I'm disappointed in this reality show. Have I already told you that? I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself, but these battle rounds are ridiculous--almost as ridiculous as Carson Daly. The only thing keeping me in this--besides my recap commitment, which I take very seriously--is the fact that I really do like a few of the remaining singers. Also, Cee Lo. He is so adorable in his monochromatic outfits and capri pants. Anyway, let's recap, shall we? Since there are only two contestants left on each team, we know the battle pairings through the process of elimination: Team Adam has Jeff vs. Casey; Team Blake pits Sara vs. Xenia; Team Christina has Lily Elise vs. Cherie; Team Cee Lo pits Emily Valentine vs. Curtis Grimes.
Adam assigns Jeff--our Texan pal, who turned all of the judges around during the blind auditions--and Casey the Elton John classic "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me." Adam says Casey is interesting and a badass, and that Jeff is amazing. It's going to be hard for me to root for Casey, not just because Jeff is from Texas, and because he's the better singer, but because this is the kid whose mom passed away last year so I am really just 100% behind Jeff no matter what. In rehearsals, it's not clear if either Jeff or Casey knows this song, which makes me feel old. We also get about 30 seconds of the stage rehearsal, where we learn nothing about whether the two of them have a handle on this song. I think this non-footage is meant to keep us interested and curious, but I just find it annoying.
The Battle: Earlier, we learned that Casey's unfortunate style choices are the result of her designing her own clothes, but I have to admit that I dig her jacket with chain-mail lapels. Chain-mail be damned, I'm rooting for Jeff. When the song starts we can hear that Jeff is definitely pulling back on the vibrato, which Coach Adam requested, and I've got goosebumps. I'm surprised that Casey's voice is so pretty! I guess I didn't remember that. The look on Jeff's dad's face instantly makes me cry, and my momentary affinity for Casey is over.
The Coaches:The coaches' and audience's reactions are huge. Carson Daly uses the phrase "En Fuego." You, sir, are no Dan Patrick--shut it. Blake shares that Reba couldn't take her eyes of Jeff, but that he couldn't take his eyes off of Casey. Christina gives props to Jeff, Cee-Lo seconds it. Adam talks shit to the other judges for not turning their chairs around for Casey. They show a close-up of Casey at this point, and apparently she does her own make-up--HIDEOUS. Adam's decision for the last spot on his live-show team is Jeff, because there is just something mind-blowing about him. To which I say DUH, ADAM.
"I'll Stand by You" by the Pretenders seems like kind of a crazy choice for Sara and Xenia, two of the quietest girls in the competition. Blake pits these two against each other because they are shy, explaining that he wants to see who can assert themselves in a singing competition. He also thinks the song will help him know where their range is. I know from my experience of singing this song in the shower and in the car that it's a toughy.
In rehearsal we see and hear the girls' strengths: Sara's got the range to hit the high notes, Xenia's is her tone. Both girls are nervous and want advice on how to break out of their shyness. Blake makes Xenia cry, but they seem like happy tears. I hope. Otherwise things are going to get ugly on stage.
The Battle:These two look TERRIFIED, but Xenia starts pretty strong as far as her vocals go. Sara sounds just okay. Xenia's voice is just so different, and even though this isn't a confident performance, her voice is striking. Sara definitely comes off as more confident but her vocals just aren't as good.
The Coaches:Christina loves Xenia's interesting, cool tone, and like me, she thinks Sarah seemed more confident if not perfectly on-pitch. Adam thought the performance was pitchy and that the nerves both girls felt were evident. Adam also remarks that he didn't think it was the right song for their voices. Blake goes on about how the record industry is tough and sometimes you have to sing something you don't like. Then Blake picks Xenia. Another DUH moment.
Christina assigns Lily Elise and Cherie "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. Bummer. Christina explains that she picked this song because Cherie is a back-up singer, songwriter and country singer, while Lily Elise tends toward soul. Christina wants them to meet in the middle on this Clarkson song. Cherie seems intimidated by Lily Elise's powerful voice. During the stage rehearsal Cherie shows more confidence, which impresses Christina. We don't hear much of the song, but both singers seem ready, if the 22 seconds of stage rehearsal we're shown are any indication.
The Battle: The song starts out shaky, but both singers seem to get comfortable once the song picks up speed and power. Cherie did a 180 and looks very comfortable and confident on stage, which I think will impress the judges.
The Coaches: Adam comments on the new energy and transformation the two girls display. Reba is excited to meet Cherie, who wrote a #1 song for her. Cee-Lo liked Cherie's control but praises Lily Elise's confidence, and thought they were great together. Christina has praise for both singers, but has to pick one and she goes with Lily Elise. Major bummer for poor Cherie--always a backup singer, never a star.
Team Cee Lo
Coach Cee Lo gives Emily Valentine and Curtis Grimes the overplayed radio hit "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum. Full disclosure: I hate this song. In rehearsals, we don't learn much, except that maybe these two singers want to be naked together, as they talk about crushing on each other. Cee Lo tells them both that feeling the song's emotions is important, as is conveying it when they are on stage.
The Battle: These two sound great together. Even though I don't happen to like this song very much, I like the way these two sound together. I also want them to get married and have babies as soon as this episode ends. When the song ends Curtis and Emily Valentine plant a HUGE kiss on each other, and I am SO EXCITED! They ARE going to make babies! I want to recap their wedding!
The Coaches:Blake quips, "Cee Lo told you to duet, not DO IT." Zing! Adam loves Curtis's baritone. Christina thinks Emily was shaky but executed some strong notes. Cee Lo loves them both (and the big kiss) but picks Curtis.
Next week the live competitions start. You can catch up on past episodes of NBC's The Voice online.