Ours is not to ask why The Voice can only fit six Battle Rounds pairings into a two-hour episode — relegating three others to the dreaded montage treatment that I’ve complained about bitterly for the last nine seasons.
Instead, ours is to wonder: Is there anybody on Season 10’s fairly deep and interesting bench who can match the brute vocal strength and leaping-dolphin magic of Alisan Porter?
Granted, you can’t forget that Alisan is on Team Xtina, that she isn’t afraid of an unflattering hat, and that female coaches are 0-for-9 in NBC’s reality singing competition. But lost in the show’s repetition of that “Girl Curse” stat is the fact that exec producer Mark Burnett & Co. have never allowed more than one lady to sit in a red spinning chair during a given cycle.
Yep, dudes are 9-for-27 to date, but they’ve had three times as many chances as their counterparts with bleach blonde hair and two X chromosomes.
While you ponder Alisan’s chances to use her early-season advantage and sprint all the way to the goal line, allow me to rank the episode’s Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising winner:
6. Team Adam: Caroline Burns defeats Mike Schiavo on Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” | Blind Audition standout Mike was slightly more subdued than Caroline, but his craggly lower register and indisputable accuracy made him the obvious choice to win over an opponent whose unformed instrument and shrill upper register tell me she should’ve waited another two or three years before returning to the show that rejected her last season. In other words, what the hell was Adam Levine thinking?!
5. Team Xtina: Daniel Passino defeats Kristen Marie on Adele’s “Turning Tables” | Daniel’s got exacto-knife accuracy and a lot of vocal horsepower, so I can’t argue he didn’t deserve to win over Kristen, who took Xtina’s “play with the melody” imperative and ran right off pitch with it. Still, there’s a strident quality and a lack of warmth to Daniel’s tone that I find offputting. It’ll be interesting to see how Xtina handles him in the Knockouts — as cannon fodder or a Plan B if her Curly Sue rebirth arc fails to pan out.
4. Team Pharrell: Emily Keener defeats Jonathan Bach on Ellie Goulding’s “Explosions” | It’s entirely possible this Battle didn’t capture my imagination simply because I find “Explosions” to be as exciting as a mug of lukewarm tap water, but for a four-chair turn, I found Emily’s lack of fire and occasionally wobbly pitch to be a wee bit eyebrow-raising.
3. Team Pharrell: Abby Celso defeats Brian Nhira on Maroon 5’s “Sugar” (Brian stolen by Adam) | I can’t help but smile when Pharrell chooses the contestant all of his fellow judges side against — in the hopes of creating a Steal situation. Still, while Abby dropped her nifty “bleep, bloop” run that she rocked during rehearsals, I thought she brought more sensuality and groove to the performance than the slightly-at-arm’s-length Brian. I’m just not sure either one of ’em, though, is ready to go deep into Season 10.
2. Team Blake: Adam Wakefield defeats Jared Harder on Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” | Adam brought grit and soul to the stage with his deep, rumbling lower register, but his falsetto on the opening verse was pretty damn impressive, too. There’s a reason he’s Xtina’s favorite non-Team Xtina contestant this season.
1. Team Xtina: Alisan Porter defeats Lacy Mandigo on The Mamas and Papas’ “California Dreamin’” (Lacy stolen by Blake) | This was one of those typical Xtina Battles where both singers amped up the holleration and broke out every trick in their arsenal in an attempt to score a decisive TKO. Unfortunately for the talented but raw-as-a-freshly-shucked-ear-of-corn Lacy, Alisan (aka The Artist Formerly Known as Curly Sue) simply had more weapons at her disposal. That Patti LaBelle-requested elongation of “pretended to pray” and the explosive run on “Day-ay-ay” were bombastic, sure, but also gorgeous. I just wish someone on Xtina’s style team had nixed the giant hat that obstructed viewers’ view of Alisan’s eyes. And while Lacy was clearly second best here, I was kinda stoked to see her stolen. If Blake sends her in a rockier direction, she could find herself as a Top 10 player.
Shown in Montage
Team Pharrell: Moushumi defeats Jonathan Hutcherson
Team Blake: Angie Keilhauer defeats Teresa Guidry
Team Adam: Katherine Ho defeats Lily Green