Tuesday was the final night of Battle Rounds on Season 3 of "The Voice," and of course Mark Burnett wasn't going to let this phase of the competition conclude without squeezing in just a little bit more controversy and scandal. So I didn't necessarily agree with all of the coaches' decisions...but hey, at least of all the battles were shown in full this time (no annoying montages), so I'll keep my complaining to a minimum and just get straight to the recappin'.
TEAM XTINA: Jordan Pruitt vs. Adriana Louise
Ex-Disney star Jordan and sweet young thang Adriana seemed a little taken aback when they learned they'd be mentored by guylinered punk-rawker Billie Joe Armstrong, but what they really should've been scared of was their coach Christina Aguilera's advice to grunt throughout Katy Perry's "Hot 'N' Cold" as if they were giving birth. Fortunately, neither girl took Xtina's advice too much to heart, but both definitely brought a touch of Billie Joe's rock 'n' roll spirit to this surprisingly feisty, and for the most part well-matched, battle. ("I don't know if we've ever had a battle that was so even," marveled coach Adam Levine.) However, Jordan's professional experience (she once toured with the Jonas Brothers, Carson Daly informed viewers at home) did give her an edge, and she just seemed to want it a little more--as a former tween singer trying to reinvent herself as a grown-up, she clearly had more to prove. At first, ex-"Mickey Mouse Club" darling Christina seemed to relate to Jordan's Disney background, and honestly, I assumed that Xtina had already planned to pick Jordan from the start. But then, shockingly, Christina--who seems physically incapable of making a smart decision on "The Voice," as if good judgment is fundamentally not part of her DNA--went with Adriana. And with no Steals left in play--other than Christina's, of course--Jordan had no hope of remaining on the show. "It pisses me off that I don't have a Steal left," grumbled Blake Shelton. Personally, it pisses me off that Christina keeps getting it wrong like this. Adriana is a good singer herself, yes--but Jordan's inner fire (not to mention her sizable built-in fanbase) could have actually won this thing for Team Xtina. Christina keeps claiming that she has some sort of strategy in mind this season, but I still can't figure out what that strategy is.
TEAM BLAKE: Kelly Crapa vs. Michaela Paige
I was surprised this wasn't one of the battles that got squished into one of this season's montages--since both girls' original auditions were not shown in full, I'd assumed they were both fodder. But once I saw them battle, I was glad they didn't get screwed out of screentime again, because I was impressed by both girls--particularly by 16-year-old Internet radio DJ Michaela, with her Fabulous Stains skunk 'do and Xanadu headbands and roller-disco kneesocks. At first Kelly, a shy, 15-year-old "country star in training" (Carson's words), seemed intimidated by her outlandish opponent--especially since the song Blake picked for this battle, Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You," seemed much better-suited for a rocker grrrrl like Michaela (even Cee Lo Green pointed this out). Kelly actually put a nicely twangy spin on the song, and I guess she tried to give off a rocker vibe of sorts by crimping random strands of her hair, but this was still The Michaela Show. Even when Michaela wasn't singing, she dominated the ring. Adam described this battle as a "musical pillowfight," but I think only Kelly's feathers got ruffled here. So unsurprisingly, Blake chose Michaela. However, Kelly is only 15, so maybe with a couple more years under her belt--and some more suitable material--she could get another chance at country stardom down the road. Just not now, and not on "The Voice."
TEAM CEE LO: Avery Wilson vs. Chevonne
Oooof. This one had me worried. Avery, a 16-year-old prodigy, was one of the Blind Auditions' biggest highlights and brightest hopes, while fiery Lady Gaga backup singer Chevonne stood out to me and intrigued me from the get-go as well. So already I was hoping that Christina would exercise some common sense for once, and use her one remaining Steal on whichever contestant Cee Lo didn't choose. Both singers possessed the lung power necessary to tackle David Guetta & Sia's "Titanium," but somewhat unexpectedly, it was Avery who made the strongest impression--despite the fact that the song was originally performed by a female pop singer AND the fact that Chevonne was rocking some crazy Bernadette Peters curls and short-shorts. Avery just sounded better--less forced, more fluid--to me. "I think Avery took it, hands-down," Adam said, and Blake agreed. Cee Lo went with Avery, but then Christina did use her Steal on Chevonne, telling her, "Your stage presence is uh-maaaaa-zing!" Perhaps this was not such a massive shock--with only four minutes left before the season's Battle Rounds wrapped up, and with only one Steal left, this was a use-it-or-lose-it situation with a rather obvious, preordained happy ending. But then again, you never know with Christina. She very well could have become suddenly math-challenged and settled for just nine team members. So maybe I was a little surprised, after all.
STEAL: Chevonne moves to Team Xtina
So for those of you out there who are math-challenged (and that would be understandable in this case, considering this series' confusing and constantly changing rules), the coaches now have 10 contestants each. And next week, in some new and sure-to-be-controversial twist called a "Knockout Round," that number will be brutally slashed in half, with only 20 contestants total (five per team) advancing to the live rounds--after they are forced to sing against each other all over again. (Um, didn't we see these contestants battle each other already? Like, during the past three weeks?) From the looks of NBC's Knockout Round preview, apparently Avery Wilson will sing against Daniel Rosa, so that faceoff isn't likely to be a shocker, but I am certain that next week will still be full of plenty of outrageous cuts, many of them at the gel-manicured hands of Christina Aguilera.
Below is the list of the remaining 40 contestants, with each team ranked in my personal order of preference. So, barring any major game-changers next week, you can all assume that I'd like for the top five from each team list to make it through to the live shows. Will I get my way? Oh, probably not. But I'll be watching and blogging regardless, so see you next Monday.
TEAM CEE LO
Julio Cesar Castillo
- AUDIO: Chris Mann's new single
- Cee Lo, "Voice" singers perform with Muppets
- PHOTOS: Xtina's best and worst "Voice" looks