The Voice Recap: Don't Cha Wish Your Judges Were Cruelty-Free?
An interesting juxtaposition occurred on the Wednesday-night editions of rival singing competitions The Voice and The X Factor, as both shows handed rejection slips to former boy-band members seeking to capture some of their faded glory.
On NBC’s shiny, happy talent show, magnificently coiffed Chris Trousdale — who was once a member of Dream Street alongside “Leavin” singer Jesse McCartney — offered up a decent rendition of the Wanted’s “Glad You Came” that began to wear thin the more he put his bright red sneakers to work on his “fly” dance moves. And yet while none of the four mentors turned their chairs around and asked Trousdale to join their teams, there was no pleasure taken in the process. Adam Levine, in fact, encouraged the contestant to put a “hyper focus” on his singing for the immediate future, safe in the belief that the dude’s performance skills wouldn’t disappear in the interim. And when Blake Shelton threatened to bust a move, Trousdale got to play along. “Who wants to see Blake dance?” the contestant asked, revving up the audience. “Come on now!” In this brief moment of camaraderie, there remained — if not an actual air of victory — at least a little bit of hope and good humor.
Over on Fox, though, one-time boy bander Vincent Thomas’ failure was played for every last ounce of humiliation — and then some. Thomas’ attempt to use his prior stage experiences to give unsolicited advice to skater-boy trio Emblem3 was edited in a way that put him in the role of math-club geek trying to score a seat at the high-school cafeteria alongside the prom king and the football quarterback. Quick, somebody pants the kid and stuff him in the locker for good measure! Sure, Thomas’ performance of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” wound up at the corner of Blah and Middling, but the fact that the cameras had clearly followed him for the sole purpose of letting Simon Cowell point out how he felt as if there was a ”30-year difference between the prior guy” and the Emblem3 dudes — that former boy-banders are gross, but three dudes getting sunburnt in the parking lot before “casually” taking the stage are awesome — seemed unneccessarily cruel.
In neither instance were the judges blowing smoke, but only one show felt it necessary to burn somebody to the ground.
On that note, let’s get to ranking the successful auditions from Night 3 of The Voice’s blind auditions:
BLIND AUDITIONS, NIGHT 3 RANKINGS
N/A) Lisa Scinta, MarissaAnn, Loren Allred – We only got the briefest snippets of this trio of female vocalists, but Lisa — with a Ricki Lee Jones lilt — seemed the most promising.
5) Samuel Mouton’s “Redemption Song” (Team Adam) – Just because a white dude with a backwards baseball cap was the one singing Bob Marley didn’t mean it was more than good karaoke.
4) 2Steel Girls’ “Before He Cheats” (Team Blake) – I liked the idea of a mother-daughter duo, and certainly these chicks had good stage presence and tight harmonies. But the riffing at the end got a little, er, trainwrecky? Nevertheless, Blake’s sales pitch – ”I wanna be the guy who protects your mother-daughter relationship in a davage, angry world of entertainment.” — was the best of the night.
3) Nelly’s Echo’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Team Xtina) – Story about fleeing Nigeria as a kid and pursuing the American dream was an appealing one, as was the gravel in his tone and the infusion of reggae percussion he brought to the composition. Still, if he doesn’t learn to avoid hitting so many flat notes once he reaches the battle rounds, I’m not sure we’ll be seeing him and his brother do their backstage victory dance again.
2) DOMO’s “Don’t Cha” (Team Cee Lo) – Okay, yeah, the material on the thigh of her right leg magically disappeared, and her excitable rundown of her dance-career résumé — a Lucille Roberts spot! a Nair commercial! something to do with Missy Elliott! — was ridiculous. But admit it, it was also wonderfully ridiculous. The vocal on “Don’t Cha” was more B- than A+, but she had me at ”D to the O to the M to the O,” and sealed my fandom forever by engaging in a post-critique call-and-response with the audience. ”When I say ‘Dah,’ you say ‘Mo’!” All together now: “DAH!” “MO!” “DAH!” “MO!”
1) Nicole Nelson’s “Hallelujah” (Team Adam) – This Vermont hippie chick took a song that’s been overdone like greenbeans on boil for a half an hour, and made it seem fresh and moving. Her tone is magnificent, and her evocativeness unmatched over three nights of Voice auditions. Her only drawback thus far, in fact, was her ability to activate the audience SwayBots. (Shudder.) I’d like to second Xtina’s emotion: “Thank you for waking me up and exciting me!”