After Team Xtina and Team Blake competed on last week's first live competitive show of Season 2, this Monday on "The Voice" it was time for Team Adam and Team Cee Lo to face each other and (to borrow an "X Factor" catchphrase) face the music. Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green had what seemed like the strongest teams going into this season's top 24 semifinals, and so this week, when Cee Lo boasted, "Someone from my team will win Season 2," and Adam countered with, "I don't think there's anyone on my team who can't win this"...well, it was hard to argue with either of them.
And even after this Monday's episode, my opinion hasn't really changed: I do think someone who competed this week has an extremely good chance of winning, particularly a couple of Cee Lo's contenders. But that doesn't mean I approved of all of Cee Lo's song and staging choices this week. Sometimes I thought this episode might as well have been sponsored by Greyhound, because Cee Lo really threw a couple of his team members under a giant bus--and if he keeps making weird decisions like the ones he went with this week, he might even ruin the chances of his team's biggest frontrunners.
Cee Lo gives Tony Vincent some very weird staging
But thankfully, talent for the most part prevailed on "The Voice" this Monday. Here's how everyone did, along with my predictions for which three contestants per team will win America's vote, and which will be saved by their respective coaches as bonus fourth contestants, on Tuesday...
Katrina Parker - Katrina, Adam's dark-horse contestant who surprisingly beat out Angel Taylor in the Battle Rounds, started off the night with a totally unexpected orchestral cover of Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight." It's a fact that Billy Corgan is NOT the greatest singer in the world, but he is an iconic frontman with a very unique and recognizable voice, so this was a challenge for a smooth crooner like Katrina. (Especially since, once again, THE BAND WAS TOO LOUD. The capslock in the previous sentence was meant to simulate the house band's crazy decibel level.) However, I loved Katrina's classy version of the Pumpkins' bombastic ballad, which coaxed out all of the song's theatricality and grandeur. Adam's fellow coaches were a bit critical--Christina Aguilera, no stranger to tight-fitting attire herself, oddly said, "I kind of wanted you to rock out a bit more, and I think your dress restricted you a bit," and Cee Lo said, "There's something so genuinely tortured about Billy Corgan's voice, and I don't think this song should ever be a showtune." But I disagreed, particularly with Cee Lo--I don't think Katrina came off as Broadway-ish at all. And it's not like the Pumpkins were ever a subtle band anyway, you know? I thought Katrina was simply smashing tonight.
Katrina covers Smashing Pumpkins
Tony Lucca - Christina's former fellow Mouseketeer covered Peter Gabriel's amazing "In Your Eyes," one of his coach Adam's all-time favorite songs. I thought it was a nice, solid effort--I especially enjoyed the ending, when he sang semi-a cappella and his raw emotion really came out. But this performance didn't exactly have me holding a boombox above my head in salute, and even Adam didn't look too excited, although he did tell Tony he was proud of him and said, "I'm so happy with the way this room felt." Christina was the most brutally honest, however, proving that she harbors absolutely no favoritism for her ex-"Mickey Mouse Club" castmate. "I thought that was a good performance, but I just find you to be very one-dimensional. You have me and your old Mouseketeer buddies behind you, especially Justin Timberlake [Justin tweeted his support for Tony on Monday afternoon], but I just hope this show is about the voice. I think there are better voices on the show, and it shouldn't be on celebrity sway." Ouch. I agree, Tony was not the BEST--but he didn't deserve that sort of critique, especially from an old friend. Does Xtina hold some sort of grudge against this guy from their "MMC" days?
Tony covers Peter Gabriel
Kim Yarbrough - This season's 50-year-old Chaka Khan soundalike took on Adele's "Rolling In The Deep." Oh gawd, really? Why did she have to do one of the most overdone reality-show songs in recent times? ("American Idol's" Jimmy Iovine even proposed a moratorium on Adele songs, and I'd co-sign that.) Kim sang the hell out of the song--albeit with a minor pitch issue or two--and hey, Kim was one "Voice" contestant who was able to actually out-sing that damn over-amplified house band. But I do wish Adam had suggested another song for her. Cee Lo griped that the song was too safe and "the [Adele] comparisons were just too close. I don't know if I loved it--though I do love you." Blake pointed out the pitch problems in the early part Kim's performance. Even Adam was surprisingly honest, conceding, "I'd be remiss if I didn't say that there were some problems. I don't disagree with all the things that were said [by the other coaches]. But for the most part, that was fantastic. This just shows everyone your potential." But will that potential be realized? I'm not so sure, as I don't know if this performance will be enough to advance Kim to the next round.
Kim does Adele
Mathai - Mathai looked like a Disney princess (she wore that Jasmine headband well) and sang like R&B royalty on her cover of John Legend's "Ordinary People." What a gorgeous, MATURE performance from such a young girl! Sometimes her sweet smiling was a little off-putting, given the sad and serious nature of the song, but she infused the heartbreak ballad with a new sense of hope and youth that I ultimately appreciated. Christina thought it was "a little loungey," but liked Mathai's choices as to where to put the runs and ad-libs. Blake adored Mathai's confidence. And Adam said, "I couldn't possibly be happier with that moment that I just witnessed." Mathai seemed happy too--she was understandably still smiling long after the song was over. Hopefully she will be smiling on Tuesday's results show, too.
Mathai sings John Legend
Karla Davis - Karla wanted to do B.o.B.'s "Airplanes," and just like the case when Kim Yarbrough wanted to do "Rolling In The Deep" and Adam didn't stop her, Adam let this protégé have her way, too. Adam really seemed to have the opposite problem of Cee Lo this week: While Cee Lo kept forcing his contestants to sing terrible song choices, Adam just didn't make his contestants do anything. Adam really should have steered Karla in a different direction here, because "Airplanes" totally crashed and burned (pun intended). Hayley Williams of Paramore, who sang the hook on B.o.B.'s original, is such a powerhouse singer, and Karla just could not compare; she actually seemed out of breath and out of her depth right from the start. (Interestingly, she fared better when rapping B.o.B.'s parts.) Adam didn't look too thrilled watching Karla, and he didn't object much when Blake criticized Karla, either. "I think you did as good as you could do with that song, but it was so wordy. I don't think that song allowed you to explore. It was such a rapid-fire lyric," said Blake. Adam praised Karla for being "in the pocket" on the song, but I cannot imagine that Adam will save her on Tuesday night if America doesn't vote her through. And he shouldn't. This girl started off on the show as fodder, and while there seemed to be hope for her after she beat Orlando Napier in the Battle Rounds, she sadly went back to being fodder with this uneven performance.
Karla covers B.o.B.
Pip - I was surprised that this sweet, angelic theatre gleek did a rock song, the Killers' "When You Were Young," but I was impressed that he was able to rough it up a bit. I thought his voice really worked on this song, and I even thought he actually seemed kind of COOL in his skinny red Rod Stewart trousers. (I'm glad he kept his trademark bow-tie, though--and how cute was it that his parents in the audience were rocking bow-ties, too?) But anyway, you know what was more surprising than Pip doing a Killers song? The fact that none of the coaches, not even Adam, thought his performance was killer. "I appreciate your vocal ability....but it just came off as trying too hard, and I wasn't connecting to it. It seemed you were having trouble hearing the band," said Christina. (Um, trouble hearing the band? More like trouble hearing anyone trying to sing OVER the band.) Adam lamented, "I didn't want to trust you--I wanted you to be more dangerous." I think it might have been a bit too much to expect Pip to get all edgy and dark, but I do think he made a good effort here.
Pip covers the Killers
TEAM CEE LO