After a lukewarm hour featuring a quartet of predictable battles, The Voice came back with a vengeance Tuesday. While I didn't agree with several of the choices the coaches made in tonight's episode, at least the duets themselves were exciting -- although once again, none of them reached the high that was Vicci vs. Niki. Maybe that'll change when the battle rounds finally come to a close next week. In the meantime, I'm not worried; any show that has contestants who can convincingly sing everything from Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" to Radiohead's "Creep" is clearly doing something right.
The battles began with another Team Christina diva-off -- only this time, the divas in question were more like divettes. The former pop tart pitted 16-year-old Raquel Castro -- a.k.a. the Jersey Girl -- against 18-year-old Julia Eason. She then announced that the two would be singing Rihanna's "Only Girl in the World," which was pretty hilarious, conceptually speaking. (Sample lyrics: "Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world / Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love / ...Like I'm the only one that's in command." Yes, this is clearly a song meant to be sung by two people.) After they learned the tune, Xtina met with Julia and Raquel individually and regaled us with these words of wisdom: "Before a show, I literally sometimes want to puke or pee my pants. Yes, I just said that on TV." Never change, you dirrty girl!
The performance itself got off to a shaky start -- neither girl could really hit the low notes in "Only Girl"'s first verse. And though things definitely improved as the pair warmed up, both singers often sounded strained; neither one sang nearly as effortlessly as The Voice's best artists. On the whole, I'd say that Julia gave the more powerful vocal, even though her pitch was often all over the place (and even though her constant dramatic chest-clutching was seriously getting on my nerves). Raquel, by contrast, was good but not great; her voice was fine, but it seemed thin when juxtaposed against Julia's.
The coaches saw things differently. Cee Lo and Adam both declared Raquel the winner of the match. Blake, too, named Raquel the better all-around singer, though he was more impressed by Julia when she opened up. In the end, Christina agreed with her colleagues' judgment and decided to cut Julia. Half of me was bummed about this. The other half was too mesmerized by Raquel's shampoo commercial hair to think anything at all. I swear, that mane has got magic powers -- maybe if Kevin Smith had been able to harness them, Jersey Girl wouldn't have flopped so miserably.
Hey, do you happen to know what Team Blake contestant Serabee's dad does for a living? Because I didn't catch his occupation the first dozen times it was mentioned tonight. Blake matched that gospel-inspired PK with Dia Frampton, the shy Rachel Leigh Cook lookalike who suffers from horrible stage fright even though she's been in a fairly well-known band for the past 7 years. Dia's stage fright confession didn't strike me as overtly disingenuous, but even so, I worry that it means she's trying to cast herself as a total music biz novice -- which would actually be dishonest.
NEXT: Good Lord, what is Serabee wearing?!