Things were shaken up Monday night (April 16) on "The Voice" with the surprise introduction of "instant eliminations," a new rule forcing each judge to send one of their team members home at the end of the episode. The first judges forced to send one of their own packing were [artist id="509026"]Christina Aguilera[/artist] and [artist id="1164298"]Blake Shelton[/artist], whose teams took the stage Monday.
An additional member of each team will be voted off by the public on Tuesday.
Each of the superstar judges — with the notable exception of [artist id="1163841"]Cee Lo Green[/artist] — also hit the stage to perform, with Levine's band [artist id="1230385"]Maroon 5[/artist] even debuting a new song with [artist id="2427571"]Wiz Khalifa[/artist].
First to hit the stage was teenage country girl RaeLynn. Before performing, she and her coach Blake bonded over being "real country." I'm a real country artist," RaeLynn boasted, and Blake suited her up with the perfect song, hitmaker Jason Aldean's "She's Country." RaeLynn's performance of the song won over all the judges.
"Man, I'm gonna say, you make me want to sing country," Christina championed. But Blake had the biggest words of praise. "This is the most proud moment I've had of any person on my team," Blake said of RaeLynn's performance.
Next up was fan and judge favorite Jesse Campbell, who delivered an expectedly excellent rendition of Beyoncé's "Halo." More interesting, though, was Team Blake rock-belter Jordis Unga's singing of sensitive singer/songwriter Sara Evans' "Stronger." Wearing a ball gown instead of her usual leather, Unga showed off an emotional side we haven't seen so far in the competition.
Christina and her team then went out on a fieldtrip to Los Angeles' Crenshaw High School for a little bit of giving back to the school's choir, which has done its share of community service, and giving them a chance to perform Christina's hit "Fighter" with Team Xtina and the diva herself. The performance itself was pretty wild. Christina entered in a country-western bustiatard (our new term for when you combine a bustier and a leotard) before the rest of her team and the Crenshaw choir joined her onstage. Of course, she sent her sexy, cowboy-hat-wearing man-candy dancers straight over to Blake, who's been complaining about the abundance of guy flesh during performances in the last few episodes. There was smoke and flashing lights. The whole thing was just as over-the-top as anyone could hope for.
In a complete change of pace, Team Xtina's Ashley De La Rosa performed earlier-in-the-season mentor Jewel's "Foolish Games" reimagined as an alt-rock song. The judges all applauded Christina's decision earlier to save De La Rosa from elimination, saying that all her best virtues as a performer shone through in her performance.
It was a big night for the judges taking the stage, but Levine one-upped Aguilera by premiering a new song — Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa's "Payfone." An upbeat pop number with catchy lyrics, a SoCal feel and a guest rap from Khalifa, the song is sure hit, just like the band's last "Voice"-premiered jam "Moves Like Jagger" featuring fellow judge Aguilera.
The show must not have gotten our memo last week about backing off the Adele numbers and featured yet another, this time "Set Fire to the Rain," from Team Blake's Erin Willett." Blake rationalized that Willett was an exception because he felt she was the "only person in the competition who could really do it justice"
Team Christina's Lindsey Pavao (who apparently is the show's most-downloaded singer on iTunes) went big at first, planning a medley of Rihanna's pop bangers "S&M" and "We Found Love" but was intimidated by how far the music was outside her comfort zone, so she backed down into a slowed-down take on Katy Perry's "Part of Me" that better suited her unique voice (but was also a super safe choice).
(Cee Lo had a bit of gaffe here, admitting that he'd never heard Perry's song.)
Ever-reliable, Shelton picked "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles for his team's joint performance, and they blew everyone away. Opening with the team seated on sound equipment and showcasing everyone perfectly, the simple performance was the polar opposite of Team Christina's earlier in the night.
Blake and Christina are the yin and yang of "The Voice," but that's part of what makes the show so much fun.
Blake was effusive with praise for his next team member to step into the ring, Jermaine Paul singing "Look at Me Now," and the judges were divided over how they felt classically trained Chris Mann handled Coldplay's "Viva la Vida." His mentor, Christina, applauded him for stepping out of his comfort zone, but Adam wasn't sure how well his more opera-tuned voice connected to the song.
But one team member had to go, and for tonight at least, it was all up to Aguilera and Shelton.
Aguilera was up first with the hard choice and made a surprise decision (to say the least), sending home Jesse Campbell. At this point in the competition, Campbell had been a front-runner.
Blake's choice was another surprise: He sent home rocker Jordis, whom he saved during the first live rounds.
What did you think of Christina's decision to send home Jesse Campbell and Blake's choice to send home Jordis? Let us know in the comments below!