TEAM BLAKE: Cassadee Pope
I'm not sure how I feel about Blake selecting "Over You," a country song that he co-wrote with his wife Miranda Lambert, for Cassadee. It's a generous gesture: he wrote the song for his late brother, who died in an accident, and he knows it could help bring some real gravitas to Cassadee, who has always sounded a bit too much like Avril Lavigne. But it feels strange that he's using his brother's story to help boost his team. Good thing that Cassadee aces the performance. Her voice has so much more depth and range in country than it does in pop-punk. And when she gets misty-eyed toward the end (so many tears tonight!), it seems genuine. Blake is proud. "Cassadee, you just sang easily the most important and the most personal song that I've ever been a part of in my life," he says, "but you made me feel like I was hearing it for the first time." Uh oh, Blake. Let's hope your wife isn't watching.
TEAM CHRISTINA: Dez Duron
"Feeling Good" is one of my all-time favorite songs. Unfortunately, it has inspired dozens of mediocre covers. When Dez admits that he first heard it on Michael Bublé's album, and later on Frank Sinatra's record, I want to take his head, clamp some headphones around it, and force him to listen to Nina Simone, who belts it out like it's meant to be done. Even Ron Fair seems to doubt Dez. "Don't just sing the song with your mouth," he advises. "Sing it with your attitude and your being." The song is supposed to sound defiant, but Dez's version is pleasant enough, a boy-band twist on a lounge-singer classic. And besides, he looks cute in his tuxedo. When the girls shriek in the audience behind him, Christina just shrugs and says, "Ladies love Dez."
Granted, I'm no lady. But Dez isn't my favorite tonight. Going team by team, I'd pick Sylvia (Team Christina), Terry (Team Blake), Nicholas (Team Cee Lo), and Amanda (Team Adam). But there's still a place in my heart for Cody Belew, who gets the Mr. Congeniality award. For anyone who doesn't love him, I just have two words for you: Hey-ey! You'll have to answer to Christina now.