With just three performances tonight, the second episode of the battle rounds felt a bit truncated. I felt a little short-changed, and one thing that didn't help matters? The fact that three other battles happened off-camera, and we barely got a hint at them. (Go to page two for my frustration on that matter.)
Tonight we got a Shakira-fueled rock duel, a soulful showdown on Team Adam, and a fiery '90s throwback representing Team Usher. Here's how they went down:
Clarissa Serna vs. Jeremy Briggs
“The music camp leader” vs. “the office worker turned rocker”
A gender battle is always interesting, and a rocker-on-rocker one especially so. Shakira wisely pairs two of her grittiest with “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner. In rehearsal, both prove that they’re more than qualified to tackle the song, but they don’t exactly sound like they’re in harmony from the get-go.
“It’s starting to sound like you’re competing against each other, and I know this is a battle but you should be feeding off each other,” Shakira says adroitly. The battles pose an interesting dilemma, to be sure -- you are competing but you’re also singing a duet, so do you nail your harmony or be sure to add that one extra riff that’ll make you stand out? #voiceproblems
All that said, the chemistry between Clarissa and Jeremy during the battle was red hot (irony!), possibly because I could easily see long-term couple Clarissa and Jeremy holding hands walking down the street sing-fighting at each other. Vocally, I could recognize the talent in both, but both were slightly underwhelming. I guess I’d give Jeremy the edge, only because he seemed to have more personality (or was it that the song was closer to his vocal style than hers?).
The coaches are mixed -- Blake says Clarissa, Usher says Jeremy. Shakira says Jeremy “fell out of the pocket” a bit, while Clarissa was a little too dramatic in her performance (I don’t know what either of those critiques mean). Shakira ends up picking who she feels she can do more with moving forward, and picks Clarissa. That’s fine -- Jeremy isn’t any major loss, I suppose, but by that same token, I can’t see Clarissa being a major power player.
Caleb Elder vs. Delvin Choice
“The donut shop worker with the soulful voice” or “the driven singing barista”
It’s a battle of the retailers! I distinctly remember loving Caleb during his blind auditions; Delvin was an early auditioner and managed to turn four chairs, but I didn’t think he was a stand-out (although that hair begs otherwise). They’re given Aloe Blacc’s “The Man,” which is super cruel of Adam since they’re singing it in front of Aloe himself.
During rehearsal, Aloe gives super high praise to Caleb, but during second rehearsal, Adam has nothing too positive to say. “They’re missing the meat and potatoes of what this is,” says Adam, making them exercise by rapping the lyrics instead of singing them. Is that helpful? I don’t know, you tell me.
The “unforgettable” (as Carson claims) battle starts, and it’s clear that Caleb is saddled with singing with that low register. Delvin seems to be a little more comfortable with lower notes, while Caleb is dying to hit some higher notes -- but the song doesn’t really progress or allow for any kind of creativity, rendering it a terrible battle song choice. I always feel bad when the contestants have no opportunities to shine (I know the song well and can’t think of any phrase they could have possibly optioned up).
Usher lays on the praise for Delvin “taking it to church,” which did not actually happen, as far as I could tell. Adam says Caleb needs to mature (what, the goatee wasn’t enough?), and Delvin needs to wrangle it in. He winds up choosing Delvin, which is probably a better choice in the long run. I’m bummed to see Caleb go, but he can always get a job as an Evil Young Edward Norton impersonator.
NEXT: “Here are three battles that, no, never mind, you’re not going to see”