The Voice Recap: Head(-to-Head) Trips

gwen sebastian erin willett“The most exciting phase of The Voice continues!” host Carson Daly declared at the top of Monday’s episode, focusing on the third set of Season 2 “Battle Rounds.”

Of course, one man’s “most exciting” is another’s “most frustrating.” Tell me you didn’t curse Blake Shelton, The Voice producers, NBC, and the entire reality TV genre after Gwen Sebastian — arguably the strongest vocalist we heard during the entire two-hour telecast, got unceremoniously dumped without so much as a consolation box of Rice-a-Roni.

Stranger still, the show continued its trend from last week of giving pretty wretched edits to several eventual Battle Rounds winners. I mean, even if you liked Model McCutestuff’s high-pitched squawking, can you really feel good about voting for her after a prolonged display of petulant diva behavior?

Anyhow, let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner — while vowing to support @gwensebastian in her future singing endeavors:

Team Xtina: Ashley de la Rosa d. Jonathas
Oh, sly Xtina! Choosing Jordin Sparks’ “No Air” for a couple of singers who’ve got trouble with breath support? You really should’ve borrowed guest mentor Alanis Morissette from #TeamAdam for a mini “Isn’t it ironic?” break. In all seriousness, though, I was glad Xtina chose Ashley, who at least made a few attempts to take some liberties with the melody, unlike Jonathas, who played it safe — and under the melody — from start to finish. Then again, is Ashley really trying to win a record deal, or second runner up at the Miss Osage County pageant? “I’m one step closer to my dream of giving back to the community”? Yes, she did.

Team Cee Lo: Erin Martin d. the Shields Brothers
In defense of this duet, Cee Lo really seems to have a knack for finding songs that suit none of his contestants’ voices, and this pairing was like making a sandwich using two sponges as the bread and a bag of feathers as the meat. Which is to say it made no sense whatsoever. The Shields Brothers seem like nice kids — but Adam was right, they haven’t evolved beyond two kids jamming out in their parents’ garage. Erin — clad in garters, knee-high tights, a bustier, some inflatable bat wings, and 43 lbs of affectations — was probably the right choice to advance, solely on the basis of attempting a Missing Persons-esque squeak, and noodling around with the rhythms. Nevertheless, shouldn’t her spot on the live shows belong to Jamie Lono? Think about it: Jamar Rogers could’ve crushed Erin, and Jamie could’ve dusted the Shields Brothers, and everything would be right in the world. Instead we have a former model in the house who interrupts her mentor, takes unneccessary pot shots at her competitors, and expresses “100% confidence” in her ability to win even though she can’t sing on pitch.

Team Adam: Pip d. Nathan Parrett
I didn’t have much of an opinion on who “won” this duet to “You Know I’m No Good.” Pip certainly had the edge had this been an audition for Amy Winehouse: The Musical, while the understated Nathan brought a slightly more distinctive tone to the table. I guess I’d have probably voted for Nathan, since he didn’t obnoxiously talk about how his audition set his personal bar oh-so-high, and because he’s not a uni-monikered dandy. Let’s just hope Pip keeps heeding Alanis’ advice: “Restraint is so exciting!” (So are last names.)

Team Blake: Jermaine Paul d. ALyX
We already had a “Pip,” so you kind of knew there wasn’t room for an “ALyX” this season, too. But the latter contestant’s fate was pretty much sealed when she exited Day 1 of rehearsals and lied that she was “having fun,” which drew this awesome retort from Blake: “I don’t think she’s having fun.” Granted, it can’t be all that easy to ramp up the enthusiasm when you’ve been assigned a novelty hit like “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” but Jermaine played the role well, devouring up the melody like a high-powered Roomba, playfully tossing his fedora into the audience, and generally managing to look like someone with at least a smidge of star potential. ALyX’s vocal was more tentative, and her bizarre end-of-performance ad-lib — “Sometimes you just gotta say ‘What the hell?’!” left me saying, well, “What the hell?” Blake chose wisely this time around, even though my guess is Jermaine should probably have taken Kelly Clarkson’s number; my best guess is a backing vocalist gig might not look too bad by the time The Voice’s second season is over.

