In last week’s battle round, The Voice paired unlikely opponents — too unlikely, if you ask me. Tuesday’s duels made much more sense: Blake Shelton selected his sweetest dames, Christina Aguilera matched up two satisfied Jessica McClintock customers, Adam Levine pitted his freak-flag color guard members against one other, and Cee Lo threw together all the pageant hair left on his squad. So who prevailed? Who took a tumble in the oversize boxing ring of improbable dreams? Let’s rank the four duet winners from “likeliest to win the show” to “likeliest to win a ham sandwich at a state fair.”
Team Adam: Devon Barley d. Rebecca Loebe
I admire Adam’s taste! I do! But if the lead singer of minivan-friendly Maroon 5 hands you the definitive wallflower opus of the ’90s (Radiohead’s “Creep”), he might think you’re damaged goods. That’s my takeaway. Nonetheless, Devon and Rebecca conspired like uppity drama-clubbers at a pep assembly and trilled the blazes out of Thom Yorke’s timeless dirge, finding both pain and passion and aiming them skyward. Rebecca stunned during the auditions with “Come As You Are,” but I thought she outdid herself here, seizing on “Creep’s” slow-burn confessions with a sinister cool. As the woebegone Kara DioGuardi once said of Idol bleater Didi Benami’s underrated “Play With Fire” cover, “There’s something very compelling about the sweetness of [her] voice with the eeriness of the song.” Precisely, KarGuar! See you on Platinum Hit. Devon, meanwhile, had never heard of “Creep” before — or even Radiohead, maybe — so I was surprised to see him transform its angry core into a triumphant vocal showcase. Well done, child with a pleasantly compact face! Adam balked before choosing Devon as the winner, and I sympathize with that ambivalence. Either could’ve won, and both outperformed every other vocalist on last night’s show. Rebecca Loebe, we’ll miss you, your folksy-freakiness, and the fact that your name is too similar to WNBA retiree Rebecca Lobo’s.
Team Xtina: Raquel Castro d. Julia Eason
Big step down in quality here, as I found Raquel and Julia’s “Only Girl (in the World)” too strained and, uh, wonky. Because the stage movements? Were out of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and not in the magical way. Raquel stormed about the ring with a kind of horsey amble that I associate with tweaking Shakira impersonators while Julia just tottered in place like a lonely lip-syncer. Oh, Julia. Your malaise is disappointing for someone who Carson Daly called a “free-spirited California girl.” Blake Shelton was right to point out that Julia has the better overall voice, but Raquel’s winning edge was her competent delivery and Kentucky Derby choreography. Add “Timbaland connections” and you have Nelly Furtado!
Team Blake: Dia Frampton d. Serabee
Now, I am a functioning human being, so I noticed that Dia Frampton’s cartoonish swooning made her verse of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” sound like a leftover dog ballad from A Goofy Movie (’95). I also noticed that competitor Serabee, who is named Serabee, sang this tune in one vibrato-heavy cluck. A cluck with showbiz dreams! And chicken coup chutzpah! And big octaves! And genocide capabilities. I was personally decimated. Though both competitors crumbled like heathens before the holy ghost (to borrow Serabee’s term), Dia snagged the win for her cuter, less deathmaking voice. She doesn’t have a prayer against Devon, Frenchie, Javier, or Beverly, but since she eradicated an unholy poultry ghost, I give her more credit than our last-place winners this week.
Team Cee Lo: Tori/Taylor Thompson d. Kelsey Ray
I will now list everything about Tori and Taylor Thompson that matters: Taylor (I think) has wavy, dark hair and perfectly impish features, making her an entity I will now call “Bratz Bjork.” And that’s our list! Cee Lo’s song choice of “Unwritten” served these ladies and their hilariously self-absorbed competitor Kelsey (“I’ve always been judged for my looks — the pretty girl with a voice!”) well, but neither party turned Natasha Bedingfield’s empowerment jam into fighting material. In fact, to me, Tori sounded scraggly and off during her first verse. Unfortunately, “charisma” won out over competence in the end, and Cee Lo selected the salt-and-pepper Thompson set over poor Kelsey and her poor, amazing looks. I’m texting a few charity dollars her way so she can be cured of attractiveness right now.
What did you think of this week’s matchups? Did you agree with the judges’ decisions? Was Devon the night’s standout? Do Sia, Reba, or Monica (who dished amazing stankface as if “The Boy is Mine” video never ended!) deserve a big red seat? Leave it in the comments, read me regularly at Movieline.com, and follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel!