What the hell happened in Monday’s “The Voice”? (Spoilers)

You and I, Dear Orange Juice Blog reader — we live in the real world.  We’re proud of it.  We care much more about who wins the next Presidential or Senatorial election — or maybe even the next Assembly or City Council or County Board of Education election — than about who wins on TV talent shows like American Idol or Dancing With the Stars (technically a “semi-talent” show) or America’s Best Dance Crew or America’s Got Talent! or, most recently, The Voice.

I care more about the former too — any my wife and daughters will say that they care more about the former (out of deference to me and to avoid my lecturing on civic virtues) — but they really like these shows and having been dragged into the vortex by the demands of Good Fatherhood (middle-class variety), I can see why.  You see some great talent, you get drawn into the stories, and every once in a while you come across a shocking turn of events that defies expectations and even explanation — and then you know that you’ve lived through A Moment.

In politics, this could be something like Sarah Palin’s speech at the 2008 Republican convention, or her interview with Katie Couric, or the continuing horror show that is Orange County’s own inevitable Republican U.S. Senate nominee Orly Taitz, who will lose to Dianne Feinstein even if the latter dies, is resurrected as a zombie, and begins rampaging through Capitol Hill.  (Not all that bad of a campaign strategy, actually, if you can pull it off.)

Some memories of live events you will take to your grave.  You gape in confused horror at what you have seen; it defies rational explanation.  And at times like that, Dear Reader, you turn to the pundits to explain it to you — because even if we can’t explain it either we won’t hesitate to try.

We had one of those events last night, as Christina Aguilera bounced sweet soulful singer Jesse Campbell from the competition after a sudden and unexpected change (which everyone but Coach Adam Levine professed to hate) left the elimination of the fourth-place finisher on each of the four coaches’ teams not in the hands of the American voting audience but of the coach him-or-herself.  I don’t know whether there will still be a competition for the second of two spots per team in Tuesday’s show, or what the hell they will do, and it’s not clear that the show’s producers know either.

This was a wild turn of events.  Jesse Campbell — hereafter just “Jesse” — had been widely described by two of the other judges as the contestant, of the 16 remaining, to beat.  It would be a bit like Democratic convention delegates deciding on the first day of the convention: “You know what? Let’s not nominate Obama after all.  Let’s just throw it open to someone else.”  It’s so wild that it has immediately led to pledges to stop watching the show, to conspiracy theories about how and why this happened, to pure shock and probably, we will eventually learn, dozens of fatal strokes and heart attacks around the country and the world.  And so, in the same sense that “play” is preparation for real fighting, it may improve our notion of politics, or media, or who knows what — I just feel like writing about it and I don’t much care how it’s justified.

How did this happen? The theories come in two genres — conspiracy and non-conspiracy.  Conspiracy first!  I’ll intersperse theories with some comments from the articles on the two websites that came up when I did my Google search for this article, popcrush.com and The Hollywood Reporter, where fans are freaking out and cursing Christina.  (Blake Shelton, the other coach put on the line tonight, has also gotten some abuse for getting rid of Jordis Unga, but we all know that he couldn’t get rid of underage country-singing Hexenbiest RaeLynn and taking the one who had finished fourth was the coward’s way out, towards which Shelton raced).

Hypothesis (1): The producers demanded it because Jesse was so good that his inevitable win was going to kill ratings.

Comment: Nah.  Javier Colon, the winner of Year One of The Voice, was comparably ahead of the field (a weaker field, by the way), and ratings were fine — enough so to propel this season’s show to number one.  In fact, the worst thing that could happen to the show, even worse than the Christina Aguilera wardrobe malfunction that seems on the bring of happening every show, would be for fans to lose faith in the process.   Something huge had to justify this.

If there was one singer that absolutely, week after week, continues to impress with his vocal skills… it’s Jesse. Christina proved herself as a complete idiot in our minds in getting rid of her top talent. Seriously, we are in shock!

So disappointed in the voice USA….all the good singers are getting eliminated? Don’t believe in this crab anymore! Christina is just Jealous! No more watching!

Wow, I’ve never disputed a christina decision until now. I am sure The Voice ratings will surely go down after tonight, I have been a fan since the beginning but I’m done with the show.

