The Voice is back this week, and with it comes more nail-biting, difficult decisions that each coach will have to make after watching two of their members duke it out for survival. Thankfully, I wasn’t terribly upset by the eliminations, and am beyond happy that two individuals were “stolen” after being unfairly dumped
into the gutter by their coaches. With that said, let’s dive into some review sessions on this third outing of the highly stressful — yet always entertaining — Battle Rounds…
Team Blake Round 4: Julio Cesar Castillo VS. Terisa Griffin “Conga” — First off, Blake should be ashamed of himself for asking his two potential superstars to sing Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” When has that song ever shown off a person’s vocal range or creativity? Never, ever! Clearly, Blake has not seen American Idol, where even the best of singers get weighed down by the song’s lyrical irrelevance and emotional vapidity. But what happens when a bad singer to begin tackles this song alongside a phenomenal singer whose astounding voice is utilized at its most unpleasant? Sheer and utter torture! This battle round may be the most ear-shattering, awful and inept performance I’ve ever witnessed on The Voice. Their harmonies were akin to the garbage disposal grinding on a stuck piece of silverware, and Julio made friends with every bad note to be found. Poor Terisa, she tried to do some vocal inflections to pepper the song with a bit of variety, but she was mostly relegated to screaming and making orca noises. In all honesty, I would have preferred a Jack Bauer interrogation. It’s a miracle that Terisa was saved by Cee Lo Green — the girl needs to be put on a team where performances are taken SERIOUSLY. I’m beyond thrilled Blake kept Julio on his team. Nobody wants spoiled goods, and I hope Blake plays back this Battle Round and notices how disastrous this plan of his was, not to mention how completely out of his league Julio is compared to the remarkable talent on the show.
Performance Reviews: Julio (zero stars), Terisa (*1/2). Winner: Julio, Stolen: Terisa (Team Cee Lo)
Check out this performance…that is, if you dare:
Team Christina Round 4: Dez Duron VS. Paulina “Just the Way You Are” — Truth be told, I really enjoy this Bruno Mars tune. I appreciate its simplicity, as it allows a listener to just hone in on someone’s pure and raw voice without distraction. Therefore, upon inspection I would agree that Dez’s tone — although not as interesting or individual-sounding as Paulina’s — is more consistent and ready to take on the big leagues. Even though Dez rushed through the lyrics at the beginning, he hit his high notes pretty impressively and properly balances that fine line between boy band singer and pop soloist. The break in Paulina’s voice is pretty, but I got the sense that she’s still unaware of her own vocal ability. I think she needs a few more years to discover her voice a bit more, discover its nuances and then be able to highlight those quirky features without them sounding so experimental. Dez could still improve, however — he needs to concentrate on keeping the rhythm in his voice going so it doesn’t become flat. Overall though, I thought these two were just alright, but I believe both could have surged even higher on this song.
Performance Reviews: Dez (***), Paulina (**1/2). Winner: Dez, Eliminated: Paulina.
Watch the battle below:
Team Adam Round 3: Benji VS. Sam James “You Give Love a Bad Name” — I’m a huge fan of Idol’s Blake Lewis, so for me it’s tough to see another singer — besides, of course, Bon Jovi — perform this song and do it real justice. Although most every coach aside from Adam loved Benji’s “exploration” and “screams,” I feel that staying true to one’s self is the most essential component to winning the battle round. It’s not necessarily playing it safe, but I think going too far and not really being able to stay in control, especially in a life-or-death situation like the Battle Rounds, is incredibly dangerous. The fact of the matter is that both men are probably the bottom rung of Team Adam — which, by the way, is at the top or near the top in comparison to the other teams — and I’m not sure their voices or stage presence are strong enough to withstand fierce competition for the duration of the season. Between the two, I agreed with Adam — I would have chosen Sam just because his voice not only suited the song better, but he also played to his strengths and showcased a subtle intensity. Benji’s performance may have been dynamic on paper, but to me it was a bit unfocused and showy. I’m not sure a Bon Jovi song needs to be taken to such a theatrical level unless the mood calls for it, and I doubt Adam wanted that type of spin on the song. Neither were good, but Sam’s consistency edged out Benji’s untamed delivery.
