So, we're entering the battle rounds, which should be exciting and possibly traumatizing. I'll admit, I think some of the judges threw in some stinkers just to make their job of eliminating half their roster a little easier (it's the only way to explain the tuneless Shields brothers), but there's no denying some strong talents are going to get punted.
Adam sits down with his team, makes them look more scared than usual by informing them in a very sad and serious voice that half of them will be going home, then announces the first dueling couple: Tony Lucca will be battling Chris Cauley. They'll be singing U2' "Beautiful Day." I suspect Tony will win this handily, only because I just can't believe anyone who survived the Disney meat grinder won't blow us away under pressure. I'm not saying Chris isn't good, but Mickey don't play. I mean, look at Christina.
Alannis Morissette is mentoring Tony first, though Adam is the first to offer a comment -- he thinks Tony is trying to push too hard. Alanis suggests he embrace the weakness in his voice -- it will give him a rough, real quality.
Robin Thicke takes on Chris. He suggests Chris work on his body language. Adam concurs, suggesting that Chris stand up straight and try to, oh, perform.
Chris and Tony enter the ring. First thought -- Tony is better suited for this song. Chris is still crouching a lot. I'm definitely feeling Tony.
Blake asks Tony about being a Mousketeer. He thinks vocally, Chris was more consistent and he'd go with Chris. Christina thought Chris hit those accents, but she thought Tony dug in and she picks Tony. Cee-Lo felt Tony articulated the song more clearly. Adam thought they were both great, and he had no idea it was going to be so close. Adam chooses... Tony. Chris is very gracious in defeat.
Next, it's Team Blake. He's pairing Adley and RaeLynne to perform "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty. I think Adley's my favorite in this.
Cee-Lo picks Cheesa and Angie Johnson to perform "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Oh yeah, Cheesa was the one who actually sucked in auditions. Angie can sing, so guessing this is going to be pretty easy.
In rehearsal, Cheesa wants to show off and asks that they bring it up a half-step. Angie decides to take the challenge and suggests a full step up -- bringing the song right into Cheesa's weak spot.
Babyface comes to help Cheesa. He tries to advise her on hitting a key note. And if she doesn't, she's going home.
Angie meets with Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo tells her not to hold out. She wants to play it cool, but Ne-Yo advises her to play it cool until the second page -- then go for the throat.
Even in rehearsal, RaeLynne seems to be warbling frantically. Blake brings in his wife Miranda to mentor RaeLynn. Miranda and Blake tell her not to try to compete with Adley, which is good advice, because she really can't.
Next, Kelly Clarkson works with Adley. She tells her to dial it down to harmonize with RaeLynn, then blow everyone away with her ability in the final notes.
Battle time! Wow, RaeLynn sounds off key. Adam leans forward to give Blake a look when Adley starts singing, one of those "that's your girl" looks, I assume. Wow, this is not harmonizing, though. Christina thinks they both brought their own style to it. She tells RaeLynn she has guts to do this, but she thought Adley was better. Cee-Lo enjoyed RaeLynn and tells her she has time to grow. In other words, Adley is more experienced and can win the competition. Adam would go with RaeLynn because she was more unique. Really? Blake wants to pick the better storyteller. Which means he picks... RaeLynn. Are you serious? Yeah, she's not making it to the end.
Christina is more relaxed about telling her team they're about to be decimated. Monique Benabou will be up against Chris Mann performing "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion.
Sidebar: This is NOT Celine's song. She covered it. Jennifer Rush made it a monster hit in the '80s. Christina tends to do this, giving song credit to whomever recorded something recently, and it's really disrespectful, honestly.
Anyway, Chris takes Monique seriously, but let's face it, he's an opera singer and she can't read music and has had no training. Still, opera training may not be what Christina is looking for. Chris is more technical, bu not as emotional.
They rehearse, Monique surprises Christina with her ability to hit the notes. Huh. I go back to my theory about the judges.
Lionel Richie drops by to help Chris. Lionel tells him not to psyche himself out. He needs to bring a little more feeling to it.
Jewel works with Monique. She gives her some tech pointers, as when she takes a breath and gets pitchy as a result. This is probably absolutely what Monique needs.
