The Voice Recap: Apples Vs. Oranges!

Unlike last week’s Battle Rounds — where we saw plenty of like against like — Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice (aka Day Two of Battle Rounds) found disparate singers engaging in head-to-head duels to get to the finals. The one common thread for everyone, though? Nighttime rehearsals in that semi-creepy brick warehouse space! (Seriously, how come that building exterior gets as much airtime as Sia and Reba?) But enough larkin’ about on subjects that matter not! Let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from most- to least-promising winner — and assess the contestants’ chances as they head to the final 16.

Team Adam: Javier Colon d. Angela Wolff (pictured)
You knew Angela was in trouble the minute she showed up wearing that ridiculous violet-rope headband openly admitted she was matched up against “probably the best singer in this entire competition,” and Carson Daly’s pre-performance depiction of Javier as “the humble family man at a career crossroads” pretty much sealed the deal. Angela spent the bulk of the duet grinning at Javier as if she was a fan he’d pulled up from the audience to sing a couple lines of the chorus, and it wasn’t hard to see why: Javier’s got a powerful, buttery voice that had even Blake Shelton swooning. Still, I still appreciated seeing Adam work with Javier to dial back on the vocal acrobatics for his rendition of “Stand By Me.” Nobody wants an aggressive case of the runs, right? (Battle embedded below!)

Team Xtina: Beverly McClellan d. Justin Grennan
In one of the night’s two cases of a judge zigging where I expected a zag, Xtina not only chose the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” for her bald-headed rocker chick and her everyman tenor (“you look like the guy who works at my bank,” said Blake), but she pretty much slayed it when she gave it a test drive during her mentoring session. (Not that “Fighter” didn’t prove Xtina’s rocker chops, but it was still a a nice reminder.) Not only that, but the show’s sole female judge had good advice for her singers during their rehearsal, telling Beverly to watch out for crossing from confidence into cockiness with her physical presence, and telling Justin not to go for the glory notes too early in the performance — even admitting her own tendency to do the same. When it was done, I felt like I’d enjoyed the sum of the parts a little more than the individual vocals, but I’m kind of excited to see how or if an older contestant like Beverly can grow once the live performance rounds begin.

Team Blake: Jared Blake d. Elenowen
I loved the way Blake Shelton threw his pretty country duo and gruff rocker dad a curveball by assigning them a sunshine-y R&B ditty made famous by Marvin Gaye, and later by Diana Ross. Sure, mashing up disparate flavors can sometimes lead to disaster, but in the right hands, this method can also yield fantastic results. Jared seemed to really take Reba McEntire’s fine advice to never stop performing to his audience — even when Elenowen was handling lead vocals. Yeah, the dude had a few corny moves in his repertoire — like dipping low and reaching downward with his arm on “ain’t no valley low enough” — but as Adam pointed out, the guy might’ve been a little lost without his guitar. On a vocal level, though, it was no contest, as Jared brought more soul, more uniqueness, and more sheer volume than the wispy hubby-wifey team he was up against. I didn’t really dig Jared’s initial audition, but dude might make a fan of me if he sheds that heinous kerchief-bandana getup.

Team Cee Lo: Nakia d. Tje Austin
I got a real kick out of Cee Lo praising his combatants for becoming “extensions of my good taste,” but hey, dude had a point! Nakia and Tje both showed solid vocal control and pitch on a song that I’ve never been particularly fond of, but I think Cee Lo made the right choice in the end, advancing the contestant with slightly more charisma, although not nearly as fabulous hair.

Anyhow, that’s my take on Day Two of Battle Rounds. What did you think? Who was your favorite performer of the night? And were there any judges’ decisions you disagreed with? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Buggu says:

    Glad you are doing the recaps for ‘voice’ as well. I didnt watch last night’s episode . Thought your review would help me in figuring out who won the battle rounds . Except for team Adam ,I didnt get who else won , a little note in the end ..from next time , maybe ..?

  2. Alex says:

    The thing that I like most about The Voice is how truly constructive and helpful the coaches are. I’m imagining Randy Jackson giving advice to Javier. “Dude, go for the big notes!!! Don’t hold back *air quotes* everrr!”

  3. Gary says:

    The Voice so far is like the opposite of Idol for me. I loved the audition process, but I’m not digging the battle rounds. Maybe they’ll win me back with the final round, but I find myself ffwding more and more during each episode.

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      Totally agree. I thought tonight was especially boring, maybe because none of the singers really impressed me.

    • julie says:

      The problem is that only about one fourth of the air time is spent on singing. There’s way too much repetitive padding, too much time watching hugging and such.

  4. m says:

    Javier’s voice is beautiful. He should sing a beautiful sad break up love song.

  5. Karen says:

    Javier has become the main reason I watch this show, so I was thrilled to see him advance. Although I loved Beverly, I actually saw a big improvement for Justin, which could lead to bigger things. Therefore I would have preferred Justin.
    Jared and Elenowen did not make for a good match. I like both artists, but ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ is probably not the best choice for a smaller-voiced duo, Blake.
    Very glad to se Nakia go through to the finals – he really got the message of the song through (and I never thought it had one before). But always sad to see awesome hair go

  6. Thom says:

    I was sad to see Angela go but she was up against some stiff competition. I think last weeks singers were much better however.

