The Voice Recap: Shot Through the Heart, With a Coach to Blame [Updated]

lelia broussard suzanna choffel voiceTo err is human. To occasionally leave a really great singer stranded without a lifeline? Well, that’s just being a coach on The Voice.

Yes, folks, after two stellar episodes (and zero egregious errors) to kick off the show’s Season 3 Battle Rounds, Monday night’s two-hour telecast featured a couple of serious stumbles (if not full-on face-plants) by Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Adam Levine.

And even though I think it’s safe to say that no potential Voice champions were harmed in the scoring of tonight’s Battle Rounds, I’m nevertheless scratching my head wondering how the inexperienced and wobbly Joselyn Rivera managed to inspire a “Steal” from Adam Levine, while the vastly superior Lelia Broussard, Todd Kessler, and Benji got left like the proverbial cheeses from “The Farmer in the Dell”: Standing alone, untaken, wondering how the heigh-ho-the-dairy-o their reality-competition dreams met such a quick and undignified ending.

Either way, let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner:

Team Xtina: Sylvia Yacoub defeats Joselyn Rivera (Joselyn stolen by Adam Levine)| “Sometimes it was a little too much,” said Adam, meekly describing the duo’s caterwaulingly catastrophic cover of “Best Thing I Never Had.” Talk about an understatement! That’d be like rinsing one’s mouth out with battery acid and then declaring it a wee bit harsh on the gums and teeth. Despite Xtina and Billie Joe Armstrong’s solid advice, Sylvia didn’t leave a single note of Beyoncé’s breakup anthem unpunished by a run or an ad lib or a botched note. By comparison, Joselyn’s vocal was simpler and more pleasing to the ear, but not really on-point enough that she deserved to grab one of the season’s eight “Steals” after Xtina declared Sylvia the winner of the matchup. You can find me at the corner of Baffled and Bewildered if you want to discuss this result any further.

Team Blake: Julio Cesar Castillo defeats Terisa Griffin (Terisa stolen by Cee Lo Green) | I couldn’t blame Terisa for thinking Blake’s choice of “Conga” was a strategic move to flush her from the competition. In fact, I was surprised Julio didn’t have the same exact response. Because at the end of the day, is there a singer on the planet who could pick up additional fans for the voting rounds by covering Gloria Estefan’s rapid-fire 1983 ditty that should only be played in 2012 at wedding receptions (and possibly not even there)? Wonky song choice aside, though, it was nice to see Terisa bring a little hip action to the stage, throw in a rolling “r” sound, change up the melody a little — even if she lost control of her pitch on occasion. Meanwhile, by my highly scientific assessment, Julio hit only 62 percent of his notes, and exhibited 11 percent as much charisma as his more experienced rival. So unless Blake was simply fishing for some Knockout Round fodder, this was yet another dubious call. (Cee Lo stealing Terisa, though, I’m okay with — based on her fantastic audition alone.)

Team Xtina: Dez Duron defeats Paulina | I’m sure that casual Voice fans just tuning in for the Knockout Rounds will wonder if Dez made it this far because he is absurdly handsome, with hair so expertly coiffed it could easily book a three-episode arc on the final season of Gossip Girl. After all, his voice isn’t especially powerful, nor is it particularly distinctive. But that damning praise aside, his vocal on “Just the Way You Are” clearly outshone 16-year-old beauty Paulina, who made Xtina nervous with “ad-lib situations” in rehearsal that only got worse on the live stage. The girl took so many strange liberties with the melody, I half-expected Bruno Mars to file a harassment report with The Voice‘s H.R. department. Now, though, the real question becomes: If Dez remains underwhelming in the Knockouts, will Xtina advance him to the voting rounds anyway, where his ability to rock a white v-neck, rolled jeans, and a leather jacket may prove irresistible to speed-dialing fans more interested in slash fiction than actual music downloads? Based on Xtina’s Season 2 ouster of easy-on-the-eyes Jonathas, I’m guessing Dez is going to have to raise his vocal game, but then again, maybe Sylvia’s Battle Round win was all about providing him one more low bar to clear before America takes over. I mean, you know the Lady Aguilera wants to win this thing before Shakira borrows her spinny-chair for Season 4.

