Tonight's episode of The Voice was the perfect lead-in to the second presidential debate. Both programs revolved around two competitors doing verbal battle; both had substantial cores hidden by fluffy filler and endless recaps of things we already know; both featured an authoritative, assertive lady with a strong voice, ombre tips, and experience co-starring in a musical with Cher.
Okay, that last one sort of got away from me. Regardless: This is The Voice! This is The Recap!
Team Blake: Liz Davis. vs. Nicole Johnson
Though the sultry allure of the conga is always there, lurking just in the shadows, Blake manages to ignore it tonight, instead giving a straight-up country song -- his wife's single "Baggage Claim" -- to two straight-up country singers. The only real difference between these gals: Liz is Nicole's ghost of Christmas future. Like her young opponent, Liz moved to Nashville when she was 18 to pursue a music career. Unlike Nicole, Liz has spent the last seven years singing for her supper in honky tonks and digging her keys into the sides of pretty little souped-up four wheel drives, or whatever wannabe country artists do in their spare time.
When they enter the ring, Blake's babes are dressed like innocence and experience personified. Nicole is all light and sweetness, rocking a long, flowy dress, cowboy boots, and a Taylor Swiftian soft side braid. Liz's spangled hot pants, giant stilettos, and heavy makeup make her look like an Xtina impersonator. But after they start singing, it's difficult to tell who's who. Their twangy voices don't just blend -- they reflect each other so closely that if you weren't watching the screen, you might think that there's only one person onstage. (My roommate, who was focused on her laptop throughout the performance, assumed just that.) It's like choosing between apples and older apples.
In the end, Blake picks slightly aged beauty over younger beauty and welcomes Liz to the next round. I can't wait for seven years from now, when Nicole resurfaces to battle her own 18-year-old country soundalike on The Voice's 17th season. (Judges: Carly Rae Jepsen, Marcus Mumford, a sentient cowboy hat, and a hologram of Cee Lo, who returned to his home planet in 2016.)
Team Adam: Alessandra Guercio vs. Kayla Nevarez
High school student Alessandra's official Voice bio reveals that she "was inspired by Ariel from The Little Mermaid to start singing when she was only five years old, and she has never looked back." That may explain her lustrous hair, which is worthy of a rebellious undersea princess. The coif is just a little too perfect -- fitting, since Al's problem is that she sounds overly trained. Her competition is painted as an underdog with a more natural, effortless sound, which we all know is code for "she will win this battle."
And 17-year-old Kayla does end up coming out on top when the girls sing Katy Perry's "Wide Awake," even though her voice sounds sort of swallowed and she can't quite sustain a note without going off pitch. Alessandra, on the other hand, can't ad lib without sounding like she's studied and planned every note -- and on a series like this one, showing how hard you're working can be a kiss of death.
NEXT: Well, unless Xtina sees herself in your shiny, shiny hair