cher’s or any of his past performances; I don’t care what the coaches say. Jeffery drags that song all over the place. Bleh. And some of his notes are a little off. If people buy Jeffery’s cover, it will be because it’s a cool song with cool lyrics, but that is all. I do not get the allure of this man. Do we need another Sam Smith or Michael Buble?

Ellie Goulding Performs “On My Mind”

Eva Longoria and and some scrumptious dark-haired Latin man visit to pimp NBC’s Telenovela which premieres after The Voice is over.

Ellie Goulding takes the stage. Thank you, Ellie, for being a real woman in real clothing, not a twig in a high-waisted poof skirt. Good luck on your new single. It seems catchy.

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Braiden Sunshine Performs “Amazing Grace”

Oh, god. Braiden bawls through his video journal. This song choice is a clear bid for the heart-tug vote. It’s feeling way too cliche at this point. Come on, choose a song that shows off your skills, man, not a song that everyone will buy just because they’ve liked it since Jesus was in sandals.

Braiden begins softly as his eyes glisten. Hope he doesn’t choke. This song is not a good choice to show off his best qualities. This isn’t a stretch for him and doesn’t take a step up from previous performances. The coaches talk about how much he’s grown. That’s never a good sign.

Zach Seabaugh Performs “The Climb”

Zach lets country leak into his voice for this performance and it does a lot for him. This is an excellent song in its own right. Some of those notes are way too long for such a straightforward voice, though. Zach is convincing that he’s feeling this song. This may get him into the final four, or at least the final five, so he’ll have a chance to wiggle on the stage one more time. He’s not as strong of a vocalist as Jeffery Austin. So far in this live show, no one has stood out miles above the others, but we’ve still got Emily Ann Roberts, Jordan Smith, Amy Vachal and Madi Davis to see. No doubt one of these will blow the others out of the water.

Madi Davis Performs “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

Madi is coming off of being #4 on the iTunes most popular recordings list. She loves this song because it makes her happy. If Amy can do the soft tinkling crooners, then Madi has permission to do one as well. It’s a precious performance. Madi is Cinderella washing out the laundry with the birds singing over her head. Sweet. It does show off the uniqueness, versatility and range of Madi’s voice. She is going head to head with Amy’s sweetness. But is this the kind of song people will vote for? Coming back after watching Amy, I say Madi is the clear winner this time.

Coach Blake Shelton Performs “Gonna”

Blake takes the stage with his gee-tar and a crew of practiced band members surrounding him. My research says that this song isn’t all that new in chart terms since it debuted in August as the fourth single from his album Bringing Back the Sunshine. It has an upbeat rhythm and a mouthful of Main Street country on every beat.

Of course, all I can think about as I watch Blake’s eyes is whether or not he’s staring straight at Gwen as he sings, “I’m working on a long term plan, gonna be your man, gonna put a little rock steady on your hand…” Blake does a great job of making eye contact with the audience regardless and the camera naturally pans over to Gwen. What? Are they thinking there will be a proposal right here on live television?

Emily Ann Roberts Performs “9 to 5”

Apparently, Brad Paisley says Emily Ann reminds him of a young Dolly Parton in the way that she mixes country and bluegrass. She’s dang adorable in that black and white flirty outfit. She’s definitely got a voice that is sweet as hot apple pie and technically nearly perfect, but most of the time her eyes look like she’s too busy thinking about the words to be really expressive. I agree with Gwen that we need to see more of Emily Ann’s crazy spunky side — both vocally and as part of her stage persona. Blake says she’s spun gold, pretty much. Both coaches are not wrong.

Amy Vachal Performs “Make You Feel My Love”

Amy bawls her eyes out in her video journal. During the performance, she struggles with the emotion of the song. Either that or she’s been drugged and that’s why she’s so heavy-lidded. As for the song choice, way to ride Adele’s coattails in the break-out week of her new album, 25. There’s not a lot of power behind her voice during this performance. Something’s missing. It feels as if she knows this is the end. During the coaches’ dissection, she’s clear-eyed, so who knows what’s up with that?

Jordan Smith Performs “Somebody to Love”

Yay, Jordan is stepping it up! For the semifinals, Jordan is finally … and I mean, finally … showing us another side of himself. No more playing it safe, guys. Adam, thanks for listening to my pleas. Before the song even begins, it’s clear this is going to be the show-stopper of the evening. It’s alive, and look at that big smile on his face as he takes a breath between words. 

Man, I’m speechless throughout this entire performance. Jordan tears that concert hall apart brick by brick with his bare hands and spits the detritus back out into the audience! How can you even comment on such a glorious piece of art? He may be a humble man, but there is joy and lots of personality inside Jordan Smith, The Performer. Each verse gets better and better. People, you just have to see it for yourself. I’m speechless. The man just killed, I mean, kicked the ever-living-caca out of that song! (Yes, all those exclamation points are necessary!) It’s such an amazing celebration that Adam takes the stage and does a microphone drop.

Who Will Make It to the Finals?

Soon, we’ll have the excruciating live eliminations followed by the finale. No doubt in my mind that Jordan Smith took first (and second and third) place in the season 9 semifinals. My cheeks are still burning from the sheer fun of Jordan’s “Somebody to Love.” So unless America is totally off their rockers (or freshly recovering from a lobotomy), Jordan is clearly the frontrunner going into the finals. Who did the second best?

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The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV