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Thoughts On The Voice: Sing-Off Part 4

May 31, 2011

This is the last battle round! Two singers enter, one singer leaves, and there is not much else to say that wasn’t said three weeks ago. After tonight, we’ll have the final 16 acts, give or take a few extras from the duets.

 

Team Adam (guest coach Adam Blackstone)

Jeff Jenkins vs. Casey Desmond – “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”

This feels like a battle of the leftovers. Previous sing-offs felt like the combatants had something in common. You know, so as a coach you have a basis for comparison. Jeff and Casey are incredibly different in terms of genre, look, and singing style. Just like Blake’s battle last week it will come down to which style Adam likes more. I’m also kind of blah about the song after Elton John night in Idol.

I’m not quite keen on Jeff’s singing style (too cartoony), but his steady twang carries him through this snorer. Meanwhile Casey gives a good effort, but it’s a hard fight. Her voice seems better suited to shorter quiet-loud bursts than sustained holds, and this ballad is all about the holds. In my opinion it was kind of one sided.

Winner: Jeff (Objectively he did better, but his voice is better for this kind of song. This felt rigged to me.)

 

Team Blake (guest coach Reba McEntire)

Xenia vs. Sara Oromchi – “I’ll Stand By You”

Both of these singers give off a cute/precocious/low-key vibe to me and given the ballady tone of the song, this feels like an Idol audition (that’s not good.) Nonetheless if either singer can convey sincere emotion on this song (along with a little cannon), she can win big.

Both singers fail in their own unique ways. Xenia, being 16 and all, still has some room to grow in her vocal range. I was yelling, “Sing louder!” While Sara can indeed sing louder, that’s all she has going for her. She misses notes left and right, like she’s hearing the song for the first time. What a failfest!

Winner: Xenia (She kind of hit her notes, and she’s green enough that she might take to Blake’s training.)

 

Team Xtina (guest coach Sia)

Lily Elise vs. Cherie Oakley – “Since U Been Gone”

Finally some uptempo goodness! Christina is testing for stylistic range, but this is also a challenge of raw power. Remember, Kelly Clarkson has enough vocal power to rival Christina (and when Christina sings parts of the song in the practice montage, I actually wonder what the song would sound like if she did a full on cover.) Both contestants have demonstrated that they can blast ‘em, so this could be a good fight.

When the song starts, I’m reminded of all the somewhat difficult note-y parts during the verses. Cherie puts the expected twang flavor on it and hits most of the notes, but keeps her singing in a set boundary. Meanwhile Lily (who is cosplaying Avril Lavigne) flubs at the start but is the only contestant to really hit that BIG note. She had the worse overall performance, but she had the best moment.

Winner: Lily (She’s a risky pick, but this performance demonstrated the cannon that Ms. Aguilera can relate to.)

 

Team Cee Lo (guest coach Monica, who apparently taught Cee Lo the whiny “whyyyyysss” from “Fuck You/Forget You” – you learn something new everyday)

Emily Valentine vs. Curtis Grimes – “Need You Now”

Once again this feels kind of one-sided, as Curtis has that aw shucks pop-country vibe that fits this song to a T. By contrast Emily is more of your garden variety rocker and so forth. The angle Cee Lo and/or the producers are playing up is a kind of forced romance to make this duet more of a method act.

Emily jumps out to an early lead, as her quiet voice is tons more melodic that Curtis’s. When the chorus kicks in, Curtis feels like a backup singer following Emily’s vocal lead (though they do sound great together.) He eventually takes some of the spotlight, but Emily sings circles around him: power, control, and stage presence. And their ending kiss (predictable, but you still don’t see that on Idol) elicits an actually good zinger from Daly.

Carson: Is something going on?

Curtis: Um….

Emily: We’ll see.

Carson (incredulous): Someone’s going home….not alone I guess.

Winner: Curtis (Bad call! He totally shrunk in Emily’s presence. He was a backup singer! I guess he has a “wrecked by love” story, but picking him on that basis is bullshit.)

 

Once again I agreed with half of the coaches’ picks tonight. Right now it feels like more of these picks (at least for the contestants I’m not rooting for) are being made on the basis of storyline, not on the basis of “the Voice.” Still, it’s naïve to think that as soon as the voting opens the audience won’t just vote for the most likable or folksy contestant, vocal prowess be damned. We’ll have to see how the voting plays out next week….

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