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Recap: ‘The Voice’ – The Battles, Part 2

I’ve been up since 5 a.m. covering TV’s upfronts, so it’s either going to be a blessing or a curse to get to turn off my brain for an hour to watch eight people scream-yell at each other in Tuesday (May 17) night’s second round of Battles on “The Voice.”

Let’s see how things turn out

10:03 p.m. Cee-Lo is pairing Nakia against Tje Austin in his first Battle of the night. If his strategy is to make sure that he eliminated one of his most distinctive personalities immediately, Cee-Lo’s mission will surely be accomplished. They’re shouting “Closer” at each other, with Monica’s assistance. Nakia suggests an added run and Cee-Lo accuses him of going “soul by numbers.”  In personal mentoring, Tje discusses his unassuming strategy, while Nakia is instructed to tap into his personal experiences. “May the best man win,” is all that Cee-Lo can say.

10:06 p.m. Here comes Battle No. 1… Nakia vs. Tje. Both men enter the Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots Arena with confidence. Nakia’s got the richer, bluesier voice, but Tje’s voice is almost certainly more moldable and commercial. This is better than all but last week’s final duet, because both of them are just singing, neither is attempting to yell in the other’s face. When they sing together in the end, it’s a pretty nice moment. Neither of them would be a wrong choice for Cee-Lo, which is why this was a dumb pairing.

10:09 p.m. “So much hair,” is Adam Levin’s constructive criticism, though he says he’d keep Nakia. Blake Shelton agrees that he’d keep Nakia. “I’m kinda blown away,” Christina Aguilera says of Nakia, before praising Tje’s “package.” Monica praises Tje’s “pleasant and melodic” voice.

10:11 p.m. Cee-Lo’s ready to make his decision. NBC’s ready to sell product.

10:14 p.m. “I’m an advocate and endorser of exceptions to the rule,” Cee-Lo says, before choosing to keepNakia. I think that would have been my choice as well.

10:15 p.m. Blake is pairing Elenowen and Jared Blake. They’re going to go with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which is going to be very strange as a trio, I think. Or a duet in which one half of the duet is a duet. I didn’t much care for Jared’s so-so rocker stylings in the audition and as much as I like Nicole from Elenowen, I’m less interested in Josh. Advisor Reba advises Jared that he’s going to have to keep a connection with the audience. Reba also preaches confidence to Elenowen. OK… That wasn’t all that enlightening.

10:19 p.m. Uh-oh. Blake realizes he’s made a mistake and that they’re all trying to out-sing each other. That’s the problem with the format, Blake. It’s also the problem with Elenowen, whose duet of “Falling Slowly” already felt unnecessarily competitive.

10:24 p.m. OK… Battle No. 2… Elenowen vs. Jared. Jared just isn’t all that good. He’s ridiculously corny, though I think he’s just following Reba’s advice. He’s making funny faces. He’s pointing. He’s trying desperately to engage with Elenowen, who aren’t aware Jared’s there at all. And as fine as Elenowen is as a pair, neither Nicole nor Josh is even slightly distinctive as an individual, with Nicole coming off particularly poorly on the vocals. The whole dynamic of the performance is underly bizarre, obscuring the couple scattered seconds of decent singing.

10:26 p.m. “Elenowen, you guys are an amazing thing to watch, but Jared, you were selling it,” Christina raves. Cee-Lo loved them both. “You were both great,” Adam says and even raves at how wrong the song was for Jared. Is anybody on this show allowed to criticize? Reba thought Jared “really rocked it” and that the verse was too low for Nicole. Umm… Whose fault is that?

10:28 p.m. Blake’s choice is… Jared. Ridiculous. But maybe it isn’t really all that ridiculous. Cee-Lo’s first Battle tonight was between two people who both deserved to advance. Blake’s first Battle was three people who all deserved to go home.

10:33 p.m. Team Adam will pit Javier Colon and Headband Angela Wolff. Javier’s the guy every points to as proof that “The Voice” has better talent than “Idol,” while Angela Wolff is cute. Adam has specifically chosen “Stand By Me” because it’s easy enough to keep Angela at Javier’s level. At least that’s the theory. They may need to hit Javier on the head with a beer bottle to make this equal. At rehearsal, Adam Levin and Adam Blackstone basically tell Javier not to sing so well. That’s mentoring! In person advising, Javier’s told to remain true to the original and not to throw in too many runs.

10:36 p.m. Angela promises her competitive side is about to come out as we get to… Battle No. 3… Javier vs. Angela. I understand what Adam and Adam were trying to do with Javier, basically taking out his knees, but it’s pointless. The disparity in voices is massive. Angela’s just giddy to be standing next to Javier, smiling broadly every second. When Angela sings, Javier moves off to the side and barely pays attention. He knows he doesn’t have any competition in the Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots Arena.

10:39 p.m. “Awww… That was so warm and battle-y,” Carson Daly says. Blake compliments Angela’s beauty, but raves at Javier. Christina calls Angela “sweet.” Ouch. Cee-Lo practically pats Angela on the head.

10:40 p.m. Adam Levine’s choice… Javier. It’s so obvious and anticlimactic they don’t even try getting a commercial in before the results are read

10:45 p.m. Christina Aguilera matches Beverly McCellan against Justin Grennan. Christina has chosen “Baba O’Riley” and Beverly makes it clear that Justin is doomed. Justin shrugs. At their first rehearsal, Beverly is really, really aggressive (and annoying) in her enthusiasm to show off, complete with odd key changes and irksome runs. Ick. But Justin has never heard this song before, which at least lets Christina show off. Justin doesn’t have a clue on the melody, but pretends with a nasally effectiveness. Ick. This is shaping up as the night’s second Battle where I’d prefer to send both singers home. Beverly wants to make it clear that she’s confident, not cocky. Yeah, that’s not the way it’s coming off.

10:50 p.m. Time for… Battle No. 4… Beverly vs. Justin. Beverly vows to “bring the thunder.” But no! NBC has to bring the commercial, first.

10:54 p.m. OK. *Now* let’s battle. For all of his not knowing the melody, Justin ends up doing a largely sharp, but pretty by-the-numbers vocal. Beverly is horribly hammy and over-the-top, but she’s far more energetic. I don’t know which of them is to be blamed for making the harmony so unpleasant, but the hole thing is a mess, a mess that has Christina Aguilera cheering enthusiastically.

10:56 p.m. “You stole it. You owned it. And then you sold it,” Cee-Lo tells Bev. Adam expected Beverly to “murderizer” Justin, but praises Justin for holding his own. “You look like the guy who works at my bank… but you have this rock inside of you,” Blake says.

10:57 p.m. Christina figures the other coaches were jealous. Christina’s lucky to have Beverly on her team and proud of Justin for his improvement. The winner was… Beverly.

Bottom Line: Two good Battles. Two bad Battles. Javier’s so clearly the class of this show so far that it’s annoying we have to wait three weeks to start voting for him. But I’ve got no issues with Nakia either. As for Jared and Beverly? Well, somebody had to win those two Battles. Might as well have been them.

What’d you think of Tuesday’s episode?




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