After last week's round of competent but unremarkable performances on the first live show it's time to see what Team Adam (Tony Lucca!) and Team Cee-Lo (Jamar Rogers!) have in store for us.
Turns out there's a lot to cover, so let's get right to it...
First up on Team Adam: Katrina Parker, whose backstory involves getting over an illness. She'll be performing Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight." Adam's got some advice: Don't be Adele. Katrina agrees, she needs to find her own voice and "simplify."
Other than singing Smashing Pumpkins, Katrina doesn't do a whole lot to distance herself from Adele. From her look to her vocals to her performance, it has the whiff of a knockoff. She's not bad, but it's not a knockout so a lot will depend on the rest of the night.
Christina thought Katrina did great except for a few flat notes. Cee-Lo thinks she can't possibly match Billy Corgan's connection with the song and that Katrina's version was too much of a "performance" (like a Broadway version). Adam appreciates that Katrina listened to him and he thinks she might have gone too far in the direction of "no frills," but overall she "killed it."
Cee-Lo's first contender is Hawaiian "power vocalist" Cheesa, performing Thelma Houston's disco anthem "Don't Leave Me This Way." She wasn't too happy about some attacks on Twitter after she won her battle round. Cee-Lo says she's "incomparable" on his team.
She's a serviceable disco diva -- and the staging plays that up by surrounding her with dancers getting their boogie nights on -- but I don't think that's what it'll take to stick around.
Blake says he loved it and it reminded him of watching "Solid Gold" (ummmm...). Adam agrees the performance and song had Cee-Lo written all over it, but the only problem is the competition has too many great singers. Cee-Lo "completely disagrees with Adam" because it was "wonderful"! He believes it was a success, "the staging was great, the colors were wonderful, I believe the people enjoyed it!"
Let's resolve to ignore Christina Milian until she does something worth mentioning. I think it'll be awhile...
Now it's time for Adam to bring out his big gun: audition round favorite and former Mouseketeer Tony Lucca. He's got Peter Gabriel's "Say Anything" anthem "In Your Eyes." Adam wants him to perform part of it in falsetto and Tony is struggling during rehearsal.
There's an inescapably cheesy adult contemporary vibe to this, but he's still the best so far. Tony's a clean, confident performer not lacking in professional experience.
Christina finds him to be "very one dimensional" and she's wondering when he'll display some versatility. (Ouch! Is that why she didn't recognize her fellow Mouseketeer during the blind auditions?) She says she hopes the support he's had so far -- including from Justin Timberlake specifically -- doesn't damage the high integrity of the competition. I'm thinking these comments won't go over so well on Twitter...
Adam says Christina was "honest" and "honest is good." Adam says "In Your Eyes" is one of his favorite songs ever and the way Tony worked his way around the falsetto made him "really proud." Adam was so happy "with the way this room felt for the three minutes you were up there."
Tony manages to exit the stage gracefully, without taking any shots at Christina... Well, I guess "The Voice" needed a little controversy to keep the buzz going.
Next up is another from Team Adam: soul diva Kim Yarbrough. She wants to perform Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Adam calls himself a "bad coach" for not thinking of the song earlier.
I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: there needs to be a moratorium on Adele on these shows for awhile. But it's actually kind of nice to hear a mature woman's take on the song, and Kim does a solid enough job with it. That's a win. And maybe it's smart to pick a hit song when part of the voting involves iTunes downloads.
Blake thought Kim did a good job and the song got better as it went along. Cee-Lo thought the song choice was too safe, but he does love Kim. Adam loves her too and he wants to motivate her properly: She's an unbelievable singer but he needs to mention some problems. Adele is so good that it's tough to compare, and then he babbles schizophrenically about how wonderful Kim is but she just didn't nail it tonight.
Cee-Lo's next contender is James Massone, who is assigned Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why." Cee-Lo wants James to show his sensitive side for the ladies. James wasn't sure about the song but promises "a little twist."
