TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY TUCKER
The song: "How Do I Live"
The performance: Holly has some nerves about her stage presence and her looks -- she isn't the typical superstar figure. Pish-posh, Blake says. (Yes, pish-posh!) He's selected the LeAnn Rimes song to show off the full, pleasing curves of her voice, which is easily doable thank to the double presence of a faux-rainfall background and a chorus of background singers. The one was a pleasing affectation (so soothing) while the other was an intrusion. The result is strong but unsophisticated, and ended up much like Cáthia did last night, I thought: giving a strong performance of a song that's typically sung very strongly by much more famous people in exactly the same way. Holly sounded like LeAnn! But is that a great thing or merely a good one?
The feedback: The judges eat the whole thing up. Blake hoots and hollers and Usher commends Holly on her take-charge approach to performing, when she could have stayed rooted to one spot. Shakira calls it "so beautiful" twice and Adam reminds Holly that she is also beautiful. Carson calls Blake "an animal" that is also in a "cage."
TEAM SHAKIRA: KRIS THOMAS
The song: "When I Was Your Man"
The performance: Kris' selection is intended to maximize his sweet and emotional voice, and Shakira reminds him to use his super strong upper register wisely. They briefly duet in rehearsal. It's the best thing so far in the episode. And then Kris takes the stage and flexes his voice all over the song, which the arrangement happily obliges but then also smothers over. The only impression is of technical excellence. But where's the charisma?
The feedback: Adam calls Kris out on his nerves, saying it would have been nicer to see him more relaxed. Blake completely disagrees (this happens often, haven't you heard?) and says that Kris displayed impressive vocal control given that, sigh, he had to sing from "wherever the girl place is." Shakira thinks that not only is Kris a great talent, he's also a great person. Something in that rehearsal duet stuck.
TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS
The song: "Fishin' in the Dark"
The performance: In all the time that America hasn't been bonding with The Swon Brothers -- there are Sarahs and Sashas singing, y'all -- the duo has become, like super tight. And though the younger one (Colton?) has a tendency to go flat, their chemistry is rock-solid. So, too, is their performance of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's ridiculous, handclappy country song. Every element is engineered to entertain, but none of the engineering is off. It's hokey in a way that means hokey is a compliment as much as it is an eyeroll. Like a good bar band, I would go back for another night -- or two or three or four more. Also, do we think that Colton strode out onto the stage because he wants to be officially recognized as The Cuter One?
The feedback: Usher, who sometimes fishes in the dark "in other ways," thought the brothers were pretty cool and Adam congratulates/insults Blake for finally getting his big country moment. Blake calls the harmonies tight and promises that much of America already recognizes and loves "Fishin' in the Dark," dangit.
NEXT: Blake and Shakira 4eva