The season of country continued on "The Voice" this week, with only Usher and Michelle Chamuel now standing between Blake Shelton and his third straight victory.
Blake's two remaining acts, Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers, joined Michelle on Tuesday as the top three acts who will sing in next week's finale. Viewers knocked out Amber Carrington and Sasha Allen – and their coaches, Adam Levine and Shakira.
It's hard to tell what the ousted coaches thought, since the final reveal came seconds before the credits rolled and the screen faded into "America's Got Talent." Surely Adam in particular can't be pleased with going out so early. But ultimately, it's hard to complain that the voters got it wrong.
Danielle and Michelle -- who have been front-runners for weeks -- were no-brainers for the finale. The Swon Brothers, on the other hand, have been the surprise of the season. The country duo from Oklahoma joke around and seem to lack seriousness every week – and then they take the stage and do whatever it takes to win over the fans. In that respect, they're much like Blake, their fellow Oklahoman who serves as their coach.
You have to give the country star credit. He downplays his role, saying on Tuesday, "I'm just the drunk who tries to stay out of their way," but he knows his acts and he knows the show's audience.
While some of his fellow coaches tried to get their acts to show their range and take chances, Blake had his country performers find their musical lanes and stay within the yellow lines. And it works. He's the coach who succeeds by drafting a really good team and then sitting back and letting them do their thing.
Contrast that to Shakira and Adam. Shakira, in her first season as coach, has had her acts taking strange risks. Sasha on Monday night went from Whitney Houston to Donna Summer, making it tough for the audience to get a feel for what kind of artist she'll be at the end of the show. Adam had Amber -- whose background is country -- sing songs by Katy Perry and Maroon 5. Showing off her range would have been great if she could have pulled it off and the audience had wanted to see it, but she couldn't and they didn't.
Usher is sneaky smart and is -- in his own way -- having his act stay within her lanes, much as Blake does with his own team. While Michelle has performed a wider variety of songs in comparison to the other hopefuls, Usher has used the same sales pitch for her every week: She's Michelle and she's unique, but she's her quirky self every week. The R&B star trumpets that message from the rooftops.
He seems more hands-on as a coach, but he hasn't tried to mold her into something she's not, and as a result, she's the lone choice if you're a "Voice" fan who doesn't like country music.