updated 05/14/2014 AT 3:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/14/2014 AT 7:00 AM ET
With just one week to go until the finale, the Top Five artists on The Voice learned their fate Tuesday in a semifinal elimination that had the male contestants celebrating and the female singers forced to perform one more time for the last Twitter instant save of the season.
Early in the show, the first save of the night offered a genuine surprise: Host Carson Daly revealed Texas teen Jake Worthington would move on to next week’s finals.
That left a trio of ladies in the bottom three: Kristen Merlin of Team Shakira and Christina Grimmie and Kat Perkins of Team Adam. Perkins has become a veteran of the bottom three lately as the recipient of the Twitter instant save the previous two weeks.
As usual for this season, the vulnerable artists performed one last time before handing their fate over to viewers with Twitter accounts.
Up first, Shakira’s last remaining artist, Merlin – whose nuanced performance of Jewel’s “Foolish Games” the previous night cracked the Top 5 on the iTunes singles chart – sang “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood.
Shelton had nothing but kudos for the alternative country star.
“I always had a soft spot for you,” he declared. “I gotta say it’s been amazing to see what’s happened between Shakira and you as artist and coach. It’s been magical. You’ve come a long way and, man, I’m pulling for you.”
Shakira saved her most powerful pitch for just before the Twitter voting window closed.
“She’s different and she represents everyone out there who’s different,” she said of the Massachusetts country singer who introduced her girlfriend on a previous show. “Let’s face it: you’re not a typical cowboy in cowboy boots. Look how far you’ve come. You’re making history … You’re making people open their minds and accept you and embrace you for who you are and that beautiful voice that God gave you.”
Perkins sang next, and offered up a confident version of “Good Girl” that had the crowd cheering.
“Kat’s been here before and she always comes out swinging like a vicious cat,” Usher declared. “You electrify this audience and you brought this performance to life. I hate that you are here again.”
Coach Levine clearly agreed. “This girl, every single time has dug herself out of a hole. When she goes out there, the difference between Kat and everyone else is Kat ain’t thinking about a thing. She’s singing, she’s having the time of her life and I just love you so much.”
Grimmie, a 20-year-old Internet sensation, sang last and delivered a performance of OneRepublic’s “Apologize” that was so commanding it had coach Levine standing up and pumping his fist before the song even ended.
A moment later, he made a promise to America if they advanced her: “Listen guys … if you get this girl to where she needs to go for the finals, this girl is gonna win. Just get her there first.”
In the end, voters indeed got her there, selecting a relieved-looking Grimmie to advance to next week’s finals alongside Kaufman and Worthington.
The Voice’s final performance show airs Monday (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.