A week into The Voice, and some problems are starting to materialize. During backstage interviews, Carson Daly doesn’t just stand there; he hovers. I can’t imagine ever feeling comfortable around that guy. Christina Aguilera’s mentoring style, right now, seems to be limited to raising both her hands all the way up and screaming, “Woo!” She does this a lot. And there’s no way to make this non-crass, but Christina Aguilera in HD simply cannot compete with Jennifer Lopez in HD. It’s not even close, no matter how much boob Xtina shows (and she was showing JWoww levels of boob last night). It’s an adventure every time Cee Lo Green tries to talk. Blake Shelton is funny and charismatic, but he’s also prone to rambling. Of the various famous professionals on the show, the only one who seems remotely relaxed on TV is Adam Levine, and he mostly does it by seeming weaselly.
The biggest problem the show has, though, is that its just not very exciting or dramatic to watch someone’s hand hover over a buzzer during a decision-making process. We’re not dealing with nuclear strikes; this is not exactly a high-tension situation. The show tries to make up for it by playing up certain judges’ tendencies to lightly bust on each other as being bigger than they are. But last night, it lived and died on the talent of the people singing at any given moment–and thankfully, it seemed to have some pretty talented singers.
Last night’s episode started out with Cherie Oakley, who’s sung backup for country singers for a long time and who just wrote “Turn on the Radio” for Reba McIntire. That song is already a really big hit! You know what the fastest route to becoming a country star is? Writing a hit song for another singer! Ask Jamey Johnson what “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” did for him sometime. This girl doesn’t need to be on a reality TV competition; “Turn on the Radio” is a great song. She did really well with another great song, Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead”; she tried to get a little too showy with a fundamentally unshowy song, but she gets points for taste. She ended up on Xtina’s team, since Blake Shelton was too much of a hardass to pick someone who sang his fiancee’s song.
Devon Barley is a med student who wants to be a singer even though his parents want him to be a doctor. That right there is not a compelling story at all, even if his parents’ horribly wooden cheerleading was funny. He sang that one really annoying Jason Mraz song, and it looked for a while like nobody was going to pick him, but shitty taste won out in the end. He’s now on Team Maroon 5 Guy.
Josh Hand’s mom assured us that he uses humor all the time, and the first example we saw of that was him showing his hand to the camera when he was saying what his name is. Woof. His strummy, whiney, mumbly coffeehouse take on Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” was similarly pathetic and unfunny. Nobody picked him, so I look forward to never seeing this fucking clammy fuck again, ever, in my life. I’m also happy for my friend Rob Harvilla. Since Hand won’t be on the show again, Rob will never have to hear how much he looks like this guy. More like Josh Talk to the Hand! (See, I can be funny too.)
Apparently high-heeled Tims are a thing? This seems like decidedly unpractical fashion, but that’s what 16-year-old Raquel Castro wore while singing Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love,” which is such a good song. People forget how good that song is. She sounded pretty OK in that desperate-to-impress little-kid way, and her mom’s full-body sob when Xtina picked her was some terrifying shit.
Emily Valentine is a tatted-up blonde chick who sang a hoarse, not-that-great rendition of Pink’s “Sober.” The show did the suddenly-old trick where it didn’t show her face for a while, so I was absolutely convinced she’d be a drag queen. I’m actually still only 90% sure that she’s not. Cee Lo picked her, which led to Cee Lo hugging her and displaying the titanic height disparity between the two of them. Cee Lo looks like Puck from Alpha Flight. That motherfucker is tiny.
Tim Mahoney has the exact same name as my father-in-law, but he does not, in fact, turn out to be my father-in-law. Too bad! That would’ve been some shit. He’s a big burly dude with a high-pitched bluesy Tracy Chapman type of thing in his voice. I liked him, but until he argues with the cops who are trying to shut my wedding down, he’ll always be my second-favorite Tim Mahoney. He’s on Adam Levine’s team now.
Julia Eason plays soccer and has feathery hair, two things that should be mutually exclusive. It’s weird, for me, when teenage contestants say that they grew up listening to such-and-such. It’s like: No. No, you didn’t. You have not actually grown up yet. The electric company has to shut your lights off at least three times before you can claim to be any sort of grown-up. She sang a yelpy version of Duffy’s “Mercy,” and Xtina scooped her up.
Angela Wolff became the second person of the night to sing a Miranda Lambert song and the first to make a big thing about trying to impress Blake Shelton. (She said that she follows him on Twitter and that he has a “huge sense of humor.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a sense of humor described in terms of size.) Nobody picked her; Blake, I guess, hates people who sing Miranda Lambert songs. She responded with lots of crazy-eyes laughing, so everyone was probably right to skip her.
Tyler Robinson is gay and says so, and it’s kind of nice to hear someone do that after guys like Adam Lambert and Jacob Lusk have spent serious time on Idol without saying shit about shit. (Not to say Lusk is definitely gay, but, I mean, come on.) Robinson sang “Hey Soul Sister,” and fuck “Hey Soul Sister”. Blake Shelton picked him and yammered loopily for a minute.
The one-named Nakia is basically what would happen if Jim James from My Morning Jacket put on a shitty Blues Brothers suit. “Nakia” is not an acceptable name for someone who looks like that. He sang “Fuck You,” and I’d think even Cee Lo would be sick of hearing that shit by now. Nope! He’s on team Cee Lo after a drawn-out, unsuspenseful flirtation with Blake Shelton.
One thing about this show: The people on it are absolutely unafraid to sing some godawful shitty songs. Dina Frampton could be the best singer on this show so far for all I know, but she sang goddam Colbie Calliat’s “Bubbly,” thus yanking me out of the blissful state where I’d forgotten that that song even existed. Once you pull that shit, you’ve lost me. You have not, however, lost Blake Shelton; she’s on his team now.
After two people fucked up by singing Miranda Lambert songs, Curtis Grimes went full dumbshit and sang an actual Blake Shelton song, “Hillbilly Bone.” A really listless version of it, too. Shelton didn’t pick him, but Cee Lo did. I’m beginning to realize that I don’t understand Cee Lo.
Tori and Taylor Thompson, sisters with competing stripper names, sang a very pageanty version of Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue”, and Cee Lo continued to baffle me by picking them. Hey, remember when Cee Lo was a great rapper in a great rap group? That was cool. I miss that.
After that, they ran out of contestants and brought a bunch back for a not-dramatic-at-all second-chance round. They couldn’t just find a few more good singers? I guess they couldn’t. The girl who idolized Xtina ended up with Xtina, so yay. This week, nobody picked Sonia Rao, the really hot girl from last week who nobody picked last week; she’ll have to go back to a pathetic life of just being a really hot girl. Blake ended up with Jared something, the pube-goatee Daughtry guy from last week. Adam Levine picked Casey Weston, who did a really nice acoustic version of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy,” and Blake Shelton stalker Angela Wolff, who sang a boring version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” So there you have it. If you remember who’s on which team by this morning, my hat is off to you.