It is almost time for the semifinals on The Voice, but first a painful cut must be made: the field of artists must be reduced from eight to the final five. Here is everything you need to know about how it happened.
First up, Kat Perkins, Audra McLaughlin, Jake Worthington and Kristen Merlin take the stage to sing "Chainsaw," a recent single from Team Blake's Season 6 advisors The Band Perry. It's a rollicking rock-and-country song that gets the audience pumped up and ready for the night ahead.
After strutting their stuff, the four singers are joined onstage by the other four artists to hear the name of the first singer saved by America. Carson Daly pulls a red card from his suit pocket. To the swells of rising music and an undercurrent of tension, he announces that the country has saved... Josh Kaufman! He's not wearing his lucky hat, but Team Usher's only artist is moving on to the semifinals.
After a commercial break, Carson has a little chat with the four coaches. Not surprisingly, Adam and Shakira use the moment to lobby for their artists to remain on the show. Usher, already knowing he's got his guy in, can crow a little that Josh's Monday-night rendition of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" had reached No. 2 on the iTunes download chart. Blake takes the opportunity to needle Adam about his new platinum-blond hairdo, calling his bromance partner "Zack Morris." A little "Saved by the Bell" shout-out from the country singer.
Time for another save. The artists return to the stage and line up as Carson announces that the next artist returning for one more week is... Kristen Merlin! Hard to tell who is more excited by the news: Kristen, her family in the audience, or her coach, Shakira, who nearly flies out of her chair to give her artist a hug.
Another commercial, and then it is time for the Mother's Day Confessional, a short video of the artists, coaches and Carson thanking their moms. Carson gives such a heartfelt speech about his own mother that when the camera pulls back to reveal her standing a couple of feet away, she is crying instead of reciting the funny line she was supposed to say. It's a touching moment.
Time for another save. The music swells again as Carson announces... Christina Grimmie is headed for the semifinals! In the audience, Christina's own mom nearly breaks down as her daughter hugs her coach and high-fives the audience on her way offstage.
Christina has a minute to celebrate before she and Josh join Sisaundra Lewis and Delvin Choice for a poppy take on Disclosure's song "Latch." Then we come to the final save, when we'll find out the fourth artist to stay and the four contestants who will have to sing for their lives. The five remaining artists line up onstage while Carson pulls out his little red card one more time. And the save goes to... Jake Worthington! The teenaged country singer stays alive for one more week.
The four remaining singers take the stage for what will be the last time for three of them. Sisaundra is up first, and if she is going out, she is going out big by singing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." A little Aretha Franklin to get the voters juiced. Sisaundra has such power that none of the coaches, particularly Blake Shelton, can believe she's up onstage singing for one more chance. And yet, there she is.
Next up is Audra, who must have been inspired by taking part in the group performance of "Chainsaw" earlier, because she has chosen another song by The Band Perry. "Done" is another rock-and-country tune, which is out of Audra's normal wheelhouse, but you wouldn't know it from her performance. As Shakira notes afterwards, Audra shows off an attitude and a ferocity we have not seen from her before. The big question is, will the Twitter fans reward her?
Kat Perkins is next. Having dipped into the Heart catalogue two weeks ago to sing "Magic Man," she goes back to the well and sings "Barracuda." Hey, it worked before. Like always, Kat works the stage, showing a lot of attitude. Usher in particular is blown away. Adam, of course, wants to make good on his promise that she would be the first artist in the history of The Voice to finish in the bottom three one week and NOT go home the next. We will see.
Finally we're down to Delvin and his rendition of Bruno Mars' "Young Girls." Afterwards, Adam tells the audience to save him because "no one on Earth, no one in this galaxy or any other galaxy" sounds like Delvin Choice. Hard to be a coach with two singers in this position, knowing that no matter what, you will be saying goodbye to at least one of them. Adam is doing his best.
The four artists come back onstage while Carson announces the beginning of the brief instant save window before going to commercial. The onscreen graph tells us how the voting is going while we wait to come back. It's close, the closest of any instant save so far. Definitely nail-biting time for the artists and their fans.
We come back, and Carson gives Blake and Adam a chance to say some final words of encouragement to their artists. The artists hold hands as Carson reads off the name of the artist instantly saved by America. It's Kat Perkins! The tiny rocker leaps into the arms of her teammate, Delvin, who will be going home. It's a bittersweet moment for Team Adam and a disappointing one for Team Blake, which just lost two of its three members. There can only be one winner.
Next week, the five remaining singers perform again to advance to the finals and their chance at being named The Voice!
The vote results are revealed and America instantly saves one artist as the field is cut from eight to five singers.