‘The Voice’ Battle Rounds, Pt. 3: Sound Decisions

Lyndsey Parker
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"The Voice's" Season 3 battles continued apace on Monday, and once again, the coaches for the most part made the right choices and sent the most deserving singers through to the next round. Fine by me! Yes, maybe "The Voice's" relative lack of shockers and scandals makes these show recaps less tweetable or bloggable, but we'll save all that controversy for the evenings when Fox's also-enjoyable but very different rival show, "The X Factor," airs. Personally, I'd rather just see talent prevail, night after night, with--as this season's guest mentor Mary J. Blige might put it--no more drama. And judging from "The Voice's" ratings this season, many people out there agree with me. So hey, maybe a recap of happy endings and semi-predictable outcomes will get clicks! Yay.

Here's how Monday's mostly sensible battles panned out...

TEAM BLAKE: Terisa Griffin vs. Julio Cesar Castillo
Terisa was convinced that Blake Shelton picked Miami Sound Machine's "Conga" for this battle in an attempt to railroad her off the show--since the song was, at least in theory, clearly more suited to Latin singer Julio. "You're trying to get rid of me," she said, with her usual lack of shyness. But Terisa was not going without a fight. She shook her booty like a one-woman conga line and sang the song in the most caliente way possible, and I thought it was pretty obvious that she won this battle. And I thought Blake's reasoning for saving Julio instead--that BECAUSE Julio had struggled more in rehearsal, he somehow deserved it more, or something silly like that--made absolutely no sense. But this was the night's one truly annoying decision, in all of the episode's two hours. And all was not lost for Terisa, anyway: Cee Lo Green decided to use his one last "Steal" on her, poaching her for his already-very-strong team. And Terisa jumped up and down with enough gusto to make even Cody Belew look sedate. I think Cee Lo will have his hands full with this diva, but the two of them might be a match made in TV heaven.
STEAL: Terisa moves to Team Cee Lo

TEAM XTINA: Dez Duron vs. Paulina
Hmmm, let's see. The heartthrob who'd already gotten a ton of screentime (Dez Duron, a returning contestant from Season 2) up against the girl whose first audition wasn't even shown in full (Paulina). It wasn't hard to figure out who had the advantage here. And it was especially easy to figure this one out once the two started actually singing Bruno Mars's "Just The Way You Are." Dez sounded natural, smooth, sexy, and, according to Cee Lo, "like the total package," while Paulina came across as schizophrenic and insane, completely ignoring guest mentor Billie Joe Armstrong's advice to not do too much with the vocal acrobatics and as a result sounding like some sort of Auto-Tuned Muppet. She just sounded...weird. All three of Christina Aguilera's fellow coaches declared Dez the winner of this battle. I don't even know why Christina pretended to agonize over her decision for even a nanosecond. But I do know why no one else tried to steal Paulina.

TEAM ADAM: Benji vs. Sam James
This outcome also seemed obvious, at first, since Benji was totally pimped during the Blind Auditions, while Sam was relegated to a mere 10-second montage alongside the quickly/sadly forgotten Lelia Broussard and Laura Vivas. But then Benji struggled during rehearsal, relying way too much on his signature scream and growling his way through much of this pair's battle song, "You Give Love A Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. (Dude, it was Bon Jovi, not some more screamy '80s metal band like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Calm down, Benji!) Both contestants brought an abundance of aggression to the ring, beginning their battle nose-to-nose like they were posing for some sort of Rocky poster, and although they were both overdoing it, I thought Sam was actually the better singer of the two. Adam Levine adored Benji's scream ("You scream like a bat flying straight out of hell," he said), but thought Sam sounded more original. So this one was a real nail-biter. And then Adam picked...Sam! Finally, a "fodder" contestant got a shot. Now I just wonder why Sam's entire first audition was not shown a few weeks ago. What gives, NBC?

TEAM CEE LO: Nicholas David vs. Todd Kessler
At first I thought, "Sheesh, could Mark Burnett have come up with a more boring pairing?" It was hard not to wonder why two of last week's battles (Charlie Rey vs. Rudy Parris, and Lisa Scinta vs. Celica Westbrook) were not shown in full, but what felt like 23 minutes of this week's air time were dedicated to this seemingly dull duo. But then I found out that Nicholas and Todd would be singing Hall & Oates's "She's Gone" (I've said it before and I'll say it again: All of these singing shows need more Hall & Oates tunes), which was a great choice for these two "blue-eyed souls." And when they got in the ring, Nicholas sounded like he came straight out of the '70s, and he kind of looked like a long-lost Doobie Brother, and it just worked. And Nicholas's voice really complemented Todd's, which was less retro-sounding but also strong. This was actually one of the best vocal blends I'd heard in all of this season's battles. "What is that, that comes out of your mouth?" Adam exclaimed to Nicholas. "You look like Jesus, and people like that," Blake said to Nicholas. Made sense, I guess. So Cee Lo ended up going with "Saint Nick." And now I am actually kind of--dare it say it?--excited about Nicholas. This show is full of surprises--the good kind!
WINNER: Nicholas

TEAM BLAKE: Lelia Broussard vs. Suzanna Choffel
Lelia's full audition was not shown earlier this season, which seemed odd considering her established cult following online (she came very close to winning last year's "Choose The Cover Of Rolling Stone" contest, placing second to future "Project Runway" guests the Sheepdogs). Under normal circumstances, I'd be delighted that Lelia was finally getting some screentime, and I'd be rooting for her...but she was going up against one of my favorite contestants of this entire season, supercool music teacher Suzanna, so instead I was worried. The commercial break between their rehearsal and their actual performance of Florence + The Machine's "Dog Days Are Over" felt about 17 minutes long. When they did finally battle, I thought both girls' voices were magical, and I was already hoping that whichever one Blake didn't choose would be stolen by a rival coach. Much to my relief, Blake picked Suzanna, but I was saddened/surprised that neither Adam, who seemed like a great match for Lelia, nor Christina, who still had two Steals left, wanted Lelia. Lelia definitely deserved a little more screentime than this. Still, though--Suzanne deserved this victory.
WINNER: Suzanna

TEAM XTINA: Joselyn Rivera vs. Sylvia Yacoub
This was another battle in which, initially, I found it hard to get too emotionally invested. Neither contestant were high on my radar earlier this season, and with Christina's team consisting almost entirely of teenage pop mini-divas, neither Joeslyn nor Sylvia stood out to me on the Team Xtina roster. But it turned out there was a reason why this battle was saved for last. Both girls were (in Adam's words) "gnarly-good singers," and they totally impressed while belting out Beyonce's advanced-master-class ballad "Best Thing I Never Had"--thus reminding all viewers exactly why this show is, well, called "The Voice." Sylvia did well here--much better than I remember her doing at her first audition--but Joselyn definitely upstaged her; she just looked and sounded like a little pop-star-in-training. Strangely, Christina, a coach whose thought process I often have serious trouble comprehending, went with Sylvia, preferring the Egyptian immigrant's "fire." But this time the "Steal" did come into play, with both Adam and Blake hitting their buttons. Joselyn accepted Adam's kind offer, taking his last Steal of the season and adding even more strength and diversity to his team. And so, the episode ended on an upbeat note.
WINNER: Sylvia
STEAL: Joselyn moves to Team Adam

So on Tuesday, the battles will rage on. Will the coaches continue to choose wisely? Will Christina finally use one of her Steals? And will there be any actual "shockers"? Tune in then to find out.

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