Monday was a night filled with battles, steals and questionable decisions on The Voice. Coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine followed their hearts all night, while Blake Shelton quietly thought of places to put his next Voice trophy during an unpredictable evening void of all logic and competitive strategy.
But let’s be real: it’s The Voice. Are you really tuning in for logic and competitive strategy?
Let’s hope not. Instead, kick back and enjoy the performances, Cher, and Xtina’s slow evolution into a skinny Oompa Loompa. Here’s our recap of the October 21 episode.
Team Christina — Josh Logan vs. Michael Lynch
Christina pairs soulful singers Josh Logan and Michael Lynch for her first battle of the night, selecting (vintage) Maroon 5’s ”Harder to Breath.” The two are initially quite stiff in rehearsals, and struggle with the vocals. Although Christina tries to break them out of their rigid stances, the song’s rapid-fire lyrics really throw them.
By performance night, fortunately, Josh and Michael have mastered the lyrics, and sort of try to move around (although Michael’s one move looks a lot like the “I need to pee” dance). Josh, who sounds just like Adam, is the clear standout.
“[The song] is really easy to screw it up,” says Adam. “It was really fun, and you guys did an amazing job.”
“Josh, you almost sound identical to [Adam],” Cee Lo says.
“You guys really stepped up to the plate and made it your own,” Christina says. After very minimal deliberation, she selects Josh.
Team Cee Lo — George Horga, Jr. vs Juhi
Cee Lo puts high school student Juhi against 20 year-old performer George Horga, Jr. Gavin DeGraw’s uptempo “Best I Ever Had” fits more with Juhi’s quirky vocal style, and she plays with the notes while George struggles to reach the higher register.
On performance night, George misses an early note quite badly. Even though he recovers and finishes the song strong, it’s a tough error to forget. Juhi is on point throughout, and tones down her tendency to overdo the ad lib. She is the clear victor, and earns rave reviews from the coaches.
“Juju is only 16 years old. That is outstanding!” Blake says.
“George, you had a bad note, but then rather than crumble and freak out, you sang really well after that,” Adam says.
“Juhi is 16 and very brilliant. She’s like a young Einstein of some sort,” says Cee Lo, referencing her interest in astrophysics as a backup career. “[George] came out here to make something happen for himself,” he notes.
Based on the fact that the 16 year-old Juhi has a backup career in mind, Cee Lo picks George, who’s sole dedication is to music. Everyone is shocked, especially George, Juhi, all the coaches, the audience and anyone with ears. Luckily, Adam doesn’t hold Juhi’s affinity for science against her, and steals the teen. “I kind of just won the lottery by grabbing you for my team,” he says.
Team Blake — Austin Jenckes vs. Brian Pounds
“They both have this edgy sound, but they also have the ability to be vulnerable,” Blake says of rocker Austin Jenckes and country singer Brian Pounds. The two sing The Bee Gees “To Love Somebody,” tapping into the Hank Williams, Jr. version and octave.
The real genius anytime Blake’s team performs is the coaching of Cher. She gives note after note, in this case telling Austin to choose his moments to go big, and urging Brian to get out of his head. The two take her advice, and perform more strongly because of it. Austin, in particular, rolls out his wow moments perfectly, impressing the coaches.
“Each one of you had some really great moments,” says Christina, noting that she connected with Austin’s performance more.
“What Austin did with the song probably put him at an advantage for this particular song,” Adam agrees.
“The way Austin connected with it, he left his heart laying out there on the stage,” says Blake, advancing Austin to the Knockout Round.
Team Adam — James Irwin vs. Matt Cermanski
Adam pits one comeback kid against another, in the battle of the two returners. This season is the second time around for both James Irwin and Matt Cermanski, so whoever’s dreams get crushed will have some experience with it from past auditions.
Adam chooses a song by the team mentor, Ryan Tedder. James and Matt sing One Republic’s “Counting Stars,” and the two get some advice from Ryan Tedder on how to sound more like Ryan Tedder (this is not a “make it your own,” sort of deal).
The performance is mediocre overall, but the audience gets into the high energy. Matt hits high notes that he was doubting in the rehearsals, and James’s vocals are mostly strong other than a few pitch issues on high notes.
“Matt, I think you have a bigger voice in the upper registers, but I think that James has the better pitch,” Blake says.
“James, you started it strong, but Matt you ended it strongest,” Christina says.
“It was a flawed performance, I’m not going to lie,” Adam admits. “I think you both have work to do regardless of who moves forward.”
Adam picks James to move forward with him, and sends Matt to move forward on his own.
Team Christina — Destinee Quinn vs Lina Gaudenzi
Up next for Team Christina is country singer Destinee Quinn and rocker Lina Gaudenzi. Noting that the two typically “bring a soft sensibility to a song,” Christina works to bring them out of their comfort zone with an angrier performance of the Dixie Chicks‘ “Not Ready To Make Nice.”
“You’re gonna kick a little ass this time around,” she says.
While Lina has more confidence and ad libs quite a bit, both gals struggle connecting with the song. Luckily, Legendtina is there to show them how it’s done! Angry face lessons! During the big performance, Destinee successfully mimics her coach’s emotional expressions, but Lina’s vocals blow her out of the water.
“Lina, you have a very strong and definitive voice,” says Cee Lo. “Destinee, I watched you live that song out loud, and it was wonderful.”
“I think that technically, there were problems.” Adam says (he is SO the new Critical Christina of the season!).
“I think overall Lina performed the song better from start to finish,” Blake says.
“I’m torn between emotion and range,” Christina says. “This is an equal win.”
Ultimately, wins can’t be equal (or they’d be called ties), so Christina selects the expressive face of Destinee over the voice of Lina. The decision would totally make sense if the show was called The Face. Capitalizing on a bad decision for the second time tonight, Adam jumps in to steal Lina!
Team Adam — James Wolpert vs. Will Champlin
The final performance of the night features James Wolpert — a four chair-turn earner — and rock legacy Will Champlin (father is Chicago’s Bill Champlin). The duo sings Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive,” which is great, because the song definitely hasn’t been overplayed for months straight, and certainly needs more publicity.
Will has pitch issues in his upper register, which Ryan Tedder tries to help him breath through. Ryan also helps James, warning him to use his vibrato sparingly. “Vibrato is both your best tool and your worst enemy,” he says.
The big performance is very physical, and both have worked through the issues they suffered in rehearsals. Will hits a few falsetto notes that seem to come out of nowhere, and has a far more dynamic performance than James. James, incidentally, wears business casual for the occasion, which turns out to work to his advantage.
“Will, there is no question that you had the most solid, consistent performance,” Christina says.
“James, I really like your style because it is so unassuming,” says Cee Lo. “For my own intrigue and amusement, I like James better.”
Their coach raves about both performances. “You both did an incredible job,” he said, noting how far Will has come from the Blind Auditions, and how nice James’s sweater is (seriously).
Adam picks James, and even James looks surprised. In fairness, it is a really nice sweater. Taking advantage of Adam’s bad decision, Christina steals Will at the very last moment. Tres explosive.
How did the coaches’ Battle Round decisions jive with you? Did it seem crazy-town, or is there something to the follow your heart style choices? With just one more night left to make bad decisions before the Knockout Round, Cee Lo — the sole coach to have saved a steal — is ready to swoop in when they happen.