"The Voice's" Battle Rounds continued this week, with 12 very able-throated singers entering the show's garishly neon-lit boxing ring and only six walking away unscathed and on to the live semifinals. For all you "Voice" newbies, the Battle Rounds are to "The Voice" as Hollywood Week is to "American Idol" and the Judges' Houses are to "The X Factor." It's the segment of the season when the top 48 (four teams of 12) are whittled down to the top 24 that will eventually compete for public votes. Two singers on the same team, of roughly the same musical genre, step into the ring, and after an epic singoff, that team's coach chooses which of the two contestants to keep. Sometimes, the coach's choice is clear; other times, it's a close call. Sometimes, the coach chooses wisely; other times (as evidenced by a few questionable verdicts last week), not so much.
The worst-case scenarios, however, come when a coach makes the stupidest choice of all: the choice to pit two of his or her strongest team members against each other, thus ensuring the premature elimination of one of the show's best contestants. This unfortunately happened twice this Monday, with two pulse-pounding, nail-biting, heartbreaking battles that could only end in tears...unless some new rule was created so that these battles could end in a tie. Sadly, that did not happen. Le sigh.
Here are the two battles that bummed me out the most this week:
TEAM XTINA: Lindsey Pavao vs. Lee Koch
Lindsey the asymmetrically coiffed indie girl and Lee the scruffy indie rocker/baker were my two hands-down favorite contestants on Christina Aguilera's team this season. So how could Christina do this? Why would she jeopardize two of her best players? Why didn't she pit Lee against, say, the Line, or pit the Trey Songz-covering Lindsey against rapper Moses Stone or obvious fodder contestant Ashley De La Rosa? This was a travesty (almost as big a travesty as fellow coach Blake Shelton confessing that he was unfamiliar with the song Lee and Lindsey sang, "Heart-Shaped Box"). Both Lindsey and Lee dug deep into the Nirvana classic and put their unique stamps on it--Lee sounding deliciously creepy and weird, Lindsey sounding sexy and gothy and vampy and torchy--and both of them really, really deserved to stay. It was actually the coolest battle I'd seen in "Voice" history. Christina picked Lindsey, a decision I could hardly protest (Lindsey is incredible), but saying goodbye to Lee this early in the season was spirit-crushing, not to mention very surprising. Christina Aguilera is dang fool.
Lee & Lindsey in the coolest "Voice" battle ever
WINNER: Lindsey Pavao
TEAM CEE LO: Jamie Lono vs. Jamar Rogers
Last season, silly Cee Lo Green forced two very worthy opponents, Nakia and Tje Austin, to battle each other--and while I was happy to see Nakia prevail back then, I was sad to see Tje get eliminated so early. Cee Lo, having arguably the strongest team again this season, made an even lamer move this week, placing adorable sandwich-maker Jamie Lono in the ring with another one of my Season 2 Team Cee Lo favorites, "American Idol" veteran Jamar Rogers. The two boys sang Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is," but what I want to know is...what was Cee Lo thinking? Why didn't he have Jamie battle dull bar-band rocker Justin Hopkins, or have Jamar battle the overrated James Massone or fodder contestant Wade? Why would Cee Lo want to lose either of these guys? Anyway, the Foreigner power-ballad was a much better fit for Jamar's belty style, and with his moving backstory (he's an HIV-positive recovering drug addict who miraculously turned his life around), he was already a fan favorite. Jamie did his best, but Jamar clearly outsang him. So Cee Lo picked Jamar, which was definitely the right choice...but the even right-er choice would have been letting Jamie spar with another, more suitable opponent, on a more suitable song. (Side note: "The Voice" cast is going to go hungry this season, now that they've lost their sandwich chef AND their pastry chef in one night.)
Jamie & Jamar in the night's most bittersweet battle
WINNER: Jamar Rogers
Oh well. I still love "The Voice," although I admit I'm loving it a little less right now, now that some contestants I was really excited about are already gone before I even had a chance to vote for them. So, is it too soon to ask if Lee and Jamie can be brought back as Wild Cards?