‘The Voice’ viewers protest ‘blatantly racist’ Season 22 top eight results: ‘Is Trump or Kanye voting?’

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Parijita Bastola, Kim Cruse, Justin Aaron, Omar José Cardona comprise the bottom four on 'The Voice' Season 22's controversial top eight semifinals results show. (Photo: NBC)

Parijita Bastola, Kim Cruse, Justin Aaron, Omar José Cardona comprise the bottom four on ‘The Voice’ Season 22’s controversial top eight semifinals results show. (Photo: NBC)

Twitter was ablaze Tuesday during The Voice Season 22’s controversial top eight results show, as host Carson Daly revealed which five contestants were advancing to next week’s finale. The voting pattern was evident as soon as Carson announced the top four, as chosen by America: three of them were country contestants, three of them were from Team Blake (thus creating a clean sweep for Blake Shelton)… and all four were white singers.

Meanwhile, all of the people of color, and arguably Season 22’s strongest power-vocalists — including all three members of John Legend’s talented team — comprised the bottom four. These were the four that would have to compete in an Instant Save sing-off for the finals’ one remaining spot.

These results were not totally surprising. I had predicted that Team Blake’s Bryce Leatherwood and Brayden Lape — likable, traditional country crooners — would make the cut, and had argued that Team Camila’s Morgan Myles, who gave the best performance on Monday’s top eight show, and Team Blake’s creative indie singer-songwriter Bodie absolutely deserved to advance.

I’d also noted Monday that Team Legend’s 17-year-old Parijita Bastola had peaked too early this season, that John’s power-balladeer Omar José Cardona had sabotaged himself with an ill-advised Celine Dion cover, and that Team Gwen’s Justin Aaron had been in a disadvantageous position by singing first on Monday’s live show.

I had hoped, of course, that Team Legend’s third contestant, “Velvet Powerhouse” Kim Cruse, would edge out the undercooked and underwhelming Brayden. But I knew better than to underestimate Brayden’s teen-heartthrob appeal, the power of this show’s core country audience… or the power of Blake Shelton.

All that being said, the optics were not good as Parijita, Kim, Justin, and Omar stood onstage learning the results, especially considering all the sheer talent among these four. “I am stunned that several of you are in this position this week,” admitted John, echoing many of the furious comments rolling out in real time on social media. “If this is The Voice, and we vote for people because of their voice…”

John kept his comments civil and classy, as he always does, but fans really let it rip on Twitter, with many accusing Voice voters of blatant racism. “The demographic who watches The Voice is definitely racist and favors the young, white, country male singers,” tweeted one outraged viewer. “They’re not even the most talented. Let a POC get the spotlight they deserve.”

“What is wrong with the people the strongest 4 singers are all trying for that last spot,” tweeted one irate fan. “Why are all the people of color the last ones?” tweeted another. “…and guess what, the remaining stellar vocalists are all people of color,” another posted. “So was our people just not voting?? This makes no sense for all these white ass people from the mountain of Caucasus to be put through and the most talented 4 in the bottom,” said yet another. “I guess no people of color are watching this show, this year? This result is surely not a reflection of the most talented!” posted another. “All the blacks and browns up for elimination when they are the best ones there? America is never beating the racism allegations,” another protested. “@NBCTheVoice most of your viewers are racist and you’re doing nothing to fix the disparity. Shame on you!” is how another viewer directly blasted the show.

Others accused the show’s producers of actually rigging the results in favor of golden coach Blake, so that Blake can go out on top after announcing that he plans to retire from The Voice in 2023. “It’s called THE VOICE. Not the Blake show,” tweeted one angry viewer. “Bro, I’m ready for Blake to take his ass on, no way should his whole team take up majority of the spots in the finale bro, this is bullshit,” ranted another.

Eventually the protesters had to move off Twitter and onto the Voice voting app, because there was only a five-minute window to save one of the bottom four contestants. Parijita sang first with “To Make You Feel My Love,” which was lovely, but she was clearly nervous, and it seemed like she knew her time was up. Kim’s “All By Myself” was another one of her master classes, but considering that this was the third time she’d been at risk this season — John saved her during the first Live Playoffs round, and she’d performed for the Instant Save just last week — it wasn’t looking good for Kim, either.

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Justin made a smart play for the conservative viewership’s votes with a gospel song, “Make a Way,” but with Omar closing the show with a stellar cover of Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” the deal was pretty much sealed.

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And so, Omar won the Instant Save (although we don’t know by how much, as the vote percentages weren’t shown onscreen like they have been in past seasons). This final result meant that John Legend will still be represented in next week’s finale, as will first-time coach Camila (with Morgan). But now that Justin has been eliminated, Gwen Stefani will have to sit out the finale — sadly, on what is likely her last Voice season.

Well, at least Gwen can still root for her husband Blake, who now has a 60% chance of winning Season 22. (If he does, it’ll be his ninth victory.) That being said, I would much prefer for Blake to triumph with Bodie, one of the most unique contestants in the history of The Voice, than with Bryce or Brayden — or I’d like another country contender, the fantastically fiery last woman standing, Morgan, to prevail. (Women don’t tend to do too well on this show, either: Only seven of the past 21 champions have been female, and that’s only if I am counting coed trio Girl Named Tom.)

And John predicted way back on the Season 22 premiere can Omar could win the show, and he still seems to have faith in that possibility, despite this week’s discouraging results. So, anything could happen. But whatever happens, this week’s controversy proves that it’s important for invested viewers to vote for their favorites. See you next week.

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