Though NBC did not advertise it, Tuesday’s episode of The Voice was certainly a theme night: Only Yount’uns Need Apply. Whereas Monday’s episode had contestants in their 20s, 30s and (gasp) 40s, only the teens and young twentysomethings made it to the televised performances during Tuesday’s Battle Rounds. Ignoring the fact that this had us feeling ancient, it was fun to see the kids playing with one another, and impressing coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton along the way.
The steals are running out, Xtina’s skin is getting progressively more orange and the risk of another “Conga”-esque song choice is looming, and so the tension grows stronger each evening. As mentor Michael Buble dramatically put it, “You’re fighting for your life!” Though he might have The Voice confused with The Hunger Games, it’s clear that the stakes are high as the Battle Rounds continue.
Team Blake, Bout 6: Liz Davis vs. Nicole Johnson
In the first battle of the evening, Blake pairs country superstar hopefuls Liz Davis and Nicole Johnson against each other to perform Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim.” Everyone involved certainly has a jolly old time jokingly asking Blake how he knows Miranda (if you’re not in on the hilarious joke: it’s his wife). Regardless, the pressure is on for both performers to represent the boss’ better half on the stage.
Both Liz and Nicole are from Nashville, but we can tell by the attitude they have as they take the stage that they will not be saying hello if they ever run into each other in the local Starbucks (where, realistically, one of them may soon be working). They both perform “Baggage Claim” well, but incredibly safe. Neither stand out as a clear winner. Blake chooses Liz, with the weak reasoning that she never lost her breath during the song. This leads for an awkward plea from Nicole for a steal, an even more awkward backstage tearful breakdown, and the most awkward-y awkward surprise when Blake comes backstage mid-breakdown because he didn’t get his goodbye hug. We are begging for a commercial break by the end of this situation.
Team Adam, Bout 4: Alessandra Guercio vs. Kayla Nevarez
Adam pits pop singers Alessandra Guercio and Kayla Nevarez against one another, singing Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.” Having trained at the Fame high school, Alessandra sounds well-trained, but stiff, and has trouble loosening up during rehearsals. Kayla projects ease and confidence in her voice. She does, however, have a deer-in-headlights thing going on with her stage presence.
The coaches all identify an insecurity in Alessandra’s voice that does not match the self-confidence it took to put those gold pants on. They don’t, however, notice the clear pitch problems in Kayla’s voice, and Adam adds Kayla to his team. Christina then declares “we are beautiful, no matter what they say” (in so many words), and comes in with an unexpected steal. (Unless you heard Alessandra’s pop star voice and realized Christina had both of her steals left. Then it was totally expected.)
The Un-Televised/Who Cares? Bouts: Cee Lo’s Ben Taub vs Mycle Wastman, Adam’s Adona Duru vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson and Christina’s Laura Vivas vs. Beat Frequency
Cee Lo puts Ben Taub (who we have never seen and never will) against Mycle Wastman, who had both a televised performance and three judges endorse him during his Blind Audition. Mycle obviously wins. In a similar bout, Adona Duru, who’s audition performance also did not make the cut, faces off against Michelle Brooks-Thompson, who earned a three-judge spin before choosing Adam. Michelle easily moves on to the knockout round.
The battle that actually had us guessing was Laura Vivas (who we have yet to see) against Beat Frequency, that awkward husband/wife duet that performed Katy Perry and Kanye West’s “E.T.” during the Blind Auditions. Although Laura is stranger to us, we’re already up on Beat Frequency (and their 90’s-inspired band title), and knew they had to go. And so Laura makes it to the knockout round, where we’ll watch her perform for the first time.
Team Cee Lo, Bout 6: Emily Earle vs. MacKenzie Bourg
Oh mah god. We have an actual modern day Matchbox Twenty fan. More realistically, we have a Michael Lohan-style parent backstage taking bribes from Rob Thomas, Starbucks and Cee Lo before scripting his son’s rehearsal. Either way, MacKenzie Bourg declares that Thomas’ band was his inspiration to start a singing career as he begins rehearsals against wildcard Emily Earle in the final bout of the week — even though he was 3 when the band was relevant.
Cee Lo selects Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Good Time,” an odd choice for two indie-sounding performers. MacKenzie struggles with stage presence without his guitar, and is given no real sound advice when he earnestly asks Cee Lo and Rob Thomas what to do with his hands. Unfortunately, he takes their silence as “fist bump and jump,” making for an uncomfortable performance.
Despite their awkward dynamic, MacKenzie’s voice shines through, and he’s the clear victor. Backstage, MacKenzie’s dad reminds us all (again) that his son almost died, which we’re sure is very serious, but loses its luster each and every time Mr. Bourg brings it up. Which is — and we expect will continue to be — very often.
The Battle Rounds open up to the remaining performers (of all ages) next week, when the Knockout Round teams will be finalized. Mini-Gaga Chevonne, Hey Monday’s Cassadee Pope, soul singer Brandon Mahone, former Disney performer Jordan Pruitt and so many other bright-eyed hopefuls will take the stage when The Voice continues.