  7. adamziggied says:

    I thought all choices were correct and if I had to go up against Javier, I’d just turn around and walk to the nearest bar.

    • Joy says:

      Seriously! I loved that Angela was so honest about her admiration for him, and that she kept such a positive attitude about the matchup — thinking of it as an opportunity to duet with somebody really neat, and obviously enjoying the performance. Maybe after he wins this thing, they can borrow her away from her own career to do backing vocals on his first world tour. :-)

  8. amazing says:

    Jared Blake is a amazingly fun performer. His charming voice would make perfect songs to listen to during summer time.

  9. RT says:

    I am still really enjoying the voice. Javier is still my favorite. I was worried for a bit that Rebecca might get chosen because she is a hot, young female. Even she seemed to recognize that Javier was better. I agreed with most of the other choices, though would have preferred to see Tje move on. I don’t think he lacked charisma at all. Nakia, to me seemed a little more affected in his performance. Tje’s felt more authentic to me.

    • RT says:

      Oops…I meant Angela, not “Rebecca.” Don’t know where that came from.

    • already bored says:

      Yeah, I agree. Tje’s voice was more to my taste than Nakia. However, I felt Tje’s beginning was shaky. I think he was really nervous and it showed(for me) Nakia really brought it on in stage performance-wise. BUT by the end Tje had found his footing and was great. Overall, it was fair choice based solely on the strength of performance. That said, I still don’t like Nakia voice that much. I’m more for mellow voices like Tje’s and Javier’s(By the way, I liked “battle” between Javier and Angela. Very nice to listen to.)

  10. darclyte says:

    So far, I’ve only agreed with 3 of the 8 picks. I would NOT have chosen Frenchie, the 18 year old gal with the “goat vibrato,” nor the cowboy last week. This week I would have taken Tje and Justin. While Nakia might be more charismatic, at times seemed to be straining while Tje was smooth. Bev seemed to be shouting while Justin was solid.

    • Joy says:

      Oh wow, yeah, I *loved* the smoothness of Tje’s voice. But I also really liked Nakia’s growly blues thing, so I wasn’t actually sure who to root for in that one! Didn’t really have a pick between Bev and Justin, either. Nothing this week outraged or disappointed me as much as the cowboy and the teenager last week, anyway.

    • Louie says:

      I agree with you on the number of picks that I agree with too. But unlike last week where I disagreed with Cee Lo’s and agreed with Adam’s choices, this week I reluctantly agreed with Blake’s and Adam’s choices (I’m not seeing the big hype over Javier tbh) because I didn’t care for either contestant in those matchups. Nakia was the only one who I thought deserved to go on.

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      Agree about Bev shouting. I MUCH preferred Justin over her.

    • Jeanie says:

      Again, someone gets it right.

  11. Deb says:

    Couldn’t disagree more with Team Cee Lo and Team Xtina than I did last night. Cee Lo picked the obvious choice, but the other guy had the better VOICE. Same for Xtina, she was the performer but his VOICE was amazing. His voice is something I would remeember while she is an Etheridge sound-alike. At least Adam and Blake seemed to remember the premise of the show.

    • Cari says:

      See, I disagree. I thought Justin’s voice was okay if a little annoying, but I love the quality of Beverly’s voice. She did get a little shouty sometimes, but when she just sings, there’s something full and rich to her voice that I think is amazing.

    • GSOgymrat says:

      My family thought Beverly clearly had the better voice. She effortlessly jumped from her lower range to higher while staying perfectly on pitch. Her whole presentation can be too aggressive but she has a good voice. Justin gave an admirable effort.

  12. Jessica says:

    Last week I diasgreed with Blake and this week I disagree with christina. I think Justin did a better job than Beverly.

  13. Jon says:

    I guess I’m in the minority when it comes to Javier. Adam told him to hold back on the vocal acrobatics, but Javier kept on doing them. His voice is better than Angela’s, but at least she can take constructive criticism.

    I think Beverly needs to follow the same advice. She needs to stop messing around and sing the song.

    On the whole, I’m just not satisfied with the battle round. There seems to be no allowance for subtlety or opportunity for building emotion. Emotional songs work better when they build gradually to the climax. If you start the song trying to wring every bit of emotion through theatricality and audience manipulation, you have nowhere to go by the end.

    Here we have singers starting at 10 and trying to go past it. Unlike Spinal Tap’s amps, voices and songs do not go to eleven.

  14. Robin Lemke says:

    I felt like this week was about throwing people under the bus. Which I’m fine with – coaches need some strategy – but did Adam *really* think Angela might take it over Javier? For instance? Or that Elenowen could outsing rocker dude? Which is kinda sad to me because I like that duo and I think they could have won against someone else. I really hope the battle rounds don’t become all about who sings a song *bigger*. I’d hate to lose Xenia just because she isn’t a belter.

