‘The Voice’: 50 Cent & Adam Levine Premiere “My Life,” Cassadee Pope Covers Michelle Branch
Well, someone woke up on the wrong side of Dez Duron on Monday (November 26) morning! Cross-armed and fussy faced, Christina Aguilera looked like she wanted to be just about anywhere than in her red chair on The Voice. You would think the ’80s biker chick/spray tan Barbie look she chose for the evening would put her in a good mood, but she was just not having any of it. Except Dez, of course. Her golden child can do no wrong.
Perhaps it’s because Ms. Aguilera has just one last performer in the final eight on this, her last season of The Voice? Whatever the reason, she was very critical when members from Adam Levine, Blake Shelton or Cee Lo’s teams performed. We can only imagine the perma-pout she’ll be donning should dear Dez be eliminated before the finals!
Before the final eight hit the stage, 50 Cent kicked off the night with the world premiere of the Adam Levine-featuring “My Life,” from his LP Street King Immortal. The performance had the censors going on overdrive, but what wasn’t muted out sounded solid. A tough act to follow, no doubt, for the eight contestants:
Team Adam: Amanda Brown When we hear that Amanda will be performing Adele‘s “Someone Like You,” we’re quick to doubt her judgement (and to get some tissues for the emotional fallout). Amanda is phenomenal, but no one wants to be on the other side of “who sung it best” with Adele. Thankfully, Adam suggests Amanda gives it her signature rock edge, which transforms the song from a Ben & Jerry’s sob fest to Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know” tire slashing. Although it doesn’t quite reach the level of her “Dream On” performance (can anything, really?), Amanda shines and stays true to her voice. Her proud coach says she “knocked it out of the park.”
Team Cee Lo: Cody Belew Cee Lo chooses Queen’s “Somebody to Love” for Cody to perform, which is great, because Freddie Mercury is one of Cody’s idols. We’re pretty sure that this particular people-pleaser would say that about anyone his coach suggests (“‘The Sign?’ Sure! My love of music comes from Ace of Base”), but we’ll go with it. Cody hits the notes well, yet the performance lacks his typical bam-bam-tastic strut. Even when he’s dancing on the piano, it feels a little too much like a scene from Glee. Standing out in this performance, however, is the backup choir, who should start following Cody around wherever he goes.
Breaking from competition for a moment, a cross-team group performs “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects. Cassadee Pope, Melanie Martinez, Dez Duron and Terry McDermott are responsible for this number, and frankly, it’s just awful. Perhaps the participants in this travesty spent more time on their own numbers for the week? Whatever the excuse, it can’t end soon enough.
Team Blake: Terry McDermott Our wishes have been answered: Blake makes Terry move away from classic rock for the night! Or Terry himself makes the decision. It’s really unclear who takes the credit for choosing Mr. Shelton’s “Over” (yeah — we have an idea too), but we’re pretty psyched to see Terry take on a country song. It’s in a lower register than he’s used to, but the song has never sounded better. Adam praises Terry/knocks Blake, saying, “So that’s what that song’s supposed to sound like!” All jest aside, there’s a truth to that. Blake concurs, adding, “You just became the real deal.”
Team Adam: Melanie Martinez Inspired by a current breakup, Melanie Martinez performs Alex Clare’s “Too Close.” Her breathy, low-intensity performance inspires a host of compliments from the coaches — only none have to do with her voice. “I hope whatever guy you’re breaking up with was watching this,” says Carson Daly, awkwardly. “I’m sure he feels like an idiot right now,” Adam agrees. “I’m so glad you brought the tambourine back,” says Blake. “That set was so cute!” gushes Christina, who follows it up with this: “It didn’t really go anywhere, but it was my favorite performance by you.” Cee Lo also likes the stage. Sure, the front porch set was adorable, but Melanie should probably be worried that it was the most memorable part of her performance.
Team Christina: Dez Duron We’ll give it to Christina’s lone team member: the man knows his audience. Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” does little to showcase (handsome) Dez Duron’s vocal talents, but does so much to further ingratiate himself with throngs of young female voters. The largely female live audience eats it up, as heard through the prolonged screaming after Duron’s performance. Although Cee Lo notes, “It’s not your best,” his critique is barely heard over the echoes of screams for The Voice’s Teen Angel.
Team Cee Lo: Trevin Hunte Trevin Hunte is vocally flawless, and never needs too much advice from his coach where hitting the notes is concerned. The point when Cee Lo might want to jump in, however, is teaching Trevin to be just a little less earnest. Not jaded, mind you, but just a little more aware that having emotional ties to songs like “The Greatest Love Of All” may be perceived by many as being corny. Not having taken said self-awareness classes, Trevin dives head first into the Whitney Houston classic. The emotion just oozes from him — specifically from his pores — as he profusely sweats during the soaring high notes. It’s vocal perfection, but just so corny. This inspires Cee Lo to ramble on about music being the soul of the world and blah blah blah, leading us to wonder where the jaded Cee Lo that sings “F**k You” is hiding.
In a more palatable group performance, Amanda Brown, Cody Belew, Nicholas David and Trevin Hunte perform Journey’s “Any Way You Want It.” There is onstage chemistry, everyone attacks the song with energy and it actually works. Somewhere off stage, Terry McDermott is certainly borderline homicidal that he was left out of a classic rock performance. And Journey, guys? Are you just trying to hurt him?
Team Cee Lo: Nicholas David Holy Buckets: it’s Bill Withers! The soul icon joins Cee Lo to coach Nicholas before his performance of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Nicholas is beside himself with awe, and listens to Withers’ advice: “Be yourself, but don’t go crazy.” Hopefully, keeping that long beard falls in the “be yourself” category, because Nicholas reveals he is growing it out until his pregnant wife gives birth. So endearing — and so weird, just like Nicholas! On stage, he nails the classic, and earns high praises from the judges. Adam says “I’m just going to be a fan of yours forever.”
Team Blake: Cassadee Pope After hitting #1 on iTunes last week, Cassadee scores the prime show-closing spot. She moves back toward rocker chick mode, despite her previous success with a country song, by tackling “Are You Happy Now?” by Michelle Branch. Cassadee sings it with a fiery intensity — so much so that a wind machine is brought out, and excessively blows her long locks throughout the performance. Kitschy stage effects aside, it’s another strong performance for Cassadee. The ever-eloquent Blake tells her, “You just sung the crap out of that song.”
Tuesday night we’ll find out which six will go on to the next round, but not before a special performance by the Muppets. Cee Lo’s holiday song pals will join him on stage, and we’re placing bets now as to which Muppet is most closely reflected in Cee Lo’s wardrobe. Our money’s on Gonzo.