Team Adam: Katrina Parker d. Angel Taylor
I agreed with Blake that Angel has a gorgeous break in her voice, and a really cool tone, but at the end of the day, she really does struggle with pitch on the live concert stage. And in this case, Adam’s decision really was that simple. Katrina shook off the “cobwebs of terror” (as Alanis so poetically put it), nailed the melody, and scored a victory that left her in a state of tearful surprise. Yep, the gal with a penchant for vintage flowy skirts might be one to watch in the competition.

Team Blake: Erin Willett d. Gwen Sebastian
No disrespect to Erin, who displayed serious chops and an understated elegance on “We Belong,” but in my mind, this duet belonged to Gwen. As I said a couple of times last week, this Battle Round highlighted the key weakness of The Voice format: On a night featuring a dozen singers, the two strongest had to compete in a head-to-head battle to advance to the live rounds? That’d be like having Djokovic and Federer play in the first round of a Grand Slam. I loved the rasp in Gwen’s vocal, the way she took real risks with Pat Benatar’s almost operatic melody, the fact that she brought a maturity and wisdom to the lyric. Alas, though, it’s not as though Erin wasn’t a worthy rival, and given that she chose to stay for the battle round rather than rush to her dying father’s bedside, Blake probably wouldn’t have been able to live with the decision to send her home. “I couldn’t have lose to a better person,” said Gwen, classy till the last. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from her, eh?

What did you think of this week’s Battle Rounds? Did you agree with the judges decisions? Sound off below!

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. Usherette says:

    I would’ve picked Gwen, too although Erin was also good. Ceelo’s Erin was so frakking annoying. Squeaking like a mouse, whisper-breathing into the mic and she gets to frakkin’ win?!

    I really dug Angel Taylor for some reason even though she sings like she’s a little drunk. I would’ve picked her. Jonathas, I thought was better than Ashley. She had no stage presence and went off-key several times. All those risks she took? All ended in disaster.

    Pip and his frakkin’ pretentious name is a frakkin’ turd. That is all.

    • Russ says:

      My family and I thought Gwen should have won too, I was expecting Erin to go out and kill it but she didn’t do anything but sing with a powerful voice. But after it was over we all knew it would be Erin cause she had the sad story.

    • Dallas says:

      Anyone else bored with these so-called battle rounds? ZZzzzzzz

  2. Amy says:

    Erin Martin’s performance was painful. I literally almost muted my TV. Despite being a garage-band shtick, the Shields Brothers should have advanced, because we all know Erin’s not winning the whole thing.

    • dee says:

      yeah, but neither are the Shields Brothers, so why pit them against each other, ensuring that one of them advances? Erin will be the first one voted off by viewers.

  3. Lana says:

    I’ve never been first before, I’m kind of freaked out. Unfortunately my dvr and a storm in my area caused me to miss some of the battles but I caught up on Voice’s websight. First I loved Pip’s voice and it did a whole bunch more than Nathan’s I thought he was good but he did not have the variations that Pip did that made the song sound more his than a retread of Amy. I also liked the Shield’s bros better than Erin and so did most of the judges but Cielo likes the ladies, yes I did go there. I also loved Erin W. voice much better than Gwen’s. Wait I can’t believe I disagreed with Michael on almost every battle. That is a first for me, sorry Michael, and I will probably be the only one who felt this way.

  4. Joe says:

    Having lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer I was totally sucked in to what Erin was going through. That said, Gwen deserved to make the live shows but not at Erin’s expense.

