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The Voice Recap: Ain't About What's Waiting on the Other Side [Updated]

Things we learned on The Voice tonight (that we never knew we didn’t know): Blake Shelton might not be opposed to occasionally rocking pink undergarments. A song called “The Cupid Shuffle” is all the rage at weddings and bar mitzvahs. You can be among YouTube’s Top 100 most-subscribed musicians and still need the help of a reality singing competition to hit it big. And there are only three bars in Anchorage, AK.

Okay, so that last tidbit might not actually be true. (Blake’s sense of humor is drier than a county without alcohol, making those jokes of his often seem borderline convincing.)

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One thing Blake and his fellow judges always seem serious about, though, is being respectful to the contestants who stand in front of them, asking for a chance at making their dreams come true. While uni-monikered Cupid made a boneheaded move performing his novelty hit instead of something that proved his chops, I loved how the judges — even though none of them had picked him to join their teams — took a moment and let him rip into a few bars of “Let’s Get It On,” just to redeem his reputation and restore some of his self-confidence. Turns out the guy is pretty great, even if he’s not headed to the Battle Rounds.

And while I was a little bummed nobody turned their chairs around for Agina Alvarez’s “Turn the Beat Around,” on the other hand, I totally understood Xtina’s explanation that the two-time victim of the record-label game had everything cranked up to 10, when a little subtlety might’ve helped. (Hey, if you’re going back to your boring day job with nothing more than a parting gift, wouldn’t you rather have some performance advice from a world-class vocalist than the point-and-jeer cruelty favored by most of The Voice‘s competitors?)

Speaking of taking things seriously, I took the liberty of ranking the eight singers who advanced to the Battle Rounds while receiving more than 10 seconds of airtime. Here’s my take (and my hopes for some pre-Battle Rounds makeovers!):

8) JR Aquino’s “Just the Way You Are” (Team Cee Lo) | Alaska native with more than 45 million views scraped against the guard rail of pitch on this Bruno Mars cover, but I have to admit I was super impressed that Avery ended up choosing the one judge who called him out on his struggles with hitting his notes.

7) Alessandra Guerico’s “The Climb” (Team Adam) | Absurdly gorgeous one-time Idol auditioner sounded like she got ahead of the music on the opening verse of Miley Cyrus’ slice of inspirational treacle, but the nerves didn’t kick in in earnest till Adam turned his chair. Her coach thinks she might be a real contender with a little more seasoning, and he may very well turn out to be correct.

6) Beat Frequency’s “E.T.” (Team Xtina) | The female half of this husband-wife team really faltered on her upper register, but there were a few moments on the chorus where Beat Frequency got me to almost reconsider my loathing for this particular Katy Perry track. On an unrelated topic, I scribbled a note during their performance that asks, “This chick’s crazy-crimped coiff is going to be BFFs with Xtina’s weave.” (Vote “yea” or “nay” in the comments.)

5) Brian Scartocci’s “Isn’t She Lovely” (Team Adam) | Anyone else think this single dad kinda looked like a geeky Chris Daughtry? And while I’m asking questions, can anyone help me figure out if I actually dig Brian’s soulful howl, or if I find it just a little too affected/stylized to take seriously? Whatever the case may be, I did very much enjoy Blake’s unsuccessful courtship of Brian, comparing their tastes in vests, the guy’s scorpion belt buckle, as well as this doozy: “You have soul; I have a soul.” By the time Blake hinted he was wearing pink — just not anywhere the audience could see — I was in full-on guffaw mode.

4) Avery Wilson’s “Without You” (Team Cee Lo) | Some of this 16-year-old’s runs were truly tremendous, and that’s not even taking into account his tender age or lack of vocal training. My one concern, though, was the way the end of the song fell to pieces like a single Cheerio underfoot on the kitchen floor. Was that just the excitement of getting four chairs turned around, or is he not as good as the end-of-episode pimp slot would lead us to believe?

3) Nicholas David’s “Stand By Me” (Team Cee Lo) | One of the night’s most memorable auditions, and not because of Nicholas’ unkempt beard and dollar-store hat, either. The jazzy inflections in the burly dude’s delivery helped bring to the surface all the pain and struggle of his former hardscrabble existence. True, he only managed to get one judge to turn for him — but it was the right judge, no? A possible Season 3 dark horse, for certain.

2) Liz Davis’ “Here for the Party” (Team Blake) | Watching Blake lure Liz away from Xtina and onto his team using his ACM Best Male Vocalist trophy was hands-down the night’s funniest moment, but considering the slick, easy power of Liz’s vocals, it was easy to understand why the country judge broke out the heavy artillery. My only complaint would be the incongruousness of the singer’s barely-there black miniskirt against a blouse and hairstyle that seemed like a better fit for a secretary at a shipping yard .

1) Melanie Martinez’s “Toxic” (Team Adam) | I can’t lie: I found the exactness of Melanie’s half-black, half-orange bangs to be mildly disconcerting, but she’s got a judge now to (hopefully) help her with her styling issues, and perhaps to foster the creativity she used to conjure up an intriguingly creepy twist on a Britney Spears classic. That waifish quality to her voice might normally spell trouble in the live rounds (with the show’s sometimes aggressive house band), but Xtina was correct in noting the teenager also has serious power in her voice when she chooses to use it.

And, of course, because context is crucial, let’s view tonight’s successful auditioners as part of the larger Season 3 pool:

26) Casey Muessigman’s “Sweet Home Alabama” (Team Blake)
25) Joe Kirkland’s “Gives You Hell” (Team Adam)
24) Daniel Rosa’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Team Cee Lo)
23) Julio Caesar Castillo’s “La Bamba” (Team Blake)
22) JR Aquino’s “Just the Way You Are” (Team Cee Lo)
21) Samuel Mouton’s “Redemption Song” (Team Adam)
20) 2Steel Girls’ “Before He Cheats” (Team Blake)
19) Devyn Deloera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” (Team Xtina)
18) Nelly’s Echo’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Team Xtina)
17) Alessandra Guerico’s “The Climb” (Team Adam)
16) Beat Frequency’s “E.T.” (Team Xtina)
15) Aquile’s “Your Song (Team Xtina)
14) Brian Scartocci’s “Isn’t She Lovely” (Team Adam)
13) Mackenzie Bourg’s “Pumped Up Kicks” (Team Cee Lo)
12) Trevin Hunte’s “Listen” (Team Cee Lo)
11) Avery Wilson’s “Without You” (Team Cee Lo)
10) Nicholas David’s “Stand By Me” (Team Cee Lo)
9) Liz Davis’ “Here for the Party” (Team Blake)
8) Adriana Louise’s “Domino” (Team Xtina)
7) Terry McDermott’s “Baba O’Riley” (Team Blake)
6) DOMO’s “Don’t Cha” (Team Cee Lo)
5) Gracia Harrison’s “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (Team Blake)
4) Melanie Martinez’s “Toxic” (Team Adam)
3) Bryan Keith’s “It Will Rain” (Team Adam)
2) De’Borah’s “Hey Soul Sister” (Team Xtina)
1) Nicole Nelson’s “Hallelujah” (Team Adam)

Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s fourth episode of Season 3? Were there any moments that made you cringe? Anyone else you thought the judges shouldn’t have rejected? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

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