The Voice Recap: Battle On, Xtina! [Updated]
Most reality singing competitions are structured in a way that, by the time the audition rounds are reaching completion, they’ve been relegated to background noise while you fold two weeks’ worth of clean laundry. Or they leave you longing for a grizzly bear to bust through your front door and consume you whole, just so you don’t have to listen to ‘em anymore.
But The Voice — with its jaunty judges’ camaraderie, its international good vibrations (even when singers get rejected), and the fascinating ebb and flow of Christina Aguilera’s cleavage — provides the polar opposite experience. As the four mentors each finished filling out their 16-member teams tonight, the soothing strains of Gloria Estefan’s “Don’t Let This Moment End” began to fill my brain. (And no, it’s not every day I involuntarily travel back the dance club in my mind, circa 1998.)
Okay, okay, enough about my rich inner fantasy land! Let’s rank the eight singers who broke on through to the other side (AKA the Battle Rounds) during the final Blind Auditions episode of Season 3. Yeahm my brain is already starting to fret about the Battles — if every contestant from the 25-and-up group gets bumped off by a teenager, I assure you I’ll be sending a strongly worded Tweet to @NBCTheVoice! — but let’s try to stay focused on the task at hand:
EPISODE 8 RANKINGS
8) Nathalie Hernandez’s “White Horse” (Team Xtina) | This 15-year-old definitely has some talent, but as the song progressed, she hit some notes so flat (especially on the phrase “rear-view mirror”) they could’ve used ‘em to adjust a bubble level.
7) Nicole Johnson’s “Mr. Know It All” (Team Blake) | I liked the huskier, mature part of her voice, and the fact that she put a country spin on Kelly Clarkson — but there were parts of the song where Nicole’s ambition exceeded her skill set. Could this teenager who moved to Nashville and got home-schooled in pursuit of her dreams need a little more experience before she’s ready to tackle Mount Kelly? (Side note: I did love Blake’s zinger about Nicole’s countrified pronunciation of “thing” — “You had me at thang.”)
6) Rudy Parris’ “Every Breath You Take” (Team Blake) | I wasn’t expecting the gentle dad to take a Police ballad and give it a small infusion of twang — not after he discussed his early love of Kiss — but once I adjusted my preconceptions, I heard a guy with a pleasing, round tone and a solid grasp on pitch, even if he wasn’t exactly bubbling over with personal magnetism.
5) Caitlin Michele’s “Cosmic Love” (Team Adam) | It was going to take a big voice to steal the spotlight from Caitlin’s friend’s crazy twirly moustache and her own turquoise-soaked locks, and the good news is that indeed she did. Now, though, Adam needs to make Caitlin prove she’s a relevant artist in her own right, not just a good Florence + the Machine mimic.
4) Celica Westbrook’s “A Thousand Years” (Team Xtina) | Xtina was right that Celica has a radio-ready voice, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have preferred something a little more lively and youthful for this already industry vet to make her grand entrance. As Blake noted when Cecilia revealed she was 16, “What are they giving these kids?!”
3) Chevonne’s “Brass in Pocket” (Team Cee Lo) | Lady Gaga’s former backup singer proved her good taste by choosing a most excellent Pretenders’ ditty, then proved her talent with what Cee Lo called a perfect vocal. So how come it took Mr. Green and Mr. Shelton so long to turn around? Was there a producer screaming into their earpieces, “Wait! Wait! We’re getting an awesome anxiety attack/mental meltdown from Chevonne’s pure Jersey mama!”? (“YEAH GIRL! WE LOVE YOU!”)
2) Cody Belew’s “Hard to Handle” (Team Cee Lo) | Okay, so I’m not sure if “Hard to Handle” did a lot to show off the chops of this flamboyant son of a rodeo rider, but there’s no denying he worked the stage with an Elvis-ian swagger. Unfortunately for Cody, though, he had his back turned to the judges at the end of his number, so he didn’t witness Cee Lo spinning his chair and inviting him to the Battle Rounds. When he finally realized what was happening, Cody gave us this expletive-laced tirade of joy: “Shut your f——mouth! You hit it! You hit it!” And even though Cee Lo was the only judge left with an open spot on his team, I think this match might be the start of a beautiful Voice trajectory. After all, both guys are both good at “bam-bam.”