    My issue with this season is some of the battle round pairings are just bizarre. Slezak is correct that CeeLo could have gotten Jaimie Lono through by splitting up the model and the geeks. I get it that CeeLo is a ladies man and he wants to keep the pretty hot (disgusting personality) chick near him to entertain him like another pet, but she’s so unlikable I don’t see her making it past the first vote.

    As for Gwen, she didn’t get robbed. Erin has a great voice and her backstory makes her tear worthy when she’s belting it out up there…but Gwen is a better vocalist than Charlotte who Blake put through and the other young delicate country flower whose name I can’t remember he put through.

    As for team Adam, I truly believe he went into that battle convinced he was sending Katrina home but had no way of justifying it after she shredded her competition up there. I think Katrina was pure cannon fodder in that battle round and she beat the odds. She had a great stage presence and looked so happy up there just to be singing music. Loved her. I said to my wife while watching her, “if he puts her through, she’s going to get a lot of votes”.

    By the way, the Shields brothers beat the model in the battle round. When they sang the song took off in a Me First & The Gimmes Gimmes sort of way. When she sang I wished Tina Turner would dress up like Auntie Entity one last time and go out on stage and kick her ass Thunderdome style.

    • Hephastia says:

      Yeah! Honestly, if Erin really wants to not get by on her looks she needs to stop dressing like a hooker. Her little vocal mannerisms are annoyang and pointless, she probably hopes that they will cover up the fact she can’t sing well. After the way Erin butchered that song, I’ll bet Tina Turner would love to wipe up the stage with her.

      • Julia says:

        Oh my god, could not agree more. She’s a spoiled brat who’s had her ass kissed too many times. She’s impossibly untalented and her personality just sucks.

  5. Tina says:

    I disagreed with most of the judges choices. Particularly Erin over the brothers and Erin over Gwen. The model is terrible and sounds like she’s trying to chew gum and sing at the same time. I thought the boys sound good bringing it down a notch and harmonizing with each other. Erin over Gwen was a tough choice, but I would have chosen Gwen for the same reasons as Mike. I have to say the battle rounds portion of this show sucks like the auditions rounds of American Idol. They put people through on other things besides talent leaving you to say WTF? Too bad the Voice couldn’t continue to set itself apart with that notion.

  6. I totally agree with you about all the battles this week except Pip vs. Nathan. I’m a musical theater performer, so I love me some Pip! I will certainly continue to be a Gwen supporter! And I can’t watch or listen to Erin one more second. Kill me now . . .

  7. marie says:

    (Damned new WordPress platform went and ate my original comment, forcing me to log in! Don’t like this – some people are not going to want to create an account just to post comments here! Questionable move, TVLine.)

    ANYWAY – the jist of what I tied to post was that I agree with Michael that the battle rounds are inherently unfair, in that they make it possible for less talented singers to advance over more accomplished singers. But since the battle rounds are part of the show’s shtick, I guess we’re stuck with them.

    Speaking of the battle rounds, don’t they seem like they’ve been happening for six years by now? I’d thought last night was the last one, and was a little dismayed to realize there’s one more to go. Here’s where I think Voice is suffering by being broadcast at the same time of year as Idol: Idol has already reached the live, audience-vote rounds, while between auditions and battle rounds, Voice takes a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGG EIGHT WEEKS to get there. For me at least, this lessens my interest somewhat. Also, with the format as it is, I find I have difficulty remembering the Voice contestants from week to week, as you don’t see all of them every week, but might see a given contestant in Week 2, say, and not again until Week 7. In contrast, I can name you everyone in the current Idol Top 10, along with a description of their singing characteristics.

    I’m in the habit of saying I prefer The Voice over Idol, and that Voice is the better show, but thinking about it, I’m not so sure (except for the Voice coaches, who are way more entertaining and competent than the lame Idol judges).

    • Isaac says:

      I want to agree with you as far as the battle rounds go. This is taking way too long. This part of the show needs to be more than one day a week. I feel the the journey to the live shows takes forever and then the live portion was over way too fast (it seemed so last season). Hopefully with twice as many people on each team it last longer this season.

