WTF, Radiohead? > Raquel Castro > Tori and Taylor Thompson > Rebecca Loebe, who totally should’ve gone through > Dia Frampton > Meg & Dia mumness > Carson Daly’s sudden, all-too-brief deadpan > Devon Barley > Devon Barley’s air guitar > Daly’s “only girl” pun >>> Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery
So hey, The Voice also aired last night. Were you too pooped to switch channels after an American Idol finale of machine-gun performances? We don’t blame your exhaustion. But let’s face it: between the two country kids’ battle of the mehs and the several actually exciting performances here, we do have to give the singing crown to The Voice.
Not that Adam, Xtina, Blake and Cee Lo value said singing crown above all. In fact, we’ve got a rule for this. For those not following Popdust’s The Voice recaps, here it is again. Better remember it now, because the battle rounds are running out:
If you remember what a singer auditioned with, he or she’s probably through.
Spoilers: It held up nearly 100%, as Raquel Castro, Dia Frampton (of Meg & Dia! Never forget!) and Tori and Taylor Thompson can tell you. And the round with victor Devon Barley and Rebecca Loebe was too close to call, for one excellent reason we’ll get to later. Witness:
TEAM XTINA: Raquel Castro vs. Julia Eason – “Only Girl (In The World)”
At first this round seems like the one to fuddle our rule! There’s not a promo name in the pairing. Both contestants auditioned with songs much larger than them and not particularly memorable: Duffy’s “Mercy” and Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love.” And Christina’s song choice, the Daly-punnable “Only Girl (In The World),” is the exact kind of multi-tracked, larger-than-live single that always flops with life-size singers. There’s proof, too: see American Idol‘s Hollywood week ever since that song became an option. It’s as if even Xtina thought these two were for the cannon, her “dynamo gems” quote notwithstanding. (We hear if you collect all four dynamo gems, you can unlock the Quantum Explosion Machine! Ahem.)
But wait! Raquel Castro is 16, and being 16 qualifies as a storyline. It worked for Idol, after all. And let’s be fair: Castro at least sounded like a polished singer during her part of the performance. Eason, on the other hand, was too quavery, and when she went big on the chorus, she went pitchy, too. Vocally, it was no contest. But we still think that considering Carson Daly’s gritty California girl vs. young, innocent performer setup (what is this, Black Swan?), Castro had more mileage to her story by far.
TEAM BLAKE: Dia Frampton vs. Serabee – “You Can’t Hurry Love”
In the words of the great Cee-Lo Green: “That was bizarre.”
So in one corner, you have Dia Frampton, of the still-unacknowledged Meg & Dia, of demureness and of coaches’ admiration. In the other corner, you have Serabee, a five-second wonder from the audition rounds (with Universal Records ties, but no way in hell The Voice was gonna acknowledge those now) whose life story thus far is being a preacher’s daughter and who shows the faintest signs of an attitude. No. Contest.
That didn’t make the performance any less bizarre. Both contestants had strengths and their flaws, but they were completely opposed. Dia’s voice, while consistent, was also kinda boring–an adjective you’d never have given her during blind auditions. Serabee had both flash and pipes, but her performance was all attitude with little vocal foundation. Watching them together was like watching two awkwardly synched YouTube videos at different volumes. But come on; there was never even a question about who’d take this round. We’d comment on the weird undercurrent here (attitude = desperation = bad; timidness = demureness: good), but it’d keep us from….
TEAM ADAM: Devon Barley vs. Rebecca Loebe – “Creep”
Yes, that “Creep.” You just heard Radiohead on a singing competition. And that makes things hard to judge, you know? “Creep” is not a song your standard vocal rubrics apply to, even if your ears hadn’t fractured from hearing Radiohead on a televised singing competition. The shock outweighs anything these two could do, to the point where the only commentary that came to mind is along the lines of “ooh, harmonies, eerie.” We did notice Loebe disappear into the mix at times where Barley didn’t, but who’s to say she didn’t mean to?
In comes our rule, but it too is murky. Will the plucky pre-med underdog and Kevin Covais lookalike prevail? How about the struggling indie musician who lives out of her car–and covered Nirvana, giving her the unexpected-artist edge? They’re both promo-ready! Only two things are really for certain. One, Barley should’ve automatically forfeited for breaking out the air guitar. Two, Carson Daly’s developed a deadpan for lackluster coach comments. Character development!
TEAM CEE-LO: Tori and Taylor Thompson vs. Kelsey Rey – “Unwritten”
Come on, you don’t need us to tell you who won. It’s the Taylor sisters with the cutest-ever “Stuck Like Glue” rendition and love of raising pigs! And Rey, whose more-than-a-pretty-face angle proved surprisingly forgettable. Even Cee-Lo didn’t see the need to wait, tweeting about his excitement to work with the Taylor sisters about 10 minutes before it got announced on TV.
Not that The Voice didn’t try to drum up tension. This was the matchup of the night, what with the dramatic skyline and more dramatic clouds and shots of the Taylor sisters praying. And the performance, if you’re quaint and only judge on singing, could have gone either way thanks to Rey’s solid vocals and Taylors being separated from their cute harmonies. But then you started noticing details–Rey’s barely-on-camera “OK, gonna dance by myself” non-presence when the sisters had their turn, a Thompson sister taking the song’s one big note–and everything was clear again. Moral of the night: Follow Popdust’s rules. They will not forsake you.