Hypothesis (2): Jesse was a ringer to build interest in the show but for some reason could not be allowed to win, so the producers demanded this result from the outset and if they left it to fans they would not get it.

Comment: Nah.  First, why take such a risk?  The Voice didn’t need a ringer.  If the conspiracy were discovered, there would be huge repercussions.  Beyond this, why would Christina take this big of a fall?  Blowing the words to the National Anthem is nothing compared to the abuse that has been coming her way since the broadcast.  People disagree with decisions on these talent shows all the time, but reactions like the one’s I’m quoting are not … normal.

10 of my friends including myself got up from my couch and chairs saying it is rigged. the voice my foot, was becoming my favorite show, wont be having any voice parties for this show anymore. I think that is why they did not let America vote cause he would have coasted to the final. I will spend my Monday at the YMCA working out again thanks voice.

I felt the need to express my disgust with Christina Aguilera. I have ignored all the tabloids saying she is a fat drunk diva until tonight. WTF is your reason for eliminating the most powerful, inspirational, magical, and most talented performers of our time?

I’m out. Deleted “The Voice” from my DVR. No clue what happened with Jesse but it’s not worth my time any more. BTW – XTina should have been a bit more discrete with her wardrobe choice tonight given that she invited a HIGH SCHOOL GOSPEL CHOIR as her back up. What planet is this woman from? — No longer a fan of the show or CA.

Hypothesis (3): Jesse has some dark secret in his past (or present) that producers recently discovered and they had to have Christina pull the plug on him to make sure he went away ASAP.

Comment: This isn’t entirely implausible, but there’s no reason to believe it either.  Jesse was known in part for his tragic life story (something by now commonplace for The Voice.)  He’s a 42-year-old Black man, his wife left him, he’s raising his little girl (who looks like a tweener) on his own, they were living in his car for a while, etc.  Did his ex-wife show up — or someone else who knew about their marital problems — and provide some information that the producers had wished they had before they led off the first show with him?  Could be, and some suspect it, but that’s a hell of a thing to believe based on no evidence.

Something tells me there was a reason that the Voice changed the format of the show…maybe Jordis and Jesse are being offered record deals right now and wanted to leave? Jesse really was the best singer, with the best story….it made no sense what happened tonight! Best of Luck to Jesse and Jordis.

Seriously, Jesse was the only reason we watched week after week. He actually has a story behind his talent that makes him more than one dimensional.

Funny thing…The rest of the oppositon teams to Christina seemed to agree with her poor judgement…..Like it was collusion and orchestrated and not genuine!!! Something happened that forced the entire VOICE program to remove Jesse Campbell from the show. Something they decided did not need to be shared with the audience. The win/win was that Jesse’s character was protected and as a trade off the poorer talented members were allowed to stay on the show. We get it! If it was that BAD we don’t want to know anyways.

Hypothesis (4): Jesse had a record contract or some other motivation to get off the show, such as that he would be subject to fewer contract restrictions if he didn’t finish in the top 12 or something, and Christina was doing him a favor by giving him an escape hatch.

Comment: The original contracts for American Idol, I remember reading from I think the Smoking Gun website when it first came out, were incredibly onerous, like “we get to control your career for the next five years” — or at least somewhere between a mobile phone plan and a Church of Scientology billion-year personal services contract.  As I recall, the restrictions became more hellacious based on how high up you finished.  But if Christina was doing him a favor, that was one hell of a grenade for her to throw herself on!

3 possible reasons why jesse was cut-
1) Chisrtina is truly p.o.’d at the voice for forcing her to cut someone, so she cut the most talented performer in the entire competition.
2) The producers of the voice thought that Jesse’s talent level made the outcome less tantalizing, and they would lose ratings by keeping him on.  They would probably have offered him a ‘severence’ package-he wasn’t very heartbroken  by the news.
3) Jesse was offered a huge contract by someone, and begged Christina to let him off the show.

Then there are the non-conspiratorial ones:

Hypothesis (5): Christina just hates men.  Or middle-aged people.  Or Christians.

Comment: I’ve included one comment from each of the above species.  I think that each of them is stupid.  I see no reason to think that Christina is prejudiced in any of these ways.  Yet see where people go….

