A couple of weeks in, The Voice is already turning out pretty great. The singers, at least thus far, can all actually sing, the coaches all have sharp and productive things to say, and the show’s setup provokes more actual dramatic situations than I would’ve thought possible. Pretty awesome, too, that this week’s episode only lasted an hour; it meant I didn’t get that death-march look in my eyes American Idol‘s recent, pointless episodes have been giving me. We won’t really know how good the show is until live competition starts, but I’ll take what I’ve seen so far over the endless humiliating parade of bad Idol auditions any damn time.
This episode involved pairing the various singers up so they could face off against each other in song. In a mocked-up boxing ring. Let me just state for the record that this is a fucking awesome idea. It would’ve been cooler, though, if they’d hired the real Michael Buffer instead of Carson Daly doing a weakass Michael Buffer impression. That dude used to show up on WCW Monday Nitro every week; he can’t be too expensive.
All the coaches this week had, I guess, assistant coaches–in most cases fellow famous people, although Adam Levine brought in Maroon 5’s “musical director.” What the fuck kind of band has a musical director? What would that even mean? Like, was Kurt Cobain the musical director of Nirvana? Or did they have some shadowy other person? Is this some whole new musical profession that I’ve never heard of? The other choices were pretty interesting: Xtina had the bag-lady-looking Sia; Blake Shelton had Tremors star Reba McIntire; and Cee Lo had the awesomely poised Monica. None of them managed to contribute all that much, but it’s still early.
Xtina forced Taralyn Ramsey and Frenchie Davis (the latter of whom wore some terrifyingly huge earrings) to sing the obvious-as-hell “Single Ladies.” In a neat twist that kept happening all night, the arrangement gave both contestants chances to sing lead and backup, so they were, in effect, supporting each other while competing against each other. It was sort of completely fun to watch! Both sounded good, but Ramsey sounded a little sharp to me, so I decided that Frenchie won. Xtina agreed with me, and Frenchie stuck around.
Blake Shelton had Patrick Thomas and Tyler Robinson sing Elvis’s “Burning Love” together, and the only things I remember about either of them from previous weeks are that Patrick Thomas wears a cowboy hat and Tyler Robinson is gay. That is, of course, the big problem with the way the show is set up; I have almost no attachment to any of these people at this stage of the game. Robinson pretty much sang Thomas under the table, and Thomas didn’t wear a hat, so this one looked like an easy decision. But Shelton picked Thomas. Boo.
Adam Levine got Casey Weston and Tim Mahoney to go up against each other on Stevie Nicks’s “Leather and Lace”–kind of a funny pairing because Mahoney sings like a girl and Weston is a girl. This one marked the second straight head-to-head between a country singer and a white soul singer, and seriously, that’s a good pairing. The people who put together CMT Crossroads already know this well, but those are two things that sound nice together. The second time in a row, country stuck it out. Casey won; I could’ve gone either way.
Cee Lo pitted Vicci Martinez against Niki Dawson in a blood rivalry between weirdly spelled -icki contestants over Pink’s “Perfect,” a song I don’t remember ever hearing before at all. For a second there, I thought Cee Lo showed up to his judging chamber with a head full of bleached blond hair, but no, the lights were just shining weirdly on his head. I think I actually said “what the fuck” out loud. The song turned out to be an intense and pretty great rasp-off, both of them hitting monster notes all over the place and actually coming off like people who’d put both thought and emotion into their performances. Cee Lo picked Martinez, which I probably would’ve done too, but damn. If we get more pairings like that one, recapping this show won’t feel like a chore.