The Voice revealed its Top 12 Thursday night, thanks to America’s votes and some anguished decisions from the coaches.
Earlier in the week, the remaining five contestants from each team delivered a string of strong performances during the first live shows. The two singers from each team with the most votes would automatically advance to the next round, while the coaches had to choose to save just one of their three remaining teammates.
Blake Shelton – fresh from his Male Vocalist of the Year win at Wednesday’s CMA awards – was in the hot seat first. Host Carson Daly revealed that America had saved soulful Austin Jenckes and funky Cole Vosbury, which meant Shelton was forced to choose between pop singer Nic Hawke, powerhouse country singer Shelbie Z. and “swamp pop” artist Ray Boudreaux.
Shelton ultimately chose a relieved-looking Boudreaux, a small-town Louisiana father who boarded a plane for the first time for his Voice audition.
“There’s no science to this,” Shelton explained. “The only thing I can really do is make a call based on my gut and the person I think I can affect change with the most.”
Up next, Cee Lo Green watched as Daly announced America had saved Air Force vet/rocker Jonny Gray and ethereal New Jersey high school student Caroline Pennell. That forced the coach to choose between fellow teen singer Amber Nicole, glam rocker Kat Robichaud and gospel-influenced Tamara Chaniece, who impressed the coaches with a powerful version of “I Will Survive” earlier in the week.
“I love you all in your own equally incomparable [way],” he told the trio. “This is just one milestone achievement. Let this be the beginning of a wonderful journey to wherever your music and your heart takes you.”
In a bit of a surprise, Green chose to save Robichaud, who shares Green’s quirky stage presence.
Christina Aguilera‘s team was up next, and it was no surprise that America chose to save college student Matthew Schuler and 16-year-old Jacquie Lee, who both blew the coaches away during their live performances. That left Aguilera to choose between rocker Josh Logan, cruise ship singer Stephanie Anne Johnson and country singer Olivia Henken.
Ultimately, Aguilera chose to save a shocked-looking Logan. “I have to go where my heart is invested right now, and where I’m interested to go,” she said of her choice.
Adam Levine‘s team closed out the evening, and it was quickly revealed that former Apple store employee James Wolpert and Jamaican backup singer Tessanne Chin would advance to the next round. That forced Levine to choose between rocker Will Champlin, soul singer Preston Pohl and wedding singer Grey.
“No matter how you dice this, this is horrible,” Levine said of his impossible decision.
In the end, he saved a shocked Champlin – and even Levine admitted his choice might surprise many. “Moving forward I have to choose the person I think I have the most potential with, and that person is Will,” he explained.
The live shows continue on Monday at 8/7c on NBC.