The Voice Recap: Cat, a Rising Star?

Reality singing competitions live or die by the strength of their contestants, but it doesn’t hurt to have other secret weapons — especially when you’ve got a two-hour telecast to fill. This week’s installment of The Voice certainly proved the value of a loaded arsenal — employing a fluffy white cat, some creative editing, subtle/possibly nonexistent nods to American Idol‘s Haley Reinhart, several hilariously unrehearsed outbursts, a wrestling match pitting Christina Aguilera’s breasts against the exhausted black Lycra of her scoop-neck top (spoiler alert: the blouse is so going to lose), and even a crushing blow to gossip monster Perez Hilton. Let’s review:

* I can’t tell a lie: I howl with delight every time we’re treated to a shot of Cee Lo’s cat Purrfect — who, for what it’s worth, has almost as many Twitter followers as Taylor Hicks — lazily stretched across her master’s arms during his confessional segments. Cee Lo has become the jaunty Bond villain that The Voice couldn’t live without, and yet even when he’s being a little creepy — calling undeniably hot contestant Erin Martin a “wonderful creature of a woman,” then purring, “Quite naturally, you belong to me, don’t you agree?” — you know he’s doing it with good humor, and that the objects of his prurient glances are in on the joke. Why else would Sarah Golden hop aboard Team #RedZone after the “Crazy” singer, encouraging her to choose between himself and Blake Shelton, grinnned lasciviously and noted, “You can’t handle us both, baby”?

* Speaking of Golden, how much did you love the way the episode kicked off with a true blind audition for both audience and coaches, never allowing us to see the singer’s face until the judges turned their chairs? Here’s hoping we get one or two of those edits per week for the rest of the audition rounds.

* I know I have an unnatural Haley obsession — Exhibit A: My Twitter background — but it can’t just be coincidence that the night’s first two successful auditions (from Golden and the uni-monikered Pip) both featured songs memorably covered by The Growler during American Idol‘s 10th season, can it? (Okay, okay…it can.)

* My two favorite quotes this week seemed to slip right out of their sources’ mouths: Adam Levine catching his first glimpse of R&B singer James Massone and shouting “He’s white!” and Chris Cauley’s wife watching the opening notes of her hubby’s performance and declaring “He’s so cute!”

* And finally, while all of this week’s ousted auditioners displayed decent talent and gracious attitudes, I was kind of flummoxed by turquoise-haired Winter Rae bringing Perez Hilton to her audition and thinking it was going to be a positive. (That’s not suddenly a positive, right?)

Either way, let’s get on to the business of discussing the singers who advanced to the Battle Rounds. In the interest of not getting too attached too soon to any one artist — coaches will have to narrow their personal pools of 12 vocalists down to six in the not-too-distant future — let’s rank last night’s dozen successful auditioners, and review their work in a Twitter-esque 140 characters or less:

12) Nathan Parrett (Team Adam) | Got cannon-fodder edit, and his blah cover of “The Joker” did nothing to indicate he shouldn’t be.

11) James Massone (Team Cee Lo) | Auto-shop worker’s tears were oh so adorable, but I was stunned three judges turned for his nasal boy-band delivery of “Find Your Love.”

10) Erin Willett (Team Blake) | When her dad cried, I did, too. That said, her transitions and riffs were a little rough on “I Want You Back.” Backstory > Vocals?

9) Brian Fuente (Team Blake) | Didn’t hear anything crazy-distinctive in very brief clip, but anyone who sings Grace Potter’s “Paris (Ooh La La)” can’t be too bad.

8 ) Sarah Golden (Team Cee Lo) | 1970s a.m. radio voice — but would Anne Murray have been excited by Cee Lo being “inappropriate”? “You and I” odd for self-described folkie.

7) Pip (Team Adam) | Hot buttered irony alert: People don’t take him seriously because of his clothes, said guy known simply as “Pip.” Solid “Rising Sun,” tho.

6) Geoff McBride (Team Xtina) | “Higher Ground” played like first-class karaoke, but there’s no denying he’s packing serious vocal horsepower. Proceed with prudence, Xtina!

