Tonight could have been a night of disappointments, not only because it included two teams whose members have produced only a small handful of big moments in the past seven weeks but because tonight’s second round of live episodes also followed last night -- which was, I'm almost completely sure, the best two hours of this fourth season. Disappointment cometh. Except! Though Teams Blake and Shakira didn't produce the same number of Big Moments as their compatriots (and what moments), they did not produce a proportional number of Bad Moments.
Instead, the evening was rich with country performances, overuses of the words "incredible" and "amazing," and more country performances. Banjos! A Lady Antebellum song! In contrast to Shakira's pragmatic, often clever song choices, can Blake's fixation on the genre that's made him famous also be considered a fetish? Because dude elevates every single part of it to a virtue. It made little blonde teenager Danielle Bradbery "one of the most important" artists to come out of The Voice. Country music is magic! Country music is also maybe a drug.
But first we have to talk about...
TEAM BLAKE: JUSTIN, HOLLY, DANIELLE, AND THE SWON BROTHERS
The song: "Boondocks"
The performance: To make sure that his team bonded, Blake took them all out to karaoke, which has the intended effect of being cheesy-good television and the added intended effect of making all four singers sing well together, like they've spent at least one night in a karaoke bar. "Boondocks" may be a too-perfect choice for a group country number -- it's already a song by a country group, with built-in harmonies -- but those same harmonies are the best part, as they should be.
The feedback: Why would Blake bother pushing his team out of his comfort zone when he could just teach them how to perform pleasurably within it?
TEAM SHAKIRA: GARRETT GARDNER
The song: "Imagine"
The performance: The first of Shakira's risky but admirable choices for her contestants, she picks the John Lennon track and requires an accompanying piano, in order to push Garrett to show off his artistry. Shakira also warns him to be wary of unnecessary lapses into falsetto, because she is a good coach. She also wants him to rough the song up into a rock anthem, because she is Shakira and wears gold clothing and has high standards. And though he's listless on his verses, Garrett does make "Imagine" rougher, with the aid of some drums. It's totally Fray-lite but not Fray-bad.
The feedback: Adam is proud of Garrett's journey and Usher is proud of Garrett's journey and Blake thinks he's both a heartthrob and a beast. (Has he been watching Hemlock Grove?) Shakira thinks he was "so cool" (cool-lite).
NEXT: Four singers, two country songs, one Bruno Mars