The Voice Recap: Sixteen? Sweet!

Thank heavens The Voice has named its 16 finalists for Season 1 and is moving on to the live performance rounds next Tuesday, because I’m not sure I could take yet another pre-taped “Battle Round” edited to have less suspense than a Kate Hudson romantic comedy.

Indeed, like an amateur poker player, The Voice‘s production team has a classic “tell”: Whenever a mentor is shown having a sit-down motivational chat with only one half of a head-to-head matchup, said singer is guaranteed to come out on top.

What’s more, next week’s live performance kickoff — packing in 16 vocalists over two hours — will be a welcome shift from the Battle Rounds’ somewhat sluggish pacing of four performances per hour. The final installment of these boxing-ring bouts featured some questionable calls by the judges, a vocalist with enough promise to excite Reba McEntire, and a post-performance smooch between two contestants. 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. (And if you missed the show last night, you can watch it online here.)

Team Adam: Jeff Jenkins defeated Casey Desmond
Pretty much every detail leading up to this performance pointed to a win for unassuming everyman Jeff: He’d managed to get all four judges to turn their chairs around at the auditions; Casey had impressed only Adam. The producers showed Jeff’s sit-down with Adam and his musical director; Casey’s inspirational chat got tossed in the dumpster with Xtina’s discarded lipstick tubes. Jeff got introduced by Carson Daly as a “humble country boy”; Casey was highlighted for designing her own clothing. But any lingering uncertainty dissipated when the sing-off — set to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” — began and Jeff’s rich, clear pipes dominated Casey’s pretty but indistinct instrument. Granted, Jeff is going to have to step up his fashion game and learn some on-stage moves that don’t involve bending at the waist like a guy who’s run out of Pepto Bismol, but when Reba declares she can’t take her eyes off you, then a Top 16 spot is kind of a guarantee.

Team Blake: Xenia defeated Sara Oromchi (pictured)
There was a little bit of a nails-in-a-blender quality to the teenagers’ duet on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You,” but Blake himself admitted he’d chosen the track to push his shyest team members out of their comfort zones and stretch the outer limits of their vocal ranges. And while Xenia definitely hit a few sour notes along the way, I loved the way her kitten mewl of a voice turned portions of the power ballad into a lullaby. Plus, my inner marshmallow kind of melted when she burst into tears over Blake and Reba’s compliments. “What’d you make her cry for!” chided the spitfire mentor. My sentiments exactly, Reba!

Team Cee Lo: Curtis Grimes defeated Emily Valentine
I’m not big on showmances, but I didn’t mind the producers playing up Emily and Curtis’ mutual semi-attraction, especially since I needed a distraction from the vocals on their rendition of “Need You Now.” Emily’s performance was like a series of widely spaced, glittering Christmas lights strung together by wires of too many off-pitch notes; Curtis’ contribution, meanwhile, was like evergreen garland, fading innocuously into the background — especially in his weak lower register. Considering neither one of these likable cats seemed destined to go far in the competition, I can’t really blame ’em for finishing the performance with a lip-lock. Carson Daly’s pre-verdict assessment — “One of you’s going home. Not alone I guess” — was obvious, but it did make me chuckle.

Team Xtina: Lily Elise defeated Cherie Oakley (video embedded below)
Lily definitely took the “go big or go home” approach to Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” but I can’t be the only one who thought she was verging on strained and unpleasant from rehearsal right through the final note of the Battle Round, can I? I mean, when Cherie delivered the line “shut your mouth I just can’t take it” (with a nifty change-up to the melody, I might add), I was sure she was hinting to Lily that maybe it was time her rival pursue a career path that didn’t involve a microphone. Alas, though, Xtina seemed smitten with Lily’s combination of tight zebra top and gray hoodie — she wasn’t looking for perfection, she explained, but rather the ability to be free in the moment (insert eye roll here) — and awarded the win to the inferior vocalist. As a consolation prize, Cherie got to meet Reba McEntire in person — which seems only fair, since Cherie penned the country queen’s No. 1 hit, “Turn on the Radio.”

What did you think of this week’s installment of The Voice? Do any of this week’s Battle Round winners have a shot at the big prize? Did you agree with the judges’ calls this week, or were there any decisions you’d have reversed? And are you ready for the live performances to begin? Sound off below 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. Junior G. says:

    Cee-Lo and Xtina were definitely wrong in their choices last night. Lily was all over the place in her performance, and Emily definitely has the better voice of her and Curtis. Adam and Blake on the other hand, were spot on with their decisions.

