Viewers’ votes better than coach picks on The Voice, as Blake Shelton makes a baffling choice

On The Voice‘s first elimination episode last night, viewers voted to save the contestants who gave last week’s strongest performances, while one of its coaches made a baffling decision.

Viewers chose Beverly McClellan, an openly lesbian singer who sang a Melissa Ethridge song, and Dia Frampton, the indie-ish singer with the most distinctive, and perhaps weirdest, voice. Those selections seem remarkable, even though they shouldn’t be, and are another way in which the show stands out from American Idol, which just finished a season on which blandness and conformity were rewarded above all else.

Christina Aguilera and her cleavage selected Frenchie Davis to continue in the competition, but it was Blake Shelton’s end-of-episode selection of Xenia, who had probably the worst performance last week, that was the most shocking. He kept her and sent two stronger singers, Jared Blake and Patrick Thomas, home. Why would he do that? Blake had a self-centered reason: “I can’t affect change with Jared Blake or Patrick Thomas like I can with Xenia, so I am going to pick Xenia,” he said. Basically, she sucks so much that he can help her grow.

Overall, The Voice delivered another strong episode. Combining eliminations and performances into one episode was a great format twist, and they moved everything along rapidly. Carson Daly needs help interviewing and the coaches need to learn how to coach with constructive criticism, but the show remains very watchable.

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