In just one hour, there were two battles that had me reaching for my heart pills (because I was about to go into cardiac arrest from all the suspense) and for my cuticle oil (because I was nervously gnawing my nails down to the nubs); two premature goodbyes to two supposed former frontrunners; and one very, very good use of the Steal, the show's new rule that allows rival coaches to poach contestants for their teams.
Here's the lowdown on Tuesday's shocking showdowns:
TEAM CEE LO: Domo vs. Cody Belew
This was a feisty, fierce faceoff between Cee Lo's two most colorful contestants, "the dancer that can sing" (Domo) and "the singer that can dance" (Cody). The stage clearly wasn't big enough for the both of 'em, and only one of 'em could stay...and immediately I remembered that horrible Battle Rounds scandal of last season's "Voice," when Cee Lo selected leotarded sexpot Erin Martin over the clearly more vocally gifted but not-as-sexy Shields Brothers. So I feared for my boy Cody. (Yes, Domo is a better singer than Erin ever was, but still.) Cody actually expressed similar fears to his "Ladykiller" coach, flat-out asking Cee Lo Green: "Domo is female, with curves for days, and she wears barely any clothes--and those are things that you go to sleep thinking about. So how can I stand out?" Good question, Cody! But the answer, it turned out, was to just be a better singer. Wow, who'd a thunk it? Miraculously, despite all of Cody's high-kicking, rump-shaking, and hair-flipping/crimping during her battle with Cody on Lady Gaga's "Telephone" (and despite her cockamamie claims that she can sing like Mariah and Aretha), in the end Cee Lo chose....CODY BELEW! I was shocked. Pleasantly shocked, of course. I just couldn't believe that, for once, Cee Lo thought with, um, the right body parts--that is, his ears and his brain--when making a decision. And now, my own ears and brain are so very delighted that there will still be a "little bit of bam-bam" on this season's live semifinals.
TEAM XTINA: Nathalie Hernandez vs. Aquile
Wow, this was a close one. Both 15-year-old prodigy Nathalie and smooth crooner Aquile sounded absolutely lovely singing James Morrison's "You Give Me Something," and I honestly couldn't figure out how Christina Aguilera was going to decide whom to keep and whom to cut. The romantic singer-songwriter ballad seemed a little more suited to Aquile, so in the end I was not surprised that he prevailed--but I was utterly shocked that not a single coach wanted to steal Nathalie. Really? Both Cee Lo and Blake wanted to steal Collin McLoughlin on Monday, but no one wanted Nathalie Hernandez? This was the first shocker elimination of the season...but probably the first of many to come.
TEAM XTINA: Celica Westbrook vs. Lisa Scinta
Poor Lisa Scinta. Her audition was barely shown the first time around, and now NBC didn't even have the decency to air her entire Battle Round! Seriously, the "Voice" editors spread out SIX battles over an entire two hours on Monday. Would it have killed them to show full battles on Tuesday? Couldn't they have cut some filler on Monday, and squeezed in a couple more battles on that night? Instead, a mere snippet of Celica and Lisa's battle was shown Tuesday, with a frustrating fast-track straight to Xtina's decision to keep Celica. Insider tip: I attended this Battle Rounds taping in person, and I can tell you: Christina did make the right decision here. I don't recall Lisa being very good, and so maybe she should be grateful that America didn't see her all of her somewhat trainwrecky battle. But I still bet America wanted to see the whole thing.
TEAM BLAKE: Charlie Rey vs. Rudy Parris
Charlie, the handsome smog technician with a heart of gold, seemed positioned to be a frontrunner this season. Rudy, the country-rocker who auditioned with such an awesome and inventive cover of the Police's "Every Breath You Take," was also an early standout. So why was this battle also not shown in full? I really wanted to see what Rudy could do, and I am sure many viewers out there, mostly of the red-blooded female variety, wanted to see a lot more of Charlie. Instead, Charlie was gone too soon, with no real explanation as to why he was being sent back to the garage without any other coaches trying to steal him. Sorry, Charlie. And sorry, "Voice" viewers.
TEAM ADAM: Melanie Martinez vs. Caitlin Michele
I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack and be forced to file a worker's comp claim with Yahoo! after watching this particular battle. MY TWO FAVORITE GIRLS! NOOOOOOO! In one corner of the ring, there was Caitlin, all Amy Lee/Florence Welch theatrics and operatics. In the other was the wonderful and winsome Melanie, rocking a Whoville hairbow and just basically being awesomely adorable and adorably awesome. "USE THE STEAL! USE THE STEAL!" I was screaming (while my co-workers in adjacent cubicles no doubt contemplated calling my office building's security and/or men in little white coats). And I was yelling all this before I even knew which contestant Adam Levine would choose, while both talented girls were still singing Ellie Goulding's "Lights." Said Adam, "I want them both on my team"--which was total B.S., because if he'd really wanted them both on his team, HE WOULDN'T HAVE PITTED THESE GIRLS AGAINST EACH OTHER in the first place. This was Rebecca Loebe-gate all over again. Adam eventually chose Melanie, who wasn't as pure and powerful a singer as Caitlin, but certainly possessed her breathily unique charms...but unlike the Loebe-gate situation back in Season 1, Caitlin now had the Steal on her side. (Thank you, Mark Burnett. Thank you.) Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green both went in for the Steal, and this time, Cee Lo actually convinced someone to join his team, despite his somewhat creepy line, "Come to me, my dark princess." Proudly "not normal" Caitlin heeded his command, and she joined Team Cee Lo. I think Adam lost a valuable player here, while Cee Lo only strengthened his ranks...but regardless, Adam and Cee Lo are certainly leading the competition now, and I am so thrilled/relieved that both Caitlin and Melanie technically have a chance to compete in this season's finale--which would not have been the case if they'd stayed on Team Adam. So I guess it all worked out, huh?
STEAL: Caitlin moves to Team Cee Lo
While I had a few (above-vented) frustrations with Tuesday's episode, overall this was one great hour of television. And a great hour of talent. Will next week's Battles Rounds be as exciting? Or as frustrating? Will Christina Aguilera finally use one of her Steals? Come back next Monday to find out.
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