The Voice Recap: Battle Hymns [Updated]

melanie martinez caitlin michelleWhen Mary J. Blige is speaking, people had better listen. When the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul is wearing her Serious Lady Horn-Rimmed Glasses, and has to take a pause to collect her thoughts because an undiscovered teenage singer is just killing it, then you might have witnessed the eventual winner of Season 3 of The Voice.

Of course, while MJB was holleratin’ that Melanie Martinez’s voice had “so much depth,” the young photographer’s Battle Round opponent, Caitlin Michele, was showing off an equally impressive ability to breathe fresh life into a current radio hit. Their fantastic rehearsal led to a subsequent performance of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” that may not end up being the flashiest thing we see in Season 3, but as Xtina herself noted, could turn out to be the prettiest, and the most moving.

And that’s why, I suppose, I remain in fine spirits despite the unceremonious ouster of Bronx’s ridiculously amusing, uni-monkiered diva Domo — D to the O to the M to the O — a contestant disliked by most TVLine readers, but who somehow used her outsized self-confidence and brazen display of tenacity to win a place in my heart, if not my iPod.

“Now everybody on their feet! When I say ‘Dah,’ y’all say ‘Mo!'” “Dah!” “Mo!” “Dah!” “Mo!” No, seriously, you have to say it, or else I’m not finishing this recap. “Dah!” “Mo!” “Dah!” “Mo!” Whew, that felt good, didn’t it?

Actually, don’t answer that. Instead, let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner (not counting the wins by Rudy Parris over Charlie Rey, and Celica Westbrook over Lisa Scinta, where we only got a few seconds of information with which to judge):

Team Cee Lo: Cody Belew defeats Domo | Here’s your mathematical problem for the day: A daffy chica from the Bronx who boasts that she looks “like a pop-rock star but can sing like Mariah Carey” is pitted against the handsome son of a rodeo rider who plainly admits he doesn’t come from a lot of money, but is confident enough to joke that he’s not going to let his opponent “whip that ponytail in my face.” In rehearsals, Bronx girl spends a lot of time focusing on the look and the choreography of the performance, while small-town boy stresses that his rival has an edge, since coach Cee Lo goes to sleep at night thinking about hot chicks who like to rock sequined half shirts and humungous hoop earrings. If both singers give decent performance of “Telephone,” but lose the syncopation and pitch during the tricky Beyoncé verse, who will Cee Lo choose? The answer, of course, is Cody, and I’m okay with that, since he’s super entertaining and he executed his “slap Domo’s booty” moves to perfection. Alas, though, I’m bummed Xtina, Adam, and Blake passed on the chance to steal Domo, who might only be a legend in her own mind, but still possesses more raw talent than a lot of pop stars currently on the Billboard charts. D to the O to the M to the O, you will be missed!

Team Xtina: Aquile defeats Nathalie Hernandez | I thought the editors were prepping us for a Nathalie win, seeing how she got the “one of the youngest this season” edits. But the minute the pair began their performance of James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something,” it was abundantly clear that Xtina (who showed up to rehearsals in her Bret Michaels Halloween costume) had only one option: While Nathalie struggled to stay on pitch at the ends of nearly every other phrase, Aquile stalked the stage like a panther and slayed every note and ad-lib he attempted. The guy is legitimately good, even if his lack of a last name always strikes me as peculiar.

Team Adam: Melanie Martinez defeats Caitlin Michele (Caitlin stolen by Cee Lo Green…hail yes!) | I’m still sticking to my contention that Adam really needs to encourage Melanie to do something about THAT HAIR. I mean, the two-tone orange-and-black bangs (which line up perfectly with the gap in her tooth) are disconcerting enough, but when it’s topped off by a giant red bow, it’s like something out of a Tim Burton remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (as is skipping into the arena for your battle). Vocally, though, the kid is pretty staggering, with a little wisp of a voice that swoops and soars like a butterfly on a windy day. I loved the risks she took with the melody on “Lights,” and the way she brought Ellie Goulding’s lyrics to the forefront — as if I was hearing them for the first time. I just hope Adam’s selection of Melanie as the champ doesn’t diminish Caitlin’s position in the competition. Yeah, her inflections owe a lot to Florence Welch, but she dove so deep into the song I worried she’d hit her head on the bottom. Caitlin’s tone is rich and robust, and if it’s paired with some less ethereal song choices — never much of a problem when you’re dealing with new coach Cee Lo — she could go a long way in the competition.