Performance Reviews: Benji (**1/2), Sam (**1/2). Winner: Sam, Eliminated: Benji
Do these two give this song a “bad name”? Find out below:
Team Cee Lo Round 4: Nicholas David VS. Todd Kessler “She’s Gone” — This pairing should not have occurred, as was evident when the two both sang very respectful versions of a Hall and Oates classic. Nicholas has a very unique voice, and I wouldn’t exactly call it baritone — more like deeply soulful. He definitely played around with the phrasing and used those verses to construct a mini-choreography for the way he performed on stage, which was fantastic to watch. Todd Kessler took a more straight-forward approach, but man…the dude can SANG. He hit each one of his notes with little-to-no effort, and milked the song of all its emotional pulp. My one problem with the performance as a whole was that it was too lightweight for the pair, too suitable to their styles, and I would have loved to have seen Cee Lo give them a track that really challenged their voices. I understand why Nicholas was chosen — that voice is a once-in-a-lifetime instrument for a coach to tinker with — but I’m a little bummed that this is the end of Kessler’s journey. It’s never fun seeing a gifted vocalist leave the competition so early, but alas that’s the name of the game.
Performance Reviews: Nicholas (***), Todd (***). Winner: Nicholas, Eliminated: Todd
Listen to the experienced vocalists below:
Team Blake Round 5: Lelia Broussard VS. Suzanna Choffel “Dog Days Are Over” — I was beginning to wonder if the episode was going to be a complete bust, but then these two beautiful songstresses came along. I’m a sucker for otherworldly singers, so when Lelia first began with that haunting and intergalactic voice of hers, I thought I was looking at a stunning new life form. Then, Suzanna emerged and took charge of the song all the way through. It’s tough, because Lelia on her own was near-perfect with every howl and intonation that she made, but she lacked the confidence and drive to really enforce her superior skills over Stevie Nicks sound-alike, Suzanna. It was clear when Suzanna made it to the chorus that she was dominating the song and never letting it go, not to anyone and least of all her competitor. The way her wails and high, free-spirited voice uplifted the song to such a spiritually fulfilling level was astonishing. Yes, Suzanna does sound very similar to the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman, but it only took a few bars into the song to notice just how dynamic Suzanna is. Jumping from low and soft to high and powerful within a moment’s notice was earful bliss. I actually prefer Suzanna’s take on “Dog Days Are Over” to the original version. Lelia’s departure is a hard one to stomach, but judging by her recording potential, I think she’ll be more than alright.
Performance Reviews: Lelia (***1/2), Suzanna (****). Winner: Suzanna, Eliminated: Lelia
Two amazing singers go voice-to-voice below:
Team Christina Round 5: Joselyn Rivera VS. Sylvia Yacoub “Best Thing I Never Had” — Way back when, I said Avery Wilson was going to be this year’s winner. While I still feel that way, if there’s a girl who could do some serious damage in this competition, it’s Joselyn. I underestimated her vocal power and star potential in the blind auditions, but the girl is just a pop star waiting to explode. She is sweet, with a big voice that stays in control and knows exactly how much to shove upon us without overwhelming listeners in the process. Yes, perhaps there were moments where her shyness took over, letting the vocally ferocious, albeit less consistent Sylvia Yacoub take command of the battle. Sylvia didn’t hit all her notes, and I actually witnessed more refinement from her as a singer in the blind auditions. Yet, Christina is never one to back away from vibrato, vocal runs and jazzy phrasing, so it was obvious that she’d declare Sylvia the winner. Sylvia definitely did her homework and stuck to a workable strategy, but Joselyn gave the more authentic performance for me. I think the girl is something special, and given more time could ride this out all the way to the end. I was so excited she was scooped up by Adam Levine. I hope he doesn’t let her slip through the cracks again.
Performance Reviews: Joselyn (***1/2), Sylvia (***). Winner: Sylvia, Stolen: Joselyn (Team Adam)
Could Joselyn be the front runner of the girls? Determine that for yourself:
Here’s how I rank each battle from last night:
1. Lelia Broussard VS. Suzanna Choffel
2. Joselyn Rivera VS. Sylvia Yacoub
3. Nicholas David VS. Todd Kessler
4. Dez Duron VS. Paulina
5. Benji VS. Sam James
6. Julio Cesar Castillo VS. Terisa Griffin
That’s it for the most recent episode of The Voice. Tune in tomorrow as I recap the remainder of the week’s Battle Rounds. Does everyone agree that Joselyn is a teen pop sensation waiting in the wings? Is Suzanna’s voice as mystically beautiful as I believe it to be, or am I crazy? And finally…how far will Julio end up going this season? Post your thoughts below in the comments section!