If Mark Burnett & Co. want to convince me that The Voice is really about its contestants, not its coaches, tonight’s final installment of the Season 6 Battle Rounds was perhaps not the best form of ammunition.
Take, for example, the episode’s penultimate matchup, which found a pair of Adam Levine’s urban-leaning vocalists dueting on Usher’s “Climax.” Asked by Carson Daly which one had sung it better, Usher broke into a mischievous grin, then gave the answer we all hoped he’d resist (even if we knew it was his unfiltered truth): “Me!”
I mean, dude, you’ve got enough money in your bank account to hire the entire Top 20 to serve as cater-waiters at your next 50 parties. Do you really need to steal their shine? (OK, OK, Usher’s a capella demonstration was pretty darn impressive, but you know what I’m saying…)
Anyhow, with the Battle Rounds now complete, we’re headed to the not-live, totally-decided-by-the-coaches Playoffs Round. (For more ranting about the voting not kicking in till April 21, please see the latest Reality Check video below).
But before I get sidetracked with rage, let me jump to a ranking of each of tonight’s Battles from least- to most-promising winner:
6. Team Blake: Ryan Whyte Maloney defeats Kaleigh Glanton on Rascal Flatts (featuring Natasha Bedingfield)’s “Easy” | Wait, wasn’t there an Option C: None of the Above? Well, there should’ve been!
5. Team Adam: Jake Barker defeats Brittnee Camelle on Usher’s “Climax” | Britnee’s sense of timing failed her a little in the opening verse, but I liked the way, as Adam noted, her voice pierced through the background music and made itself known. Jake improved a lot on his absolutely awful rehearsal footage, and his raspy falsetto (raspsetto?) is kinda cool, but my gut says he’s not yet performing with enough consistency and charisma to be a true Season 6 contender.
4. Team Usher: Bria Kelly defeats Madilyn Paige on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” (Madilyn, who shoulda won, stolen by Blake) | If Madilyn, with her potent-yet-lilting tone had pulled off the win, I’d have ranked this Battle at No. 2 for the night. Sure, there were a few moments tonight where her attention seemed to drift during Bria’s solos, but there’s something so maple-syrup sweet about her voice, so earnest in her delivery, that it hearkens back to simpler times. (Wait, when did I turn into Oldie Nostalgiastern?) To my ears, Bria really struggled with pitch on the opening verse, or more specifically, in the instances where she wasn’t full-out belting. I really dug Bria’s audition, for what it’s worth I’d put it in the Top 5 of the season, but her subsequent followups have begun to make me wonder if she has more than one color in the Crayloa box, if you know what I mean.
3. Team Shakira: Dani Moz defeats Clarissa Serna on Pink’s “Perfect” | I’m not gonna lie…I got a little skittish hearing the line “bad decisions, that’s all right” knowing it was Shakira in the black robe sitting behind the bench. Yet while Dani’s tone still doesn’t strike me as especially distinctive, she definitely displayed superior power and a better grasp of pitch than Clarissa, who skidded off course every time she pushed her vocals too hard.
2. Team Adam: Kat Perkins defeats Dawn & Hawkes on K.T. Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” | I’m not convinced either act was well-served by this song choice, but as Kat stalked the stage and Dawn & Hawkes stayed glued to the mic stand, it was hard not to feel like we were witnessing a main act/background singers relationship. From a pure vocal standpoint, Kat was a decisive winner, too, I thought, despite what Usher labeled politely as “a few difficult moments.” Now, all we have to do is hope Adam doesn’t keep Kat’s inner rock goddess in the same cage where Cee Lo’s stage cat and parrot are currently residing.
1. Team Usher: Melissa Jiménez defeats Music Box on Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” | I loved the way Melissa delivered even the opening lines of the song with clarity and confidence and the way she made interesting little melodic choices to separate her cover from Alicia Keys’ original. No, she’s not in possession of Sisaundra-level horsepower or an instantly recognizable tone (see Josh Kaufman), but in terms of commercial pop voices, she seems like one of The Voice’s best prospect in several seasons. Music Box — who probably needed to change THAT NAME if she was gonna have any shot at winning — sounded solid in the opening stages, too — until nerves and a sense of desperation caused her vocals to tighten like a pair of brand new jeans in a dryer cycle. In other words, Usher made the right call.
OK, your turn…
What did you think of night three of the Battle Rounds (Pt 2)? Did anyone deserve to get the Save and didn’t? Who gave the best overall vocal of the night? Take our poll, then sound off in the comments!