5) Moses Stone (Team Xtina) | Correct coach for show’s first emcee: Already envisioning him rapping on Xtina’s “Dirrty. I’m waiting for sister to act/ like Lauryn Hill!

4) Jordis Unga (Team Blake) | Rock Star: INXS grad showed combustible power on “Maybe I’m Amazed,” though a little restraint might’ve been nice, too, y’know?

3) Katrina Parker (Team Adam) | Cubicle drone has a hot, husky voice, brought finesse to Joan Osborne’s underrated “One of Us,” used the word “ninny.” How come only Adam turned?

2) Erin Martin (Team Cee Lo) | “Egyptian warrior princess” served Macy Gray-Ricki Lee Jones oddness while bringing real emotion to “Hey There Delilah.” More, please!

1) Chris Cauley (Team Adam) | Cee Lo was right: Dude’s slow, lounge-y “Grenade” was the best full performance of the night. Which made judges’ muted response bewildering.

What did you think of this week’s installment of The Voice? Who were your favorites? Sound off in the comments!

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. DaisyKary says:

    CHRIS CAULEY is AMAZING!! Incredible soul voice! And such a gentleman! I have loved him for a couple years now! So glad he’s finally getting some tv time!! I’ll be seeing him LIVE again on Thursday at Villanova University at 6pm. Come on out if you’re in the Philly area! #TeamAdam

  2. AN says:

    I have to agree, DaisyKary! Chris Cauley was amazing last night! What a performance! He’s my favorite!

  3. RealityCheck says:

    I was surprised by the model turned warrior princess. I was not sure she could sing at all based on the edit where she stated she has only been singing 2 years or so. I kinda think she is cool and different! I loved blue haired girl! Sorry she didn’t get chosen even if perez is her friend :) This is my first season of the Voice and I think I actually prefer it over idol!

  4. This show is amazing says:

    This show just knows how to entertain – this is best group of judges on TV – bar none. The critiques are insightful, direct, but completely unoffensive in every way. I would think an artist like a direct critique from artists of their caliber. And they camraderie is dead on – fun, flirty and naught in a good way. Love them.
    I also love Erin. What a bunch of fun – and I will always remember that voice. She’s got IT.
    I actually looked at the clock at the one hour mark – and was happy there was another hour to go. I must see Purrfect and CeeLo as much as possible. Yes, please.

    • Lil Jo says:

      I agree with your comment on the judges to a point. The difference on this show and the others is that they vet the contestants first and you only get the better performers going in front of the judges. On all the other shows they show a lot of bad acts, just for ratings. Therefore there are more acts that can get negative remarks.
      I like this format much better though.

      • TheBeach says:

        I, too, am happy they vet the contestants. I don’t even watch the Idol auditions anymore. I’ve had my fill of really bad and/or delusional auditions. I don’t find them funny or entertaining. Good on The Voice for narrowing the field.

    • Joy says:

      I totally agree with all of this! It was *such* a breath of fresh air to hear specific, thoughtful constructive criticism without even a hint of meanness. Idol, X Factor, *this* is how to really support your artists! I’ll be thrilled if only the judges can keep that up into the live shows… Likewise, I also loved Erin and am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Purrfect. :-)

      • Tusk says:

        This is how to support your artist….?
        until they spend about 10 seconds on a BTW to mention the past contestant in a really quick spot.
        No support after the show…hurts worse than any barb Simon would throw
        At least Idol has the mechanism in place to launch their winners as well as bring them back to give them every opportunity to succeed. They don’t just discard the talent after the season’s done

        • blue devil says:

          Yeah right, and who won before the country boy did it last year? don’t remember seeing him except a 5 second winner ceremony. And who’s promoting him, again? Why have I never heard of him again?
          As far as I know, Dia released an album, Javier released an album, Xenia released a single, Vicci is about to release a single, and all are working with their coaches/mentors and/or touring with them .. and who know what else.
          And it’s still early in the competition. It’s just the auditions. Have any idol graduates ever took part in auditions, ever?

          • Tusk says:

            The point is support by the show for their contestants. Idol supports their contestants. The Voice has not. Even during last weeks show it was barely mentioned.
            That is a fact, nothing to do with sales or how early in the game. XFactor has done more advertising and pushing of it’s contestants than the Voice has. Fact.
            Not my fault you don’t know about the sales marks Scotty is reaching…..Only you control your level of ignorance.

