The Voice Recap: Before They Can Read 'Em, They've Got to Turn Chairs and See 'Em [Updated]

nicole nelson brandon mahone the voiceMillions in ad dollars have been spent. We’ve witnessed a mix of life-affirming moments and seriously off-key notes. And now, the American people sit in their living rooms, polarized, shouting their loyalties from their couches, via Twitter and Facebook, at home and school and family events. No, this isn’t an intro to a recap of the last debate of the 2012 Presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Free your minds, and the rest will follow, reality TV junkies. I’m talking about the fifth night of Battle Rounds on NBC’s The Voice.

It was an evening where Christina Aguilera released two wild-eyed divas into “a playground of activity to really roar.” (Thankfully, this didn’t involve either vocalist leaving her pants in the dressing room.) It was an episode where Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong encouraged folks to spit in his face. And it was an hour where Blake Shelton once again saved the day with a plainspoken compliment and the tap of a button.

Let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner:

Team Cee Lo: Daniel Rosa defeats Alexis Marceaux | I could watch this battle 100 times and still not understand how Cee Lo didn’t give the win to Alexis, and yet at the same time, the pre-performance editing made it clear there was no way Daniel could lose. He’s a second-chance contestant! He’s afraid of the high notes on Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me” — even the ones that aren’t all that high! He says adorable things like “I just don’t wanna sound bad!” Uff da. To my ears, Daniel’s delivery seemed less emotional than it did slurry, the grit in his voice seemed forced more than passionate. Yeah, Alexis hit a couple of flat notes early in the song, but she hers was the far more solid performance, and her vamps on the final chorus blew Daniel out of the water like a stick of dynamite in a koi pond. But if Daniel hadn’t won, Adam wouldn’t have been able to deliver this adorbs bon mot: “He’s so sweet. I think he’s gonna go pass out.” Ah well. What did the Rolling Stones

Team Xtina: Devyn Deloera defeats Marissaann (Marissaann stolen by Blake Shelton) | Hands down the night’s funniest line was Billie Joe standing across the piano from Devyn and the awkwardly named Marissaann and telling them that En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” is a rock song; “It’s okay if you spit on us.” (Runner up? Marissaann’s “I am 15. But I have emotions.” I should hope so!) As it turns out, both ladies took the Green Day lead singer’s advice, roaring and growling their way through the number, but to my ears Marissaann was the clear winner, as she backed up her convictions with an impressive physicality, and more importantly, knew how much was too much when it came to ad-libbing. Devyn, on the other hand, tried so hard to bury her younger rival with glory notes and riffs that, at times, it seemed like she wasn’t so much singing a song as shoveling notes onto the grave she’d dug for her rival. In other words, things got a little messy. And when Xtina shot herself in the Manolo by rewarding Devyn’s melisma-fest, Blake wisely gave a three word reply — “I like Marissaann!” — hit his “Steal” button, and turned an infuriating result into a thrilling one. The country coach really does know what he’s doing, doesn’t he?

Team Adam: Nicole Nelson defeats Brandon Mahone | In one of the season’s more frustrating pairings, Adam pitted the contestants I had ranked at No. 1 and No. 15 (or two of his five best vocalists) in my post-Blind Audition rankings to go head-to-head on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” And while the far more experienced Nicole dominated Brandon in terms of vocal precision and stage presence — even Brandon admitted he saw no weaknesses in his rival — wouldn’t it have been better to pit the teenager against someone lower down the food chain? Who knows, maybe a Battle Round win for Brandon would’ve raised his confidence level and turned him into a true contender? As it was, though, Adam had no choice but to reward Nicole with the win. Where Brandon’s solo verse was very good, hers was great. And her holleration on the final chorus was enough to knock askew Mary J. Blige’s horned-rim glasses. Here’s hoping Adam doesn’t do anything boneheaded and cut the “free spirit” “Vermont hippie” before the voting rounds begin.

Monday’s episode also featured three “blink and you missed ’em” Battle Round updates that could’ve been expanded if NBC hadn’t spent the first three minutes of the show recapping what any loyal Voice fan had seen last week. On Team Adam, “wedding singer Loren Allred” (who also got shafted on screen time in the Blind Auditions) defeated Brian Scartocci, while rocker dude Joe Kirkland trumped reggae dude Samuel Mouton; and on Team Blake, the much-hyped Cassadee Pope beat Ryan Jirovec (who was also reduced to a snippet on his audition — poor guy!).

And with that, let me turn things over to you:

Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s fifth Battle Round episode of Season 5? Were there any decisions you found upsetting? Hit the comments with your thoughts!