Tonight, with only two weeks left until Election Day, we gather around our televisions to witness a heated competition between two Great Americans who will be fighting for your vote in November. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you...
Alexis Marceaux and Daniel Rosa!
Why? Who did you think we were talking about?
The next POTUS? Pshhhh! Let's boycott the debates until Romney and Obama are allowed to battle it out like true patriots. Preferably in a boxing ring, while belting out Adam Lambert songs.
Team Cee Lo: Alexis Marceaux vs. Daniel Rosa
Can bees really smell fear? If they can, Daniel and Alexis might as well have slathered honey all over their bodies and rolled through a field of extra-pollenated flowers, because anxiety is just radiating off them. When Cee Lo asks them to sing Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want from Me," they both lose all confidence. First, Alexis worries that Daniel might bring more "pain" to the song than she does. Then Daniel worries that he won't be able to hit the high notes. Then Rob Thomas worries about how much diction is too much diction. Then I worry that Rob Thomas thinks "diction" means something much dirtier than it does.
Anyway, Alexis and Daniel are just about equal in many things: talent, nerves, taste in vintage eyeglasses. But once they get in the ring, Alexis sounds more polished and professional. (As Cee Lo keeps reminding us, she's "classically trained.") And Daniel sounds more emotional. He's on the verge of tears the whole time, flinging his arms out in a dramatic Why?!? gesture, making you feel everything he's feeling. It's hard not to root for him, even though Alexis might be the better singer. By the end, even his coach wants to give him a bear hug. "His voice hurts me in such a good way," says Cee Lo. He chooses Daniel, who runs off stage, triumphant, huffing and puffing like an old WWF pro. "He's so sweet," says Adam. "He's gonna go pass out." Aww!
Team Adam: Brandon Mahone vs. Nicole Nelson
Ain't no mountain high enough. Ain't no river wide enough. Ain't no leather pants tight enough. To keep Adam from loving this song. "It's one of the greatest duets of all time," the coach explains to Brandon and Nicole. "You just have to do it justice." So, y'know, no pressure or anything.
Playing Tammi Terrell to Brandon's Marvin Gaye, Nicole is a wonder to behold. Somehow, the more power she puts into her performance, the more easy-going it feels. Poor Brandon knows this round will be rough. But after a lesson from Mary J Blige about Struggle and Survival and Using Your Mama as a Muse, he's inspired enough to play along.
And, apparently, so is his mama. "That's my BABY!" she shouts from the crowd while Brandon jumps up on stage with a look that says, Awww, mom! He's so cute in his suit and tie, looking every bit the part of "the high-schooler from Chicago with the classic Motown voice," as Carson calls him. And he's a great showman, too, demonstrating "high," "low," and "wide" with dramatic hand gestures, getting playful with Nicole like a kid flirting with his teacher. There's a quiet, old-school charm to his performance that I love. But he's no match for Nicole, who sings like an Olympian, hurdling her voice like a Hungarian discus champion.
Adam goes with Nicole, but he tells Brandon that his performance was phenomenal. "Thanks, coach!" chirps Brandon. "I'm growing as an artist every day." That's our BABY! Make mama proud.
NEXT: Free your mind, and duress will follow