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Thoughts On The Voice: Sing-Off Part 2

May 17, 2011

The battle rounds continue! Two singers enter, one singer leaves, and there is not much else to say that wasn’t said last week.

  • See last week’s Voice post for an explanation of how it all works.
  • These rounds are set up to reward compliance. Since the coaches do the picking, mentoring and judging, the singers have a disincentive to take risks. Open voting in the audience a la America’s Funniest Home Videos would have been better.
  • Exactly what is the purpose of the “v-correspondent?”

Team Cee Lo (guest coach Monica)

Nakia vs. Tje Austin – “Closer”

As I said when this song came up on Idol a few weeks ago, this song can be challenging to sing competitively because of its vulnerability. Simply belting this song is missing the point. To do this song well is to be both a good singer and a good actor, as Cee Lo indicates during the coaching.

Tje’s tenor is thin and silky, so it’s naturally a better fit for this song. Early on it feels like the battle is his to lose. Nakia tries to make up for the rougher sound of his voice by turning up the emotion and going for deep-welled growls. He also stuck more of his notes. Both singers had good individual performances, but these guys do not sound good together! Yuck!

Winner: Nakia (Good for him! He tried harder.)

Team Blake (guest coach Reba McEntire)

Elenowen vs. Jared Blake – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

The newlywed couple has a special advantage, as he can be Marvin Gaye and she can be Tammi Terrell, and Jared knows it. Can he close the gap? Also, it’s weird to hear Blake try to falsetto. Stick you your drawl, dude.

Jared uses his grungy low range to the best of his ability, but he hams it up a lot with his arm movements (though as Adam points out, that may have been because he was missing his guitar.) At least he’s trying to play to the audience. Elenowen spend half the song facing each other. It’s cute and sweet and they sing well together, but at times their performance felt insular. Elenowen put on a show. Jared brought the audience into the show.

Winner: Jared (A bit corny, but he also tried harder)

Team Adam (guest coach Adam Blackstone)

Javier Colon vs. Angela Wolff – “Stand By Me”

This battle pits the early coaches’ favorite (4 turns in the auditions) against the second chance slide-in (1 turn in the leftovers round.) Adam emphasizes playing things straight and minimizing the vocal pyrotechnics. At the outset it feels like things could go either way.

Javier’s singing is solid as ever and he has this wailing wistfulness in his voice. You could see it in his face. Meanwhile Angela goes for more belting. With her laughing, smiling, and getting close to Javier, she just looks happy to be there. It’s very endearing, but Javier’s take fit the tone of the song better. He remains the clear favorite of the coaches too (who are not coy about it – thank you for not beating around the bush!)

Winner: Javier (Predictable, but fair)

Team Xtina (guest coach Sia)

Beverly McClellan vs. Justin Grennan – “Baba O’Riley”

Early into the rehearsal rounds, Beverly shows that fighting snarl that reminds me of Roger Daltrey’s original performance of the song. Justin takes Christina’s advice and plays with the range of the song, going super high like Half Baked.

The battle commences and both singers bring their A-games. Justin reigns in the nasal and Beverly hits a few highs on her own. What’s awesome is that they sound really great together! Justin gets an extra run in the end, but Beverly shows more range throughout her performance. It’s clear going forward that Xtina will push her team to its limits.

Winner: Beverly (Oh yeah! It was close, but she kicked ass!)

There just weren’t a ton of shockers tonight; I found myself agreeing with the coaches’ choices pretty much across the board. We have two more weeks of battle rounds to go and while the novelty of this show is wearing off, the substance of the performers should hopefully keep its audience coming back. I want to get angry and outraged, but there just isn’t reason to. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Only time will tell.

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