        • Joy says:

          Tusk, I totally agree on the bigger-picture stuff — I was referring only to the coaches’ comments to this season’s auditioners. Too many judges on other shows seem to think that being supportive means never saying anything critical, and it winds up backfiring because the contestants never get the feedback they need to improve; they just get either over-the-top praise or insults.

  5. RealityCheck says:

    Oh and Michael, I love your recaps! I have followed you for awhile and you never dissapoint! Thank you :)

  6. ATLgroove says:

    JORDIS UNGA! I’ve been a fan ever since her very first performance on RS:I of “Baba O’ Reily.” I was really hooked after “Heart Shaped Box” and “Man Who Sold the World.” Miss the dreads, but she’s still got the pipes.

    • ejones says:

      But she failed to last the distance, her later performances were close to disasters, Suzie McNeil, the best by far of the INXS girls is still going strong.

  7. One more thing... says:

    I love this show because most of the singers can sing and are worth hearing. It makes me feel like I haven’t wasted my time.

  8. Magically Suspicious says:

    When I heard the words “Jordis Unga”, my heart did a pitter-patter and I did my happy dance around the room. I loved her from beginning to end on RSI and I’ve tried to keep up with her since. And my girl’s still got it! She sounded amazing. I’ve never heard anyone play around with that lower register the way she does. I’m team Adam all the way, but as he’s the only one that didn’t turn around for her, I regret that I’ll be rooting against him. I was very glad she picked Blake. I think Blake takes a genuine personal interest beyond the show in his performers and I think he’ll be very good for her longterm.

    • Joy says:

      I’m surprised more of the auditioners aren’t recognizing that Blake really seems to be the one coach who’s invested in his artists’ careers beyond the show. I had to yell at my TV when Blake pointed out that he’s got Dia touring with him, and Christina responded to that with “Well, I don’t have anybody *I’m* promoting right now, so you’ll get my undivided attention!” Why *aren’t* you promoting anybody, Christina, given how excited you kept saying you were about all of your top four ladies last season? And then, of course, there was Adam in that interview last year, blowing off Javier’s poor sales with “Well, we can’t control everything.” True that none of the coaches can guarantee their artists’ success, but Blake proves you can at least make an effort…

      • tnsmoke says:

        What a great post, and all true! I would rather have Blake as a coach as he really cares long after the show ends. Taking Dia on the road to shows is only benefiting her. She is young and I believer will be a huge star one day, and by then will be well grounded and great at being on stage. I am sure Blake still helps Xenia, too.

  9. Annie says:

    I don’t know who Cee Lo Green is, other than in the context of this show. Every week he reminds me more and more of Jabba the Hutt. The way he licks his lips sometimes when he’s talking to some of the young women, it’s like he’s 12 seconds away from slapping them into a gold bikini and leashing them

    • sladewilson says:

      Wait. You haven’t heard “Crazy” or “Forget You” or “Fool For you” – which he just won a grammy for? Go to iTunes immediately…

    • Joy says:

      Well, he did name his last album “The Lady Killer” for a reason. :-) Definitely milking that persona for all it’s worth…

  10. Haley "The Growler" says:

    Michael, please refrain from unnecessarily and gratuitously mentioning me in each and every one of your recaps. Even I am tired of it. I appreciate that you appreciate me, but you need to find someone to obsess about because it is seriously creeping me out. That said, I thought that Erin woman was contrived and grating, Pip and his pretentious moniker CANNOT hold a candle to my version of HOTRS, Grenade singer was decent and good-looking, Jordis is someone to watch. That is all.

