"The Voice" traded in one awesome gimmick for an even awesome-er one this week, as the chair-spinning Blind Auditions segued into the head-spinning Battle Rounds, aka the reality-TV singing world's own version of the UFC. Because if there's one thing that's cooler than watching Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green sit on motorized thrones and fight over prospective contestants, it's watching those contestants fight each other in a neon boxing ring--"singing in harmony and secretly trying to destroy each other," as Adam Levine so excitingly worded it on this Monday's first Battle Rounds episode.
Kelly Clarkson brings her "Idol" expertise to "The Voice"
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 part 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. So how do the Battle Rounds work? Well, on each team, during each battle, two singers (typically of the same musical genre) enter the ring...and, after an epic singoff, only one of them survives. Excitement, drama, awesomeness, and sometimes controversy ensue.
Adding to this awesomeness this supersized second season are a slew of new celebrity guest mentors: Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert working with Blake Shelton, Alanis Morissette and Robin Thicke with Adam, Lionel Richie and Jewel with Christina, and Ne-Yo and Babyface with Cee Lo. Going into this week, Team Blake seemed to have the most valuable mentors--after all, Kelly is still the queen supreme of all vocal competitions ("If anyone could help you on a singing reality show, it'd be Kelly," Blake reasoned), and Miranda got her start on "Nashville Star." But as it turned out, having fantastic advisors didn't mean Blake always made fantastic decisions this Monday.
Alanis Morissette helps Team Adam
Because, about 20 minutes into the show...this happened:
TEAM BLAKE: Adley Stump vs. RaeLynn
This showdown between Blake's two "firecracker country girls," big-haired sorority gal Adley and little 17-year-old RaeLynn (this season's youngest contestant), seemed easy to call. OR SO I THOUGHT. Singing Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" (Blake loves making his ladies croon a bit of Petty--he dueted with Dia Frampton on "I Won't Back Down" last season), RaeLynn pretty much struggled from the minute she opened her beestung mouth. I could practically see the flower wilting in her hair as she tried to keep up with Adley, the FAR superior belter of this duo. And when Adley got her turn to sing solo, the crazy crowd response made it clear whom the studio audience was rooting for. Yes, RaeLynn had the attitude and the spunk, and the overall Swifty adorableness, but not, well, the voice. So it was a SHOCK when Blake chose "the stylist" and "the storyteller," RaeLynn, over "powerhouse" Adley. But then again, Blake clearly has a soft spot for waify, mousy, feathery-voiced girly-girls (as evidenced by his utterly unwavering loyalty to Dia and Xenia last year), so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised after all. But still...isn't this show called "THE VOICE"? I truly questioned Blake's verdict here. I was stumped that he did not pick Adley Stump.
RaeLynn somehow wins
Oh well. Here's how the rest Season 2's first "Voice" battles played out. Which other singers put up the best fight?