The Voice Recap: Battle Hymns [Updated]

melanie martinez caitlin michelleWhen Mary J. Blige is speaking, people had better listen. When the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul is wearing her Serious Lady Horn-Rimmed Glasses, and has to take a pause to collect her thoughts because an undiscovered teenage singer is just killing it, then you might have witnessed the eventual winner of Season 3 of The Voice.

Of course, while MJB was holleratin’ that Melanie Martinez’s voice had “so much depth,” the young photographer’s Battle Round opponent, Caitlin Michele, was showing off an equally impressive ability to breathe fresh life into a current radio hit. Their fantastic rehearsal led to a subsequent performance of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” that may not end up being the flashiest thing we see in Season 3, but as Xtina herself noted, could turn out to be the prettiest, and the most moving.

And that’s why, I suppose, I remain in fine spirits despite the unceremonious ouster of Bronx’s ridiculously amusing, uni-monkiered diva Domo — D to the O to the M to the O — a contestant disliked by most TVLine readers, but who somehow used her outsized self-confidence and brazen display of tenacity to win a place in my heart, if not my iPod.

“Now everybody on their feet! When I say ‘Dah,’ y’all say ‘Mo!'” “Dah!” “Mo!” “Dah!” “Mo!” No, seriously, you have to say it, or else I’m not finishing this recap. “Dah!” “Mo!” “Dah!” “Mo!” Whew, that felt good, didn’t it?

Actually, don’t answer that. Instead, let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner (not counting the wins by Rudy Parris over Charlie Rey, and Celica Westbrook over Lisa Scinta, where we only got a few seconds of information with which to judge):

Team Cee Lo: Cody Belew defeats Domo | Here’s your mathematical problem for the day: A daffy chica from the Bronx who boasts that she looks “like a pop-rock star but can sing like Mariah Carey” is pitted against the handsome son of a rodeo rider who plainly admits he doesn’t come from a lot of money, but is confident enough to joke that he’s not going to let his opponent “whip that ponytail in my face.” In rehearsals, Bronx girl spends a lot of time focusing on the look and the choreography of the performance, while small-town boy stresses that his rival has an edge, since coach Cee Lo goes to sleep at night thinking about hot chicks who like to rock sequined half shirts and humungous hoop earrings. If both singers give decent performance of “Telephone,” but lose the syncopation and pitch during the tricky Beyoncé verse, who will Cee Lo choose? The answer, of course, is Cody, and I’m okay with that, since he’s super entertaining and he executed his “slap Domo’s booty” moves to perfection. Alas, though, I’m bummed Xtina, Adam, and Blake passed on the chance to steal Domo, who might only be a legend in her own mind, but still possesses more raw talent than a lot of pop stars currently on the Billboard charts. D to the O to the M to the O, you will be missed!

Team Xtina: Aquile defeats Nathalie Hernandez | I thought the editors were prepping us for a Nathalie win, seeing how she got the “one of the youngest this season” edits. But the minute the pair began their performance of James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something,” it was abundantly clear that Xtina (who showed up to rehearsals in her Bret Michaels Halloween costume) had only one option: While Nathalie struggled to stay on pitch at the ends of nearly every other phrase, Aquile stalked the stage like a panther and slayed every note and ad-lib he attempted. The guy is legitimately good, even if his lack of a last name always strikes me as peculiar.

Team Adam: Melanie Martinez defeats Caitlin Michele (Caitlin stolen by Cee Lo Green…hail yes!) | I’m still sticking to my contention that Adam really needs to encourage Melanie to do something about THAT HAIR. I mean, the two-tone orange-and-black bangs (which line up perfectly with the gap in her tooth) are disconcerting enough, but when it’s topped off by a giant red bow, it’s like something out of a Tim Burton remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (as is skipping into the arena for your battle). Vocally, though, the kid is pretty staggering, with a little wisp of a voice that swoops and soars like a butterfly on a windy day. I loved the risks she took with the melody on “Lights,” and the way she brought Ellie Goulding’s lyrics to the forefront — as if I was hearing them for the first time. I just hope Adam’s selection of Melanie as the champ doesn’t diminish Caitlin’s position in the competition. Yeah, her inflections owe a lot to Florence Welch, but she dove so deep into the song I worried she’d hit her head on the bottom. Caitlin’s tone is rich and robust, and if it’s paired with some less ethereal song choices — never much of a problem when you’re dealing with new coach Cee Lo — she could go a long way in the competition.

Side note: I did love when Caitlin chose Cee Lo over Blake — the second time she’d passed over Mr. Shelton in the competition — our country judge responded with his usual brand of pitch-perfect self-deprecation. “She must really hate me,” he laughed. “Maybe I met her in the past and I was a real jackass to her.”

And with thay, I turn things over to you: Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s second Battle Rounds episode of Season 3? Were there any moments that made you cringe? Hit the comments with your thoughts!