As we've seen throughout this season, song choice is key. But Monday night, it was evident that it's the delivery that counts. The coaches are eager to show off their singers' multifaceted sides with unconventional song picks -- He can sing soft, too! She's not just a rocker! Wait, actually she is just a rocker! He's got an R&B heart underneath that folk-rock beard! -- but chime in all you want with the circus-act-like taglines, that live boxing ring stage will strip any singer down to her true colors and bring any well-meaning attempts at genre-mixing to a screeching halt. But for every one-sided singer, there's a Tessanne and a Matthew, who blow us away with their ability to make anything they sing sound completely and singularly their own. Some non-singing highlights of the night? Cee Lo dons a Don Quixote/sword-less Zorro outfit. Matt Lauer drops by ahead of a Voice segment on the Today show, to compare "No Shave November" scruff with the bearded man-folk of the show, and the coaches heckle Blake for his out of control man-crush on soul singer Ray. It's okay, we completely understand, Blake.
And on with the performances...
TEAM CEE LO: Caroline Pennell
The song: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii
The performance: So Cee Lo wants to shake things up with Caroline's saccharinely sweet renditions of late. Her challenge is to sing something uptempo and while the Avicii tune is faster than her usual fare, it's still not out of her folk-y, singer-songwriter ball park. Nonetheless, she does a great job and manages to inject new little Caroline trills that sound oh so pleasant to my ear. Also how adorable is she when she talks about how she's grown up on the show? Onstage, her set backdrops remind me of Taylor Swift's "Mean" video and though it hadn't occurred to me before, I would love to hear her sing some Swift tunes. Even though she doesn't venture very far genre-wise, each time she performs I keep noticing how "finished" her voice sounds. She really doesn't need any more work, she just needs to cut an album stat.
The feedback: Cee Lo says she's "truly making a connection with everyone." Blake is a fan of the up-tempo side of her, and heckles the pit crowd's distracting hand-claps, "a studio audience that has the worst rhythm ever!" (Finally someone addresses this!). Adam loves the purity of her voice. I'm loving her hair and makeup during these live rounds, she's like a sultry Pollyanna!
TEAM CHRISTINA: Josh Logan
The song: "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson
The performance: Christina has been gunning for Josh this whole time, commiserating with him, "We're soul singers." I still don't see what she sees. Every time he sings, I wonder, "Which high register male singer is he going to skillfully imitate next?" Christina wisely advises him to chill on the ad-libs and runs and to let the song sing itself. To his credit, she picked a good song, but a hard one to live up to. That first verse where Michael does this harmony-hic-hiccup sort of opening is iconic and I think that to nail this song you have to get that part right. Josh's rendition left me craving the warmth and the full breathiness of the original. He was fine in the choruses, but overall it fell flat for me. Also, aside from that foible, does anyone think that Josh has a special stare? He does this intense cobra gaze where he doesn't blink for a worrisome while and... okay, maybe it's just me?
The feedback: Christina gives him props for taking her advice: "Sometimes, people just want to hear your voice." (Also, how good has she been looking lately?!) Adam had few complaints, save for wanting him to venture out to the coaches' area more while performing. Cee Lo lauded his improvement. And Blake thought Josh wouldn't have been in the bottom last week if he gave this performance instead.
NEXT: A cardigan-wearing singer is coming out of his cage...