Oh Cee Lo. You’ve actually outdone yourself this time. Wearing what we can only imagine (and hope) is leftover Halloween garb from last week, the flamboyant Voice coach manages to outshine even the shiniest of stage lights that the show has brought out to plus-up the live shows. Wearing a puffy shirt, heels and a voluminous Jheri curl wig, Cee Lo gives us an idea what Rick James would look like while trick-or-treating as an overweight pirate. Without having even one contestant on stage, Green is the star of the coaches’ table — which surely has Christina Aguilera plotting her next technicolor hairdo.
It’s night one of the Live Rounds, and the six contestants from Team Blake Shelton and the six contestants from Team Adam Levine take the stage to win viewers’ votes for the first time. The 12 hopefuls kick off the night with a performance of Boston‘s “Piece of Mind,” and make it clear that the ladies took strutting classes in their time off.
Team Adam: Joselyn Rivera
Joselyn Rivera chooses Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart A Break” to showcase her range. She accomplishes that, and manages to narrowly avoid a tumble out of her stilettos just after descending the stairs (or the stutter step was a poorly executed dance move: we’ll never know). She sounds a little shaky and green during such a large performance, but earns praises from the judges. Blake tells Joselyn, “You always deliver…you just look good on a big stage.”
Team Blake: Terry McDermott
No, everyone, the show’s not over yet — we’re just on the second performer! Don’t let the fact that Scottish rocker Terry McDermott is singing the ultimate closing-time song (other than, you know, “Closing Time”) make you grab your last drink. Blake chooses Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” for his team member because he think Terry is “making classic rock cool again.” He hits the notes and makes it sound effortless, but at the end of the day, he’s performing the tune that makes every drunk girl in America scream “that’s my song!” before throwing up on the cab ride home. Song choice aside, Terry’s simply talented. Blake clearly does not share our reservations. He praises Terry, telling him, “When God was passing out the ability to rock, he gave Terry just a little bit more.” Amen?
Team Adam: Melanie Martinez
We like Melanie. We do. But there comes a point where the whole coy stage presence needs to give way to a moment of vocal wow. Her performance of “Hit the Road Jack” is fun and quirky, as usual, but just doesn’t get to that powerful moment for us. Although Adam notes in rehearsals “she could be a real frontrunner in the whole thing,” she’s going to need to do a little bit more in the next round (if she makes it) to convince us. The performance does manage to bring out a historically awkward compliment from Carson Daly, who tells Melanie, “You are so much cuter than Ray Charles.” And you, Carson, are so much taller than Ryan Seacrest. But let’s stick to success-relevant feedback in the future.
Team Blake: Liz Davis
Blake’s only remaining country singer — you read that right — takes the stage to perform Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” Her vocals are solid, though there’s an emotional connection lacking from her. Liz earns praise from all the coaches, including Cee Lo, who says, “It made me proud to be an American.” Blake tells her, “You are the right country artist to bring into the live rounds.” Compared to some other performers on Blake’s team, Liz is good-not-great, and we may be soon looking at a world where Blake Shelton’s team is without country singers. Further proof that 2012 is probably the end of the world.
Team Blake: Cassadee Pope
Cassadee Pope hesitates before deciding to sing Avril Lavigne’s “My Happy Ending,” because she’s afraid America only knows her as a pop-punk singer. Blake advises her to decide what kind of singer she wants to be, and just go with it. Cassadee gives a solid performance, but her sweet vocal breaks soften up any punk that may have existed in the song. Oh, and the poor girl hits herself with the microphone, which probably could have gone unnoticed if she didn’t announce it after her performance. Adam tells Cassadee, “I’m waiting to see who Cassadee Pope is.” Blake, however, is sold that he’s got the next Avril, so America will have to be the tie-breaking vote.
Team Adam: Brian Keith
We’re starting to think that Brian Keith’s black fedora is his security blanket accessory. Much like Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson’s manicured goatee, if he doesn’t change it up soon, he’s going to be unidentifiable without it. Ditch the hat, Brian — you don’t need it’s magical powers to be a star. Anyway, fedora on head, Brian performs “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls. He really does smolder during his performance, but the medium-paced low verses drag on a bit in between an impressive chorus of soaring high notes. Not the best performance of the night, but the crowd seems to like him enough, so he may just advance to the next round.
Team Blake: Michaela Paige
Michaela Paige is coming into her own as a performer, and any hesitation she started with is long gone. She takes the stage belting Neon Trees‘ “Everybody Talks” and works the crowd better than anyone we’ve seen thus far. Michaela Paige, in no uncertain terms, rocks. Carson awkwardly praises her after her performance: “Good job, fellow radio DJ.” (Okay, done with the compliments tonight, Carson.) Adam tells her, “This is your best performance at the most important time.” Blake still has an adorable coach-crush on Michaela. He fawns over her talent more than country girl Liz Davis, and it gets to us as much as a photo of a dog snuggling with a cat. He even playfully teases her with “you’re the only person here whose hairdo rivals Cee Lo.” We’re sure he means it with love.
Team Blake: Julio Cesar Castillo
Julio goes back to his Mariachi roots for the first live performance. He sings Jose Alfredo Jiminez‘s “El Rey,” which puts Blake beside himself with worry in the rehearsals. He is very concerned that America is not going to understand the Spanish lyrics, to the point that we’re surprised he didn’t suggest a translator. What requires no translation is Julio’s powerful, passionate voice. Blake puts his doubts aside and gives Julio a standing ovation. Whether the language becomes a barrier with voters remains to be seen, but the live audience goes wild and chants for Julio. Once they calm down, Christina tells Julio, “I know you made all the Latino people out there so proud.”
Team Adam: Loren Allred
Wedding singer Loren Allred performs Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around the World,” and it’s a total snooze fest capped off with a creepy perma-smile. She’s technically fine, and gives a powerful last note, but it’s the “let’s just check what else is on” performance of the night. It’s a disappointing turn from what coach Adam awarded “Most Improved Battle Round,” and we don’t see her getting much further. If you need a wedding singer next week, there’s a good chance Loren’s schedule is freeing up. We kid, we kid — a DJ
would be much better.
Team Adam: Amanda Brown
Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is an ambitious choice for Amanda Brown, and one that could go terribly, terribly wrong. She has a badass swagger throughout the song, and has Adam (and, okay, us) playing air drums from the start. Nevertheless, we’re on pins and needles to see how she handles the ending, as typically wailed by Steven Tyler. As it turns out, she handles it like a rock star, and strikes an impossibly high note with simultaneous control and aggression. Wow. Carson confirms that the crowd is the loudest it has been all night after the performance. Adam praises Amanda, calling her performance “the actual best performance of the night,” and it’s hard to disagree with that.
The Voice takes a break tonight to give America time to watch coverage of that other vote, and returns with more live performances on Wednesday. Until then, which performers from tonight won your approval?