Regular readers of my "Voice" articles are probably noticing a trend by now: that I tend to start off each week's Battle Rounds recap, glass-half-empty-style, by whining about the battle result that outraged me the most. Well, this week's recap is no different.
Oh sure, for the most part I agreed with the coaches' verdicts this week--in fact, of the six battles that took place this Monday, I was basically okay with how five of them panned out, which was a major improvement over the previous two weeks' episodes when several of my early favorites went home. HOWEVER...there was one battle this week, between Team Cee Lo's marginally talented (and--this is a key point here--marginally clothed) Erin Martin and highly entertaining hirsute farmboys the Shields Brothers, that went so awry, it almost ruined the entire episode for me. Cee Lo Green's team has been my favorite this season, but after his silly decision last week to pit his two best team members, Jamar Rogers and Jamie Lono, against each other (leading to Jamie's early exit), followed by this week's travesty of rock 'n' roll injustice, I am not so sure I'm in the Red Zone anymore.
So this is what happened: Cee Lo had soft-spoken quirky girl Erin go up against the Shieldses, a pair of definitely NOT soft-spoken cornfed cornball rockers who came to the show with an awesome T-shirt-ready catchphrase ("Punching America In The Face With Rock 'N' Roll") and an even awesome-er attitude that guest mentor Babyface compared to "Wayne's World." (Babyface meant that as an insult, though neither I nor the Brothers took it as such, of course. Party time, excellent!) This was definitely an odd battle pairing, but Erin seemed confident, dissing her opponents with, "Loud isn't necessarily better." Um, yes it is, Erin. At least in this case.
I'd actually been impressed by Erin's kooky blind audition of "Hey There Delilah" a few weeks ago, but this week I thought she was VERY out of her depth when covering Tina Turner's "What's Love Go To Do With It," the song that the clearly insane Cee Lo chose for this particular battle. It was obvious to me that the Shields dudes had the edge here, especially since their harmonies were surprisingly strong and totally drowned out Erin. (Which was a good thing, since when Erin was actually audible, she was rather terrible.) At least I thought the Brothers, though unabashedly gimmicky, had a leg up. What the Brothers didn't have was another gimmick: former-fashion-model legs, and the willingness to show off such legs in what appeared to be a Pussycat Doll Halloween costume, complete with garters and Pretty Woman thigh-highs. Because that is what Erin did, and that is probably why Erin won. Gee, I wonder why Cee Lo picked her, huh? Clearly he was using a body part other than his ears when he made this decision, ahem.
Oh well. I hope the Shieldses keep on rawkin' and keep on punching America in the face with rock 'n' roll. Meanwhile, someone needs to punch Cee Lo in the face for making such a dumb decision. (Maybe his feisty white cat can do it.) As for the five other less controversial battles of the week, here's how they went down:
TEAM ADAM: Pip vs. Nathan Parrett
Bow-tied Joey McIntyre lookalike Pip and handsome Ken doll lookalike Nathan seemed like two of the squeakier-clean contestants on Adam Levine's team, so it was a little amusing to me that Adam chose Amy Winehouse's "You Know That I'm No Good" for their battle song. But you know what? Both of them were really good. I thought that this was a pretty even match, although Nathan was a little more believable than the cutesy Pip singing this dark and boozy ballad, and Cee Lo even remarked that Nathan had "Amy's spirit." But considering how much screentime Pip received earlier this season, while Nathan's blind audition hadn't even been shown in its entirety but was instead part of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it montage, it was no shocker that early favorite Pip was declared the victor by Adam. I adore Pip and I am happy he's still in the game, but I would have at least liked to have seen Nathan's entire first audition air on TV. I bet it was good.
