Six Battles took place on "The Voice" this Monday, and with the exception of the final showdown, I disagreed with every coach decision. And even that sixth Battle ticked me off, because the participating fan-favorite contestants, Team Adam's James Wolpert and Will Champlin, should've never been pitted against each other in the first place. Spoiler alert: Steals were total necessities this evening.
Let's just get straight to the recapping/whining/smack-talking, shall we?
TEAM XTINA: Josh Logan vs. Michael Lynch
Josh was a contestant many years ago on "Rock Star: Supernova" (perhaps uncoincidentally also a Mark Burnett production), competing for the chance to front Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted, and Gilby Clarke's doomed, made-for-TV pop-metal band. Michael is that Irish guy with a Latin heart who likes to sing en Español. Christina Aguilera threw 'em both for a loop by making them duet on Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe," a song that isn't rock per se — and definitely isn't in Spanish. Bizarrely, even though Christina had said, "I wanted to give them the freedom to do their own thing," both guys sounded uncannily like Adam Levine when they got in the ring. No wonder egocentric Adam was grooving so hard and smilingly so maniacally during their Battle. I wasn't smiling as much. Neither guy was particularly compelling onstage, and this sing-off was pretty much a draw. But I found Michael a little more charismatic, so I was slightly irked by Christina's decision to keep Josh instead. However, I would've rather seen one of last week's castoffs, like the deserving Timyra-Joi or Justin Chain, advance over either of these fellows.
Team CeeLo: George Horga Jr. vs. Juhi
George's Blind Audition was more like a Bland Audition (despite his admittedly very pretty face), while Juhi's "Mercy" audition was adorakable and awesome. So this seemed like a done deal. Juhi FTW! But when these two teens started rehearsing Gavin DeGraw's "Best I Ever Had," I started worrying for Juhi. She was bouncing around like a Superball filled with Mexican jumping beans, and her voice was jumping all over the place too, so I could see how she could get annoying fast. Luckily, onstage she focused and found a way to harness her excess energy effectively. George was better than I remembered (save for one bum note that Adam couldn't resist pointing out), but Juhi brought the real juju to the Battle. All of the coaches seemed to be rooting for Juhi; Blake Shelton even admitted that he should have picked her for his team. So I was utterly SHOCKED, after all this, when CeeLo Green saved George instead. Juhi seemed like prime Red Zone frontrunner material. Unfortunately, Blake had no more Steals in play…but thankfully, Adam swooped right in and wisely stole Juhi for himself. I have a feeling that CeeLo is going to regret letting Juhi slip away to Team Adam even more than that time in Season 3 when he let Adam steal Amanda Brown. Juhi was the best CeeLo ever had, at least this season.
STEAL: Juhi moves to Team Adam
TEAM BLAKE: Brian Pounds vs. Austin Jenckes
Denim-on-denim country dude Brian and grizzled rocker Austin were assigned a sweet, sappy Bee Gees song, "To Love Somebody" — albeit a Hank Williams Jr.-inspired version, complete with dueling acoustic guitars. It was the clash of the WGWGs! But then, Brian surprisingly set his guitar aside. Was that a mistake? Perhaps…guys with guitars do often win on singing shows, after all. It was a questionable move, but one that I actually thought paid off, as it forced Brian to not use his guitar as a crutch and to perform in a direct way that strummy, laid-back Austin did not. Austin, though vocally more forceful, ended up coming across like Brian's mere sideman, his backup bandmate. But…Blake picked Austin anyway. I guess Brian shouldn't have ditched his six-string after all.
TEAM ADAM: James Irwin vs. Matt Cermanski
It was a Battle of the comeback kids: Two contestants who didn't get any chairs to turn last season, who then returned this season and won over picky Adam Levine. (Matt actually inspired three coaches to hit their buttons this season, while James made all four chairs spin.) Which singer would prove he really deserved another chance? Vocally, the two were quite evenly matched singing OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" (guest-mentored by none other than OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder himself). Blake and CeeLo preferred James; Christina sided with Matt. For once, I actually agreed with Christina: Matt captured my attention more, and I thought he seemed more like a budding star. Adam called both performances "flawed," but he chose James in the end, saying James was more "connected." Matt didn't get another shot after this — I thought Christina might steal him, but she refrained. However, considering that Adam was already harshly criticizing James this week, I have doubts as to whether James will stick around much longer. My hunch is he'll get knocked out in the Knockout Rounds.
TEAM XTINA: Lina Gaudenzi vs. Destinee Quinn
The Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" was a great choice for this Battle, the perfect song to help these sweet, soft-spoken girls bring some fight and fire to the stage. (I have to say, Christina's doing a better job as a coach this season than she has in the past…even if she couldn't resist showboating and Bogarting the mic during Lina and Destinee's rehearsal.) In the ring, Destinee was really trying, but maybe she was trying a little too hard; she was overacting the lyrics in a way that made her seem more Broadway than country, and this compromised her vocals as well. Lina's performance felt more natural, and the Shakira-like goaty-throatiness that had bothered me during her Blind Audition was finally under control. Christina said Destinee won this Battle when it came to emotional delivery, while Lina had won it vocally. Then Christina apparently forgot this show is called "THE VOICE," and she picked Destinee. (Forget all that stuff I just said about Christina being a good coach this season, OK?) Adam decided to swoop in for the Steal. Was Lina worth using the only Steal he had left, with so many other Battles to go? I'm not so sure, but Lina did deserve to stay over Destinee in the short run.
STEAL: Lina moves to Team Adam
TEAM ADAM: James Wolpert vs. Will Champlin
Whatever smarts Adam demonstrated by stealing Lina and especially Juhi, he instantly negated by stupidly, stupidly making two of his coolest and most interesting contenders, James and Will, face off against each other. Why does Adam always do this? He always starts every season with the strongest team, then systematically dismantles that team with a series of silly decisions. So anyhoo, before this Battle even began, I was already rooting for CeeLo to steal either guy. Once the Battle did kick off, with James and Will belting Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," I was rooting more for James, but still hoping that the also-very-worthy Will would get a reprieve. After all, Season 5 would be a little less awesome without either of these geek-chic indie boys. Adam eventually picked James, which was the only coach decision I agreed with this evening, and then thankfully, Christina — not CeeLo! — stole Will. And just like that, Will was back in the game…and I was back to praising Christina's Season 5 coaching skills.
STEAL: Will moves to Team Xtina
So now there's only one more night of Battles, and only one Steal (CeeLo's) left in play. Will CeeLo, and the rest of the coaches, make the right decisions on Tuesday? Or will I be angrily banging out another disgruntled recap? Tune in then and find out.
- Sports & Recreation
- Christina Aguilera
- Adam Levine
- James Irwin