    • Tuzo says:

      Agreed! I think Xtina must have chosen Lily based entirely on a shared sartorial sense. Cee Lo’s team looks pretty weak.

      • Bee says:

        yeah, Cee-Lo has the weakest team; they’re all too raw and inexperienced, plus they don’t have star quality.

        • Erin says:

          Agreed! Cee Lo should have kept Kelsy Rae over the sisters last week… she was the only one on his team who really stood a chance of winning.

          • melissa says:

            LOL if you think kelsey could ever out sing vicci martinez

          • Calli says:

            I so agree with Melissa. I’m looking forward to Vicci’s live performance. Her battle round with Nikki (sp?) is still my favorite performance of the show thus far.

    • Cathy says:

      I so agree. I know hearing it live is differnt to hearing back on TV but I thought maybe i was hearing something a little differnt to Cee-Lo and Xtina were hearing. I wonder perhaps what they will think whrn they hear what they sounded like on TV.

    • The Ween says:

      I do not understand the love for (Jacee Badeaux’s older brother) Jeff. I do not find his voice pleasing in the least. Can someone explain what it is I’m not getting?

    • Alienate says:

      Yes, Cherie got robbed. Lily will not last long once the voting starts. Unless they allow Stupid, UNLIMITED voting like on Idol !

  2. Rachel says:

    I think Team Adam is the strongest going into the live shows. There were a lot of shaky performances this week, but not from his team. I want to like Christina’a team, but I don’t feel like she’s choosing the best singer each week. I feel like she’s more focused on “winning”. Blake is HILARIOUS and reason enough to tune in.

    • Annie says:

      I completely agree, Adam’s team is by far the strongest. I don’t really like anyone on XTina’s team. I thought she picked the loudest not the best singer last night. Looking forward to the live show next week!!

    • Aiden says:

      Absolutely, this seems like Team Adam’s to lose. His and Blake’s team were initially my favorite, but I don’t think I can say now that any team is weak. The Battle Rounds probably didn’t give us a good hint of how individual performances will go, so I think we’ll be surprised next week with the live shows. After four 1-hour episodes of battles, I’m ready for a 16-song, 2-hour show of legitimately talented artists.
      Also, I completely agree with you about Blake. The guy’s an entertainer (all of them are) and they’re genuinely invested and effective coaches.

  3. maj says:

    SO ready for the live rounds! Those battle rounds got boring and I only watched two of the episodes… and I can’t even remember who went the first week because it’s been a month since we’ve seen them.

    excited to see what they do in the next round. How are they going to make it different than idol?

    • CandaceTX says:

      yeah, it would be better if this show was two days Tues and Wed and that the battle rounds were all in one extended episode. I know they want to drag the ratings out from week to week, but I would bet they see a drop off on this week. Too much space between episodes and the late time slot are not doing this show any favors. Looking forward to the live rounds though. Team Xenia

  4. maj says:

    SO excited for the live rounds – the battle rounds were getting boring and I only saw two of the episodes. I can’t even remember who went in the first round because it was so long ago.

    The battle rounds did make some contestants look much weaker than they do in the first round however.

    I’m excited to see what they do with the live rounds – how will they make it fresh and different from Idol?

    • darclyte says:

      I thought that last night had the worst singers of the 32. This week in some ways showed the problems with this series.
      Many of these singers were not as good as those sent home already.
      The duets is a nifty idea, but the end result is that weak singers made the “Sweet 16″ because of the way the matchups worked out.
      Both gals who sang tonight for Blake should have been eliminated. They were AWFUL. Xenia was off key more than she was on it, and the gal who didn’t get chosen was perhaps marginally better although at least Xenia has something “interesting” about her voice.
      Although Jeff beat Casey, I don’t much care for his voice. Hers was so so and nothing special.
      I’m glad that Curtis got picked over Emily, although I really didn’t like either of them very much. She was on AI a few years ago (with a different last name and a different look,) and got cut in Hollywood. She needs to stop trying to use tv competitions to “make it.” I just don’t think she’s good enough. And while I don’t mind tattoos, hers are ridiculous and add to the whole “desperate/phoniness” about her.
      Cherie and Lily also were much weaker than some sent home already.
      I wish they had the 32 chosen sing for all of the judges and the judges could have cut the weaker singers instead of having the duet round. I honestly feel that several better singers are sitting at home while weaker ones will be performing.
      I like this show, but I think they need to change this part so that good singers like Tje Austin and Niki Dawson for instance could be performing instead of Lily and Xenia.

