Unlike last week’s Battle Rounds — where we saw plenty of like against like — Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice (aka Day Two of Battle Rounds) found disparate singers engaging in head-to-head duels to get to the finals. The one common thread for everyone, though? Nighttime rehearsals in that semi-creepy brick warehouse space! (Seriously, how come that building exterior gets as much airtime as Sia and Reba?) But enough larkin’ about on subjects that matter not! Let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from most- to least-promising winner — and assess the contestants’ chances as they head to the final 16.
Team Adam: Javier Colon d. Angela Wolff (pictured)
You knew Angela was in trouble the minute she
showed up wearing that ridiculous violet-rope headband openly admitted she was matched up against “probably the best singer in this entire competition,” and Carson Daly’s pre-performance depiction of Javier as “the humble family man at a career crossroads” pretty much sealed the deal. Angela spent the bulk of the duet grinning at Javier as if she was a fan he’d pulled up from the audience to sing a couple lines of the chorus, and it wasn’t hard to see why: Javier’s got a powerful, buttery voice that had even Blake Shelton swooning. Still, I still appreciated seeing Adam work with Javier to dial back on the vocal acrobatics for his rendition of “Stand By Me.” Nobody wants an aggressive case of the runs, right? (Battle embedded below!)
Team Xtina: Beverly McClellan d. Justin Grennan
In one of the night’s two cases of a judge zigging where I expected a zag, Xtina not only chose the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” for her bald-headed rocker chick and her everyman tenor (“you look like the guy who works at my bank,” said Blake), but she pretty much slayed it when she gave it a test drive during her mentoring session. (Not that “Fighter” didn’t prove Xtina’s rocker chops, but it was still a a nice reminder.) Not only that, but the show’s sole female judge had good advice for her singers during their rehearsal, telling Beverly to watch out for crossing from confidence into cockiness with her physical presence, and telling Justin not to go for the glory notes too early in the performance — even admitting her own tendency to do the same. When it was done, I felt like I’d enjoyed the sum of the parts a little more than the individual vocals, but I’m kind of excited to see how or if an older contestant like Beverly can grow once the live performance rounds begin.
Team Blake: Jared Blake d. Elenowen
I loved the way Blake Shelton threw his pretty country duo and gruff rocker dad a curveball by assigning them a sunshine-y R&B ditty made famous by Marvin Gaye, and later by Diana Ross. Sure, mashing up disparate flavors can sometimes lead to disaster, but in the right hands, this method can also yield fantastic results. Jared seemed to really take Reba McEntire’s fine advice to never stop performing to his audience — even when Elenowen was handling lead vocals. Yeah, the dude had a few corny moves in his repertoire — like dipping low and reaching downward with his arm on “ain’t no valley low enough” — but as Adam pointed out, the guy might’ve been a little lost without his guitar. On a vocal level, though, it was no contest, as Jared brought more soul, more uniqueness, and more sheer volume than the wispy hubby-wifey team he was up against. I didn’t really dig Jared’s initial audition, but dude might make a fan of me if he sheds that heinous kerchief-bandana getup.
Team Cee Lo: Nakia d. Tje Austin
I got a real kick out of Cee Lo praising his combatants for becoming “extensions of my good taste,” but hey, dude had a point! Nakia and Tje both showed solid vocal control and pitch on a song that I’ve never been particularly fond of, but I think Cee Lo made the right choice in the end, advancing the contestant with slightly more charisma, although not nearly as fabulous hair.
Anyhow, that’s my take on Day Two of Battle Rounds. What did you think? Who was your favorite performer of the night? And were there any judges’ decisions you disagreed with? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!