Team Adam: Sam James defeats Benji | It’s hard to know deep down whether Sam or Benji has more commercial and artistic appeal, seeing how neither seemed particularly well-suited to “You Give Love a Bad Name.” (Side note: In this reality junkie’s heart, that song will always and forever belong to Blake Lewis.) Both were pretty solid pitch-wise, but Benji’s tendency toward affected pronunciations (“nay-eem” instead of “name,” just to name one example) made him sound a little like he was auditioning for a Cher cover band — at least when he wasn’t showing off his patented/impressive rocker wail. (Side note: How come no one ever covers Cher on reality singing competitions?) Sam’s more low-key approach was, as Xtina, Blake and Cee Lo pointed out, a little less dynamic, but his vocal tone reminded me a little of Curtis Stigers, so I can’t be too, too indignant about Adam’s selection, now can I?

Team Cee Lo: Nicholas David defeats Todd Kessler | This was a Battle Round where both artists seemed more interested in catching the groove of a song, digging into the lyrics, and playing off of each other’s voices, than in laying waste to the competition. Perhaps that’s why I felt so relaxed — and not at all stressed out about Cee Lo’s decision — while Todd and Nicholas passed the baton on “She’s Gone,” with the former displaying a real clarity of tone, and the latter infusing the track with a little more soul and grit. To me, Nicholas’ voice proved a little more interesting, and so I was happy to see him advance. But while I support artists being able to express their personal style on stage, dude seriously needs to groom his wayward moustache — really, a little trim would do wonders! — if he’s going to stand any chance of inheriting Jermaine Paul’s crown and sash. (Obviously, however, Blake would disagree. “You look like Jesus,” he said to Nicholas. “People like that!”

Team Blake: Suzanna Choffel defeats Lelia Broussard | I loved the mutual respect these ladies showed for each other in rehearsal, but loathed the fact that — by virtue of Lelia’s blind audition having barely been shown — there was almost no suspense regarding the outcome of this matchup. That was a shame, really, because based on what Suzanna and Lelia did with “Dog Days Are Over” in the “boxing ring,” this was the closest matchup of the night. Suzanna — who may or may not be Courtney Thorne-Smith under an assumed identity — brought an almost hypnotic quality to her voice, with a rasp that proved simultaneously sexy and world-weary. Lelia, on the other hand, made more eclectic choices with her phrasing, but looked just slightly less engaged than her competitor. Once Blake picked Suzanna to advance, I kept waiting (and waiting) for a competing judge to enact the “Steal,” but nope, Adam was waiting for something — intuition, his afternoon Red Bull, the sound of a Voice producer’s voice? — to kick in and make his choice for him. All I can say is if Adam’s intuition prefers Joselyn to Lelia, then his intuition should spend the rest of the season in a holding pen being “interviewed” by Christina Milian.

And with that last bit of bitchery, let me turn things over to you:

Who were your favorites from Night 3 of The Voiue‘s Season 3 Battle Rounds? Were there any decisions with which you disagreed? 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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42 Comments
  1. Lelia Broussard was definitely vastly superior. Suzannas got a very weird voice that just wasn’t good. You can barely understand anything she says. Lelia will definitely make it far in the industry.

    • Temperence says:

      I thought Leilia was superior as well. I’m just glad Christina picked Dez – she seems to have blinders most of the time to talent that doesn’t belt (out-of-style) power balads (just like she does).

  2. *lg* says:

    Benji was my favorite out of all the singers this season. He’s the first singer who was able to get me to download a first audition song from iTunes. He blatantly killed in the battle round. And Adam goes and picks a singer who sounds like Gavin DeGraw. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!

  3. Tom says:

    Terisa being stolen I understand, because she had a great audition and should’ve been chosen over Julio. But Joseyln? Huh? I find nothing remarkable about her voice. Both her audition and performance tonight were just subpar.

    And not saving Lelia was perhaps the most egregious error of the season thus far. Both she and Suzanna should be going to the next round. I don’t know why she was left in the dust. Ugh. Infuriating episode tonight.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I had the exact same thoughts as Teresa when I saw the pairing and the song — that Blake was obviously trying to get rid of her. And I thought she blew Julio out of the water. I don’t normally go for her type of singing but I like her.

  4. Dentontoy says:

    I’m TeamDez all the way. Given a more soulful song he is going to really kill it. Plus he’s got the female vote on lock. I think between him and de’borah xtina might have a winner this year

  5. Pat says:

    Lelia and Benji were screwed. And even more egregious, they weren’t stolen? But Terisa was? WHAT?