Side note: I did love when Caitlin chose Cee Lo over Blake — the second time she’d passed over Mr. Shelton in the competition — our country judge responded with his usual brand of pitch-perfect self-deprecation. “She must really hate me,” he laughed. “Maybe I met her in the past and I was a real jackass to her.”

And with thay, I turn things over to you: Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s second Battle Rounds episode of Season 3? Were there any moments that made you cringe? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

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. AJM says:

    I was glad from the 30s of each of the two battles we didn’t see that they cut them. Both sounded terrible. I was pleasantly surprised by Domo, she held her own against Cody, but he was the clear winner there.

  2. Mary B says:

    Melanie is incredible. She is a star.

  3. gailer says:

    I think the singers are a lot better overall than last time around

  4. Tom says:

    Melanie knows how to interpret and sell a song. She may not have the strongest voice, but she sure as hell has one of the most expressive ones. She has incredible potential.

  5. Forwarddad says:

    Oh boy guess I am going to be in the minority. Not feeling Melanie. I feel the whole image is contrived. Two toned hair , Betty boop and hair . I know people think this a unique style but I think it’s just contrived. I am not a fan of her voice I feel it’s just too babyish. I am probably alone in this m.

    • Isabelle says:

      I agree, I’m not a fan and feel I’m just not getting some bad joke.

    • VCI says:

      I agree with you. Not a fan of Melanie(her style or her voice). To me there is something off about it. And she needs to get rid of that bow!!!

      Wasn’t a fan of that battle as a whole, but did prefer Caitlin. I find most of the time i like the battlers version’s better, but like the original lights so, so, so much more.

      And where is the Aquile love. I love, love, love him. He was my favorite of the night.

      p.s. I’m shocked Cee Lo choose Cody over Domo (but super happy)

      • Snsetblaze says:

        I love Aquile too. I don’t usually go for that type of singer but he was good. And ditto for Cody over Domo. She was as annoying as Erin, the model, from last year.

      • Trent says:

        I agree — Aquile is really good (I bought his version of “Your Song” after the Blind Auditions). So happy to see him move on. As for Melanie, I really liked her Audition song but felt she was pitchy and overly breathy last night. Caitlin was fantastic and I don’t think she’s mimicking Florence at all. In fact, I think she may be a better live singer than Flo (JMO, of course).

        In other news, when you say DO I say GO!! She may be the Lady Gaga of China, and sing like Mariah and Aretha (not) but I’m SO glad she’s gone…

    • teatime says:

      I agree with you. This is only the second time we have seen her and I already feel like she is just the same every time. I am already getting tired of seeing her bat her lashes. She can win me back though if she does something surprising next time.

    • Annie says:

      No, you’re definitely not alone. Quite a few people who watch the show with me agrees too. I don’t understand the hype. Sure she can re-interpret a song, but she can’t deliver on the vocals….everything sounds breathy and weak. Sorry, not feeling it.

    • dan says:

      Melanie rubbed me the wrong way. She felt contrived, with the way she skipped out onto the stage. I think she has a lot of potential and is interesting but … Caitlin was better.

    • Yo' says:

      I thought Melanie was better in rehearsal than on stage, and I thought she would have been even less impressive had Caitlin not been there supporting her tone. Caitlin’s voice was strong, and clear, and she imparted a Enya like mystical quality – she floated between Enya and Florence. She certainly deserved to compete; I’m glad she is continuing.

    • Misty says:

      I don’t think you are in the minority… Definitely not feeling Melanie. There were parts of that song where I actually cringed while she was singing. I don’t get this one. And I absolutely LOVE “Lights”… I thought it would be a no brainer for Adam to pick Caitlin!!

      I was disappointed to see Nathalie go… She had such a beautiful, unique, strong voice!!

    • Rain says:

      You are NOT alone! I don’t get the Melanie appeal at all. Between the look and the wispy baby voice and odd pronunciation – ugh, not my thing at all!

