Here are my first reaction thoughts to tonight’s The Voice Battle Round!
I made my first notes listening totally blind, although tonight it was easy to tell the voices apart. I then went back for a single watch before picking my victor. I didn’t peek at the judges picks until after I made my own.
Here we go! The rankings I list are based on my original team breakdowns from last week.
Team Cee Lo: Tje Austin (#4) against Nakia (#6) on “Closer”
In my original breakdown of Cee Lo’s team I said Tje had a lot of raw awesome, while Nakia was a sweetheart and a showman, but not the best singer.
Tje starts the song. He has a very stunning voice. He’s a beautiful singer, but maybe could firm up his diaphragmatic support a little to clean up the ends of his phrases. I feel like he goes a little astray, and you have to stick the landing!
He sounds fine on his higher “I just can’t stop” lines. Why? Because when he’s belting like that he can’t afford to waste any support. He needs to bring that firm, muscular push to all of the parts of his range. In the section before the outro I felt as though he was yelling a little, but not too objectionably.
Nakia is soulful and fun to watch, without a doubt – definitely one of the best performers on the show! But if we’re talking about pure vocals, from the first line he’s on shaky ground. He dredges up that Joe Cocker rasp at the start and end of every phrase, but there has to be some notes in the middle! He can hit them, but the singing is getting lost in the performance.
Nakia is at his best when the song calms down in the middle, starting with his supporting harmony beneath Tje and through his “No, no, no!” But even there Tje bests him, hinting at classic Michael Jackson.
From there forward it’s a mess for Nakia, while Tje only gets stronger through the final line. I love that he goes from a mellow Bruno Mars all the way up to a worked up Marvin Gaye. With a little more finesse he’s one of the few that could give Javier a serious challenge. (That is, if he can get past Vicci.)
Cee Lo Picked: Nakia
What this means: First, that Cee Lo is a moron. Nakia is a cool interpreter, but he is not the voice. Second, I doubt Vicci will have any problems heading to the finals for team Cee Lo.
Team Blake: Jared Blake (#5) v. Elowen (#8) on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
First of all this is one of the best songs of all time – props to Blake for picking a classic suitable for multiple voices. Second of all, I wanted to kick out all three people in this hot mess before the round even started, so I’m not going in with a lot of positive feelings.
Jared is throaty and – let’s admit it – a little Nicklebackish. But if we admit that, we must also admit he kept his vocals tuneful and in check. He’s actually really likeable and charismatic here. I don’t think he did anything objectively wrong in the entire song.
Elowen… not so much. The male vocals were inspecific and warbly – not much better than me, and I’m not The Voice! The female vocals sounded great at the tops of harmonies, but she completely blew her one solo line – you can see it on Reba’s face!
Elowen got picked on novelty, and I disliked them for it, but I really thought they stood a chance. However, Jared’s experience blows them out of the water here. Without a guitar in hand he turned into an incredible front man.
Blake Picked: Jared
What this means: Almost nothing. Jared will never best Patrick, and many of the women left for Blake to pick can probably slip past him as well.
Team Adam: Javier Colon (#1) v. Angela Wolff (#4) on “Stand By Me”
Adam blew it by not using Angela last week so she could wind up in his final four. Should poor Angela have even bothered to sing against the breakout star of the show so far? Javier would have to fall dead on stage for her to win this, right?
I can’t credibly make any critiques of Javier. Maybe he let a bit too much melismatic tremble into his voice at points, but he is a brilliant technician and a clear performer. The run on “cry”?! What a voice.
Angela … was also brilliant. Her opening line was simply fantastic. Her high belting was tight and controlled throughout. I think she really only went astray on the “ou” in “mountains” and the last “darling.”
God, they were so cute together. Do we have to pick a winner? Can’t they just team up a la Elowen? I can’t possible decide based on tonight, though if we include the audition Javier has it.
Advantage: Tie! Tiebreak to Javier.
Adam picks: Javier
What this means: Adam’s other two picks will be Jeff and Rebecca. Devon might do well on his song against Rebecca, but Adam shouldn’t risk an ostensibly cute boy against the homlier (but better) Jeff.
Team Christina: Beverly McClellan (#4) v. Justin Grennan (#6) on “Baba O’Riley”
You have no idea how excited I am to see Beverly sing “Baba O’Riley.” Not only is it an amazing pick for her, but it means Christina is taking Beverly very seriously as a competitor even if she’s a little older than the average contestant. Meanwhile, Justin was a token boy for the team, and didn’t do much to prove himself in his teeny audition clip.
First verse – Justin struggled from the first line. It’s just too high for him, and he’s not this kind of rock belter. Beverly came in like a force of nature. She soundws like she’s been rehearsing this verse her entire life.
The harmony on the middle is perfection! Listen to how delicately Beverly hits that high stuff. And, Justin is no slouch with a delicate touch beneath her. If X-Tina wasn’t being a heartless bitch she would would have let him sing an entire verse like this. If this wasn’t such a pro-Beverly pick maybe we could have heard something more interesting from the pair of them.
On the final verse Justin seemsedto be getting on top of his high notes better than he did before, instead of coming at them from beneath. Meanwhile, Beverly was pushing a little too hard, her singing turning into wailing. Of course, this is a Who song, so that’s okay. The ending refrain is a hot mess. I can’t tell who blows the first harmony, but generally they don’t blend at that point in their ranges or performances. Justin’s already at his peak, and Beverly is too high on rock.
Christina Picked: Beverly
What this means: Christina will have a big ol’ wildcard spot left on her team after she snaps up Julia, and it could justifiably go to anyone other than the awful Lily Elise.
This week was lighter on the must buzzed-about contestants (Javier, and to a lesser extent Nakia), but it was full of solid matches that weren’t as puzzling as last week’s. Each judge is left with a clear roadmap for the next two rounds, unless they do something as stupid as Adam did last week or Cee Lo did this week.
So far I think the odds favor Javier on Adam’s team and Vicci on Cee Lo’s, with Patrick likely lasting to the end for Blake. I don’t think X-Tina has her champion yet – Frenchie will make a deep run, but I don’t think she’s destined to be our final winner.
I’ll be back in the coming days with a full recap of the episode!