    • Tusk says:

      Some Haley haters just can’t let it go, that they don’t get her and why people are drawn to her.
      As if Haley would ever use a tired phrase like “That is all” :P
      BTW, it was Michael and Jason that added to Haley’s fandom by coining her, “The Slayer”, immortalised in the highly entertaining and excellently produced (with obvious affection) “Haleyloonies”.
      Michael and Jason are Haliens in good standing and we’re glad to have their creative talents among our number
      BTW Haley will be attending a highly prestigous benefit for Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday. It’s full of “A” list celebrities:
      “The list of celebrities teased to be at the gala highlights the epitome of the entertainment industry. Speakers and performers include singers Common, Sean Combs, Cee Lo Green, Chris Cornell, Dave Koz, John Legend, Kelly Rowland, Haley Reinhart, Joe Perry, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, Onreé Gill Band, Slash and Stevie Wonder, along with actors Samuel L. Jackson and Terrence Howard.”
      It is rumored she is to perform with Slash from Guns and Roses
      You will have to deal with that she is talented, people are noticing, and she won’t have to suffer short sighted nay sayers like yourself. Randy is waiting to commiserate with you, he needs a friend

  11. Saracen Riggins says:

    I can’t decide if I liked Erin or not. Her voice was most certainly interesting and unique. But verging on annoying … :\

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Ditto – interesting and a bit annoying (but maybe that was the personality). I don’t find her that unique as she sounds a lot like many female singer-songwriters on the indie and folk circuits that are never on top 40 radio. I agree with Michael pointing out Rickie Lee Jones and Macy Gray but I’d add Feist and Zooey Deschanel to that list. She sounds like a cross between Xenia and Dia Frampton from last season.

    • Judy says:

      Did NOT like Erin’s voice. EWWW! Definitely annoying. I was surprised anyone liked her and Slezak too. Forget original – give me true vocal talent

  12. Rick says:

    My favorite was actually the girl who sang “Mercy” and was picked by no one. Figures!
    Actually wasn’t so crazy about Erin… her voice was kind of annoying, and she did that weird mispronunciation twang thing that Ashley (the girl who sang “Someone Like You” to end last week’s show) did. That’s just my opinion, but maybe others think differently.
    Also liked Pip (no one beats Haley’s “House of the Rising Sun,” though) and Chris. The editing does not bode well for Moses, Nathan, and Brian, because last season those who got the short snippets went home during battle rounds.

  13. Casey Becker says:

    I thought Angel Taylor was verging on annoying last week with her pronunciation of “beyg,” “seyd,” “insteyd,” on “Someone Like You,” but this pretentious Erin lady is straight-up annoying. Her phrasing is very contrived and practiced, and her performance bore no semblance of emotion or soul. I’m surprised Michael ranked her so high, especially since he is so critical of Idol contestants whom he deems emotionally lacking.

    • KB says:

      Casey Becker, I totally agree. At first I was pleasantly surprised by Erin’s pretty tone, but the mispronunciation was so contrived that in the end the performance felt totally inauthentic.

  14. Bella says:

    I just started watching this show this year, but it’s so much better than American Idol, as having to live through those excrutating auditions is painful. Besides the performances on The Voice, another enjoyable thing for me is watching how excited Carson Daly gets when a judge turns his or her chair around.

    • Michelle says:

      I said to my boyfriend last night (who begrudgingly watched with me and wound up really getting into it)that Carson is one of my favorite things about the show. I LOVE how he is so into each contestant getting their shot and getting so excited when they turn around. One thing I wish they would change is when he goes to “surprise” people with invitations…make it a real surprise. Don’t have the camera in there with them when Carson walks in…let it be real.

  15. Dom says:

    I love these recaps. This is the best group of judges on TV by far. Their moments are just as entertaining as the auditions, making me wish for a little less Carson/backstory and more interactions between the judges. And Purrfect has only added to CeeLo’s weird, cool, almost a villian vibe in the best way. I like Erin Martin but Katrina and Chris were amazing. I was really surprised that so many of the judges liked James when I got an inexperienced teenage boy vibe from his voice. Here’s hoping for more completely blind auditions!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Can we just start referring to Cee-Lo as Dr. Claw? between the chairs and the cat (!?) its too much for my 80’s brain to handle!
    I’m always in favor of Perez Hilton getting a slap back to reality…

  17. Tim says:

    Guess I’m in the minority, but I thought Chris was very average.
    Good to see Jordis again, though I don’t know if she’ll be able to recapture that innocent charm she had from Rock Star. But I’ll be rooting for her.