    • Pearl says:

      Not feeling Merlanie at all. For me she sounds like a kid playing of sing, not a professional singer. Can’t get why the show loves her.

  6. Julie says:

    What a waste of an hour. I can’t believe I sat through all of that just to watch such a lackluster performance. Also, wtf @ them fast forwarding battle rounds.
    I’ll never watch a Tuesday episode again,

  7. Aria says:

    Based on the battles alone, I actually thought all of the wrong people won. I like Cody better, but I thought Domo screamed “pop star” more than he did in that battle. I didn’t remember Nathalie at all from auditions, but her voice was incredibly developed and unique, while Aquile’s isn’t something we haven’t heard before countless times. Melanie’s was one of my favorite auditions of the season, but I thought her voice sounded rather thin and tired, especially compared to Caitlin’s in the battle. However, I was happy that Cody and Melanie won, and the one of the three losers I was most sad to see go was Nathalie. I really thought (and hoped) Blake would steal her, as she’s like a more talented and confident Xenia.
    If they are going to increase the number of team members to 16, they better make time to show them all. The barely-shown battles make it extremely obvious who won’t be making the live shows.

    • teatime says:

      I was surprised Nathalie was not snatched up. She did a great job. I thought that whole performance was excellent by both of them. I am glad Caitlin was saved, too. She also was really good and that performance was very enjoyable overall.

  8. David says:

    Was Domo good tonight? Yes. Am I glad she’s gone? Absolutely yes!

    • Jan says:

      Was she Mariah-level good, or Christina-level good or Aretha-level good–as she repeatedly claimed? NO. A healthy shot of humility could serve her well, but I doubt anything can bring down her delusions. The other coaches didn’t want to get within 10 feet of her since she’s so certain she has nothing to learn.

      • Snsetblaze says:

        Agreed. She is the only one who thinks she is as good as Aretha or Maria. Maybe, and that’s a weak maybe, Katie Perry level good.

  9. Kathy says:

    Both Adam and Christina noted how much attitude Domo had during her blind audition. Tonight she came across as a totally different person, but not enough to want any other coach to steal her. Best performance of the night was Melanie vs Caitlin and their version of Lights. So far, best battle round was Trevin vs. Amanda!

  10. mia says:

    I loved Melodie’s blind audition but tonight she was just incredibly annoying. Her voice is interesting, but it has no weight to it; its too breathy and light and it kinds cracks in odd ways. Additionally, she sings in the exact same physical way each time; eyes closed and head tilted back.
    The novelty has worn off with her for me.

  11. Pat says:

    Melanie was terrible and Nathalie has 1000% more potential.

    I’m glad Aquile survived.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I like Melanie. I liked Nathalie (though Aquile did blow her out of the water). I actually thought there voices were very similar.

  12. teatime says:

    I love the save. It makes these battle rounds enjoyable, finally. It also give them an option to save people who should not be eliminated just because of who they happened to be paired with! I still disagree with the judge’s pick about a third of the time, so that hasn’t changed.

  13. Derik says:

    Dude! Where is the week three video? I know The Voice handed the week off to X Factor with a clips show, but X Factor totally squandered that chance by turning their game into team cheetah vs team mohawk, neither of which has a win in them. Micheal and Melinda, you’re our only hope…

  14. Becka says:

    I am not a fan of Caitlin at all. For one thing her blind audition…either the sound was off…or she was jumping all over the place. Florence and the Machine…not easy at all. And all the theatrical stuff in her voice…save it for musical theatre really. She’s got some good stuff going on..but she mucks it up with the theatrical stuff. You can tell she probably loves singing Evanescence. I don’t hear anything NEW in her voice. Maybe it’s the fact that they haven’t quite found the right song for her yet. She’s got a big voice…but she lets other things get in the way.

    I was sort of let down by tonight’s battles. Monday night’s battles were AWESOME. These were just kind of…meh. Though I am happy to see Domo go. I liked her, but this just wasn’t a good fit for her and I think she’ll do fine on her own. She’s just too much of a handful and that’s why none of the other coaches stole her. She’s solidly set in her way of performing…and there just wouldn’t be enough change with her.

