The Voice Recap: Lost in Translation [Updated]

The Voice - Season 4 Battle RoundsI went into tonight’s installment of The Voice expecting newbie coach Usher to do something crazy: Use his last remaining ‘Steal’ on one of his own team members. Throw a Knockout Rounds-bound contestant back into the waters when a fresher catch swam by. Maybe even play his trump card and pull Justin Bieber out from beneath his coach’s chair — in much the same way Blake Shelton uses his ACM award — to lure a vocalist onto his team.

And my an-tici-pay-shun wasn’t based on a mere hunch: NBC’s promo department has been promising Major Knockout Round Drama from the “U Got It Bad” singer for a whole week now. (Wait: Congress didn’t go and pass some act making it legal for TV networks to make false promises to the audience, right?)

Perhaps even more disappointing, though, the final Battle Rounds telecast of Season 4 gave us a paltry trio of full performances — one of which found Shakira getting duped into thinking her most shark-eyed contestant is sweet as cotton candy. I mean, this chica couldn’t even be bothered to learn a Shakira song before her rehearsals — and she’s still weeks away from competing for America’s vote. (Shudder.)

Anyhow, enough kvetching, it’s time for me to weigh in on the night’s proceedings: I’ve ranked each individual battle from least- to most-promising winner, as I often do:

Team Shakira: Mary Miranda (booo!) defeats Cathia on Shakira’s “Antes de las Seis” (Usher steals Cathia) | Call me crazy, but I prefered Cathia both in terms of voice and attitude. The chick has a big, expressive instrument and didn’t seem to miss more than a note or two on the live stage. As for Mary, she carries just a whiff of entitlement that makes it impossible for me to connect. (That whole “I’m so young, therefore I didn’t have time to learn my Shakira song before rehearsals” bit really stuck in my craw, and her post-win tears seemed a bit too…theatrical?) So either I’m on to something, or I’m trying too hard to create a Season 4 villain to add some intrigue to this very sweet, kumbaya season. (It’s totally the former, methinks.)

Team Shakira: Shawna P. defeats Brandon Roush on Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” | I worry that, as the oldest contestant left in the competition, Shawna might turn out to be mere Knockout Rounds fodder. But if Shakira pushes the country-blues rocker into more current territory (think Jack Black, for one), I could envision her making a run at the finale similar to Season 1’s bawdy Beverly McClellan. Which would actually be kind cool. Brandon, for his part, just didn’t seem ready for prime time. And neither did his heinous red hat.

Team Adam: Sarah Simmons defeats Duncan Kamakana on Lady Antebellum’s “Wanted You More” | Sarah definitely has a lot of great gears in her voice — and I love that break that occurs when she really digs deep in her lower register — but it seems a little early for Blake to be labeling her as one of his favorite voices in his life, no? That said, she’s definitely a major Top 10 contender this season, though I suspect the competition will get stiffer than the striking but somewhat mushy-mouthed Mr. Kamakana.

Also advancing (but only shown in snippet): Michelle Chamuel over Chelsea M (Team Usher); Amy Whitcomb defeats Agina Alvarez (Team Adam); Justin Rivers defeats the Morgan Twins (Team Blake)

On that note, I turn things over to you: Who were your favorites from Night 4 of The Voice‘s Season 4 Battle Rounds? Were there any decisions with which you disagreed? Were you let down by the lack of Usher drama? And I’m not crazy about Mary coming off a little nefarious, right? Hit the comments with your thoughts!