How many weeks of these battle rounds do we have left? Is it too much to ask that this is the last week? No matter, this looks like another straightforward review with me headslapping, eye-rolling, and groaning all the way. Yes, I know I willingly torture myself, but I do it for you because no one else will.
Hmm, I really want a Starbucks. I wonder why that is? The coaches, sans Adam (he was probably at Coffee Bean) conveniently stand by a Starbucks, totally casual-like. I have no idea what they’re talking about because all I want is a caramel macchiato. Blake talks about getting a latte and turns around to say “Oh, hi Mr. Barista.”
The first pair of the night comes from Team Adam who pairs TSA worker Damian with single mother Kelli Douglas. I must have missed one hell of an audition episode because I had no idea Damian was a survivor of a TSA shooting. Kelli was the one who performed “Danny’s Song.” Sorry, Damian, I’m going with Kelli. Adam’s in the habit of calling Kelli only by her full name. Kelli tells Stevie her dad will be so excited to hear the two met. Stevie sounds so pleased to hear that. Adam gives them the “classic” song, “Knock on Wood.” This is one of several instances where the judges or Carson describe something as a “classic.” They’re an inch away from calling “Call Me Maybe” a classic sung by the “immortal”….what’s her face. Stevie makes an attempt to sing “Knock on Wood” and it sounds awful. Sorry, Stevie, but you’ve lost it. She wouldn’t get on The Voice at all at this point. Damian plays to the crowd with an intense grasp on the song. Sadly, Kelli’s nerves are taking over leaving weak notes and a few moments where she’s off-key. The worst part is she seems bored as hell performing. Pharrell says the performance took him back to the 1960s. Gwen has absolutely nothing to say about the performance, instead commenting on Kelli’s body and implying she should pass because she’s hot. Gwen Stefani is the worst Voice coach ever. I miss Christina Aguilera! Damien wins and I’m not surprised. Kelli was just too uncomfortable and I was rooting for her.
Gavin thinks he’s King Kong! I really wish we got some context to these introductions. Gwen has moved from reminding us the name of the show to telling us A) Gavin Rossdale was in a band once B) He knows music real good and C) He’s her husband and they spend a lot of time making out and having kids. After that disturbing divergence she pairs Jessie Pitts and Ryan Sill. In case you didn’t see the reminder above, Gwenn tells the contestants all the things about Gavin once more, including his full name – nee Stefani – and the band. Poor thing, she knows absolutely no one knows or cares who her guest is. She paired up Ryan and Jessie because one of them has a strong voice and the other’s is delicate. I’ll let you guess which is which. They perform Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris’ “I Need Your Love.” Gwen shows she possesses no sense of humor, believing that Jessie and Ryan are in love when they’re obviously joking. Look at her face; she thinks they’re serious and it’s awkward. The way Jessie says certain words while singing annoys me and it’s apparent she isn’t used to singing quick pop songs. Ryan uses the term “aca-bopping” in a sentence. Gwen and Gavin continue to dance in the most hipster way possible. The performance is mismatched, to say the least, with neither contestant harmonizing. Ryan takes the song in the right direction, but Jessie’s way too quiet, mentally reminding herself to speed up. These two feel miles apart; one’s on slo-mo and the others on fast-forward. Ryan takes the time to add runs, but Jessie struggles just to match pitch. This is easily the worst pairing I’ve seen. When the two hug I waited for Gwen to write wedding invitations. Pharrell and Blake dance around the issue, saying the song was better suited to Ryan. The only praise Adam gives to Jessie is about the song working for her because she and Ellie Goulding are girls. Gwen picks Ryan and keeps saying she’s crying but I’ve seen no visual representation of it. Blake does a last-minute steal leaving everyone, including Ryan in the wings, insanely happy. Jessie almost falls off the stage in happiness. As sweet as she is, unless she finds a way to sound dissimilar from her last two performances, she isn’t winning.
