Apr 7, 2014
The Voice Battle Rounds Recap: Dudes With Glasses Face Off
Felony drug charge be damned, “The Voice” must go on. But it was Adam Levine, not mollied marauder Cee-lo Green, who stole the show this week so far. Not only did he impress us with his suddenly succinct coaching, but he also got two brilliant steals under his belt buckle.
And besides that, all the coaches carried on in the battle rounds blatantly showing that having The Voice isn’t the only factor in the ring. Welcome to the real world, melodic bitches! Still, you know you love it. So do we. Here’s a recap of some of the last couple nights’ highlights.
Team Xtina: Josh Aguilera vs. Michael Lynch
Song: Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe”
It was the soulful single father taking on the Latin lover, conquering their nerves to spew out the breakneck Maroon 5 jam. Christina Aguilera chose the song for the two hoping they’d make it their own. But they showed up to the first rehearsal not having mastered the lyrics let alone the cadence to deliver it rhythmically.
“You’ve got the guy in front of you who wrote the song,” Christina said, reminding them in case they forgot that rival coach Adam wrote the ditty. She was visibly frustrated, and for good reason. “Impress him.” But more importantly, impress Christina, or, you know, go home.
When the last note dropped, Adam had nothing negative to say about either man’s performance. Christina agreed that both guys stepped up to the plate, but she chose Josh who overpowered the battle (and didn’t do any distracting bouncy dance moves). He also sounds almost exactly like Adam, which is probably why Adam had nothing negative to say. Adios, Michael.
Team Cee-lo: George Horga Jr. vs. Juhi
Song: Gavin DeGraw’s “The Best I’ve Ever Had”
The 16-year-old sapphire songstress Juhi seemed to have the upper hand going into the rehearsals, touting beauty, brains and an ability to climb scales with her cool vibrato like Spiderman on the Empire States Building. But George, the son of Romanian immigrants, already ditched college to try and make it, and he wasn’t waving any white flags. Plus, he’s got a little bit of a Bruno Mars thang going on, and apparently people really, really dig that.
But within seconds of belting out Gavin DeGraw’s “fresh and hot” hit, as Cee-lo called it, George’s nerves got the best of him and he hit a bad note. But crumble he did not, rising to the occasion and showing resilience. That resilience and gumption is what won Cee-lo over. He also respects that George is prepared to give it his all with no Plan B—none of that book learning college crap for him.
At that point, loser future college graduate Juhi, looked like she was going to cry like a schoolgirl who just got dumped. Cee-lo started in with his pep talk and—BAM, steal. Adam swooped up Juhi. Adam said he felt like he won the lottery stealing her for his team. But we all know money doesn’t buy happiness. They’ve still got work to do.
Team Xtina: Destinee Quinn vs. Lina Gaudenzi
Song: Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice”
In a plot that could play out on a cheesy late night TV drama, biker bar singer Destiny took on the classically trained ex-teen model Lina. Christina paired the two because of their soft sensibility, which she challenged them to chuck to the side and dig into the Dixie Chick’s ball buster addressing country music fans’ reaction to their anti-war comments. They weren’t real happy about it, natch. Get bitchy girls, she advised, diva bitchy.
Christina wanted to see these delicate flowers mad as hell, connecting with the emotion in the song. During the battle, both young women suffered from some technical probs but dug deep and moved the audience into the red zone. But it was Destiny, coach Blake Shelton pointed out, who was so connected it actually looked like steaming tears would start streaming by the end of the performance.
But which one Christina, Carson pleaded, which one?
“I don’t even know Carsoooon,” she whined, about to break down the water works herself. Destiny! She chose her because music is about making people feel something, she explained.
Boom! Feel that sister. Adam just stole your sloppy seconds. “I thought there was so much potential,” he said about Lina. “If I get a chance to see what your best is, then we could really blow people away.”
Team Adam: James Wolpert vs. Will Champlin
Song: Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive”
Geek squad looking James with his buttoned-up visage left college and worked at Apple to support his dream. And we kind of love his cool, retro nerd glasses.
But then there’s the other four-eyed nerdy dude who looks like the lead singer of The 88, Will, son of former Chicago member Bill Champlin.
Will also has light socket hair. We sort of love him, too. They both look so damn smart. We can’t figure out why. It’s like magic. We keep picture them reading The Odyssey and pontificating about philosophy.
But Adam swore he didn’t pair James and Will together because of their similar specs—it was their rock-ready voices. Sure, whatev. They’re cut from the same cloth, he said, and having both of them on his team doesn’t really serve any purpose. Really? Then why did you pick them? We thought that was kind of a crappy thing to say.
