The Voice Recap: The Battle Rounds Are Over!

karla davis orlando napierThe most frustrating portion of The Voice has finally (¡finally!) come to an end — and to celebrate, I’ve composed a little ditty to the tune of Florence + The Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”:

The Battle Rounds are over!
The Battle Rounds are done!
The Live Shows are coming!
Let’s vote, everyone!

Vote fast for Team Adam, vote fast for X-tina
Vote for Blake Shelton, ’cause you know he’s not a wiener
Cee-Lo’s white cat, it is purring beside you
Dude wears daytime pajamas and yes, sometimes he cries, too

The Battle Rounds are over!
The Battle Rounds are done!
The Live Shows are coming!
We all must succumb!

Alas, though, Week 4 of the “boxing ring” matchups proved a wee bit lackluster, with several faceoffs coming down to a case of “who missed fewer notes” rather than “who rocked the coaches’ faces off.” Let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner:

Team Xtina: Moses Stone d. The Line
It definitely wasn’t a case of “saved the best for last” on Team Xtina. In fact, it felt more like Xtina woke up from her siesta and asked, “Why are there a country duo and a questionable emcee in my ridiculous boudoir?” Both artists looked headed for trouble from the start: The Line after its female half huffed that she’d wanted to sing something “more country” than the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and Moses after it became clear he’d be singing, not rapping, for the bulk of the song. And yet while Moses’ vocals may be as common as dryer lint, at least he seemed eager to take his mentors’ advice. The Line pretty much ignored Xtina’s instructions to work the stage, spending most of their performance stiffly bobbing on the sidelines like kids at the start of a school dance. But every team needs its cannon fodder heading into the live shows, I suppose.

Team Blake: Naia Kete d. Jordan Rager
Blake himself conceded that there “were a lot of pitch problems” from both Naia and Jordan on their cover of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” but I suppose that Naia’s attempts to get into the groove and take some risks with the melody trumped Jordan’s white-bread (hold the butter) delivery. The problem is, though, it’s not enough to have a sweet tone or quirky phrasing if you don’t have enough breath control to finish your lines, which is why at this point Naia is coming across like a less promising Dia Frampton. I know the Battle Rounds are done and there’s no looking back, but can you imagine what might’ve been had Blake paired Jordan with gone-but-not-forgotten Gwen Sebastian, and sacrificed Naia on the altar of Erin Willett? To quote Mr. Shelton himself, “I’m tryin’ not to throw up right now” thinking what might’ve been.

Team Cee Lo: Tony Vincent d. Justin Hopkins
The evening’s worst decision rewarded the expectant father with fingerless gloves, too much guyliner, and a questionable grasp on pitch over the bearded dad with an appealingly gruff voice and twice the emotional connection to Journey’s “Faithfully.” Seriously, how did this happen? To my ears, Tony started off behind the beat, and every time he went for a big note, his voice sounded surprisingly strained for a Broadway vet. Justin’s approach was so much more natural, so much more relaxed, that I actually gasped when Cee Lo started rambling about how he was drawn to Tony’s “enigmatic” nature and was handing the win to him. And here I was naively thinking this was about “the voice” and not about the whims of Cee Lo’s feline sidekick.

Team Cee Lo: James Massone d. Wade
Like Cee Lo, I was convinced by Wade’s audition (if not by the fact that he goes solely as “Wade”) that he had a chance to go far in the competition. Even in rehearsal, he seemed to be dominating Boston mechanic James Massone, he of the peculiar headband, customized varsity jacket, and cascading brunette mane. (Heck, the duet had Cee Lo in tears!) And to be honest, when James noted that “knowing we touched Cee Lo that way will stay with me the rest of my life,” I figured that was going to be part of his Voice consolation package. But there was something tentative about Wade’s delivery once they got to the boxing ring, like he’d just sustained a hard left hook and was still looking for his footing, that left an opening for his opponent to sieze the win just by hitting his notes and not disappearing into the “Soviet game show on steroids” backdrop.

Team Adam: Mathai d. Nicolle Galyon
I know, I know…the harmonies in this duet were like a rusted-out Dodge Dart sitting on concrete blocks in a rural backyard: Not particularly attractive and not going anywhere. But there were flashes of brilliance in Mathai’s rendition of Sara Bareilles “Love Song,” a sweetness to her tone that even had Alanis Morissette noting she was born to be a singer, and a natural way of delivering her lyrics that makes you feel like you’re hearing ’em for the very first time. She could be a contender if she gets her nerves in check. On the other hand, Nicolle, stripped of her piano, was about as memorable as a can of store-brand green beans. Although I do give her major props for declaring herself “Mathai’s No. 1 fan” just moments after her defeat.

Team Adam: Karla Davis d. Orlando Napier
I figured Karla didn’t have much of a chance in this matchup, seeing as how I barely remembered her audition, while Orlando had received the “went to jail/found redemption” edit from the get-go. And that’s why I found myself getting agitated as she started rehearsing with Adam and Alanis, showing off a rich, silky tone and a sublime delivery on the Commodores’ “Easy.” By the time Karla and Orlando got to the boxing ring, I’d managed to suppress my bubbling anger and made a decision to just enjoy Karla’s moment in the sun. But whaddaya know? The less-hyped singer prevailed in what turned out to be a pretty close matchup. Orlando, for his part, sounded overwrought in rehearsal, but Robin Thicke’s “focus on your vowels!” mentoring really seemed to help the blue-eyed soulster, winning over Cee Lo and Blake in the process. Xtina, for her part, seemed utterly bored by what I thought was the night’s most successful duet — but maybe she wanted “Easy” to sound more like “Eee-eee-zzz-zzz-aay-aay-aay-uhhh-uhh”? Whatever the case, it’s a bummer that Orlando — quite possibly the episode’s second-best singer — is already eliminated, while Moses Stone lives to gasp another day.

What did you think of the final week of Battle Rounds? Did you agree with the judges decisions? Are you ready for the live shows already? Sound off below!

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