After "The Voice's" initial tryouts wrapped up last week, I worried if the show would be able to survive without its key gimmick: the Blind Auditions, in which the contestants sang to the chair-backs of the four coaches, hoping that the power of their voices alone would get at least one of those chairs to spin around. But luckily, this week "The Voice" returned with an even better gimmick: the Battle Rounds! Yes, perhaps there'd been no better example of no-holds-barred reality TV combat since Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges got in the ring on "Celebrity Boxing," or the "Rock Of Love" bimbos were still warring for Bret Michaels' affections by yanking out each other's hair extensions.
The basic premise here? With "The Voice's" four celebrity coaches--Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton--having to trim their respective teams down from eight to four singers before the live competitive shows, they did so in the most amazingly cutthroat way possible: by pitting their own teammates against each other, in a neon boxing ring, and forcing them to perform the same song in a sort of "Who Sang It Best?" test, from which only one singer would emerge unscathed. Just imagine the showdowns on "RuPaul's Drag Race," except without drag queens, and with actual singing instead of lip-synching for one's life. Yeah, it was kind of like that. In other words, it was awesome.
Ultimately the verdicts were up to the individual team coaches, and their decisions, some of which I disagreed with, were final. It'd be interesting to find out if the four teams would shape up differently if America had the chance to vote at this stage in the game. But at least a couple of my favorites got through this week. Did yours? Read on and find out who survived Tuesday night's battles.
TARRALYN RAMSEY vs. FRENCHIE DAVIS
After both contestants received some key advice from amazing Australian artist Sia, as well as from their coach Xtina, the ultimate battle of the reality divas was on like Donkey Kong, with former "VH1's Born To Diva" champ Tarralyn and ex-"American Idol" belter Frenchie going head-to-head and larynx-to-larynx during a singoff of Beyonce's "Single Ladies." Given my longtime love of "Idol" and general unfamiliarity with "Born To Diva," along with my overall opinion that Frenchie was totally screwed by "Idol," I was very much Team Frenchie. But while I think Frenchie delivered more performance-wise (the woman gave pure sass, pure attitude), and I preferred her sleek shaved head over Tarralyn's very unfortunate wig, Frenchie did go sharp in parts, as Sia pointed out. Meanwhile, Tarralyn sounded mostly born to diva throughout. In the end, though, my vote went to the fabulous Frenchie. And so did Christina's! Huzzah! And now, "America finally gets to vote for me!" exclaimed Frenchie. Reality justice has been served.
PATRICK THOMAS vs. TYLER ROBINSON
It was the lovable country boy against the lovable openly gay nerd, singing a song that really suited neither of them: Elvis Presley's "Burning Love." I have no idea what their coach Blake Shelton was thinking. "One of you really have to make me believe that you are a hunka hunka burning love," he demanded. Blake's pal Reba McEntire attempted to give the guys some advice on how to feel every word (including, I presume, "hunka"), and then the boys got ready to rumble. But there was no contest here, in my opinion. Tyler's voice was so much more soulful, not to mention better matched to the song. Plus, his bow-tie ruled. Tyler also had tons of personality, while Patrick came across as a typical cookie-cutter cowboy. But Blake safely stayed with what he knew, country music, and disappointingly chose Patrick. I believe this was the wrong decision with every hillbilly bone in my body. Is it too late for Tyler to audition for "The X Factor"?
CASEY WESTON vs. TIM MAHONEY
The 39-year-old dude with the misleading lady-voice and the second-chance lady were assigned Stevie Nicks's "Leather & Lace" by Adam Levine (and his Maroon 5 musical director, Adam Blackstone) for their singoff. I assumed the tune would be a better fit for acoustic songstress Casey, but for the most part I went into this round with no preconceived notions, since neither singer had made a huge impression on me during their first auditions. Once they started singing, however, I thought Tim's voice had more character and his performance had more passion, even if Casey possessed the technically better voice. It wasn't the most exciting showdown of the episode (it was so coffeehouse-ish, I started having flashbacks to "American Idol" Season 9), but in the end I was Team Tim. Still, Adam is probably the most competitive coach on this show, so of course he chose Casey; a pretty 18-year-old is a lot more marketable than a pushing-40 hard-luck case who's been trying to get a break for two decades. Poor Tim. I was hoping this would finally be his chance.
NIKI DAWSON vs. VICCI MARTINEZ
Cee Lo is best known for a song with the F-word in it, so of course he chose Pink's profane hit "F***in' Perfect" for the Vicci/Niki singoff (which was co-mentored by special guest Monica). I went into this round totally Team Vicci, since she was one of my favorite singers from the Blind Auditions; the girl's just COOL. And I maintained this opinion once the showdown started. While Niki held her own during her solo parts, she came across as trying too hard and a little pageanty, while Vicci was almost as badass as Pink herself. However, the real magic happened when the ladies sang together; it turned out they worked really well as a duo, and their joint performance made me wish Cee Lo could keep them both. (Hey, if Blake can have the twosome Elenowen, then why can't Cee Lo have a duo act called Nikki & Vicci?) But Cee Lo had to choose...and he chose wisely, going with darling Vicci. A f***in' perfect decision.
Turn in next Tuesday, when four more "Voice" battle rounds go down. I'm already dreading the Nakia/Tje Austin battle--no matter who wins that match, one really good singer is going to slip through the cracks--but I'm otherwise looking forward to seeing the remaining singers fight the good fight. So let's get ready to rumble, and see you next week.