Correct me If I’m wrong here but something tells me X-Tina has a grief against males…I’ve read yesterday she was acting “tough” because her dad beat her up when she was a kid…But is this a reason to be an avenger for females via screwing out nice people like Jesse ?
If she didn’t want him to win…Why, on this video, she did ANYTING to SEDUCE Him ?
Adam was DYING to GET HIM !

This is soooo ridiculous.. I think Christina is looking for someone who is young so that they can make a boat load of dough and thinking that Jesse is much older, it’s like the clock is ticking for him.. I don’t know.. but all I can say is that she got it so so so so so so wrong. I am sure she is nuts.. But like Jennifer Hudson, I think Jesse is going to go along way. He gave me goose bumps tonite!. How dare she!.

Jesse Campbell was Christina’s BEST singer!! He is also a strong Christian man. How disappointing that she did not remove one of the other 2 ladies who truly sang very poorly and were out of tune. Both laides on her team are Amateur at best with limited talent. The positive “improving” statements were NOT GENUINE and show poor judgement. Christina has no idea what talent truly is!

Hypothesis (6): She just jealous.

A lot of the attacks on Christina are personal.  Of these, some of the milder ones are just that she is a lousy judge of talent or else just jealous of Jesse’s talent.  Could be, I suppose.  Not compelling, though.  She’s certainly a diva, but not an untalented one.  She is to Britney Spears in singing what Lindsay Lohan is to most other young celebrity women train wrecks in acting: troubled, but wonderful.

Christina has lost her hearing or is just a jealous diva!

I am no longer watching the show.  This show was supposed to be based on “The Voice”  and has now turned into a second hand American Idol.  Christina’s decision has made me a non-believer that true talent overcomes industry B.S.  Again,  I will NEVER watch the show again.  Thanks, Christina, for losing so many viewers. When did judges get to decide who moves on?  I thought the viewers had that power?  Again, egotistical soon-to-be has been artists still trying to hang on to some sort of power.

Jesse had THE most amazing voice in the whole show. Totally done with this. Hope the whole fricking thing tanks as a result of CA’s juvinial attitude and character. I’m sure thousands will reject her as a result of this show. She is a complete embarrassment. Please just go back to the Micky Mouse Club Christina. You are worthless judge of talent.

Hypothesis (7): She was just angling to win given the upcoming competition.

Comment: This is something that didn’t come up in the comments — which is why I include some generic ones below — but that was raised in the Hollywood Reporter article.  It’s true that Jesse was going to have some strong male competition in Jermaine and Jamen, who trail behind Jesse a little in pipes but who make up for it in broader and higher-energy charisma.  (Christina’s Chris Mann, the opera singer, is essentially the Rick Santorum of the race — hanging around mostly because others keep getting ousted.  He’s probably doomed on Tuesday.)  Of greater concern, while Jesse was wowing the older audience, he was not doing all that well in the closely watched iTunes Derby, where everyone can see who gets the most downloads.  Younger fans — the ones who vote and vote and vote — did not seem that enthralled with his vocal stylings.  On the other hand, her team has Lindsay Pavao — the champion of downloads so far and the heir to the Nia/Xenia strain of high-timber altos that seem to be playing so well on The Voice.  (If Macy Gray weren’t already famous, The Voice could make her famous!)  Lindsay could win it all — and the greatest threat to Lindsay is that the fans might knock her out of a direct one-on-one competition with Jesse in the semi-finals.  If she was protecting Lindsay, then the sacrifice of Jesse was a bold masterstroke.  I don’t know if this really works, but at least it’s plausible.

What’s the logic behind booting off one of THE strongest performers on the entire show???? I know that great things are in store for Jesse.

I’m pretty sure Xtina was thinking whose marketable among all of them. On iTunes Jesse didn’t do well when it comes to his song from the first live show. I think Xtina made the right decision on letting Jesee go.

Anthony & Jesse BEAT anyone in XTINA team – ask all people who watched in our home theater with 7.1 full stereo DTS surround on a 80 inches 1080p HDTV. Every monday, our friends & relatives watch with us and every time Jesse performs – ALL OF US are literally super quiet as we love to feel the way he sing a simple song and how he will put some twist to make it so unique & nice… So, this is FACT and NOT fanboyism!!! Xtina Aguilera are you high on drugs when you booted out Jesse after Anthony??

