This week, The Voice opens with a Carson Daly voice-over, in which he welcomes me back to "the most exciting singing competition in the world." Um, no, but let's move on. Carson recaps the new format of the show, explaining that the judges will be pairing members of their own teams against one another and the contestants will compete in "do-or-die battle competitions." I wonder--will Carson be performing the end-of-battle executions, and what is Carson Daly's favorite method of delivering death? This is must-watch TV!
Between you and me, the pace of these sing-off battles is excruciating. The blind competitions were so much better than these quasi-duets. Each one hour episode features one face-off from each team, so it's taking four episodes to see each team whittled down to four members, after which we move on to "live competitions." I also wish we got to see the stage rehearsals for all four teams--why show them for one or two? And ultimately, I resent being subjected to Carson Daly--a television host that makes Ryan Seacrest seem smart and funny.
On to the recap!
Cee-Lo dives right in to the battle pairings, pitting Tje against my Blues Brother/Grizzly Man Nikia, from Austin, TX. Cee-Lo wants to see how Tje's "sensitive" voice stands up against Nikia's "aggressive" vocals, and assigns them the song "Closer" by Ne-Yo. Nikia is nervous, says the song is made for Tje's voice, while Tje expresses fear about battling "a big white guy singing an R&B song," noting that some people love that kind of thing.
After rehearsals the coaches advise the contestants. Cee-Lo wants Nikia to speak the truth of the song, and his "trusted adviser" Monica advises Tje to "think about Tje." Nothing like concrete advice from your coach!
The Performance: Nikia is kicking ass, but Tje has surprisingly strong vocals and holds his own against Nikia. Their approach is also more duet than battle, which makes the song a lot nicer to listen to than last week's Frenchie/Taralynn over-the-top pairing. Cee-Lo seems happy with the performance, and has a big smile on his face the whole time. The judge's roundup: Adam says he'd go w/ Nikia, Blake agrees and adds that he'd like Nikia on his team, and Christina says Nikia sold it. Cee-Lo consults his trusted adviser, Monica, who votes Tje but in the end Cee-Lo goes with Nikia! Texas survives another week!
Blake pairs the husband and wife duo known as Elenowen against the vocal power of Jared Blake, assigning them the Marvin Gaye classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Elenowen (Josh and Nicole) remind us that they get to move out of her parents' basement if they win. Sad face!
In rehearsals Reba advises Jared to work to keep the audience's attention because he's singing against two people; she then advises Elenowen to sing in front of a mirror and work on looking confident, because uncertainty makes the audience uncomfortable.
We get to see a stage rehearsal for this performance. Again, I wish we got to see for everyone, or no one. Blake says that "clearly" the vocals are not working, and all three singers look scared and unhappy.
The Performance: Jared comes out swinging (vocally) and I'm surprised at how well he sells the song; he seems determined to win over the audience. Elenowen is just not strong enough when all three are singing, but they manage to sound good when they are on their own. Jared looks and sounds the most confident, and Elenowen should have sung into the mirror a little longer--they look terrified. Judge's round-up: Cee-Lo doesn't hesitate to choose Jared, and Adam says he can tell Jared missed his guitar. Reba comments that Jared definitely looked the most comfortable and Elenowen immediately looks defeated, especially Josh. Coach Blake goes with Jared Blake, so it's back to the basement for Elenowen.
Adam pairs up the amazing Javier with Two-Tries Angela, who got a second shot at competing in the final round of the blind auditions. Angela is excited to sing with Javier, but also scared by his talent. Adam assigns them the Ben E. Knight classic "Stand by Me," explaining that he picked the song because its simplicity plays to Angela's strengths as a vocalist. She's obviously going to need a leg up against Javier, who is widely regarded as the most talented singer in the competition.
In rehearsals Adam says the song is "so simple it's a nursery rhyme" and wants Javier to "sing less." The coaches want Javier to sing with discipline, and not try to sing the song too much. All of this is posturing for television--there is no way that Angela beats Javier, unless it's an eyebrow contest. Girlfriend is not afraid of the eyebrow pencil.
The Performance: Angela surprises right out of the gate, with strong, clear vocals, but let's be honest here--Javier is just so talented, how can anyone win against him? Angela keeps her nerves in check and sings well, but she does hit an ugly one toward the end when she goes in for a power note; she really takes it in stride, giggling and laughing at the end. The judge's roundup: Blake loves Javier, Christina comments on Angela's sweet presence but likes Javier's swagger, Cee-Lo compliments Angela's voice but also says Javier is stiff competition. The verdict: Coach Adam liked their energy together on stage, but DUH he goes with Javier.
Christina walks in and immediately pairs up the bald, hard-rocking Beverly against "Drops of Jupiter"-singing Justin, and assigns them "Baba O'Reilley" by The Who. Beverly immediately starts talking smack, telling Justin he's in trouble, and I believe her. In rehearsal Beverly jumps at the chance to start singing and she BRINGS IT--girlfriend has sung this song once or twice before. Justin comments that he has never even seen the lyrics before and I'm like, doesn't this boy watch CSI: Miami?! Justin is nervous, but he starts singing and it's clear that Beverly might have a problem, because he's not afraid to jump in and try hard. At the stage rehearsal the acoustics are weird, and it is hard to tell who was singing the song the best.
The Performance: Justin comes out and immediately engages the audience, and brings much stronger vocals than I anticipated. We know Beverly can really sing this song so it's going to be about how well they do it together. Justin shocks me, and his vocals are so much stronger than his Train audition song revealed. Beverly dominates, but it's possible Justin has a shot here because he performed so well outside of his comfort zone. The judge's roundup: Cee-Lo says Beverly "stole it and owned it", Adam said he thought Justin would get murdered and thought he did an amazing job. Blake says Justin "came out of nowhere", and Christina thanks them for making the co-coaches insanely jealous. Coach Christina picks Beverly and Justin takes it so well, it makes me really love him and truly sorry to see him go.
The Voice airs on NBC at 10/9c. You can watch past episodes online at NBC.com.