The Battle Rounds continued on "The Voice" this Tuesday, and with the coaches continuing to make mostly reasonable decisions, there was little to debate or get too riled up about during the hour-long episode. The one gripe of the night? NBC's continuing lame decision to not show all of the battles in their entirety. So if you were a fan of Ben Taub, Adanna Duru, or (this is less likely) Beat Frequency...then sorry, you won't get to find out exactly what happened to those contestants this week.
But here's what else happened!
Liz, age 25, had TV experience on her side, having not only competed on but actually winning "P. Diddy's Starmaker" in 2009. Obviously that prize wasn't worth the Bad Boy record-contract paper it was printed on, so Liz decided to make the move from basic cable to prime time this year. Meanwhile, little 18-year-old Nicole, a newcomer to Nashville, was nipping at Liz's cowgirl-boot heels. (Wow, it was like a real-life episode of "Nashville" up in there!) Both ladies, regardless of age or experience, must've been mighty intimidated to sing "Baggage Claim," a signature song full of attitude that also happens to be by Blake Shelton's missus, a feisty filly named Miranda Lambert. But both of them were up for the task. When the two battled, Liz's professionalism was on full display and she looked more like a star, practically ready to share the Opry stage with the similarly blonde likes of Miranda, Carrie, and Taylor...but honestly, I enjoyed Nicole's sassy spirit just a little bit more. This was a tough call, and Blake agonized--or at least pretended to agonize for the cameras--before finally deciding that Liz's experience with breath control had given her the edge. Nicole left the stage in tears, and Blake, arguably "The Voice's" nicest judge, momentarily left his spinning red chair to console her backstage. But really, Nicole is young, and she may have other chances to take Nashville by storm. This might be Liz's last shot. I have a feeling that played into Blake's decision.
TEAM ADAM: Alessandra Guercio vs. Kayla Nevarez
Adam Levine's two 17-year-old pop girls (not as scandalous as that description sounds) both seemed like ripe poaching material for Christina Aguilera--the one coach who'd yet to use a Steal during the Battle Rounds, and also the coach who'd proudly declared her plan to "stick with what I know"--i.e., young pop girls. So going into this battle (of Katy Perry's not-easy-to-sing "Wide Awake"), I had a hunch that both contestants would ultimately be safe. Both of them were technically good singers, and Alessandra's rasp was cool, but I thought Kayla dug into the emotion of the breakup ballad's lyrics just a bit more and seemed more genuine. (You'd practically think Kayla was the one who'd married Russell Brand! Now that would be scandalous.) Alessandra just seemed detached--or, as Adam put it, too "trained." So Adam went with Kayla--no big surprise there. And, also unsurprisingly, Christina did steal Alessandra. (Really, Carson Daly was the only one who "didn't see that coming!" Yeah, right.) I'm not sure how Alessandra is going to stand out amid Team Xtina's army of almost interchangeable teens, but for now, she's still in the game.
STEAL: Alessandra moves to Team Xtina
TEAM CEE LO: Ben Taub vs. Mycle Wastman
TEAM ADAM: Adanna Duru vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson
TEAM XTINA: Beat Frequency vs. Laura Vivas
These were three other battles that, frustratingly, were not shown in full, but were relegated to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it montage. It was frustrating not to see more of Mycle, who'd been positioned as such a frontrunner with a big chunk of screentime during the Blind Auditions. It was frustrating to not watch what might have been an interesting showdown between 15-year-old newbie Adanna and married mother/bank teller Michelle. But you know what was most frustrating? Only getting a teensy snippet of the mind-boggling Beat Frequency. Oh, not because Beat Frequency were such great talents or anything--on the contrary, their first audition was horrific, and maybe well-meaning NBC editors were simply trying to spare viewers more aural agony. But I still think it would have been FANTASTIC television to see Beat Frequency get advice from Christina's guest mentor, Billie Joe Armstrong, on how to properly sing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." (I was already imagining Billie yelling at them that they had "ONE MINUTE LEFT!" Little did I know they only had about eight seconds left.) Someone please put that cutting-room-floor footage on NBC.com, like, now.
WINNERS: Mycle, Michelle, Laura
TEAM CEE LO: MacKenzie Bourg vs. Emily Earle
MacKenzie was one of my favorites of the Battle Rounds (and certainly my favorite male contestant overall), so I was pleased to see that he'd been pitted against Emily, a "fodder" contestant whose first audition was never even shown in full. But once I watched Emily in rehearsal, I realized she's a pretty cool chick and that she deserved way more screentime than she ever got. Plus, she had some badass Lindsey Pavao asymmetrical hair! Cee Lo Green definitely stacked the odds in MacKenzie's favor by giving this duo Owl City's "Good Time" (MacKenzie is very Owlish), but Emily embraced the song's girly Carly Rae Jepsen role with believable gusto and totally held her own. Still, MacKenzie's childlike pogo-jumping was just too adorable, and he won me over...even if all that hippity-hopping was probably the result of anxiousness because he wasn't playing his trusty guitar, as he normally does. (Also cute: MacKenzie's unabashed fanboying over Cee Lo's guest advisor, Rob Thomas. Aw.) Adam the hater found MacKenzie's unflappable energy "uncomfortable," but he probably hates the Snuggle Bear, Hello Kitty, and unicorns too. Blake also preferred Emily over MacKenzie...but Cee Lo, never one to care one whit about what anyone thinks, paid his fellow judges no mind and went with the kid who could actually win this thing: my boy, Mac The K. The bonus of all this? MacKenzie's dad, whose wild-eyed enthusiasm rivals that of Olympic gymnast Aly Reisman's parents, will get to stay in the audience for at least a few more weeks. Now, that'll be a good time!
So there you have it. Next week's Battle Rounds are sure to be more heated than this week's relatively drama-free episodes, considering that only two Steals--one for Team Blake, one for Team Xtina--remain in play. So the stakes will definitely be higher. Will the right contestants be chosen? Will the right ones be stolen? Tune in next Monday to find out.
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