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Thoughts On The Voice: Sing-Off Part 3

May 25, 2011

We’re halfway through the battle rounds! Two singers enter, one singer leaves, and there is not much else to say that wasn’t said two weeks ago.

Team Xtina (guest coach Sia, who I forgot wrote 4 songs for Christina’s Bionic)

Raquel Castro vs. Julia Eason – “Only Girl In The World”

Seeing as how this song was probably written with so much vocal processing that not even Rihanna can sing it live, this will be a challenge. When I hear someone sing it live it just sounds weird, especially on the chorus. “Julia and Raquel have pitch problems,” says Christina, but that’s not entirely their fault. The challenge is making the best out of a bad situation.

Both women have very rough starts but pick things up by the chorus. Raquel uses her naturally fuller voice to barrel into the song head on. Julia takes a more cerebral approach by adding notes to the chorus’s flat progression to make it sound more natural. By the end of the song Raquel seems to still be having fun while Julia looks like someone is choking her.

Winner: Raquel (It kind of made sense. She sounded richer, though one could also make a case for Julia’s vocal acrobatics.)

 

Team Blake (guest coach Reba McEntire, who founded Starstruck Entertainment, which I think manages Blake Shelton)

Dia Frampton vs. Serabee – “You Can’t Hurry Love”

Blake is really on a Motown kick. He sets two of the more experienced singers against each other. Dia has a softer folksy style, whereas Serabee sounds like she aims for the cheap seats. I can’t call this one. It will depend on how their vocal styles overlap.

Except they don’t, not really. Dia sings the first half and her singing is like a muscle car that takes forever to reach top speed, but when it does it’s just cruisin’. Meanwhile Serabee goes full gospel, zipping all over the song like a Porsche 911 on a test course. When the song fades out Dia stays the course and sings straight on while Serabee does runs on top. They each play to their strengths, so victory will be a matter of which style Blake likes more.

Winner: Dia (She had to settle into the song, but once she found her groove she reduced Serabee’s runs and loud aesthetics to so much sound and fury.)

 

Team Adam (guest coach Adam Blackstone – seriously? A music director?)

Rebecca Loebe vs. Devon Barley – “Creep”

I never thought I’d hear a Radiohead song in an American singing competition. Adam is trying to pair the ominous song with shiny singers to see what results, though Rebecca might have an advantage given her Tori Amos-meets-Jewel performance style. Given how situations like this have worked out before on this show, pop-rocky Devon has a chance for a come-from-behind victory.

Early on it looks like the song is just too low for Devon, and he sounds flatter than Al Gore. Rebecca at least sounds on key, though her belting is like “what if Evanescence covered Radiohead?” By the song’s climax, it’s just an off-key mess. Devon was flat and Rebecca was oversinging.

Winner: Devon (Did I hear a different performance? That song would have mauled Devon’s ass in Rock Band. On Medium.)

 

Team Cee Lo (guest coach Monica, who I found out is married to pro basketball player and Michigan State alum Shannon Brown)

Kelsey Rey vs. Jonathan Taylor Thomas Tori and Taylor Thompson – “Unwritten”

Great. Now I’m flashing back to The Hills. Thanks Cee Lo! From the practice round it sounds like the danger might be in screaming this song during the loud parts, so control might come in handy. Despite her numbers disadvantage, Kelsey could still beat these cult siblings back like Jared beat the Elenowen couple last week.

Kelsey has trouble finding the key at the start of the song, but she settles into things nicely and she sings with control and style. She sounds like a pro. Meanwhile Tori and Taylor sing kind of flat when they solo and miss cues when they try to sing alternations. Together they still sing well, but will it be enough?

Winner: Tori and Taylor Thompson (This was a bad choice. Notice how when the judges were complementing them it was all on concept and “innocence” and not on singing ability. And what Cee Lo calls “innocence” I call “creepy.”)

.

So tonight I agreed with half of the coaches’ picks. As with any reality competition, there are bound to be choices I disagree with. We’re still seeing a diversity of contestants come out of the battle rounds (and there’s still one more round to go), but the real test is who the audience votes for. Shit, Idol had a somewhat diverse field this past season and look how that turned out. I guess my thread of hope is that the viewership for this show will be younger and fresher; more open to new and exciting performers as opposed to Idol’s conservatism and blandness.

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