The Voice recap: To Reba or Not to Reba

Three artists give their best performances of the season, four give their worst, and Sisaundra continues to be Sisaundra.
Ep. 19 | Aired Apr 28, 2014

VIVA MCLAUGHLIN: After giving her best performance to date, could Audra McLaughlin return to frontrunner status in the fight to the finals? (Spoiler: Yes.)

Did Blake Shelton ACTUALLY tweet out Adam Levine’s cell phone number? That, of course, is the big question of the night. Not which artist soared to the top of the Top 10, or which artist flailed behind at the bottom like a T-rex with a sweet tooth on the wrong side of the cookie jar.

The part of me that wants to call Adam is also the part of me that added cordelia@robichauxacademy.com to my Gmail contacts and regularly exchanges Snapchats with @girlsHBO. So, yeah, I’m indulgent when it comes to celebrity social media. Because you were too nervous to, I called Adam’s “phone number” and got a “busy signal.” Sigh. What a tease. As long as I didn’t somehow get suckered into accidentally voting for Kat Perkins or Bria Kelly, I’m okay with the loss.

Oh, and yes—if your favorite contestants on The Voice are either of those two, you might want to stop reading this recap now.

We begin the night with something called a Rixton. I’ve done some research and it appears that this four-member boy band is the latest project by Scooter Braun, the producer behind Justin Bieber (who was himself a co-creation by Usher). So there’s your connection, world. Carson Daly, doing his best Ed Sullivan, introduces the band’s first major appearance on a US TV show. As network producers must know, the first thing I want to see on a show about ten singers is a performance by a group I have never heard of.

The song is fine—familiar, even—but again, why? Also, just in case you don’t know what their name is, THANKFULLY they spelled it out in subtle letters behind them. The lead singer of this Rixton thing also throws out a lot of references to The Voice as a person, as in, “How are you feeling, The Voice?’ and “Do you want to get brunch this weekend, The Voice?” But the absolute best part is when the performance ends and Carson says, “Welcome to the US!” As if, truly, they have now arrived.

Now we begin. Adam has brought in Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills & Nash) to assist him this week, and the first artist on his team to get Nashed/Graham Crackered is Kat Perkins.

In an effort to display Kat’s tender side—a necessary side we haven’t seen yet—Adam gives her Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”  The only line we hear in rehearsal suggests that this will be a rough performance from Kat “What Sleeves?” Perkins.  You know where I stand on Kat’s style—The Occult by Ann Taylor—so it’s purely down to the performance, and Kat’s latest is very middle of the road for me. I can’t deny that Kat has a strong little voice in there, and hearing her toned down was a welcome respite from the usual Perkins noise buffet, but her lower register didn’t register in the least, and despite a last minute save towards the second half, I was largely relieved when her performance was over. Where is Rixton??

Immediately, Kat brings forth the waterworks, a trick-o’-the-reality-trade that I certainly hope we as a nation have moved beyond. Her tears do not affect me for I am soulless. Usher kicks us off with this quotable gem: “Until the end of time, acoustic singing will matter more than all of the theatrical theatrics of a stage performer.” Truer true words have never not ever been spokensaid. Adam weirdly says that he’s happy Kat is presenting the song to a new generation who might not have heard it, because if there’s any Fleetwood Mac song that has been lost to obscurity, it’s “Landslide.”

We jump over to The Wubbulous World of Shakira, where the she-wolf has recruited someone named Busbee (stylized on Wikipedia as busbee, which I refuse to acknowledge). As it turns out, Busbee is a songwriter/producer responsible for a whopping two songs I’ve heard of—Pink’s “Try” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Dark Side,” both of which have already been performed this season and sound basically the exact same—so we’re off to a promising start with Mr. Bee. Given his work with pop divas, it’s a good match that he’s working with Shakira’s Tess Boyer. Tess was in the bottom three last week, but I fully believe that she doesn’t need to be told to fight. She seems like someone who has the fire to try to make a big comeback, and she gives it her best shot tonight.

She’s singing “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore; Shakira’s big concern is that the song is all rhythm, so it will require Tess to “stay in the pocket.” (Everyone drink!) I don’t know the song, but Tess—who has murdered the Yellow Power Ranger for her slammin’ outfit—is rocking out to it, and I’ll likely go Spotify it later this evening because it’s got a nice groove to it and I could use a nice groove as I begin planning my Summer ’14 playlists (the theme this year is “good music,” as opposed to last year’s theme, “songs involving Pharrell”).

The thing that might hurt Tess with this performance is the unfamiliarity of the song. Though that shouldn’t be a factor, it’s hard to discern if a performance is truly spectacular if you don’t have a baseline to compare it to. For all I know, it was the absolute best cover of this song I’ve ever heard. Standalone, it was another standard in the Tess realm, perhaps not exciting enough to take her out of the bottom two again, but damn, this girl has pipes and enough smoky eye to make a 1964 strip club jealous.

Adam says we finally heard a side of her voice we’ve been missing. Blake challenges the world to find a single part of the performance that wasn’t on pitch. Shakira says she was sassy, right in the pocket (everyone drink!!) and sexy. All of these things should bode well for Tess, who obviously has support in America thanks to her #VoiceSave, but will need those tweets to translate into phone calls (or however one votes these days).

NEXT: May the Auds be ever in your favor

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