When I check my DVR during the opening hour of The Voice and realize that with just four performers left the show is still two full hours long, I'm a bit dismayed. I have a job, NBC! And a dog that needs walking and a bathtub that does not scrub itself. But I quickly resign myself to the next 120 minutes of filler, and sit back to enjoy the four coaches perform an opening number: "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie.
Tonight's show will consist of four performances by each of the remaining contestants: Javier Colon (Team Adam), Beverly McClellan (Team Christina), Vicci Martinez (Team Cee Lo) and Dia Frampton (Team Blake). In addition to performing a new, original song, each of the contestants will perform a duet with their coach. In all seriousness, one thing I love about this show so much is the way the artists and coaches seem to have developed genuine relationships. By letting us get to know the contestants and the coaches in ways we wouldn't otherwise, these relationships get the audience invested in the show. The "coach time" segments may seem stagey, but they don't seem fake or forced.
Carson tries to interview the remaining four contestants, but they all seem a bit flustered, a bit tongue-tied, and ready to perform rather than talk about performing. After a lame TRL reference Carson plugs the upcoming Voice tour (starting July 27th - tix on sale now!) and starts the show.
Team Adam: Javier Colon
Adam and Javier perform "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson as their duet. I love the song, and these two can actually pull it off; it's tough to do justice to MJ, but these two make it happen. It helps when you sound great singing falsetto.
Original song: "Stitch by Stitch"
Adam continues to advise Javier to pull back his vocals so that people hearing the song will want to sing along. While the song is pretty enough, I might change the station if anyone but Javier was singing it. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I don't think this is Javier's strongest vocal performance, either. He's too talented to sound truly bad, but frankly, he's sounding a little uncertain, even "pitchy" (dawg) in the middle. There is improvement by the end, but this is my first "meh" moment with Javier.
The coaches: Blake says he's in awe, and that Javier is a good dude. Christina says the song suited him, and complimented his execution of the chorus (side-note: she looks bored stiff; why does her behavior on this show always border on inappropriate?). Cee Lo says Javier embodied the song that was written for him. Adam gets a little choked up, and says he's excited to see where Javier's career goes now.
Team Blake: Dia Frampton
Dia and Blake perform "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty. Disclaimer: I love everything Tom Petty does, so I love this performance by default. These two are wearing matching suits and Ray Bans - adorable! I love the way she describes Blake's influence on her, and I love that Blake credits Dia with giving him back some of the wonder and awe he felt when he first became successful.
Original Song: "Inventing Shadows"
Dia's voice has a unique tone that makes everything she sings sound like the most beautiful song ever written. This is a good song on its own terms, and her vocals make it that much better. Dia is a surprisingly powerful vocalist when she needs to be. It would be easy to dismiss her as a folk singer or to think her only strength is singing ballads, but she is commanding.
The coaches: Christina calls the performance lovely and then throws a shot at the staging (shadowy dancers behind screens--I kind of agree with X-Tina on this one). Cee Lo says Dia was "wonderful as usual" and loves the song. Adam says she has a unique voice but says he was distracted by the shadow dancers. Blake doesn't dig the other coaches' criticism and seems confident that Dia will beat their protégés.
Team Christina: Beverly McClellan
Beverly and Christina duet on "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera. I think picking her own song makes Christina look a bit egomaniacal, but luckily this song is a great choice for Beverly. I'd really think it was sheer self-promotion on Christina's part if it weren't such a perfect song, and Christina can effin' sing, so ultimately I'm excited. When the performance opens I have to wonder: Is it 1997? Am I watching MTV Unplugged? It looks suspiciously like the old MTV show, with a line of musicians perched on stools behind microphones. Regardless, Beverly's first few notes give me goose bumps up and down my arms. Christina and Beverly perform a beautiful arrangement of "Beautiful," making me love the song all over again. Download-worthy.
Original song: "Lovesick"
My husband hates this song immediately, but I think it is an instant hit. Beverly works the stage, the vocals, the audience, and the coaches. She breaks way out of any mold--Janice Joplin, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge--with this song. Time to stop comparing Beverly to other performers--she is something special.
The coaches: Cee Lo uses words like original, talented, individual and tells Beverly, "You killed it." Adam says she "transcends all competition and makes this fun." Blake notes that "if music was crack you would have a serious problem." Christina tells Beverly "you are an amazing performer" but also compliments her work ethic, which I think is a lovely thing to say.
Team Cee Lo: Vicci Martinez
These two duet on one of my all-time favorite songs: "Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. Let's take a quick break for my "all about me" moment. This really validates my weeks of comparing Vicci to Pat Benatar, right?! I'm feeling pretty awesome about my recaps right now! I'm the Christina Aguilera (me, me, me!) of The Voice recaps. The performance itself is hilarious--a friend of mine updated her Facebook status, describing it as "Mad Max meets Pat Benatar." Cee Lo in a red caftan with shoulder spikes, and a red, glue-on Mohawk? Priceless. The little kid back up dancers in futuristic outfits puts me over the edge, but I still enjoy the vocals.
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Original song: "Afraid to Sleep"
I like this song better than Javier's, but not as much as Dia's or Beverly's; that said,it certainly suits Vicci, and the sound strongly references Pink, Benatar, and Heart. Every week I am surprised by Vicci all over again; I forget how much I like her until she sings.
The coaches: Adam says he bought every single second of it, and says Vicci is powerful. Blake says, "you insist on being a big deal" and that is the PERFECT way to describe the way she roars back into my consciousness each week. Christina calls her dynamic, says she filled the stage well. Cee Lo says he believes in Vicci as a person and a personality, and calls her a force to be reckoned with.
The Voice results will be revealed live on NBC tonight, Wednesday June 29, at 7 p.m. CT. To view performances and video visit The Voice on NBC.