It was a night of firsts on Tuesday's "The Voice" results show, the all-important episode that determined the top three advancing to next week's Season 6 grand finale.
First, Team Blake's Jake Worthington made "Voice" history, as the first previously rejected contestant to make it all the way to the finale. (He didn't get a single chair to turn around when he first auditioned in Season 5.)
Then Team Usher's Josh Kaufman, who was originally coached by Adam Levine before a switch-up in this season's Battle Rounds, became the first stolen "Voice" contestant to get to the finals after starting on one team and ending up on another. (Yes, Season 5 finalist Will Champlin was a stolen contestant, but after being stolen twice, he ended up back with his original coach for the long haul.)
And for a moment, it seemed like "Voice" history would be made again by Kristen Merlin, who was on the cusp of becoming the first severely montaged contestant to make it to the top three, not to mention the first singer to represent Team Shakira in the finals. Kristen had charted at No. 6 this week with "Foolish Games," meaning she got the iTunes bonus, so things were looking good for her.
But then… there was an Instant Save sing-off. And we all knew how this would pan out.
"The Voice" changes its rules as often as CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera used to change wigs, so of course Carson Daly didn't adequately explain (or really explain at all) why there was still an Instant Save this late in the game. Last year's Cole Vosbury didn't have a chance to get saved last season, when he was cut one week before his finale. But then again, Cole didn't have more than half a million followers on Twitter — unlike this season's golden child/chosen one, YouTube sensation Christina Grimmie.
You see, with the Instant Save being entirely decided by Twitter votes (and with Kristen and the other singer in the bottom three, Kat Perkins, each having less than one-tenth the number of followers that Team Adam's Christina has), it was pretty much a done deal who'd be moving on to the top three. Kristen and Kat tried their hardest, respectively belting Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" and "Good Girl," and their fans hashtagged their hearts out. But they didn't stand a chance against the 500,000-strong Grimmie Army — not even Kristen, with Shakira's 25 million Twitter followers in her corner.
This is not to say that Christina is an undeserving finalist. Not at all. Her Tuesday sing-off performance of OneRepublic's "Apologize" was impressive. (SIDE NOTE: How come Christina was the only one who didn't sing an Underwood song this evening?) And she has delivered some of the best performances of Season 6. Christina could still win this whole show, fair and square — without any producer intervention.
But, still. I couldn't help wondering, if Tuesday's outcome had come down to just traditional votes and downloads (the way it's usually been done at this point in the competition), would things have turned out very differently? Eh, probably. Remember that semifinals night in Season 2, when Katrina Parker technically won the popular vote, but due to some weird (now-defunct) scoring loophole involving a needlessly complicated sliding points scale, she lost her spot in the finale to Tony Lucca? Well, I was getting vague flashbacks to that incident, watching Christina beat Kristen.
But anyway, now we are down to three very worthy contenders: Jake, Josh, and Christina. And wherever these three place next week, whoever wins, there's no doubt that "The Voice" can launch these artists' careers. Evidence: Last season's top three — reigning champ Tessanne Chin, runner-up Jacquie Lee, and Will Champlin — all returned to the show this Tuesday to perform their new singles, and they'll be joining Josh, Jake, Christina, and Season 1's Dia Frampton on this summer's Voice Live tour.
And hey, one "Voice" fan favorite will be added to that tour's lineup as a bonus performer… so maybe all hope's not lost for Kristen and Kat just yet.