The Voice Recap: Grand Theft Auto-Tune
With all apologies to God, the Seventh Commandment just went the way of Crystal Pepsi, the personal pager and NBC’s Smash. I mean, seriously, who can enthusiastically support laws against larcenous behavior now that “The Steal” has found its way to The Voice‘s Knockout Rounds?
Now, before you cry “blasphemy!” let’s remember that Christina Aguilera has the voice of an angel — and she supports this blatant brand of thievery. And it’s also worth noting that The Steal has another proponent in Blake Shelton, a fine, upstanding fella whose recent crusade against the Westboro Hatemongering Association* puts him squarely in the corner of all that’s good and righteous. (*I won’t use the word “church” to describe those crazies.)
I know, I know…The Steal doesn’t always mean that the show’s best artists are immune from gut-wrenching injustice — all together now, “Matt Cermanski & Ashley Dubose: Never Forget!” — but they definitely add a layer of suspense to the proceedings, at least when Carson Daly doesn’t announce that there’s one coming up right after the commercial break.
And at least in one case tonight — involving Blind Auditions standout Holly Henry — the presence of The Steal caused (at least for me) an intriguing crisis of conscience. Should a last-minute lifeline be thrown to a vocalist who displayed incredible early promise, but whose Knockout Rounds pitch wobbled like a restaurant table in need of a wadded-up napkin under one leg? (It may be an unpopular sentiment, but I say “Nyet!”)
Anyhow…enough stalling. Let me jump to a ranking of each of tonight’s Knockouts from least- to most-promising winner:
8. Team Blake: Nic Hawk (“Genie in a Bottle”) defeats Holly Henry (“Creep”) | I don’t really want to talk about this Knockout pairing, OK? How about I sum it up in four words: Poor Holly! Lucky Nic! The End! (OK, that was six, but I wanted you to know that I wasn’t trying to be cute. I’m really done! I’m moving on. BUT I CAN’T MOVE ON. Damn you, Blake, you shoulda used your Battle Rounds steal on Matt Cermanski! Or Donna Allen!)
7. Team Cee Lo: Kat Robichaud (“You Oughta Know”) defeats Monika Leigh (“Hit the Road Jack”) | Could Kat — who described herself as being into “ballsy female angsty rock-and-roll” — have chosen anything more obvious than Alanis Morissette’s woman-scorned anthem? OK, maybe Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” but nevertheless, such a crippling lack of imagination troubles me almost as much as her “I want to do homicide to you” facial expressions. That death-drop/backbend thingie at the end of the number was cool, though, and her tone has a smokehouse goodness to it when she’s not pushing it all the way into the firepit. Poor Monika, clearly frazzled by the crowd’s rapturous response to Kat, overcompensated with a desperate attempt at sexy stompography. I can only wonder what might’ve been had she stood still and concentrated on her vocals. This! Is! The! Voice!, after all.
6. Team Adam: Grey (“Already Gone”) defeats James Irwin (“Breakeven) | Sometimes I think Adam loves Blake so much, that his Voice journey is like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel: Tattooed, tiny-waisted rocker dude sacrifices most of his good contestants in the Battles and Knockouts — in order to catapult his plaid-clad, goofy-grinned country bro to victory. (Maybe Matt Bomer could play Adam and Ryan Reynolds could play Blake in the inevitable big-screen adaptation. It’d be called Voice Lessons. You’d pay $14 for that, yes?) Anyway, that’s my roundabout way of saying I wish Mr. Levine had pitted Grey against Tessanne and James against Ashley. Because if those four vocalists were combined to make a S’more, Tessanne would be the chocolate, Ashley the marshmallow, James the Graham Cracker, and Grey the skewer on which you toast the marshmallow. Which doesn’t mean that Grey didn’t cut right through Kelly Clarkson’s hit with genuine precision, but she didn’t add any flavor to the mix, either. James may have strained a bit to reach the upper regions of The Script’s piece of ear candy, but at least he showed his dexterity on the bridge and infused the finished product with some guts and passion.