Monday kicked off the final week of battles on Season 3 of "The Voice," before some new twisty thing called a Knockout Round comes along next week and likely renders much of what happened during the past three weeks of Battle Rounds totally moot. But despite such an unsure future, all of this Monday's "Voice" battlers gave it their all. Unfortunately, for some of those contestants, we didn't get to see all of them, thanks to another dreaded and unexplained montage.
Here's what went down, in- and outside the ring, and at times on the cutting room floor, on Monday:
TEAM CEE LO: Alexis Marceaux vs. Daniel Rosa
Daniel was a returning contestant, a rejected Blind Auditioner from Season 2, but he was still suffering from what guest mentor Rob Thomas called "confidence issues" during this battle's rehearsal. And who could really blame him? First of all, he was doing "Whataya Want From Me," NOT an easy song to sing (trust me, I tried it once in karaoke, and it did not end well), by Adam Lambert, possibly THE greatest singing-show contestant of all time. (The song was also covered very memorably during "The Voice" Season 1 by finalist Nakia.) Plus, he was going up against a classically trained singer, Alexis (one of my favorite girls this season). Daniel tried to conquer his nerves during this battle, and I appreciated the effort and his raw emotion, but sometimes he seemed to push it too much, sounding a bit messy and almost downright deranged. I personally thought Alexis's voice was better suited for the song's darkly feminine energy (remember, it was co-written and originally recorded by Pink), and that she was more poised in the ring. But for some reason, the self-declared "flawed in a fantastic way" and proudly "not classically trained" Cee Lo Green connected more with the unraveled and unhinged Daniel, and Cee Lo picked Daniel instead. And no one stole Alexis, either. Argh. What do I want from you, Cee Lo? I want you to not make any more dumb decisions like this one.
TEAM ADAM: Brandon Mahone vs. Nicole Nelson
This battle featured the young soulman with an old soul, Brandon, pitted against the earth mama who lives in a Vermont shoe factory and makes her own granola, Nicole. Nicole had a calm hippie spirit, not to mention life experience, on her side, while teenage Brandon was so skerred, Adam Levine and guest mentor Mary J. Blige had to take him aside and give him a pre-battle pep talk. Apparently, that didn't totally work: When Brandon got onstage, he still struggled with some of the same confidence issues that had plagued Daniel's performance. Brandon sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" splendidly, but he came across as a bit manic and green, while Nicole seemed like an old pro to whom singing came as easily as breathing. This almost seemed like a mother dueting with her son, and the effect was actually a little weird. Unsurprisingly, Brandon was cut, but I hope he doesn't give up on singing, because he really is gifted. He just wasn't quite ready. "I'm growing as an artist every day," Brandon told Adam, as he left the stage. I hope he continues to grow, and that he is heard from again.
TEAM ADAM: Brian Scartocci vs. Loren Allred
TEAM BLAKE: Ryan Jirovec vs. Cassadee Pope
TEAM ADAM: Joe Kirkland vs. Samuel Mouton
Once again, NBC cruelly "montaged" an unlucky bunch of contestants and didn't show their battles in full, instead cramming three battles, six singers, and weeks' worth of work into the space of about 47 seconds. I wasn't particularly sad to see most of probable also-rans Brian Scartocci and Loren Allred's battle get cut (although in principle this was unfair)--since, from what I could tell, it was an overall underwhelming battle and Adam made the right decision to keep lesser-evil Loren. But how could NBC not show more of previously pimped Team Blake pet Cassadee Pope (of Hey Monday semi-fame), or Team Adam's adorable Joe Kirkland (of Artist Vs. Poet semi-fame) covering the freakin' New Radicals? You'd think since "The Voice" had squeezed in a bonus episode during its premiere week, and is planning to air three episodes during the week of November 5, that NBC could have found room to show all of the battles this season. Especially battles featuring New Radicals songs!
WINNERS: Loren, Cassadee, Joe
TEAM XTINA: Devyn DeLoera vs. MarissaAnn
Christina Aguilera knows what she likes, and what she likes is teenage babydivas who probably remind her of herself in her early, innocent, non-dirrty years. Her team is positively bursting with Xtina mini-me's, and Christina was grinning like the Purrfect that ate the canary as she watched two of those little disciples go at it during this no-holds-barred battle of En Vogue's "Free Your Mind." Put aside the rich irony of Christina advising these two girls on how to not overdo runs or get too "catfight"-like (puh-leeeze)...both girls did well here, and they proved that they were two of Team Xtina's most valuable players this season. However, I thought 15-year-old powerhouse MarissaAnn (how is she only 15???) really brought it more, and really owned the stage. But Christina is an endless fount of terrible decisions on this show, so of course she chose Devyn instead. What is wrong with her? Luckily, sound-minded Blake used his last Steal on MarissaAnn, who just might end up being Team Blake's secret weapon.
STEAL: MarissaAnn moves to Team Blake
So on Tuesday, the final Season 3 battles will take place. With only one Steal left (in Christina's hands, gawd help us all), the episode is sure to be a nail-biter. And with only a handful of contestants left, hopefully that means that all of the remaining battles will actually be shown. Tune in Tuesday for the final, and possibly ruthlessly edited, showdowns.
- AUDIO: Chris Mann's new single
- Cee Lo, "Voice" singers perform with Muppets
- PHOTOS: Xtina's best and worst "Voice" looks