Hypothesis (8): Perhaps Jesse was a bit difficult.

Comment: The second thing that raised my eyebrows about Jesse when he led off the first episode of this year’s The Voice with a huge bang– the first being that golden voice — was what he asked when picking among the four judges who wanted him on their teams: “Will you fight for me?”

The nerve of some people!  He seemed to be asking whether Christina would favor him over other contestants all the way to the end.  Who does that?  It does make one wonder why Christina’s song for her group was “The Fighter.”  An ironic allusion?

What seemed to be clear is that Christina thought that Jesse was extremely talented — but limited.  And, more to the point, he was unwilling to change as much as she wanted.  We only see a little of the interaction between coach and contestant — and it tells a story as carefully crafted as any in the editing room of any reality series.  Yes, Jesse did Christina’s song — but was he grumbling over it?  Did he insult her?  Did he look down on her as a younger woman?  Did he judge her in some way from a Christian moralist viewpoint — maybe gays came up in a discussion?

Christina alluded cryptically in her pre-decision speech to the idea that some people were less willing to branch out into new directions than others; she made a point of saying that Blake’s African-American male artist Jermaine was the best of his group.  The one conspiratorial point that I think is dead on is this: the rules were changed to allow Christina to get rid of Jesse, however much they might have otherwise messed up the show.  She wanted Jesse gone — and allowing her to make the choice herself was the only sure way that she could make it happen, while protecting the likes of Lindsay.  (Interestingly, Lindsay was shown as having rejected Christina’s choice of songs for her — committing the sin, in other words, for which Jesse was punished — but only after having given it a game try.  What’s up with that?  Do the story editors hate Christina?  Are they trying to make her into a Simon Cowell?)

Christina is an idiot. She should not be a judge on The Voice. Jess has great voice and she didn’t fight for him as promised.

Very disappointing outcome.  The show is supposed to be based on who has “The Voice”, not “The Potential”.  It seemed like Christina had a personal issue with Jesse not taking direction, but in the pre-performance clip we saw that she picked the song he sang and he complied even though it was out of his comfort zone.  I wish he had selected a different coach…it was very apparent that he would have still been on the show if he was under anyone other than Christina.  So much for judging on talent alone.

Hypothesis (9): Or maybe Christina was telling the truth.

Comment: That’s what one commenter said, anyway.  Christina seemed to think that Jesse came in already formed and didn’t need her; the other contestants were ones that she had changed and improved through her coaching.  And, you know, the coaching is pretty impressive; the coaches’ tips and criticisms are why we keep the shows on disk for our daughter the aspiring singer.  Maybe she just thought that others were better — or more in keeping in the spirit of the competition.  And maybe all of these comments were written by people working for American Idol, eager to steal The Voice’s enviable audience share.

Your conspiracy theories gave me a chuckle. Her reason seems plausible, he came in perfect and she can’t coach him. Plus she likes the uniqueness of everyone else on her team.


What I love about this controversy is how much is reminds me of politics itself — the variety of explanations, of ascribed motives, of small details that can be used to argue for one hypothesis for another.  The Voice is just a game — but it captures audience share the way that politics do not.  (More people may vote in the November election — but probably not as many with such true enthusiasm for their candidate.)  The Voice, like a political party itself, may be seriously hurt by this event.  But as soon as one election season ends, plans for a new season, with a new roster of candidates, begins — and parties can only hope that voters won’t bear grudges.

So disappointed — why Jesse Campbell? Christina made a huge mistake.

Christina has lost her mind, my friends and I are done with The Voice. Christina you were right about one thing you have gained some enemies. Dumbest decision ever!!!

I am sooo done with this b.s. show!

UPDATE: More evidence! This interview from Jesse suggests that we may have been watching All About Eve without knowing it.  He has his own album coming out, too — I wonder how that fits with the contract signed by Voice contestants!  I expect that producers and lawyers and Carson Daly are working hard (with focus groups) on choreographing Christina’s tearful explanation for tonight.  Personally, I think that Jesse sounds a little bit like he might have been hard to get along with behind the scenes — he’ll talk to Christina “if she reaches out to [him],” etc.  But frankly the controversy may be a good start to his solo career.  The losers at this point seem to be Christina and the producers — although, depending on the ratings, maybe not the latter!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)