    • tripoli says:

      Agree with you on the wordpress issue. Couldn’t use either of my email addresses without logging into wordpress and then was told they were already associated with an account. Strange since I have never created a wordpress account. Seems like a pointless change. Liked the ease of commenting before.

  8. Delon says:

    I like Gwen’s voice. Sad to see her go. Erin Martin is so pretentious. There’s nothing organic about her. This episode was a little bit blah. Waiting for the live rounds.

  9. Erin Martin was absolutely horrible, from her outfit to her Bjork-like affectations. It’s a shame because I rather liked her audition song of Hey There Delilah, but last night was a train wreck. CeeLo made the wrong choice all around with the choice of song, the singers, and the winner. Maybe the sound of her voice reminded him of what his cat sounds like when he accidentally steps on her tail.

    • marie says:

      This is what’s wrong with the battle rounds, or at least, how the coaches cast them. Neither silly Erin nor the brothers should have advanced, at least, the way I hear it. If both had been cast against better singers, two better singers could have continued and three less-deserving contestants could have been eliminated.

  10. kd says:

    Erin Martin should have lost that round hands down. Not only is she conceited but her voice is odd…not in a good way. She lacks range, can’t hit high notes and is all around ridiculous.

    • Laura says:

      I can’t understand half the words when she’s singing (even when I know the words of the song)….she got in cause she’s pretty…end of story.

  11. Me says:

    I can’t remember why I liked Erin Martin but it doesn’t matter now… What an annoying self-important brat.

    I can’t bare the idea of hearing that self-indulgent squealing again. It’s unfathomable why I am watching her and not Jamie Lono or Erin Willet. Wrong. So so wrong.

    NeYo nailed: “I got that you’re cute. Now what?” Ugh. It seems all of the young girls are getting an annoying edit – maybe they are just annoying. I can’t tell, but I can’t wait to see each one of them voted off.

    • Johnny says:

      Erin won’t win. Check out the comments for her Battle Rounds iTunes recording. She has the worst rating by far, and no one can stand her. She’ll only get through if Cee Lo pushes her through a few rounds.

  12. MissingArrow says:

    Still bringing up Jamie Lono? Lol, did you want to date him?

    As to Gwen she had Blake and his wife for mentoring and must not have impressed them much? Maybe she didn’t kiss up enough but she seemed too technical and should have watched how RaeLynn did it. Pretend like Blake and his wife are rock stars and gaggle all over them.

    Now as far as that song goes, Pat bentar sings light years over those two and she was only three feet tall.I wouldn’t worry much over who Blake picked.

  13. MissingArrow says:

    I see we have lots of Erin Martin fans here, just wait until the live rounds happen you can all get your stockings filled.

  14. Oliver says:

    As soon as Erin’s father’s dilemma was brought up, it was obvious she would win regardless of how the girls performed. How could you kick someone off when her father’s dying wish was for her success?

    This show is becoming such a tedious drag in these battle rounds. Every matchup shows the two contestants being either humble or cocky. Then there are the cliched quotes about who has the advantage. Most of the performances are fine, but the fact that it takes 20 minutes of crap to get to them is mindblowing. Then, after the performances, the judges pick their favorites for the most ridiculous reasons- Blake picks Erin because she is dressed like a lady of the night?- and they’re almost always split to add drama.

    I have continued to watch to see how the contestants do, but really, I think next week I’m just going to read the Slezak recap and perhaps watch the performances videos online. Two hours for six performances is entirely unnecessary, and the Battle Rounds are just generally disappointing because of their format of garbage singers (Cheesa? Erin Martin?) getting through while great singers (Jamie Lono? Whitney Myers?) go home.

  15. Me says:

    Wow. I am proud of Adam. He seems to be only judge still picking singers based on their VOICE.

    Well done, sir.