Mentor Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic cut to the chase. Will, your pitch cuts out because you lose breath. Steal the audience in the latter part of the performance with one word, one moment. James, work on the emotions, buddy. Ditch the stuffy stockbroker crap. And that vibrato, it can be your best friend and worst enemy. Ryan mentored his ass off. Respect.
But, the coaches just couldn’t get past that stuffy necktie look. “It’s just not right,” Blake said to James. But he likes surprises! Christina was swayed. She’s a Will lover. Adam went with the stockbroker look. And Christina swooped in for electrifying Will. She had to have those locks and chops.
Team Cee-lo: Jonny Gray vs. Shawn Smith
Song: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Refugee”
Cee-lo got really patriotic on this one. Who knew he went for the soldiers so much? He had two fighters on his hands with Jonny and Shawn, aka Big Sexy. But he threw them for a loop with Petty’s “Refugee,” which apparently is much harder to talk-sing than one might think.
The song offered the balance between country and rock, suited to each guy’s strength. Big Sexy brought the personality and the big, husky man notes, and Jonny nailed the charisma and adlibs.
Adam and Christina like Jonny. Blake liked the good ol’ country boy. No surprises on preferences there. Cee-lo went for Jonny because “there is something phonetic” about the guy. “He cuts through,” Cee-lo said. “I can hear him clearly.”
Really? That’s what put it over the edge? Maybe there will be a spelling bee portion of the program. There might as well be a swimsuit strut, the judges are that obvious at times now that the chairs are turned. The beauty won over the beast. It’s a tale as old as time.
Team Adam: Barry Black vs. Preston Pohl
Song: The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain”
We wish Adam wasn’t such a liar. He totally paired the two with glasses together, and then he paired the nearly indistinguishable Pacific Islanders with cool-dude glasses who sing soul music. We might have gotten a little racist there, but we’re not stupid. We’re just stupidly unknowingly racist and don’t have a lot of Pacific Islander friends who wear cool-dude glasses and sing soul music. So sue us.
So Barry, obviously feeling the pinch to make it clear he is not Preston, threw in the weird mouth horn thing, to which Preston could barely contain himself, collapsing into laughter. You would think this would make Barry ditch the toothy trumpet, but no. And even when Adam tells him “less is more” and Ryan pleads with him to “stick with the script,” he perseveres.
Still, the other judges were amused, particularly Blake. “Everything about you is cool,” the country crooner said. “It just works.” But that was irrelevant because Blake had no steals.
But oooh, that smooth Preston. “You have the kind of voice Preston that you can’t buy through vocal lessons,” Christina ooed and aaaahed. Adam conferred, comparing him to Otis Redding, probably making Barry die a little inside.
“The second you start singing it gives me goose bumps,” Adam said, really rubbing it in. He called Preston a “legitimate, modern soul singer.” Oooh snap. Stick that in your pipes and smoke it Barry.
Team Xtina: Olivia Henken vs. Stephanie Anne Johnson
Song: Band Perry’s “Done”
Now this one didn’t seem all that fair. Sassy blonde bombshell Olivia knew the country hit inside and out, while Stephanie, the soulful, chipper cruise ship entertainer, had never even heard the tune. But she was not going out without a few uppercuts to the right
Christina wanted the girls to do some seriously battling, noting that the song is more about attitude than technical skill. Um, as in their voices? Mentor Ed Sheeran even chimed in: “You just want to get the wagging finger out and go wild.” Maybe they should change the name of the show to “The Waggiest Finger.”
After the two sang their hearts out giving their best Aretha Franklins, Cee-lo straight out asked Stephanie if she had ever heard the song before. Why you got to assume that Cee-lo? Because she’s black? That’s racist. But then, you’re a creepy possible drugger and rapist, so that’s like a misdemeanor barely worth mentioning for you.
The cah-razy singer gave Stephanie props for giving the song some soul. Again with the black thing. Stop Cee-lo. Stop. Adam was more color blind, saying both were great but was swayed by Stephanie’s “grit.”
But Blake, because he knows that song so well (because he’s white apparently) knew that Stephanie fell out of the pocket at one point. Just say it, Blake. It’s because she’s black and can’t keep it country. Ever heard of Charlie Pride, Blake? He was country before country was cool. Or was that Cee-lo?
So Christina went the safe route, choosing, you guessed it, Olivia. “Because of what happened here today and my gut, the winner is Olivia,” she said. And because she’s white. Well, OK, she didn’t say that.
Steal! Cee-lo snatches Stephanie, and segregationists sleep a little sounder for the night.
But wait! That’s not all. There’s another episode of the Battle Rounds on Thursday, Oct. 24, 8 p.m.