After what may have been the strongest night of performances in Voice history, America had its work cut out for it. Over-the-top songs from Cole Vosbury, Jacquie Lee, Tessanne Chin, James Wolpert, Matthew Schuler and Will Champlin left the coaches speechless - and the country wracking its brains over just whom to cut. Tonight, the voting tallies will be revealed, and the bottom two artists will be brought to center stage for a final ballot, in the form of an instant Twitter save. As the crowds rush into their stadium seats in Universal Studios Stage 12, the atmosphere couldn't be more tense.
Carson greets the audience, recaps last night's blockbuster show and explains tonight's format. And straight away we're into the night's first performance, from the lovely Kelly Clarkson. In front of a riser bedecked with icicle lights and a stylized Christmas tree, the American Idol winner delivers her holiday single, "Underneath the Tree."
We return from break to check in with all four coaches. All four gush over the previous night's musical fireworks, praising every performer for taking their game to the next level. It's a perfect setup for the first group number, a three-way take on Florence + the Machine's "You've Got the Love" from Tessanne Chin, Matthew Schuler and Jacquie Lee.
We return from commercial break to Carson who reveals the name of the first artist who's headed to next week's semifinals: Jacquie Lee! The artists clear the stage, and Blake Shelton steps up with an old friend, his young singer from Season 1, Xenia. Big Country has been good to the indie singer, cutting an EP with her in 2011 and inviting her to guest sing on his Christmas album, "Cheers, It's Christmas." On a set festooned with giant snowflakes, the pair sings a holiday classic, "Silver Bells."
We return from break and get an inside look at the coaches and artists with another "confessional" taped package. This time, the singers answer questions about what they wish they knew before becoming a part of The Voice and what they might be doing if they weren't singers. We return to live action and the five remaining artists gathered at center stage. As a tense soundtrack rumbles underneath, Carson plays the tension out before revealing that Cole Vosbury is also headed for the semifinals.
Cole Vosbury, Will Champlin and James Wolpert take the stage after a commercial break. Seated in a semicircle, the three men with the distinct voices collaborate on a sweet, harmony-filled version of Extreme's "More Than Words." We head off to commercial as the stage is reset for another save announcement. Again, the remaining artists assemble in the spotlight, and Carson plays the moment for its due drama before announcing that Tessanne Chin has been saved. We head into Act 5 to find all six artists gathered onstage around a 10-foot faux tree decorated with white candy canes. Jacquie, James, Will, Tessanne, Matthew and Cole pool their considerable talents for a traditional take on "O Holy Night."
We're getting down to the wire. The remaining three artists Matthew Schuler, Will Champlin and James Wolpert stand side by side as Carson reveals the final singer who's been saved by popular vote. The last singer saved by vote is Will Champlin. Carson explains what happens next. Matthew Schuler and James Wolpert are now up for an instant save; whichever artist receives the most tweets or retweets with the appropriate hashtag in the next five minutes will still be in the competition. We head for break.
We return to center stage where Carson gets a few final thoughts from the artists and coaches before the big revelation. Both artists know they've made a name for themselves just to get this far; their coaches assure them that even if they're no longer in the competition, they'll still be in the game. And then the moment arrives. As the artists sweat and squirm in the spotlight, Carson gives an excruciating pause before delivering the final word. James Wolpert is headed for the semifinals! We bid a fond farewell to Matthew Schuler as the credits roll. Another exhausting, exhilarating results show is history. With just five artists remaining, the quest to see who will be named America's best new singer is approaching its final phase.
The results of the instant save and America's votes reveal the Top 5.