And here they come down the home stretch: Will Champlin, James Wolpert, Tessanne Chin, Cole Vosbury and Jacquie Lee have all run an amazing race. Their personal lives have been upended; they've endured a painful and public reckoning each week in the form of votes and Twitter saves, and now each must give yet another above-and-beyond performance in order to survive. The artists are beyond exhausted; many are battling colds and worse. Tonight, they'll be fueled by pure adrenaline and the prospect of a trip to The Voice finals. Carson Daly welcomes us aboard and quickly tosses it to the assembled semifinalists at the stage for an autobiographical group number, a cover of American Authors' "Best Day of My Life."
We check in on the night's first solo performer, James Wolpert. His coach, Adam Levine, invites James and his teammates Tessanne and Will to his home for breakfast and talk about the push to the finale. They all know there's no second chances now - and that they'll each have to dedicate themselves completely to their songs. And everyone agrees James has a perfect song to showcase his voice. Back at the stage, the lights dim as Paul Mirkovich and The Voice band kick into the intro to U2's "With or Without You." James shapes the melody and decorates the song in his powerful yet vulnerable sound. As dry ice fog blankets the stage, James takes his performance home, bringing a roaring crowd to its feet.
We return from commercial break to find last season's winner, Danielle Bradbery, in the audience. Carson reveals that she'll be back tomorrow night to perform, along with a slew of other Voice alumni. We head back to the stage where Will Champlin tackles Fun.'s "Carry On." It's another powerhouse presentation; there's no question Will deserves to be here tonight.
Carson's up in the Sprint Skybox with Ben Folds, Nick Lachey, Shawn Stockman and Jewel from NBC's "The Sing-Off." They're on hand to celebrate the return of their a cappella competition show (which immediately follows tonight's episode of The Voice). Carson reminds folks to submit their impressions of coaches, artists and even him for an upcoming promotion to run in finale week. We shoot back to the stage and find high school student Jacquie Lee in an evening dress surrounded by glowing candles as she delivers a beautiful take on Sarah McLachlan's Angel." It's an apt fit for the teenager with the easy smile and oversized voice. Xtina is taken in by her artist's command and ability to connect with the song; she declares it Jacquie best performance ever. CeeLo agrees, calling it "amazing and wonderful."
We focus on Cole Vosbury next. The hirsute singer never really expected to get this deep, but there's no question he's in it to win it now. As his coach, Blake Shelton, explains, it just takes one performer - and Cole could be it. He takes Cole to a barber shop for a trim and a pep talk; he brings in CeeLo to add even more moral support. Back at stage, Cole sits at a black piano and surrounded by a country-inflected band (think pedal steel), Cole knocks out an original take on Billy Joel's "Shameless." The song, recorded by both Billy Joel and Garth Brooks, is timeless in Cole's hands. The audience sings and sways to the music. Coach Blake is excited as hell by what he hears.
And the night's final performance is upon us. Tessanne Chin tells us more about what The Voice has meant to her and her family - and what a victory would mean to her. She stands as a fog-shrouded stage and springs into Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The haunting, beautiful melody is a perfect springboard for Tessanne's gargantuan voice. As the song builds to an ever-increasingly powerful ending, Tessanne pulls out all the stops, sending chills through the spines of everyone in the audience. It's another tour de force and the audience simply won’t stop cheering. Adam is speechless, eventually calling it the "most flawless performance he's ever seen on the show."
Carson hops back to center stage to remind folks that voting is now officially open. In 24 hours, two of tonight's amazing singers will be headed home. A brutal reality to be sure, but that's also what makes The Voice The Voice: when it comes to the finals, only the best are left.
The remaining five artists must give their best performances yet for your votes - and a spot in the finals.