  6. Rachel arnold says:

    I think this season is way more competitive!! Alot of the artists have great voices and even the losers can sing!!! I’m Sooo impressed!!!I can’t wait for the live performances!!! The song choices will be a big factor in who wins!!! Love this show!!!!

  7. CMG says:

    Sylvia kind of scared me tonight. She had crazy eyes. I would’ve picked her over Joselyn too, just so she wouldn’t hurt me. You know there had to be some seriously nasty catfights between the two of them before the battle rounds. Sylvia looked like one of those loony people auditioning on American Idol, the ones that have to be physically escorted off the premises with them swearing up a storm the whole way out.

    Nicholas David is one of my favorites of the competition so far, and that was one good battle round. Nicholas and Todd sounded excellent together, but Nicholas was able to do more interesting things with the song.

  8. David says:

    Of the ones who lost and weren’t stolen, the only one I was surprised by was Todd. I think he could’ve been a sleeper in later rounds. Lelia did better in practice than on stage. Benji needs serious work on that middle range.

  9. Snow says:

    I was disappointed with Lelia’s elimination, but I was a fan of her long before the voice and will continue to be a fan long after. I was actually surprised to see her on the show at all because of how successful I perceived her to be, but I was even more surprised to see her go so soon. They are definitely missing out.

  10. teatime says:

    Tonight, it is far easier to name when the coach got it right. Nicholas needs a make over, but he has the better voice. I think that was the only correct coach’s pick of the night.

  11. Aria says:

    Did anyone else find Julio’s voice to be painful? He sounded like a cat in heat. I thought Terisa was the clear winner there, and was shocked when she wasn’t picked. I am glad she was stolen by Cee Lo, though.
    I thought Joselyn sounded great and easily won her battle, so I wasn’t surprised that the other coaches fought for her. I like Sylvia too, though, and would place her higher on your list of potential winners than Julio for sure!
    It was clear Lelia wouldn’t win or be stolen because we didn’t even see her audition. I thought she did outsing Suzanna, but I can’t say I was disappointed by Suzanna’s win because she was one of my favorite auditions of the season and has a fantastic voice.
    Sam James won’t win this show, and probably won’t make the live shows, nor will Benji, so I’m not sure why they showed this battle and skipped other potential interesting match-ups last week of contestants whose auditions we actually saw (ie: Charlie Rey vs. Rudy Parris).
    Nicholas and Todd were probably one of the best battles of the night, and I thought Nicholas was the right pick. Todd wasn’t memorable for me.
    Finally, Dez and Paulina should have both just been sent home. They both look like pop stars, but neither sounds like one. Dez’s voice continues to sound whiny and grating, while Paulina was trying too hard to be quirky and completely butchered the melody.

    • Ty says:

      Dez can sound like a dying cat for all I care, so long as he continues to show his face he deserves to be there. Why you ask? You see, it’s important for a singer that they fill out their jeans well. Even more important if they have a brother that does just as well if not better and they keep getting flashed on the screen.

      I say all that without a hint of shallowness, Dez deserves to be there, he NEEDS to be there, for the sake of the eyes of the world, for the sake of the universe, we cannot let him fall away.

  12. macgyver_rash says:

    i love suzanna. i love her songs. check her out on youtube. i think lelia is also great but during the performance, suzanna was more confident. lelia’s movements were a little awkward.

  13. Lara says:

    Well, i guess there is always a first for me and Michael to disagree… i happened to love every decision that was taken tonight. Benji was in fact a bit flat in his middle range as Adam said. Adam told him not to just scream and he kind of did. Sam was more consistent and had more control… so overall i do think Sam is a more seasoned singer? Joselyn being saved? i wasn’t mad at all… All her notes were spot on and for a little girl who had a quiet voice, the outcome and improvement was amazing. Leila had interesting moments, i loved a few things she did with her voice, but there was something missing from her performance. It was not rounded and sustained throughout. Julio beating the pipe lady, well i couldn’t agree more. Both of them were threatened with that song choice. Although it was an spectacular entertaining moment, the song was not fair for any of them. She had more fun and liberties, he was fairer with the song. I like the way Julio sings. And maybe i am just biased because i am dying to listen to him singing a mariachi song at the live shows!!! Nicholas was spectacular! And well Dez and the girl, Dez was better although yeah… i hope he doesn’t get too far so the ladies start calling him just for the looks. So all around, i agreed with every choice they made. So far, all my picks have been the coaches picks… I am loving this show btw. Battles + Steal = Great competition!!