    I’m still waiting for Melanie to really hit her stride. Lights wasn’t a good fit for her, but she tried to wring something out of it. the bow in the hair thing though…has GOT to go…

  15. Barbara says:

    I wish they had shown more of Celica’s battle. I think that is a real disadvantage going forward.

  16. Mel says:

    I don’t think Melanie has to change anything. She’s an individual and has her own unique style. If I were her and people said “Hey I’d vote for you if you looked different” I’d say, well then I don’t want your vote. No one should change their own personal style for anyone but themselves.Good for her.

    My personally favourites so far are Terry, De’borah, Melaine and Caitlyn.

  17. Buffy0531 says:

    I was so disappointed not to see the whole song with Rudy and Charlie. Though it was clear from the snippet who was better, and thankfully, Rudy was chosen. Are the producers trying to stack the deck against certain contestants by giving them so little time when it starts to count?

  18. dj says:

    The only moments that made me cringe were the battles they didn’t show. Even if the losers performed badly, I would have liked to see them. They could have skipped that show where they recapped who was on each team and showed the battles instead.

  19. Minspencer says:

    I really loved your description of Melanie .i didn’t get what all the hype was about. Her breathy voice irritated the hell out of me and I found myself gasping for air when she sang .and I think the cutesy- factor is way overdone!! She belongs more on “kids with talent” if that show still exists!

  20. Chris says:

    No doubt that Melanie has a unique sound, but I prefer Caitlin. i understand why Adam chose Melanie (I think), but Caitlin definitely deserved to be saved. If they both make it to the live show it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Caitlin outlasts Melanie.

  21. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    That two tone hair is ridiculous. Someone should sit her down and tell her she looks like a black and white cookie, and not in an appealing way. She sings ok, but her freak look makes me like her about as much as the overly arrogant Domo, who got exactly what she deserved. Have a little humility, if you were a star you wouldn’t be on The Voice.

  22. Frances says:

    I cringed when Melanie sang, and I couldn’t believe how dorky she looked when she *skipped* out like some 6 year old. Ugh.

  23. Leela says:

    Melanie is just a quirky girl with quirky hair and a quirky voice. She, and her bow, need to leave. And speaking of leaving – DOMO is gone. Ugh. Annoying despite a good voice. Love Cody.

  24. Lois Benton says:

    I like Melanie; she’s got a lot of quirk, but a lot of soul too. She’s one of my favorites. I like Caitlin too. Adam’s got a deep bench, so Blake may rue wasting a steal on Colin McLoughlin. Adam’s got about 8 people left that I would steal if I were a coach and they were eliminated. And you know some of them will be. Blake’s got about four left I would steal, CeeLo 3 and Xtina, maybe 1 or 2. But Adam’s team members are in the crosshairs, because too many are great and they all won’t survive, even with steals.

  25. Chris says:

    Melanie was excellent. Anyone who can elicit that type of reaction from MJB has skills, end of story. You get the sense that she can take any song and quickly develop a personal attachment to it. Loved it.

  26. ileenix says:

    Hey, Michael, LOVE your blogging, but aren’t we getting behind on Reality Check? Please don’t tell me we won’t be having Melinda share the ride through the next few months!

  27. Peggy Sue says:

    Hi Michael – I haven’t written in a long time. I am very very happy to see you covering “The Voice” and other great shows that are on now. I found you during “Idol” but I am pretty sure I”m not going to watch it this year. I became a huge fan during season 7 – but am not really sick of the way the same kind of people win every year. I am loving the voice, love the 4 really different judges, and love that they have such a huge variety of singers and appreciate the different styles.

    • Lois Benton says:

      I, too, started watching Idol in Season 7, but will not watch it anymore. The producers have lost all the good will I was willing to extend (voting methods, song choices, the disturbing treatment of Jermaine Jones last season). There’s nothing they can do to get me back. But I love The Voice. I watched X Factor last season, although I didn’t like it very much. I watched the first 2 episodes this season, it was horrible, and I will never watch it again. There’s nothing those producers can do to woo me back either. I’m done.

    • teatime says:

      @Peggy Sue I am not a huge fan of any of the winners of any of the other shows. Idol is just the only one where fans care enough to get upset when their pick does not win.