    I do think Cee Lo made the wrong move. I was with Monica on that one. Yes, Nakia has charisma, but he goes for that growl too often. *please see Haley Reinhart for examples of how to effectively use the growl. Thank you* Also, Tje’s (ok, can barely type that spelling of Ty) voice really is beautiful and effortless, though maybe not shown off as well as it could be on that song. I think Nakia’s a one trick pony and won’t go as far as Tje could have.

    But, you know, they didn’t ask me. *their loss*

  15. Zach says:

    While I do love this show, and the judges run circles around the AI “judges”, I am beginning to dislike the judges constantly choosing the more “powerful” performer. Much like the annoyance of Jimmy Iovine, they continue to overlook the power of a subtle performance, which I think is the problem with the battle rounds. Whichever performer is louder (provided no horrendous pitch problems) seems to get the attention, and is an extreme disadvantage to singers like Elenowen. I hope this trend doesn’t continue as my favourites left to battle are Dia and Xenia, both more subtle performers…

    • dp says:

      the things is, elenowen were just not that good. I’ve heard several covers of falling slowly, all superior to theirs and last night further showed their vocal weaknesses. Dia and xenia are quite good and probably will go far.

      • tripoli says:

        Elenowen were the best by far. The rest of the performers are dime a dozen, heard at all before voices. In particular, the guy who somehow was chosen over them. The aging rocker is not good at all. But Blake is a douche to begin with so I would expect nothing but poor choices from him.

  16. kat says:

    ugh, i so wanted to pull that headband of of Angela’s head. She looked ridiculous….and that bandana off of Jared’s too.

  17. Aiden says:

    I can easily say Javier was my favorite last night. There’s slim pickings though. It would’ve been better if they had 2-hour battle round shows.
    I’m still absolutely loving the coaches. They’re obviously superior to the “judges” of AI. When I see them being helpful and giving sound advice to their team members, it just feels refreshing and non-infuriating–very much unlike Idol this year.
    Next week, I’m hoping Blake’s team would finally bust out my favorites, Dia and Xenia.

    • Joy says:

      Not Dia AND Xenia next week — then one of them would have to get cut!

      • zach says:

        Agreed, after losing Tyler and Elenowen, I need Dia and Xenia to both make it! If not, my favourites will all be gone before the live shows even begin!

  18. Julian says:

    I totally disagree with the result of the Jared/Elenowen battle.
    Elenowen got the short end of the stick to begin with because the type of song they had to perform wasn’t very well suited for them (or for Jared really) and they also got screwed with how much time they had to show their chops (Jared got at least 2/3 of the song, and in twitter they even mentioned that part of their section of the song wasn’t shown and is only on iTunes)

    It’ll be interesting to see if something similar happens to the duo in Cee Lo’s team. If it does this just means that the battle system isn’t very well suited for duos

    • Kristin says:

      I’m not sure how Elenowen got the short end of the stick based on your reasoning… you said the song wasn’t very well suited for them or Jared (level playing field), and Blake saw the entire performance and he’s the one who decided between them. It doesn’t really matter if they cut out a verse on TV because the decision was already made.

  19. David says:

    I don’t really care for Beverly’s voice honestly. I think it’s just too much and too powerful. I don’t really see her surviving too far into the live rounds.

    • already bored says:

      I agree. I only saw coaching session and missed the battle, but I thought she was constantly trying to intimidate Justin and show off during the session. That rubbed me the wrong way. And, I was always more for mellow voice and not for too much(in my opinion) voice.

    • Lee says:

      Count me in on the Justin bandwagon. I preferred Justin’s smooth, tenor voice over Beverly’s “shouty” voice. I thought it was very unfair that Xtina would pick a song that was especially suited for Beverly’s style of music and voice. She should’ve picked a more neutral or mainstream song–maybe something from the Beatles, such as I Want To Hold Your Hand.

  20. Rock Golf says:

    Random questions:

    How many bald chicks will Christina pick? Are there any left?

    How often, when Sia introduces herself to someone new, does she hear “Sia, I wouldn’t wanna be ya”?

  21. dp says:

    thanks michael for pointing out how awesome xtina sounded singing that bit of baba o’reilly. She sounded quite good in the couple bars of single ladies that she sung last week too!
    like the promo said, xtina aguilera IS The Voice!

  22. p-bo says:

    To Mr. Slezak. I think you’re absolutely brilliant, love your writing. This is actually a chance for you to redeem yourself. Your uber-cheerleading of Allison and Haley and American Idol makes us suspect tonal quality and phrasing are not that big a deal for you. So I’m counting on you to get behind the sublime Javier!!

  23. renee says:

    Is there some conclusion to be drawn from fact that reality show bloggers seem to consistently be getting the title of ‘that Who song’ wrong? (I think so.)

    My favorite thus far has been ‘Baby O’Reilly’ by a lovely person who shall go anon but whose self-professed expertise on all things rock has been placed in sharp perspective.
    Maybe someone will now blog incisive commentary on the interpretation of the classic song “Papa O’Reilly” written by the Guess Who in response to Bill O’Reilly Senior’s attack on rock n roll back in the day.