TEAM BLAKE: ALyX vs. Jermaine
Blake Shelton oddly had two very serious and overly earnest singers, the annoyingly spelled ALyX (another previously little-seen audition-montage contestant) and former Alicia Keys backup singer Jermaine, team up on an out-of-character lighthearted song, Billy Ocean's "Get Out Of My Dreams (Get Into My Car)." And I expected that I'd want both of them to get in the nearest car and get the heck off the show. I mean, I didn't like snotty 19-year-old ALyX's attitude this week when she said, "Youth is power," and back when Jermaine had first auditioned with Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," I'd found him shouty and grating. However, this evening, I really enjoyed Jermaine. His professional background showed, while ALyX suffered a few vocal rough patches. All of the coaches, including decision-maker Blake, thought Jermaine was the clear winner of this battle. So this time, youth was trumped by experience. Sorry, ALyX (or alYx, or however you spell it).
WINNER: Jermaine Paul
TEAM XTINA: Jonathas vs. Ashley De La Rosa
This was one of the more underwhelming battles of Season 2 so far. I felt no real allegiance to or strong feelings one way or the other about either of these contestants, and when they dueted on "No Air," I wasn't too impressed with either them vocally (they sounded better together than alone, actually). I found Jonathas more interesting--he worked the stage/boxing ring a little more dynamically, and he definitely looked like a star--so I was a bit surprised that coach Christina Aguilera picked Ashley, especially since Ashley was another audition-montage contestant who I'd assumed was total fodder (montage contestants always seem set up to fail). Anyway, Ashley did fine here, but I can't imagine she'll go much further than this, especially since Xtina's crew already includes awesome frontrunners like Lindsey Pavao, Sera Hill, Chris Mann, and Jesse Campbell. We shall see.
WINNER: Ashley De La Rosa
TEAM ADAM: Katrina Parker vs. Angel Taylor
Ooh, this one was a toughie. Angel, one of the Season 2 "Voice" contestants with the most professional experience (she used to be signed to Columbia, was heavily promoted on VH1, and even once toured with Adele), was an early frontrunner; meanwhile, Katrina was one of my personal favorites from the beginning. Battling on Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love," both ladies gave it their all, but there was just something about the less polished and more approachable Katrina that I connected to more. She really did seem to be bleeding her heart out there on that stage, and Christina even compared Katrina to Angel's famous former tourmate, the one and only Adele (which is hardly faint praise). Considering all the pimping Angel had already received, I was a little surprised that Adam chose Katrina (Katrina seemed shocked herself), but I was hardly mad. Angel was great, but Katrina deserved this victory. I think she could be a dark horse in this competition.
WINNER: Katrina Parker
TEAM BLAKE: Erin Willett vs. Gwen Sebastian
Gwen came to this show with the "sob story" that she had CHOSEN not to have children in order to pursue her musical career. Erin, on the other hand, arrived at her first audition with a father dying of terminal cancer, and on this week's (pre-taped) episode, she found out that her dad had only 24 hours to live but was still insisting she stay on "The Voice" and make him proud. So in terms of sympathetic backstories, Erin totally had Gwen beat. But of course, a compelling sob story means nothing if you don't have the voice to back it up, and thankfully in this case, Erin the W totally did. While I hadn't paid much attention to Erin when she tried out a few weeks ago, this week I was blown away by her take on Pat Benatar's power ballad "We Belong," which was infinitely better than Gwen's attempt. This is one Erin on "The Voice" I can happily endorse, and I'm glad she won, otherwise her agonized decision to not quit the show to rush to her dad's bedside would have been in vain. I am sure her dad (who has sadly since passed away) is very, very proud of her.
WINNER: Erin Willett
So next week, the final battles will take place. By process of elimination, we know it'll be Team Xtina's country duo the Line vs. rapper Moses Stone (really?) and Team Blake's hippie street musician Naia Kete vs. preacher's son Jordan Rager (also odd). On Team Cee Lo, there will be two battles, between Tony Vincent, Wade, James Massone, and Justin Hopkins (as long as Tony survives, I'll be okay), and on Team Adam, it'll be Mathai, Orlando Napier, Nicolle Galyon, and Karla Davis. And after that, we will finally know the official top 24 that will compete for the public's votes starting April 2! Despite the premature elimination of the Shields Brothers and a few other of my favorites already this season, I am still super-excited about this show, because it's on April 2 that the REAL battles will begin. See you then, and see you next week.