  14. Lois Benton says:

    This is the closest I’ve come to agreeing with you entirely, except I would have, hands down, chosen Benji over Sam. And that was so MESSED UP that Blake let go one of the top voices in the competition, Terisa. Is she a pain in the butt or something? She seems like a nice enough person.

  15. The Watcher in the Rye says:

    Michael, Cher does on rare occassion get covered on reality competitions…although it seems it’s only slowed down versions of “Believe”. After Adam Lambert did it in the Hollywood Rounds on American Idol, one of the favorites to win this year’s UK X -Factor, Ella Henderson did it in the final Boot Camp performance…I prefer hers to the original any day… Watch it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTbcO9qaE5g

  16. fullyCOOKed says:

    Funny that everyone thinks these are all just random judges picks, rather than the highly orchestrated producers choices that I believe them to be.

  17. kateshomesick says:

    Michael, Cher has been covered on reality singing competitions!!! Adam Lambert- Hollywoodweek Solos: Believe by Cher and just more recently Ella Henderson on X Factor UK (same song, kind of the same version).

  18. Jess402 says:

    Nicholas voiced is great – but all I heard was Jermaine from Flight of the Concords.

  19. I am in full agreement with you. I’m not sure why anyone would steal Joselyn, but I desperately wanted someone to steal Lelia so I could see her sing again.

    “The girl took so many strange liberties with the melody, I half-expected Bruno Mars to file a harassment report with The Voice‘s H.R. department.” I love that line. Dez was the clear winner just because he managed not to butcher the song. I’m not sure about Xtina’s song choice here. It wasn’t right for either of them, but I felt that way about 4 of the 6 songs tonight. It’s clear who the coaches’ favorites are because they’re the ones getting songs that showcase their particular talents.

  20. Trent says:

    Tough night, with some really difficult choices. Unlike most here, I liked Sylvia Yacoub, but I thought her tough-girl energy would work better with a rockier song. Or even some 80’s Pat Benatar. I also liked Susannah’s raspy tone a lot (and she’s clearly more comfortable on stage), but Lelia was terrific as well and should have been saved. Also liked both Sam and Benji, but IMO Benji had more charisma, while Sam had great vocals but a “bar band” demeanor. Finally, Dez was a clear winner last night, and — like every time he appears — had female Twitterers hot and bothered for hours. The number of “Dez Duron please marry me” tweets was out of control and clearly he’ll have no problem if he reaches the voting stage. Can’t wait for tonight’s show!

  21. Gata says:

    Of the two girls that butchered Beyonce’s “The Best Thing I Never Had,” I think the other girl did a far better job, not the one that Xtina selected…

    I think Dez has an okay voice, and he was better than his competition.

    The two bearded guys – I didn’t like either of them.

    The tall blonde girl that won her battle was the right choice.

    The guy with the hat was the right choice also.

    Don’t recall anything else.

  22. DawnieD says:

    I feel like the coaches and mentors are giving helpful comments, more helpful than most season of Idol.

  23. Mitchell says:

    Slezak, there’s a hole in your logic. You saw the show made it all to obvious that Suzanna Choffel would win her battle because her opponent Lelia Broussard’s blind audition was barely shown. If your reasoning were accurate, then Benji would have won. Sam James’s blind audition was only shown in a montage (same as Lelia Broussard’s).

  24. Snow says:

    If anyone out there thought Lelia deserved to stay and want to hear more, you should definitely check out her original music. I was a fan before the voice and I really like her style. I think she’s a great writer and worth checking out

  25. Sara says:

    I hope that Adam only chose Joslyn in order to get rid of her during the knock out to keep one of his better singers. I think he did it in order to play the game, as he usually does.

  26. FreeHaley says:

    “I’m nevertheless scratching my head wondering how the inexperienced and wobbly Joselyn Rivera”

    Absolutely gotta disagree with that, she was totally deserving of the steal, absolutely!

  27. Tyler says:

    Hey Michael, you asked why no one covers Cher in reality singing contests? Go to youtube and search for “ellla, x factor uk, cher believe”. AMAZING

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