  18. Unimpressed says:

    The writer says that Erin chick brought “real emotion to the song.” I didn’t know “real emotion” meant whispering fakely phrased lyrics in a cutesy manner to a microphone while smiling seductively at the judges and batting her eyelashes.

  19. PFitz says:

    Jordis!!! Loved her in RockStar! Every couple of months I troll iTunes to see if she’s released anything new because I adore her voice. Hope that this show gives her the platform she needs to release some material!

  20. GMom says:

    Erin’s voice made my ears hurt!! She is really cute and upbeat, but her voice!?! Ugh!! But I’m still not over last year’s elimination of Rebecca Loebe!

  21. poisnivyred says:

    I must agree with all the Jordis Unga love. Idk how I missed all her tweets about being on the show, but it was an awesome surprise when I saw her! I still remember her first performance on RSI, she was amazing with Baba O’Riley and when she covered Nirvana I was floored. I also love me some Chris Cauley (aka Matt Giraud look alike) and Pip. Adam did great with those 2! He’s also got my day 1 fave Tony Lucca. Christina’s team is much better than the one she had last year too.

  22. sean knows what's up says:

    Are you serious? Erin Martin’s “singing” voice is total affectation. There is no way someone like her speaks clearly and girlishly with all sorts of ups and downs in her tone and then when she sings develops an old lady voice that has no range whatsoever.
    I Call Blasphemy…wake up people!

    • Selena says:

      Sean… I thought Erin was horrible. Horrible. I could not believe that Blake and Cee lo wanted her. I think its bc they heard the heels and thought she was going to be cute. While only Adam turned for Katrina who I felt was 100 times better

    • hephastia says:

      I thought her voice was vile. Don’t understand why anybody turned around for her while better singers were not taken. I hope she gets cut early in the competition so I don’t have to listen to her.

  23. Freyja says:

    The auditions sucked last night, no one stood out, they were all bland and sound like everyone else on the radio.
    So far to me the Clear Winner or should be winner is Chris Mann, everyone else pack your bags.

  24. TheBeach says:

    Michael, you were spot on about the Boston boy band kid being nasal. He seems like a sweet guy but if they were going to grab an NSYNC/BB Boys sound-alike then I wish it had been that super hot Yale football player from last week.

  25. Joy says:

    Wow, I totally don’t agree that “You and I” is an odd choice for a folk singer! I’ll admit I’m not very familiar with the original, but to my ear, Haley Reinhart’s recording at least has a very rootsy vibe — it plays like a mellowed-out Janis Joplin track, and wouldn’t feel at all out of place on a vintage Emmylou Harris or Bob Dylan album. So while I’ll grant that it’s pretty cool that an aspiring folk singer knows the Lady Gaga catalog well enough to be aware of the song in the first place, I think style-wise it’s actually a perfect fit… That said, Sarah’s interpretation didn’t move me like Haley’s does, but I’m at least intrigued to hear what she’ll deliver next.

  26. Swansteel says:

    Michael, I’m right there with you on the Haley Reinhart obsession. She is a drug that I cannot get out of my system. And I wouldn’t want to if I could!

    • JT says:

      For many, many months I’ve been trying to get Haley out of my head, but simply cannot. Just when you think you might have a chance, she delivers something like today’s YouTube Valentine’s Day gift to her (obsessed) fans. Oh man, how fast would the chairs turn around for Haley singing this Beatles tune? Every time I think about trying to find a cure, I look at Michael’s Twitter page and remember I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!

      • Judy says:

        I saw Haley’s video today. Amazing!!!! She would make all the chairs turn. THERE’S incredible vocal talent.

        • JT says:

          Speaking of “amazing”, on IDF I posted all the other adjectives the Thesaurus feature in MS Word comes up with for Haley’s Beatles tune (Amazing): Astonishing, astounding, remarkable, wonderful, incredible, startling, marvelous, miraculous, surprising, mind-blowing, mind-boggling, and staggering. They all fit her!!

          Sooner or later she WILL melt the heart of her most staunch detractors (haters).

      • My Alter Ego says:

        JT — I’m sure that everyone is familiar with and loves the Beatles recording of “Till There Was You.” But surely you are aware that the song was written by Meredith Wilson for the show “The Music Man.”