Next up, Pharrell pairs Blessing Offor with Katriz Trinidad. Blessing knows Alicia Keyes from hearing her voice and I wonder if we’d get the same recognition if he heard the other mentors? Pharrell gives them “Do I Do” by Stevie Wonder, one of many safe choices this week. Both singers sound amazing, but there’s no real dynamic or attempt at harmonizing, something Pharrell reminds them of. Blessing continues to make great observations: Due to his blindness, he can’t work the room like Katriz. When the battle begins Blessing is already on-stage. These are very unique circumstances, one of the benefits of having a disabled person in these shows, to make the show work for them in ways able-bodied people take for granted. Blessing tries to connect with the audience but is obviously tentative. Regardless, his voice is fantastic. Pharrell continues the “you get a verse, I get a verse” dynamic to his battles and Katriz sounds just as good as Blessing. Katriz also makes the attempt to connect with Blessing during the performance and I respect her for including him. Blessing enunciates every line compared to Katriz’s tendency to mumble during the rapid sequences. Gwen says Blessing’s voice is “rich and thick.” Go find Mr. Starbucks barista and get her a coffee! Pharrell picks Katriz and I’m very disappointed. Thankfully, Adam keeps my dreams of seeing a disabled person on this show alive. Adam name drops his wife during the pick-up attempt, but I’ll let that slide. Gwen shallowly pushes her button, but Blessing is smarter than that and picks Adam.
Adam next pairs Ethan Butler with Matt McAndrew, giving them Cold play’s “Yellow.” Based on Matt’s audition song (“A Thousand Years”) wedding songs are his jam. This is a routine performance with absolutely no fireworks. Both contestants channel Chris Martin and it’s a tender acoustic set. It’s hard putting much flair into a song that’s so overdone via covers. The only intriguing element is the way the two blend to create a choral sound. Blake brings that up, saying they’d make a great duo. Adam takes Matt.
We see Blake’s first pairing of the night. Am I the only one thinking every other judge has gotten there stuff out of the gate and Blake’s team has been marginalized during these rounds? He pairs Bree Fondacaro with Taylor Brashears. I remember Fondacaro, but Brashears, and her job in a food truck, ring no bells for me. Taylor’s impressed at seeing Little Big Town…glad someone is. Blake gives the girls Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” because it works for every genre of music. Bree has a smoky quality to her voice while Taylor is country, flat-out. Blake mentions both have issues controlling their breathing and reminds Taylor to be sexier…not sure how to take that. Before going on-stage Taylor says she doesn’t want to get back on the food truck. Who the hell does? During the performance I find myself struggling with Bree’s baby voice with everything sounding garbled or nasally. Taylor takes Blake’s advice and tries to stalk the stage, standing out more than Bree. Pharrell says Bree relied too much on the fact she can sing. Normally, I’d say “this is The Voice, Pharrell,” but in this case Bree just came off as lazy and uninspired. Gwen criticizes them on changing the melody of the song. Since we were forced to watch 30 seconds of Gwen’s new single she’s the last person to talk about melody. Carson defers to Oscar-style music to force Blake’s decision. Blake picks Taylor, saying he sees her as a return to traditional country music that the ladies of today aren’t doing. Was that an insult?
The night’s final pairing is DaNica Shirey and Toia Jones from Team Pharrell. He gives them Beyonce’s “Halo.” Toia finds the song overwhelming and Pharrell asks her where all the people who’ve doubted her are (a great moment). Both DaNica and Toia bond over each losing a father and this is an emotionally charged rehearsal; Pharrell and Keyes’ compassion feels genuine. Toia’s voice is engrossing and gives me chills. DaNica sounds wonderful, but Toia just attacks. Gwen says she’s astounded both women “can do that your voices.” Do you mean sing, Gwen? Must I give you the weekly reminder of where you are? Adam says the performance was “bonkers.” Pharrell takes DaNica! Bad call, Pharrell. Adam decides to steal Toia and Carson tells her to “meet your new coach” right before Gwen hit’s the button. Gwen’s shallow button-pushing notwithstanding, did Carson assume the show was over or just pushing the show to be over? Toia takes Adam. Gwen, there’s a reason no one wants to be on your team.