It's the final night of battles and Tuesday night's three performances were heavy on the dudes and light on diva match-ups. One contestant just can't quit his borderline gimmicky "body" instrument. Another must rely on sly vocal stylings to out-sing his physically superior opponent. And a female seafaring singer gets a much deserved last steal from Cee Lo. This was a night of middling performances for me, with no standouts, and no major singer drama. But interestingly, this night may have been the first time this season that a few coaches revealed some of their own weaknesses for a change.
Favorite moment: Christina leads a "Grandma! Grandma!" chant in The Voice stadium for Stephanie Anne's adorable grandma rooting in the stands.
And the final battles go on...
TEAM CEE LO: JONNY GRAY VS. SHAWN SMITH
Song: "Refugee" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Battle: Miguel points out that this is a classic Air Force (Jonny Gray) versus Army (Shawn Smith) battle. I think it's more appropriate to restructure this as a David (Jonny) versus Goliath (Shawn) pairing, and not merely in the physical stature sense. Shawn's voice is booming and powerful, while Jonny's is sweet but diminutive -- there's no bypassing Shawn during this song, so Miguel encourages him to amp up his attitude. This was one of my least favorite battles; I couldn't notice the singing over their screaming match.
Verdict: Adam and Christina fancy Jonny's version. Blake compliments them both: "It was hot," whatever that means. Coach Cee Lo chooses Jonny, praising his frenetic energy: "You're gonna become something undeniable."
TEAM ADAM: BARRY BLACK VS. PRESTON POHL
Song: "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations
Mentor: Ryan Tedder
Battle: Remember Barry "Body Instrument" Black? He's the one that makes those flugelhorn noises with his mouth, and you can bet your beat-boxing britches that he tooted them in this battle. Rehearsal looked like a quasi-frat party, what with all the bromance love between Barry and Preston. Adam and Ryan suggested Barry reconsider "playing" his instrument. Their battle was like ear candy, Werther's to be exact. Both of their voices really complimented each other, with Preston's hoarseness peaking throughout the soulful melody. Barry's flugelhorn impression, though cool in solo performance, came off as gimmicky and only served to highlight Preston's better voice.
Verdict: Christina lauds Preston's style: "Your voice comes from a different era." Cee Lo compares him to Temptations singer David Ruffin. Coach Adam chooses Preston. No steals for Barry.
In the interest of pissing of its many viewers and this very recapper, NBC decides to skip over these three battles:
TEAM BLAKE: CILLA CHAN VS. HOLLY HENRY
Song: "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia
* Poor Cilla Chan -- we never got to see her perform, even in the blind auditions! Also, I can't believe they didn't show them singing "Torn," one of the best ballads ever (not to mention a vernacular-hijacker! C'mon, like you actually mean the past participle of "tear"?). Admit it, anytime you say "torn," that song where she's lying naked on the floor plays in your head like a sweet Aussie lullaby.
TEAM BLAKE: BRANDON CHASE VS. EMILY RANDOLPH
Song: "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John
TEAM CEE LO: TAMARA CHAUNIECE VS. KEAIRA LASHAE
Song: "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie
And the third and final performance...
TEAM CHRISTINA: OLIVIA HENKEN VS. STEPHANIE ANNE JOHNSON
Song: "Done" by The Band Perry
Mentor: Ed Sheeran
Battle: It's a battle between the country diva (Olivia) and the cruise ship singer (Stephanie Anne). In rehearsal and in battle, it's clear who has the advantage, and that's Olivia. This is the first time I've really questioned Christina's song choice (see below). Both girls have powerful voices, but it's hard to tell what Stephanie Anne can really do because she's so bogged down by learning the song and trying to keep up with Olivia's mastery and comfort in this country tune.
Verdict: Thankfully the coaches can pick up on Stephanie's idiosyncrasies. Adam applauds her "grit," and Cee Lo likes that she was emotionally invested in the song and "leaving it all onstage." Not surprisingly, Blake swoons over Olivia. Adam quips, "because Olivia looks like your wife, maybe?" Coach Christina chooses Olivia. But Cee Lo steals Stephanie Anne.
- Do you guys think the coaches are ever too nice to their contestants? Adam gave Barry a nicely worded, implicit warning to not whip out the flugelhorn party during his performance, yet Barry did anyway. If this were another competition show, like American Idol, Barry would be docked points and criticized for insubordination. I thought Adam should have been harsher with Barry, since this is a singing competition and not an audition for your kid's birthday party entertainer. I know Barry said it's his signature, but flagrantly disobeying his coach's advice may have cost him a spot on his team.
- Did you think Christina made the right song choice in the Olivia vs. Stephanie Anne battle? It was a song that Olivia was familiar with and was in her genre. Stephanie just sounded like she was going through the motions. I've applauded her coaching decisions thus far, but this time, I think Christina really goofed by picking a song that slants so unfairly to one singer's wheelhouse.
What's your take on Tuesday night's battles? Excited for the knockout rounds? Sound off in the comments.