Obviously Cee-Lo thinks he has a teen idol on his hands, and maybe he's right, but James is painful to watch. The song choice is ridiculous and the vocals are really weak. His smarmy performance style doesn't help. Please tell me one of the other coaches will call Cee-Lo out for this...
Blake won't be the one to do it. He says he almost threw his panties on the stage. Aw, Blake. Christina liked it too, and appreciated the change up. "There were some pitch problems, I'm not gonna lie, but when you do hit the notes it's really dope." Yes, Christina, he did look like a dope.
Cee-Lo is obviously really proud of himself, and he hopes James is proud of himself too (I have no doubt he is). The only "constructive criticism" Cee-Lo has "maybe you paid a little too much attention to the ladies" and "on those higher notes maybe you could've projected a little more."
Cee-Lo's got another one on deck: rocker Juliet Simms, who has had several record deals but never made it. She'll be performing The Police's "Roxanne." She's concerned about being pigeonholed as the "classic rock girl" but she also thinks the song is "not predictable."
I'm suddenly having "Rock Star: INXS" flashbacks, and this isn't even Jordis' night. Juliet's competent but the show might have a few too many female rockers. She's definitely the most growly.
But the coaches love it! Adam calls it the best performance he's seen so far (and no she's not on his team). Christina was "so into it, your voice is doooope!" She tells Cee-Lo she's jealous that he has Juliet. Blake says it's the first time he's ever really heard her sing and it's "so good." Now he gets it.
Cee-Lo's thoughts? "Wow baby, just wow."
We're at the halfway mark and Adam's ex-nursing student Mathai is up next. She's got John Legend's "Ordinary People." Adam tells her she's "from another planet" (in a complimentary way).
Overall the staging tonight is a lot more stripped down than last week. Mathai's is one of the simplest of all: It's just her, front and center, bathed in a green light with a couple guitarists in the background. What you think of this probably comes down to whether or not you like her "quirky" voice. I don't think I could tolerate an entire album of it, but the song choice is decent and she turns it into a groovy, hippie slow jam.
Christina likes her voice a lot and thinks she has "interesting choices" with her ad libs. She wants to see some more energy though because that was "a little loungey." Blake loves her confidence. Adam thinks she's "magical." He wanted the song to be quieter to really showcase what she can do and he "couldn't possibly be happier."
"Broadway rocker" (and brand new papa) Tony Vincent is next for Team Cee-Lo. He's doing Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Cee-Lo wants Tony to make it "bigger than life without turning it into a showtune."
Cee-Lo's showmanship is out in full force with this one, which doesn't exactly distract from Tony's theatrical background. He's performing from some kind of post-apocalyptic pulpit with a whole crew of masked dancers. If Tony Lucca was a bit cheesy, this is a gooey mess. I love Cee-Lo but I'm not feeling how his song choices are faring with his weaker contestants.
Blake was distracted by the "evil, hellish" staging. It's last week's complaints about the "male strippers" all over again, and he admits it. Christina is from the "pop world" and she appreciates the "production value." She congratulates Tony on being a dad (because that's what's really important here) but laments that the song was too restrictive vocally.
Cee-Lo explains the staging by saying "there is an evil empire, but love can conquer hate" and Tony is supposed to be that love, or something. Cee-Lo apologizes if the song was too restrictive but he believes his team is "very strong," so vote for Tony! And vote for the other five too! Vote for everyone!
Team Adam is up next with quiet Nashville singer Karla Davis (who found "Big Bertha" inside her during the battle rounds). She's selected B.O.B.'s "Airplanes." A genuinely bold choice. Adam reminds her not to lose Bertha. Karla says she needs to take a chance or she'd regret it forever.
She's performing on...you guessed it...an airplane wing. Unfortunately this is even weirder than anything Cee-Lo's thrown at us tonight. She is far, far too timid to pull the song off. Parts of it are pretty, other times she just gets lost. Points for taking a chance, but she comes off like one of the few contestants who is way out of her league.
