We Spoke With the Departed: "I believe I did justice to that song" ... "I missed a couple of notes, but I did my best"
Continuing a habit of toying with their rules as they progress through a season, two singers were sent home Monday from "The Voice" in an "instant elimination" at the conclusion of the two-hour show. Two more will be sent packing tonight.
Christina Aguilera gave an extended, lugubrious speech about the impossibility of the task at hand before eliminating the singer who, just two weeks ago, was deemed the singer to beat in the competition, Jesse Campbell. Reading between Aguilera's lines, she seemed to be saying the other three contestants have shown more growth and have more development potential than the silky smooth 42-year-old Campbell.
With Xtina eating up so much of the clock, Blake Shelton barely had time to explain his decision, opting to go with an easy explanation -- last one in is the first one out, Jordis Unga.
Backstage after the show Unga felt she understood Shelton's decision, telling one reporter after another that she saw it coming -- every singer did well, so there was no reason for their coach to cast off one of the three singers America voted onto the team two weeks ago.
"I believe I did justice to that song," she said of Sara Evans' "A Little Bit Stronger." "I think Blake feels that way. The goal was to tell that story. I felt it."
Campbell was more shocked at Aguilera's choice, but took it in stride. "She was talking about growth and abilities so I was surprised when she said my name," he said. "But I wasn't thinking about anything else -- I try to live in the moment. My concern was to call my daughter because she takes news like this very hard."
Beyond the eight contestants' performances, the evening included Maroon 5 performing their new single "Payphone" with Wiz Khalifa, Shelton and his team doing the Eagles' hit "Heartache Tonight" and Aguilera taking her singers through a wildly choreographed take on her "Fighter."
Much of the coaches' commentary focused on the singers' ability to connect emotionally with the material they sang. We got each singer's opinion on their connections with the songs they sang Monday.
Jordis Unga (Sara Evans' "A Little Bit Stronger")
"It was about the lyric and I do feel stronger than when I started. The fact that the judges,especially Adam, praised me for selling that lyric shows that (it worked). I'm really proud of what I did."
Jermaine Paul (Phil Collins' "Against All Odds")
"I am so happy we had a run through. If you saw it, you would have seen me lose it. I was an emotional wreck -- I had a meltdown and couldn't even get through it. I was glad I had a chance to go over it and then control how I felt. I kind of knew what was coming. The song itself just reminds me of my family and everything we've been through -- I'm getting emotional talking abut it now -- just everything. Our struggle."
Erin Willett (Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain")
"You want people to feel what you're feeling. I wanted to be simple, have the song taken down a little bit at the beginning because I wanted all those lyrics to come through. I wanted the audience to see the rage in my eyes when I came forward. I think it's important to be an emotionally raw person in the music industry and that's why Adele is so successful."
RaeLynn (Jason Aldean's "Country Girl")
"I love the whole idea that you're in charge, you're a girl, you can take a man's song and make it girlie. I like that whole vibe and I like that girls can be as bad-ass as boys."
Jesse Campbell (Beyonce's "Halo")
"As I studied the song I began to develop the meaning and it really resulted in my understanding that my daughter was my saving grace. I suggested (using his daughter's photos as set pieces). I gave them the pictures so it would assist in presenting the message that there are great single men who are exceptional dads. I believe it was conveyed tonight. I got a little emotional, missed a couple of notes, but I did my best."
Lindsey Pavao (Katy Perry's "Part of Me")
"Lyrically I connected with it. Musically I had some qualms with it that I wanted to change. Being here, you feel yourself being pulled in so many directions. Because you're being watched by millions of people and they're tearing you apart - the image, they say things about your legs or that you look like a robot zombie. I just wanted to do a something that said 'this is who I am, this is my identity. I'm not going to be pulled in (another ) direction.' That was where I was coming from. And I wanted people to know I'm happy to show a smile. A big part was pulling my hair back so no one can say I'm looking gloomy."
Chris Mann (Coldplay's "Viva la Vida")
"Learning that we were singing for our lives I was definitely nervous. It heightened my performance for sure. I felt this showed how I can do a pop song so I was surprised when Adam said (I should sing opera). I have no problem being put in a box, I just want to expand the size of the box. If I go through to next week, I have to speak with Christina - do I got current or classic? I don't know the answer to that right now. I am happy to be able to do both."
Ashley De La Rosa (Jewel's "Foolish Games")
"A song like this is really emotional to me. I've never been in a relationship like this, with devastating heartbreak. At the end of the song I got emotional when I looked out in the crowd and I saw the four coaches and I thought this could be my last performance on the stage. That really made me get emotional."
- Reality Check