With Teams Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera getting put through the ringer on last week’s episode of The Voice, it was time for teams Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green to take center stage at the live show last night. The performances ranged from underwhelming to overwhelming, with song choices that ranged from inspired to utterly perplexing, while the coaches ranged from gushing to eye-wideningly cold in response. Definitely some of the most interesting (in both the good way and the patronizing way) performances of the season last night, and though way more than ten things happened, here’s the ten I’m choosing to tell you about today.
1. Blake kept it real with his wardrobe. Rather than his usual dapper vest ensemble, Blake went casual with a maroon jacket for his team’s off night. “Thank you for dressing up tonight, I really appreciate it,” quipped an incredulous Adam. “This is how little of a crap I give about y’all’s teams,” shot back an indignant Blake, possibly being 100% serious. “Well, it’s perfect, because it’s actually the same color as crap,” Adam returned fire, later metonymously referring to his bromantic partner as “crap jacket.” Here’s hoping the rest of the season turns into a war of Not Giving a Crap fashion choices between the two.
2. Cee Lo stood up for the artistic integrity of Billy Corgan. In the first of a series of interesting (again, half-good, half-patronizing) song choices, oppressed cubicle worker Katrina Parker took on Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” in the show’s opening performance, delivering a solid but unspectacular performance of the theatrical alt-rock classic. While Cee Lo called the performance a “commendable effort,” he also stuck up for his Brother-in-Baldness Billy Corgan, saying that his voice had a “tortured” quality Katrina completely lacked, and that “Tonight, Tonight” should never be turned into a showtune. Good call, CL—if the kids don’t already know about Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Katrina’s performance was certainly no proper introduction.
3. The two soul divas went in opposite directions. Cee Lo’s resident HBIC Cheesa had seemed more attitude than pure talent before last night’s show, but she absolutely killed it on Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” one of the few performers on the night able to bring the vocal intensity to not get swallowed up by the stage theatrics and way-too-loud live band. (“That was like Solid Gold!” exclaimed a 67-year-old Blake.) Equally surprising in a way worse way was Adam’s Kim Yarbrough, who rolled the dice with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and ended up sounding messy and out of control by comparison. (“Adele…she’s a freak, man…” consoled a sympathetic Adam.) Kim looked the diva to beat in the earlier rounds, but there’s no doubt who the baddest bitch was last night.
Also, was it me, or did Cheesa look 15-20 pounds heavier than she did in previous rounds? It worked, certainly. Maybe it helped her store the extra divaness somehow.
4. Christina threw her Mouseketeer buddy under the bus. Ouch, babe. Well, let’s no one ever accuse Christina of not being objective—after childhood pal Tony Lucca’s performance of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (a fairly strong performance, I thought), Christina was asked her opinion, and she certainly gave it, calling Lucca “one-dimensional” and concluding “I think there are just better voices on the show, rather than just a celebrity sway kinda thing…” Yikes. “That was honest,” remarked an incredulous Adam. That 25-year MMC reunion is gonna be awk-warrrrrd.
5. James Massone, stand up. The greaser mechanic kid from Boston continues to grow in leaps and bounds under the tutelage of Mr. Green, who made the surprising choice of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” for his Ladykiller protege’s next performance. The song choice ended up being interesting-good, not interesting-patronizing, as it really showcased the sweetness in his voice, and it brought the ladies in the crowd to their knees. “I almost threw my panties on the stage!” remarked Blake. “My only constructive criticism is that maybe you paid a little bit too much attention to the ladies,” commented Proud Papa coach Cee Lo. “But I’ve been distracted by ladies many a time, so I understand.” Watch out for this guy, for real.
6. Everyone lost their damn minds over Juliet Simms. Over-singing is apparently the thing now on this show. Rocker chick Juliet Simms certainly gave her all on a performance of The Police’s “Roxanne,” stretching every word to its maximum level of drama (and number of syllables), showing off the power of her voice to a near-comical extent. I thought it sounded ridiculous, but the lack of subtlety in the performance was not much of a concern for the coaches, who went borderline-orgasmic over it. Adam called it “the best performance I’ve seen so far,” and Christina nearly fainted rhapsodizing about how “do-o-o-o-ope” Juliet’s voice was. Girl’s got talent for sure, and the coaches may be in her corner regardless, but she might want to consider reigning it in a tiny bit if she’s gonna be at all listenable as a recording artist.
7. Blake. HATES. Theatrics. I guess if you go to a Blake Shelton live gig, it’s just him playing an acoustic guitar against a totally white backdrop, because man, whenever anyone shows the slightest bit of dramatic staging in their performance, he checks the f— out. Guys on stilts? No thanks. Weird totalitarian regime imagery? Booooo. Shirtless dudes that look like male strippers? Well…we already saw last week how that went. The funniest part of it now is Carson Daly’s increasingly irritated and impatient reaction to Blake’s call-me-old-fashioned ranting. “All right, you don’t like stilts. Thank you, Blake.” If Carson does nothing else on the show—and as far as I can tell, he doesn’t—he’s at least good for that.
8. So long, Carla Davis and Erin Martin. I’m still not really sure who Carla Davis is—I have zero memories of her performances from the first two rounds—but based on last night, she’s not gonna be around long enough for me to bother reacquainting myself. Her performance of B.o.B.’s “Airplanes”—yeah, that was an interesting-patronizing choice, no doubt—failed to answer any “why the hell would she choose that song?” questions, though somewhere, Moses Stone was probably appreciative. Meanwhile, Cee Lo attempted to hide the fact that his supermodel team member Erin Martin doesn’t really have a voice by giving her The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” but even that wasn’t enough of a handicap. (Christina thought she should have “brought it harder,” evidently missing there was nothing to really bring.)
“I think you did as good as you could do with that song,” Blake commented on both, which was probably true, and probably indicative of how long both will be lasting on the show from here.
9. Pip tried to rock. Unsurprisingly, even guylining frontman Brandon Flowers proved to be a little too badass a rocker for nice-theater-boy Pip to handle, and his performance of The Killers’ “When You Were Young” was unconvincing, to say the least. “I wasn’t connected at all with it,” commented Christina, a sentiment seconded by Pip’s own coach. “I wanted you to be more dangerous, and more scary with it,” commented Adam. “It didn’t totally happen.” Then again, maybe the problem begins at home for Pip, as evidenced by his pre-performance comment “I want to get into rock music. There is no better person right now to show me how to do that than Adam Levine.” Uh, you heard “She Will Be Loved,” Pip? Love the guy and all, but he’s not exactly Lemmy from Motorhead.
10. Jamar is still in it to win it, Randy Jackson. The obvious finals contender from the first few rounds didn’t break any new ground with his closing performance of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?,” but he killed it nonetheless, getting the loudest shouts of support of any contestant thusfar. “This movement proves…you embody what this show is,” commented Adam, though I don’t think anyone really understood what he meant. (Blake was still busy ranting about the guys on stilts.) Jamar, James and Juliet—all contestants whose name doesn’t begin with the letter “J,” look out at the elimination round tonight.