  16. Cleo says:

    Gwen will be fine, she is going on tour with Blake Shelton. Thinking she ended up the ultimate winner after all :)

    I agree Cee Lo is struggling the most out of all the judges. Maybe he realized he didn’t end up with the greatest bunch of singers after all.

  17. Cat says:

    Gwen is going to be part of Blake’s band. She will tour some and be a part of the ACM awards on CBS according to Country Weekly.

  18. Maggie says:

    The smart move is to pick Blake as your coach as from I’ve been reading he already has been taking Gwen on the road with him. Blake seem really invested in his team members way after they get let go. Haven’t heard about any other coaches doing this. Am sure some record label in Nashville will offer Gwen a deal.

  19. Deena says:

    I really liked Erin over Gwen, no matter what was going on in her personal life. Gwen’s twang doesn’t work for everyone & Erin has more of a range. Blake even said he felt she held back. I didn’t feel she was belting it out the entire time. I’m glad she moved on.

    As for the other Erin, what a joke. That was just a wasted battle but the brothers did sound better. Cee Lo is losing my respect. I think if 2 rocker kids could sound decent on a Tina Turner song, he would have been able to work with them vocally & stylistically, unlike whatever it is Erin is trying to achieve coming out of her mouth.

  20. Forwarddad says:

    First time I grave been bored by the Voice. They are going against their own format. They are going with sad story, annoying twit or pretty girl. If I wanted to watch Idol I would have.

  21. Forwarddad says:

    First time I have been bored by the Voice. They are going against their own format. They are going with sad story, annoying twit or pretty girl. If I wanted to watch Idol I would have.

  22. ohreli says:

    Count me in the “I love me some Pip” team. I cant keep my eyes off of him, and he sounds great. Fix the name and the bowtie-and-suspenders shtick and I think he’s a real contender.

  23. Erin Martin's Hooker Boots says:

    I was disappointed when Blake outed himself as a douche. When he was commenting on Erin Martin, he said nothing of her voice or performance, instead focusing solely on her sluttiness and declaring he’d pick her. All while sporting a blissful, satisfied look on his face.

    • Deena says:

      I don’t think he said he would pick her. I think he was just talking about her appearance because he had nothing nice to say about her singing. And obviously he wasn’t a fan of the rocker guys but he just didn’t criticize them.

  24. Marcus says:

    Erin Martin’s audition of “Hey There Delilah”: “Oooi, eet’s whoit ya doi to moiiii.” Maybe Cee Lo wanted to keep around fodder contestants so that his favorites have a better chance of getting through.

  25. AC says:

    Have to comment on Ne Yo’s and Cee Lo’s ridiculous “interpretation” of “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” My jaw dropped when Ne Yo told Betty Boop that the song is about a woman who doesn’t care about love, and only wants to get physical, and Cee Lo murmured in agreement. If either one of them had taken a minute to look at the lyrics, they might have figured out that the song is actually about a woman who loves AND lusts after a man, but is afraid to get her heart broken, so she tries to convince herself (unconvincingly) that she’s ok just having the sex without the romance. In other words, the mentors got it completely wrong.

    I know this is a minor point, but if these guys are getting paid truckloads of money to be “mentors,” can’t they at least know what the frack they’re talking about?

  26. kcostell says:

    Suppose you were a judge who wanted to make sure that your favored contestant stood the strongest chance possible of winning. One great thing about the battle rounds is that you can use them to pick off other contenders to make sure that they never see the light of day.

    Think that Gwen might pose a threat to Erin? Don’t even think about putting them in separate battle rounds where they could dominate and leave you no choice of putting them through. Why, that might even allow the viewers to vote for Gwen! Much better to stick them together and make sure you can get rid of her NOW before it’s too late.

    • I said something very similar to this last week. The judges are using these battle rounds to make sure their favorites or absolute strongest contenders do well in live rounds by pitting great v. great and mediocre v. lame. If you give America some okay singers to vote off rather than an entire group of talented ones, then they’re more likely to see their favorites go farther. It’s their way of controlling the live rounds a bit.