Monique and Chris enter the ring. They both belt this out and... I kind of like Monique better. She just seems more emotionally invested, though Chris clearly can sing circles around anyone he chooses. Cee-Lo thinks Chris is one of the best that we have, so he'd pick Chris. Adam thinks he'd go with Chris. Blake would pick Monique. This one's tough. Christina chooses... Chris. Not a bad decision at all, but a tough one. Either one would have been great.
Cee-Lo cuts straight to the chase -- it's Cheesa vs. Angie Johnson performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart." In rehearsals, Cheesa tries to show off and take charge. She wants to bring everything up a half-step, to make the song "more epic." Angie, who doesn't need to show off because she can actually sing, suggests they go for a full step -- bringing the song right into Cheesa's weak spot. Well-played, Angie, well-played.
Babyface advises Cheesa on the importance of hitting one of her standout notes, while Ne-Yo works with Angie. His advice? Don't hold back. But Angie wants to play it cool! Ne-Yo tells her she can play it cool for the first page -- then better go for the throat in the second page. I hope Angie pays attention.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the cuteness run-off, Angie wins. At first, though, Cheesa totally overpowers Angie. This one is closer than I thought it would be. Adam thought they were both powerful, but he would go with... Cheesa, maybe. Blake thought they both had good moments and average moments, but he picks Angie. Christina goes with Angie. Cee-Lo is proud of them both, but thought Cheesa had articulation that Angie lacked. The winner is... someone who will be revealed after the commercial break. Dammit!
Cee-Lo picks... Cheesa. Meh.
On to Team Blake. He pairs Jordis Unga with Brian Fuente on "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette. In rehearsal, Bryan seems screwed -- the song is, of course, written for a woman. But then, Jordis screws up, too, so maybe it's a toss up. Then again, it is rehearsal.
Kelly Clarkson works with Brian and tries to get him to be less hesitant. He does seem a little overwhelmed. He's used to singing with a band. I think he might actually psyche himself out on this one.
Jordis works with Blake and Miranda Lambert. Blake tells her she just needs to focus. Miranda drinks out of a Starbucks cup and reassures Jordis. Hey, guess who's a sponsor of the show? Starbucks!
Brian and Jordis take the ring. Mmmm, think Jordis has it. Brian does his best with it, but she's a bit stronger. There's a lot of pitchiness for both of them.
Christina picks Jordis. Cee-Lo thought Brian really got into it, but thought Jordis was almost in tears at the beginning. He picks Brian. Adam goes with Jordis. Adam thought there was pitchy stuff and that neither of them did their best. That being said, he liked that Jordis seemed upset on stage. He picks Jordis. Jordi is glad, because she thought it was a mess.
On Team Christina, she pairs Anthony Evans with Jesse Campbell for "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. This is going to be really tough. I think the favorite might be Jesse, though. In rehearsal, Jesse tries to intimidate Anthony. In this case, he has the chops to do it.
Lionel Richie works with Jesse. Lionel warns him to not try to outdo Anthony. Jewel tells Anthony he has to mean what he sings.
Anthony and Jesse take the ring. Oh my God, it's going to be SO wrong to eliminate one of these guys. Best of the night, hands down. And they sound wonderful together, too. WOW. I would buy this as a single. Cee-Lo was blown away. Damn straight. He picks no one. Adam feels sorry for Christina. But he finally picks Jesse. Blake goes with Jesse, too. Still, I hate the idea of Anthony going home. These guys BOTH deserve to be on this show. Christina picks... Jesse.
Granted, he was great. Very deserving. It's just a crying shame Anthony has to go. If Jesse gets eliminated at some point, I hope he considers starting a group with Anthony. They sounded SO good together.
Hey, why doesn't "The Voice" have a save option for the battle rounds? Either let them carry a performer through and force them to do a double elimination the next week or maybe let another judge toss a complete pairing off his or her own team so he or she could pick up someone who gets eliminated? I would have thought it was a crazy idea until tonight -- considering that Anthony was head and shoulders above some of the singers that made it through (sorry, RaeLynn and Cheesa), I have to wonder if any of the other judges wished they could have snagged him.
Next week: more battle rounds. Man, I hope the next battles are a little more clear cut than this last one.
Do you agree with the judges' decisions? What did you think of the mentors' advice? And who are you rooting for?