      • Snsetblaze says:

        I have to agree. I wish they would have done 4 weeks of battle rounds (one week for each judge). All 8 on a team could perform (as duets (or trios in some cases)) and the four weakest should be sent home by the judge (or the other judges could vote – or America could vote and the top 4 for each team stay). The judges could still match up the duets (or randomly picked them out of a hat which might have worked better than a few of the matchups. Most of those sent home were stronger than those last night. I also noticed that during the battle rounds all of the singers who were only shown for five seconds did not make the battle rounds. They were essentially cannon fodder.

        • Brandi says:

          I completely agree. I’m really enjoying The Voice, but there could definitely be some improvements made to the battle rounds. I really like the idea of having all 8 from each team sing and the four weakest are sent home.

  5. poisnivy says:

    Xenia has my favorite voice in the entire competition. I think Blake has made some real whacked out song selections though (granted he was probably drunk at the time.. since according to his tweets, he’s drunk pretty much all the time.) I hope she gains some confidence in the live rounds. She has such a cool,iunique voice. I’m looking forward to the live rounds! Fitting 16 singles in 2 hours would never work for Nigel. That’s not nearly enough time for mindless filler. And don’t forget, they’re fitting in performances from the judges too.

  6. Gwen says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with all of the judges’ battle round picks, but…I have to admit that most of the one they did pick had decent auditions. Most of them. Rebecca Loebe notwithstanding.

    I’ll withhold judgment on this show until the live shows start. The battle rounds were a bit long, and they’ll probably be shortened the next go ’round.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Well, if they’d just get rid of the shots of the person’s family watching the performance, that would take ten minutes or so out of the show.

  7. jenna says:

    I hope the live performances are better because only the Jeff-Casey battle last night had singers who could actually sing on key. Xenia and Sara looked terrified and their performances were awful. Lily and Cherie were trying to outshriek each other and Emily’s and Curtis’ vocal styles just didn’t blend well at all.

    I think Javier has this competition pretty much locked up already unless somebody is able to really step up their game come the live performance rounds. He’s the only one I’ve seen who has any star potential.

  8. Sagittarian25 says:

    I looooooved SUBG! They sounded great, I dunno why the negativity. Cherie was better though …

    I adore this show. So much heart! The battle rounds are awesome.

  9. Louie says:

    I must have terrible taste in music because I disagreed with every single decision made in that round. In fact, when they recapped the 4 members of each team going into the live shows,I remember disagreeing with at least 3 out of the 4 battle decisions from each judge.

    I don’t know… I was hoping this would be better than Idol but now I’m not so sure because nobody’s voice is making me root for them.

    • Cindy says:

      You are not alone – I consistently picked the ones the coaches didn’t pick!! I guess we both have terrible taste! :)

  10. GS says:

    I rarely agree with Slezak on Idol but I’m right there with him on The Voice! Lily was like nails on a chalkboard while Cherie was mellow like a good wine and XTina took Lily??? WTF is that about cause it’s not “the voice”?? I missed the other 2 rounds so I can’t comment about who’s a frontrunner but I will say that from the snippets they showed of each team last night, Team Adam is gonna be great and I think Team CeeLo will be good too. Team XTina is gonna be a bunch of screaming divas that will make me hit the mute button. Team Blake is a modge podge and I’ll have to wait and see.

    • lml says:

      Totally agree with you! I thought Lily(as Randy would say) was pitchy. Lily sounded terrible and I thought Cherie was fantastic. Was XTina on something? I loved this show but are they now going on looks? I guess the girl is younger and hotter for XTina but wow she picked wrong. I also thought Emily had a stronger voice then Curtis but I still liked him. Blake’s song choices were not very good and last night was not good but I do like Xenia.

      • AmericanIdolit says:

        @Iml, I don’t know if you noticed, but XTina also used the unfortunate Randy Jacksonism “pitchy” in the same episode. When she uttered that “cromulent” word, I lost a lot of respect for her.

  11. Sagittarian25 says:

    I think the show has pretty amazing voices. And there’s a lot of variety …

    – Javier
    – Frenchie
    – Jeff
    – Beverly
    – Vicci
    – Jared

    They’re all amazing …

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Take out Jeff and put in Nakia and I agree with your list. I think Javier and Vicci have the best shot though.

      • SP says:

        I totally agree, Javier and Vicci have the best shot at winning, unless of course they completely blow it.