  27. Erin Martin's Hooker Boots says:

    I felt honored when Erin wore me. I was proud to be part of a gloriously whorish ensemble. I trembled in fear and shook with laughter whenever she squeaked and tried to “belt.”

  28. I don’t think I’ll survive having to listen to Erin Martin sing again. Sure she’s fun to look at, she is a model, but I’ll be putting her on mute in the weeks to come. Her annoying edit was likely because that’s the only kind of footage they could get from her. I love your description of Pip as a uni-monikered dandy because it is so very true. Someone needs to give that kid a part on Broadway and get him out of this competition. They also need to help him relocate his last name because the only living things that should be known only as Pip have four legs and fur.

  29. Cathy M. says:

    I’m disappointed on some of the comments about the The Voice breaking their format. Every one of the contestants that are here were chosen based solely on voice alone. After that I think it’s fair that they need to have something more than just a great singing voice. I do not agree with all the choices the coaches are making, but I don’t like everyone out there that has hit records either. It’s a matter of preference. What I like not everyone likes and vise versa.

  30. Cookiecutter says:

    Why was Erin dressed like Shrek?

  31. DJ says:

    Jermaine Paul for the win. Why does it seem like I am the only one giving him credit?:
    2. Strong stage presence
    3. Professional attitude

    And Slezak, saying that “a backing vocalist gig might not look too bad by the time The Voice’s second season is over” {eye roll} is probably one of the rudest and most insulting things I have seen you post (especially considering that he has BEEN a backing vocalist for a number of years, even being spotlighted on Alicia Keys’ song “Diary”).

  32. syb says:

    Hmm. Well, I preferred Erin over Gwen on the one song, although I liked Gwen and felt she ought to stay in the competition. This is the dumbest thing about The Voice, these battle rounds. Good people go, weak people stay, you’ve got random head to heads with songs that inevitably work better for one singer than the other.

    As far as CeeLo’s Erin? Yeah her personality is annoying, but I have to admit, she has a Grace Jones weirdness quality that I kind of get a kick out of, and her oddness is right up CeeLo’s alley. Her competition really are Beavis and Butthead.

  33. says:

    I realize that yes, of course Celo is thinking with his genitals, but dear God, Erin served up one of the most laughably terrible performances I’ve ever sat through, and that includes the freaks that show up on American Idol for the laugh factor. I though she sucked at her audition, and incredibly, she managed to suck even move as she trashed one of my favorite Tina Turner songs. My neighbor backed over his cat once and that THAT sounded better. And just aside from the fact she can’t sing for crap, she’ just plain completely unlikeable.

    She just needs to pursue a career in porn voice overs and leave music to someone who can actually sustain a note on key for more .2 seconds.

  34. jamie says:

    This season is so disappointing compared to last year. Why is nobody mentioning that the song choices in the battle rounds are terrible?! Last year the battle rounds were some of the best TV ever – with great music and the pair of singers in more of a real duet format with complimentary voices. This year the songs are weird and the whole focus on battle, battle . . . ad nauseum battle (and soap opera commentary about the personal lives of the ones rigged to win – in mismatched pairings – where the choice of songs obviously favors one over the other.

    This is stacking up for the final portion of the contest to have several sub-quality singers in the mix – Let’s hope it’s not rigged again and they get dumped fast. Also wishing for some really lyrical entertaining music choices – or next year my family will tune out.

  35. jkor says:

    Agree, Awful song choices and terrible pairings. What happened to the theme last year that got everyone into this? It’s supposed to be about THE VOICE – somebody tell the judges that!

  36. A. Mensch says:

    Guess why there are so many awful singers in the mix? Because talented professionals who make their living singing are eliminated before the Blind Auditions by officious gatekeepers who know nothing about music or singing. And the minute percentage of talented singers who get through are paired against each other.