The Voice Recap: Shot Through the Heart, With a Coach to Blame [Updated]
Yes, folks, after two stellar episodes (and zero egregious errors) to kick off the show’s Season 3 Battle Rounds, Monday night’s two-hour telecast featured a couple of serious stumbles (if not full-on face-plants) by Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Adam Levine.
And even though I think it’s safe to say that no potential Voice champions were harmed in the scoring of tonight’s Battle Rounds, I’m nevertheless scratching my head wondering how the inexperienced and wobbly Joselyn Rivera managed to inspire a “Steal” from Adam Levine, while the vastly superior Lelia Broussard, Todd Kessler, and Benji got left like the proverbial cheeses from “The Farmer in the Dell”: Standing alone, untaken, wondering how the heigh-ho-the-dairy-o their reality-competition dreams met such a quick and undignified ending.
Either way, let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner:
Team Xtina: Sylvia Yacoub defeats Joselyn Rivera (Joselyn stolen by Adam Levine)| “Sometimes it was a little too much,” said Adam, meekly describing the duo’s caterwaulingly catastrophic cover of “Best Thing I Never Had.” Talk about an understatement! That’d be like rinsing one’s mouth out with battery acid and then declaring it a wee bit harsh on the gums and teeth. Despite Xtina and Billie Joe Armstrong’s solid advice, Sylvia didn’t leave a single note of Beyoncé’s breakup anthem unpunished by a run or an ad lib or a botched note. By comparison, Joselyn’s vocal was simpler and more pleasing to the ear, but not really on-point enough that she deserved to grab one of the season’s eight “Steals” after Xtina declared Sylvia the winner of the matchup. You can find me at the corner of Baffled and Bewildered if you want to discuss this result any further.
Team Blake: Julio Cesar Castillo defeats Terisa Griffin (Terisa stolen by Cee Lo Green) | I couldn’t blame Terisa for thinking Blake’s choice of “Conga” was a strategic move to flush her from the competition. In fact, I was surprised Julio didn’t have the same exact response. Because at the end of the day, is there a singer on the planet who could pick up additional fans for the voting rounds by covering Gloria Estefan’s rapid-fire 1983 ditty that should only be played in 2012 at wedding receptions (and possibly not even there)? Wonky song choice aside, though, it was nice to see Terisa bring a little hip action to the stage, throw in a rolling “r” sound, change up the melody a little — even if she lost control of her pitch on occasion. Meanwhile, by my highly scientific assessment, Julio hit only 62 percent of his notes, and exhibited 11 percent as much charisma as his more experienced rival. So unless Blake was simply fishing for some Knockout Round fodder, this was yet another dubious call. (Cee Lo stealing Terisa, though, I’m okay with — based on her fantastic audition alone.)
Team Xtina: Dez Duron defeats Paulina | I’m sure that casual Voice fans just tuning in for the Knockout Rounds will wonder if Dez made it this far because he is absurdly handsome, with hair so expertly coiffed it could easily book a three-episode arc on the final season of Gossip Girl. After all, his voice isn’t especially powerful, nor is it particularly distinctive. But that damning praise aside, his vocal on “Just the Way You Are” clearly outshone 16-year-old beauty Paulina, who made Xtina nervous with “ad-lib situations” in rehearsal that only got worse on the live stage. The girl took so many strange liberties with the melody, I half-expected Bruno Mars to file a harassment report with The Voice‘s H.R. department. Now, though, the real question becomes: If Dez remains underwhelming in the Knockouts, will Xtina advance him to the voting rounds anyway, where his ability to rock a white v-neck, rolled jeans, and a leather jacket may prove irresistible to speed-dialing fans more interested in slash fiction than actual music downloads? Based on Xtina’s Season 2 ouster of easy-on-the-eyes Jonathas, I’m guessing Dez is going to have to raise his vocal game, but then again, maybe Sylvia’s Battle Round win was all about providing him one more low bar to clear before America takes over. I mean, you know the Lady Aguilera wants to win this thing before Shakira borrows her spinny-chair for Season 4.