  12. Eric says:

    Check out our vlog recap of the final battle round of ‘The Voice’:

    Let us know what you think! Leave us a comment :)

  13. Sagittarian25 says:

    What’s up with every singer with a powerful voice being called a screamer? That has got to be the laziest and most trite criticism ever

  14. MacTheMovieguy says:

    I would not have advanced Curtis Grimes. Emily outsang him. His first line in the song was beneath his range, and it wasn’t even that low. I’m worried he has a very limited range.

  15. Debbie M says:

    Christina has picked all girls that oversing just like she does. I have to agree with Blake in his criticism of Serabee last week, just because you are able to do a lot of runs doesn’t mean you should do them all the time. Lily lost me when she started doing that. And Michael, I’m surprised there was no comment on Casey Desmond’s, um, unusual, makeup!

  16. CandaceTX says:

    I thought Cheri slayed Lilly. Not sure what Christina heard.

    • susela says:

      Christina heard a high-pitched cat yowl that she mistook for an on-pitch note. She just LOVES those screeches. I am not looking forward to more Lilly! However, am hoping Reba McEntire will give Cherie some help even without this show; she deserves it.

  17. ddutchie88 says:

    For me it’s between Vicci and Javier. Maybe Jeff or Xenia, but those two still have a lot to learn. Especially Xenia, who was very weak this episode. But I really LOVE her voice and she’s still sooo young! I’m also pulling for Devon, Nakia, Beverly and Dia to make it far into the comepetion.

    I agree though, the battle rounds were too long. I loved Vicci’s epic battle with Niki, so I was kinda bummed I had to wait a full month to see her perform again. Next season they should have 3 blind audition episodes and just 2 battle rounds.

  18. Volcfom says:

    Michael, it’s like you took what I thought word-for-word.
    I haven’t agreed with any of Cee Lo’s choices in the battle rounds, and I don’t know what Xtina was thinking in not picking Cheri. I did not enjoy Lily’s first rehearsal clip at all.
    I think Javier and Casey Weston are my front-runners right now, but who knows what will happen with the live shows. I’m excited!

  19. JJ says:

    Xtina should turn keep her chair turned around. She keeps picking personality over VOICE

  20. Delon says:

    I thought Lily was sharp throughout the entire song and at one point she made me wince hard. Vocally Cherie sounded more pleasant and in control, but i have to add that i felt Cherie sang the song like a back up vocalist. Even when she was walking the stage from side to side she came off like a back up singer. Before the performance she mentioned that people told her that she could never be a lead vocalist and then there she was unable to deliver the correct vibes and vocals to come off like one on the TV screen. Well, that’s what i heard and saw on my TV. Maybe, Xtina saw the same. She also seemed to be mesmerized by Lily’s sudden hoochieness and we know how she reacts when she sees h oochie, especially if it comes out of nowhere.

  21. Michael says:

    The producers of this show are really missing out on a marketable aspect. The BAND! This is the same band that was on the Rockstar shows (INXS and the Tommy Lee fiasco). They are so far superior to any of the backing bands on any of the other singing/reality shows! They deserve to be recognized for their talent…at the very least, a shout out at the end of each episode.

  22. AnaB says:

    Cherie was robbed. Period. I’m so pissed at Christina for ditching her and going for her wannabe-mini-me… ugh! Just, ugh!

    The only one I cared about the entire Battle 4 group is Jeff. Put him alongside Javier Colon and Vicci Martinez and there’s my dream Top 3! =)

  23. Jake says:

    I watched The Voice for the first time last night. The Sara and Xenia rendition of “I’ll Stand By You” was so painfully bad it doesn’t even belong on the same spectrum as Pia’s performance on American Idol. How can I watch a show clearly comprised of the B-team bench-warmers when we just finished enjoying the varsity starters on AI? Don’t think I’ll be tuning in again…

    • Nael says:

      You do realize that you are comparing the second round of The Voice to the live shows of Idol, right? (they started battles with 32 people, and are just now at 16)
      There were more than enough screechers, offpitch notes and drama queens on Idol in this year’s hollywood week shows too.
      Just sayin’

      • Eurydice says:

        Well, 16 isn’t that far off from 13, and all the final 13 on AI sounded and looked much more polished than those on this show. Even poor Thia, who was heavily criticized for being too young, sounded like an experienced professional compared to Xenia and Sara.

