Oh boy – it’s part deux of the Battle Rounds! As we continue to slough-off the sob stories from the paths less traveled that overcame the blind auditions, it’s time to get down to what we really care about: gladiator-esque vocal cord wielding to the death! Well, maybe not to the death, but elimination at the very least!
So let’s recap the recap of last night’s Battle Rounds Pt. 1 before we begin our recap… Still with us? Good. We mention this only because at the beginning of tonight’s episode great lengths are made to highlight a new rule in season three of The Voice: the ability of one Coach to steal a member of an opposing Coach’s team. You can get the skinny on the Art of The Steal here. Back to the episode at hand and let the battles begin!
Team CeeLo :: Cody Belew vs. Domo
Singing: Lady Gaga, “Telephone”
Prediction: From the moment Cody and Domo walk into the room with CeeLo (where they meet their spiritual advisor Rob Thomas and The Voice Piano Guy whose always struck us as resembling Dave Grohl‘s more grounded older brother) and we learn that the duo are destined to duke it out over their rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” we can already tell that our campy country rodeo boy is at a severe disadvantage next to Domo’s confident Bronx-bred hip-hop demeanor. CeeLo’s reasoning behind this pair is “matching the singer who can dance with the dancer who can sing.” If we were the betting kind, we’d place our money with the latter.
Warm-Up: Cody struggles with the register and gets some octave advice from our favorite wino Rob Thomas. Domo continues to exude confidence as she professes her love for the song and the performance she’s already visualizing. Cut to Cody admitting his disadvantage but determined to give it his all as he proclaims “I’m going to bring it – she can’t whip that ponytail in my face!” Cody’s modesty is quite endearing, especially next to the following scene where Domo proclaims to everyone in the room, “I know I look like a rock/pop star, but I can sing like Mariah Carey or Aretha Franklin.” The shared look on the other four faces perfectly reflect the look on ours: “Seriously?” Cut to CeeLo and Thomas meeting with Cody to discuss his concerns; where to his credit Cody calls his coach out, “She has everything I know you go to sleep at night dreaming about. I want to know how I get your attention?” While CeeLo pivots his answer, Thomas earnestly gives the best advice he can, “She’s fitting into a pair of shoes people have seen worn before, it’s up to you to show us something different.”
The Battle: As Domo eases into the verse, you can tell she’s ready with her A-game, but Cody’s right there behind her with a much stronger accompaniment than the rehearsals gave away. Unfortunately Cody’s first pass at the chorus is pitchy at best while Domo continues her controlled execution. Some butt-slapping choreography keeps Blake and CeeLo entertained while a wry smile is coaxed from Christina as the bridge levels our two contestants and Cody pulls out another successful wild card. Oddly, as the song reaches it’s climax things fall apart for both contenders who seem completely disconnected in their harmonies.
Coach’s Take: “You guys make me laugh, you make me smile, but you were focused more on the choreography than rewriting the script to this song and writing yourself into it in a way that you could stretch-out and separate yourself from the pack. Seeing as neither of you were able to do that, it makes my decision boil down to a personal preference…”
The Winner: (Shockingly) Cody Belew
Theft Report: None of the other three judges opted to adopt Domo’s overwhelming personality; she finally shows a touch of grace as leaves in tears with gratitude for the Coaches.
Team Christina :: Aquile vs. Nathalie Hernandez
Singing: James Morrison, “You Give Me Something”
Warm-Up: While Christina’s smooth song choice works for her team members, it seems a little off-kilter for her guest coach, Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong. One step ahead of our cynicism, Christina offers a comparison to such variety performances as the Grammys, “When unlikely performers come together, it’s up to you as an artist to make it work.” Out of the gate, Aquile comfortably runs his vocal range leading Billie Joe to proclaim, “You killed it! I think that was better than the original.” When Nathalie appears a tad shaken by this, Christina consoles her, “You’re fifteen. You haven’t had the heartbreaks that this song was originally written about, but try to interpret what this song means to you… Be fearless.” Christina goes on to suggest that Nathalie may be a shark in this competition – someone who really pulls it out when no one saw it coming.
Prediction: While we see that the producers are doing a half-convincing job of lulling us into a false sense of security, we’re not biting. The smart money says Aquile.
The Battle: Out of the gate, Aquile executes a top-notch run that’s echoed perfectly by Nathalie giving an immediate sense that this duet is far better matched than the behind the scenes rehearsals initially suggested. Aquile pulls away from Nathalie in the beginning of the chorus only for her to catch-up in the harmony before delivering her most powerful verse yet. Back and forth Aquile and Nathalie each deliver a stellar performance and while we’re still behind Aquile as the victor, we feel a ‘Steal’ heading in Nathalie’s direction…
Coach’s Take: “I really have a soft spot for both of you guys. I brought you two together because I feel you both have such a sweet tenderness. Aquile, I’m a big fan – you sang this song so naturally. Nathalie, there’s something so beautiful about your raw voice…”
The Winner: Aquile
Theft Report: WHAT?! No steal?! We were certain (as was Christina) that Blake would snap up Ms. Hernandez. Alas it would appear this was not meant to be.
Tonights Quick Battles: **Not quick as in they’re shorter performances, quick as in they’re not alloted as much screen time as the highlighted performances**
Team Christina :: Celica Westbrook vs. Lisa Scinta
Singing: Kelly Clarkson, “My Life Would Suck Without You”
Prediction: Lisa Scinta
Coach’s Take: “You stepped-up to the challenge, both of you.”
The Winner: Celica Westbrook
Team Blake :: Charlie Rey vs. Rudy Parris
Singing: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day”
Prediction: Rudy Parris
Coach’s Take: “Charlie, you’re still struggling with nerves – I think you beat yourself.”
The Winner: Rudy Parris
Team Adam :: Caitlin Michele vs. Melanie Martinez
Singing: Ellie Goulding, “Lights”
Warm-Up: “You both represent something that just felt right pairing you together. You guys are unique. I genuinely believe this is the best collaboration.” Strong words Adam – we’re assuming this is why the producers have synced this battle as the finale to tonights show? But we digress. A rough start to their rehearsal exposed some pitch issues identified by wincing advisor Mary J. Blige and we start to see just how different these two artists are. Caitlin’s operatic Florence Welch soundalike overwhelms Melanie’s breathy Edith Piaf until the moment where Melanie pulls away from any nerves and reservations she may have had to stop Ms. Blige in her tracks. “Whoa. I was not expecting that grown woman thing!” Caitlin shares her discomfort with the whole ordeal, but we missed what she said thanks to our wandering short attention span and the fact that all we can think of is how she resembles a fuller-faced Katy Perry. As rehearsals continued Adam unnaturally loses his supportive demeanor and accuses the duo of “phoning [their performances] in.” This does not bode well. He continues “We all have off days, but I want you to start being artists now.” In his post-rehearsal one-on-one with the camera, Adam concludes,”They’re both capable of winning this, it all depends upon who wants it more.”
Prediction: Yeah, we’ll bite at the initial Mary J./Melanie production trick and back the young duotone haired one for this round.
The Battle: While Caitlin serenades with a beautifully strong opening verse, Melanie most certainly has the style and quirk to instantly set her apart from the pack, but if the look in Blake Shelton’s eyes is anything to go by, Caitlin won’t be wandering far once Adam picks the winner. As the song continues, Caitlin waivers on the chorus but both singers conclude in the best harmony of the night. Before we hear from Adam all three coaches waiver on picking an absolute winner, making Mr. Maroon 5‘s life even harder and almost certainly guaranteeing tonight’s finale will be a Steal…
Coach’s Take: “The good news is that none of these guys are showing their hands because they all want one of you so that’s probably what they’re doing – being strategic. I also want to say that the last day of rehearsal felt like you weren’t really there. But everything we talked about you did and you couldn’t have impressed me more.” Dramatic pause, Adam’s head in hands… cue commercials… AND we’re back.
The Winner: Melanie Martinez
Theft Report: And the steal goes to Blake and CeeLo! For anyone feeling nostalgic for the Blind Auditions now’s your moment to enjoy once more two coaches making the case as to why their grass is greener… And the grass is indeed ‘Green-er’ as Caitlin chooses Team CeeLo to be her new home.
Knockout Round Team Status’
Adam: Bryan Keith, Amanda Brown, Melanie Martinez
Blake: Terry McDermott, Gracia Harrison, Collin McLoughlin, Rudy Parris
CeeLo: Daniel Rosa, Trevin Hunte, Cody Belew, Caitlin Michele
Christina: De’borah, Aquile, Celica Westbrook
Tonight’s Prediction Tally: 3/5 is not too shabby; we never said we were perfect.
–Tim Mudd, Energy 103.7