Christina isn't happy about making the first comments on Karla's performance but she tries to be nice. She calls Karla the "biggest surprise" of the night, admits some of it was a whisper, but Karla did hit one note really well. Blake blames it on the song. Adam says he was impressed that Karla was "in the pocket" of the song, but he feels like she wasn't as good as she was during rehearsals and he felt her nerves. He still loves her, of course.
Former model Erin Martin is next for Team Cee-Lo. She describes her voice as an "acquired taste" and I'd describe her personality as an "impossible to acquire taste." She's already loathed on Twitter for her annoying attitude and bizarre voice. And tonight she'll tackle The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian."
Wow. There are some real trainwrecks tonight and this is clearly one of them. I don't think Erin ever had a real chance of surviving the first public vote, but this disaster seals the deal. Bad song choice, goofy production (complete with bare chested slaves), poor vocals. It's a trifecta!
Blake is first to comment and again he's distracted by the shirtless men. Adam makes a joke about Blake buying "a one way ticket to boner town" (and I'm not sure if that's supposed to reference Erin or the dancers or just whatever's happening in Adam's head). Christina thinks she survived the performance OK but she "could've brought it harder," and if Erin wants to be judged for her voice and not her looks...she could've been better.
Cee-Lo says he always wants the staging to "be dynamic and not a distraction." He commends Erin for "learning all of that lyric" but he wants her to be more aggressive. Whatever, nice knowing you Erin.
Team Adam is up next with my mortal enemy: Pip Andrew. I can't stand this guy, so if you're a fan get ready to close your browser or leave a nasty comment. He's doing The Killers' "When We Were Young" and Adam tells him he needs to work on this seriously.
I'm pretty sure the only things Pip takes seriously are bow ties and he's got another one on tonight. (So rock and roll!!) If you ever wanted to see a demented elf impersonate a rock star, Pip has just the stuff for you.
What did the coaches think? Christina...was not impressed. She appreciates Pip's vocal ability but "it just came off as trying too hard for me." Adam continues his streak of beating up on his own team members by saying Pip achieved the goal of "surprising" people, but he wanted Pip to be more "dangerous and scary." For some reason he thinks Pip can be grittier. Well, Pip scared me, but definitely not the way Adam means.
The final performer of the night is Team Cee-Lo's "comeback kid," HIV-positive former drug addict Jamar Rogers. He's got Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" Cee-Lo considers the song an "affirmation of leadership" and that Jamar knows which way to go.
It's hilarious they slotted this right after Pip's embarrassing impersonation of a rock star. Jamar could give Lenny Kravitz himself a run for the money. Unlike Christina's designated chosen one, Jesse Campbell, Jamar has more than an "inspirational" backstory. He's got genuine stage presence and relevance in the current musical environment. If there's a darkhorse to take down Justin Timberlake-endorsed Tony, it's got to be Jamar.
Blake still can't get over the crazy staging. There were people on stilts! Adam wants to say something real quick but Cee-Lo doesn't let him (it's a live show!). Cee-Lo asks Jamar if he heard the roar of the crowd and felt their energy. Since everyone watching at home felt it, I'm pretty sure Jamar did too.
Adam gets to weigh in after all, with the very important point that Jamar "embodies what this show is." At some point this season Adam is probably going to throw someone on his own team under the bus to pimp out Jamar, just wait...
I'm guessing Adam's bottom three will be Mathai, Karla and Pip. Though either Kim or Katrina could be in trouble. (Good thing he's got Tony Lucca, because otherwise Team Adam is a real mess.)
Cee-Lo's bottom three will almost certainly be Cheesa, Erin and Tony Vincent (but man does James deserve to get the boot too).
Overall this was a much more uneven show than the first week, but we have two serious frontrunners in Jamar and Tony Lucca. For me, Jamar was hands down the best of the night.
Who was your favorite tonight? Who shouldn't be back next week? And how and when will Tony Lucca get his revenge on that Mouseketeer traitor Christina?
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