  27. Pat says:

    Erin Martin was abysmal, Slezak.

  28. Betsy says:

    i expect we’ll be seeing some of the rejects again when they come around for the second chance round – and the football player makes it (among others)

  29. Unimpressed says:

    I agree with the poster who said Erin Martin’s singing style is total affectation. I mean, Dia, Xenia, Lacey Brown (from Idol), etc., at least have similarity in their singing voice and speaking voice. Erin Martin’s singing style is a total gimmick.

  30. Anon says:

    I also thought Erin Martin was pretty bad and that they only turned around expecting her to be pretty. I mean if she’s credited a good voice, then you’ve gotta give more to James. He could sing pretty well and probably not a lot of coaching or guidance. He was a tad nasal, but if you closed your eyes on both not seeing them EVER, James it is for me. I hope a different song will do him justice because I thought the kid had something.
    Great recap and Cee Lo and Purrfect are hilarious… love them.

    • TR says:

      AGREE about James and Erin.
      among all the auditions on this episode, james massone’s set(audio) was the one i had on constant playback(kudos to the band as well). this kid might not win but i think he can do well in the recording industry. usually r&b singers go crazy with their hooks and what nots to impress, but this guy is smooth live and can work the crowd without begging, the guy serenades. he knows himself.

      And that girl Erin, i can’t stand her.. the speaking voice, the singing voice, the hair & make-up, the boots, the stockings, the top and the bubbly persona ALL DO NOT MATCH! There’s no harmony in her, she’s fakin’ it.

  31. T says:

    I was fortunate to have gone to a taping of “The Voice” this season and the first time I saw the cat I was a goner. So adorable and so totally Cee-Lo, who btw is an awesomely nice guy. A total sweetheart. On another note, if you liked James Massone’s version of that Drake song (or even if you didn’t) please You Tube Jamar Rogers’ (from last week’s auditions) version. It’s STUNNING!

  32. Diane says:

    LOVE Katrina Parker. Such a rich and different voice. I think she’s the best of the season so far. I liked Nathan too, wish they would have aired his whole perforance.

  33. NedPepper says:

    Jordis all the way. So happy to see her back. She did some GREAT things on Rock Star. I even have her cover of Imagine on my IPod. And she picked Blake, who is the only sincere judge who seems to care about his team. What exactly did Adam Levine do to help Javier Colon? Not a damn thing. Same for Xtina with Beverly and Cee Lo probably doesn’t even remember the name of his finalist last season…(Her name was Vicci Martinez by the way..)
    That aside, the Voice blows Idol out of the water. Idol is bloated and tired and BLAND. And where is the talent? There’s a lot of talent on The Voice.

  34. Joseph says:

    I really like the auditions , though I lost interest last year when it reached the battle rounds.
    The show puts forth quality and for that I appreciate it!

  35. ddutchie88 says:

    Cee Lo is actually releasing a single with Vicci Martinez in a few weeks. They performed on the tonight show together. It’s on YouTube, check it out :)
    I get your point though, you could see Blake truly cared about his ‘girls’ last year. Adam and Christina seemed to care more about winning than their contestants. But I believe Cee Lo was rather fond of Vicci too.

  36. syb says:

    Jordis Unga! Loved her on Rockstar. Her Man Who Sold the World anyone? Heart Shaped Box? She was grand. So I’m sorry she’s gone from punky rebel goth girl, to bombastic glamourface. Still, that rough hewn voice sounds great, and a good song choice for her sound and spin.
    Not as crazy about most of them as I was in previous evenings this season, but at least there were some interesting voices.

  37. neon granny says:

    Hi everyone…The Voice is the only singing show I watch anymore, specifically because at least as much import is placed on talent as looks and “saleability”. At least it was that way last year. Aside from Jesse Campbell, who may be this country’s next superstar, I’ve been a little disappointed in the quality so far. I really wonder…do the judges hear the same thing the viewers do? I’m starting to believe that because they are in a huge studio with a large audience, what they actually hear is different. For instance, the lovely girl pictured in this article has what I found to be a below average voice. Anyone else wondering about this?