        I know I’m late to the party (and probably leaving early) but maybe somebody can explain to me how this team approach can result in the best singer overall. It seems to me that the competition is more about which judge can make the best of the situation they’ve been handed. Kind of like “Chopped,” where the best chef is the one who can make something edible out of sardines, oatmeal and apricot jam.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      You picked the wrong week to watch for the first time. A lot of the auditions were fantastic. Most of the other battle rounds were much, much better. This was a week when pretty much all four rounds were not great. Usually at least 2 are great and one is very good and one may be weak.

    • lambchop says:

      really. And you get all this from just one show. Wow. So I guess the millions that watched this show from the beginning and mesmerized by a lot of the amazing performances that you missed, are just ppl with no taste?

    • marie says:

      You really shouldn’t base your opinion on a single show. There were some weak singers in this round – I agree about the two you mention – but there some really good singers in the competition. I can’t wait to hear more fron Vicci, Javier, Nakia, and several others. Plus, glad the next show airs at 9 pm EDT instelad of 10 pm.

  24. L says:

    I don’t see anyone from this week even having a chance. Javier is the one to beat.

  25. Bee says:

    Xenia needed an uptempo song with some quirk to it, the song she had to sing did her no justice.

    I loved Curtis’ calm demeanor and vocal control; he sold that storyline.

    Cheri should have gone on to the live rounds; so earnest and lovely. Lily just gave off stank attitude the entire time. (I understand the song has some bite to it, but she sacrificed pitch and precision for strut.)

  26. TX-STAR says:

    Have you seen some videos of Patrick Thomas on youtube?. I advise you to do it right now. The guy definetly can sing. He is my favorite so far.

  27. SallyinChicago says:

    Well based on that clip, you can see why these singers don’t have a record contract and are not singing in concerts. They’re just average and both of these women sounded the same. I couldn’t tell them apart. And they are screaming, screeching.

  28. Delirious says:

    TBH, for me the Lily/Cherie matchup wasn’t such a clear one for Cherie, but I agree wholeheartedly regarding Emily/Curtis.

    Right now, I think Adam has the upper hand. I see his team quite above the others, so his nitpickiness when choosing his team paid off for me. Under him, I see a tie between CeeLo (I feel like he’s missing something) and Xtina (to me, she lost a chance pitting Justin against Beverly, he quite surprised me with how he adapted, and did it well – she could’ve used Rachel and Julia to feed both Beverly and Justin, so she had both in the next round), and Blake at a distance in 4th place (I’m thinking he’s gonna take a hit for choosing Patrick over Tyler).

    Which makes me ask, Michael, are you gonna do a recap of these first two rounds heading into the “everyone for their lives” phase? With individual and team analysis, who should’ve been in each team next week, and all that…

  29. debi says:

    since the winner will probably be jeff or javier, adam’s team is in the best position
    since guys usually win this type of competition, blake has two strong guys (not as strong as Adam’s) so he might have the winner
    Cee Lo has Curtis, and the only duet, so he is ok
    xtina’s team is the weakest- she should have picked Cherie.

  30. MrTemecula says:

    Team Cee Lo all the way. He’s got Vicci. It’s like having Michael Jordan on your team. He should have never put Nicki against her. I blame the producers.

    • Calli says:

      I agree and disagree. I think it’s a shame that Nicki had to go, because she was really good. At the same time, if he hadn’t paired Vicci and Nicki, we wouldn’t have seen their amazing performance, which has yet to be rivaled on the show.

  31. ATLgroove says:

    So what happens now? I mean, I realize that it goes “live” next week and everything, but does it switch over to an AI type format where the person with the lowest votes goes home each week?

    I would hate to be the first coach that had all four of his or her contestants eliminated before the finale.

    • debi says:

      i’m wondering the same thing. i read that the best contestants from each team compete. I’m not sure if that means Blakes best two compete against each other, or Blakes best competes against Adam’s best. The audience chooses the winner, and the the coach gets a save. there were variations in the interpretation of who competes and how they hold on , so I’m not sure what will happen. this i know, all singers will perform and it will be a 2 hour show.

  32. Samantha says:

    Just about every one of these performances were TERRIBLE. I seriously had trouble listening to some of them, especially the girls from Blake’s team. Both were SO bad, and Cee-Lo’s team was bad as well, but partially not their fault as much as the arrangement’s. Christina’s girls gave it a solid effort but not a good song for either.

  33. Deb says:

    Adam was the only “coach” who picked the better singer/performer each round. Definitely the strongest team, but still a few singers that are equally good on the other teams, and since only one contestant wins, does it matter who has the strongest team?