Hey, The Voice! It’s still pretty good! And right now, there’s pretty much nothing else on TV except for Game of Thrones!
On last night’s episode, Carson Daly, you’ll be happy to learn, moved on from the detestable suit-with-sneakers look he was rocking last week. Unfortunately, he swapped that thing out for a leather jacket over a shirt and tie. Will somebody teach this man how to dress like an adult? If he’s going to step into the singing-show-hosting game, he has to look the part. I’m harping on this because it just demonstrates how woefully underqualified Carson is for a job that, as it turns out, must be pretty hard. Ryan Seacrest only makes it look easy; all the little things that the guy does improve his show vastly. Carson has been blessed with a relatively entertaining show; he’s just not living up to it. Cee Lo could’ve fixed all this just by lending Carson his incredibly sparkly jacket, but I don’t blame Cee Lo for wanting to hold onto that thing.
Before anyone could get to singing, we had to attend to the business of sending some of last week’s singers home. After voters saved one singer from each team, that team’s coach then had to save another, which would force the other two to leave the show. After voting saved grimy bald blues-rock singer Beverly McClellan, Christina Aguilera called the culling process “maybe the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” which seems like a bit much. She also rambled for a bit about how she loves all of them. And then she chose Frenchie Davis as the one who’d survive, which was absolutely the right call. It’s also a pretty ballsy decision: It leaves Xtina with an all-bald chick team! This is definitely the first all-bald chick team in the history of televised singing competitions. Bald chick history, made right before our eyes.
Team Blake got a bit of a reprieve so some people could sing. For the chipmunk-cute teenage Thompson sisters, Cee Lo picked the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a total left-field bit of retro chic, with the kids dressing in vaguely sexed-up period costumes and leading a group of military-uniformed dancers. I’m amazed someone who wasn’t Xtina picked an Andrews Sisters song. The performance was fucking ridiculous, like a bad scene from the part of a World War II scene where the soldiers all bond before fighting. It’s impossible to judge the singing in that, since the spectacle was so overwhelming and so goofy.
The one girl on Adam Levine’s team, Casey Weston, sang KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” and Levine had to talk her into singing it with some force; she wanted to do a sleepy acoustic arrangement. After the insanity of the Thompson sisters’ performance, it was vaguely refreshing to see someone sing a song with a minimum of set-design silliness; Weston’s one big bit of theater was the lineup of bucket drumers onstage behind her. But “Black Horse” is just an utterly non-compelling song, and Weston did nothing to save it. I was just bored. Shout out to the backup singers for having some pretty great dance moves, though.
Vicci Martinez, who fucking blazed her battle-round performance a few weeks ago, was up next to sing Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” probably one of the 50 or so greatest songs ever written. I had high hopes for this, and it delivered. The show’s band gave “Jolene” a sort of power-ballad quiet-to-loud arrangement, which shouldn’t have worked. But with Vicci’s husky roar of a voice, it turned out great; the part where she finally growled was a goosebump moment. During the coaching bit, Cee Lo admitted that the song was Vicci’s idea and that he just signed off on it. This was, obviously, the right move. They just need to stay out of that girl’s way. (After she got done singing, Carson had to point out that Jack White had also sung the song. Shut up, Carson. Nobody thinks you’re cool.)
Devon Barley, the resident dweeb on Team Adam, had to sing OneRepublic’s “Stop and Stare.” Adam seems to like songs that were VH1 hits around the same time his band was scoring VH1 hits. This is not a historical era that gives me any particular warm feelings. Barley, it turned out, handles pressure about as well as LeBron does. (Congrats Mavs! Thanks for wrapping up the series before tonight so I didn’t have to try to switch between the game and this show!) I’m looking forward to Devon Barley disappearing forever. I don’t like his face.
In a goofy vignette, Cee Lo took his team to some sort of spa, which allowed him a chance to show off his Isaac Hayes-looking bathrobe. That was the only reason for this vignette to exist. (Cee Lo, I’m starting to realize, is like the black version of Peter Dinklage on Game of Thrones.) This led into a big group performance of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” with Cee Lo at the center, looking straight clownish in a gigantic afro wig. His country singer Curtis Grimes sounded like complete ass here, but everyone else did OK. Bearded yeller Nakia actually sounded pretty awesome on his one big solo run.
Nakia came up next to sing the Kings of Leon turd “Sex on Fire,” a song I wasn’t particularly eager to hear ever again. Since the last time Nakia was on TV, I’ve learned that he used to go to shows with my friend Marc Hogan, and Marc can’t remember if he had a last name or not. (I have yet to learn what shows they went to together. I’ll supply that answer when I get it, but my guess is: John Mayer.) Nakia sang a completely generic version of “Sex on Fire,” but I can’t really fault him; I’m not sure anyone could possibly sing it in a non-generic way. A couple of dancers spun fire lamps behind him, because fire. I liked the bit where Nakia fell to his knees like James Brown, but that was the only remotely James Browny thing about his couple of minutes onstage.
Jeff Jenkins, Team Adam’s country guy, sang Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” which did not disprove my VH1 hypothesis. I’m vaguely impressed that The Voice allowed one of its singers to try another track from an American Idol alum. Nice acknowledgment of reality, The Voice. Despite the bad driving tactics it endorses, “Jesus Take the Wheel” is a hell of a song, and Jeff’s version was completely respectable. He’s got a pinched high-lonesome quality to his voice, which doesn’t work too well for choruses but which is nicely conversational on the verses. Something about the guy just bugs me, though. Maybe it’s the face/haircut combination? I don’t know. He’ll probably stick around, since the previous Team Adam singers were so underwhelming.
For the obligatory group-bonding vignette, Adam invited his team out to his swank-looking house and managed to give off the impression that he actually likes the kids in his charge. For their group sing, Team Adam did the Joe Cocker-ified version of “A Little Help From My Friends,” with a gospel choir absolutely overwhelming all the actual singers onstage, Levine included. Worth noting: The studio audience lost their shit for Javier Colon every time he opened his mouth. Barring some massive upset, that guy is so going to win this thing.
Cee Lo forced Curtis Grimes to sing Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” because Cee Lo likes things to be messy as shit. I just started laughing as soon as Cee Lo said the song title. Grimes went full cowboy for this one, and instead of the band of icy-faced model chicks behind him, he had a bunch of dancers in cowboy hats. Grimes, quite understandably, spent the duration of the song looking like he wished he was back home on his farm or whatever. Some things do not translate when you’ve got an understated, conversational drawl, and this was one of them. After the song, he put some sort of inaudible move on Christina, which led to a deeply awkward little conversational interplay. I have no idea what happened there.
Presumptive winner Javier Colon came up next to sing Sarah MacLachlan’s “Angel,” a song that was a VH1 hit a few years before Maroon 5 started having VH1 hits. I’m going to say my observation still holds true. If someone comes out next week to sing Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2 A.M.)”, I’ll know I was right. (I very much hope that this happens. That song rules.) Javier sang “Angel” at a piano, with a string section backing him up and a sort of R&B arrangement that allowed him to dance around the song’s melody. He sang the song very well, though he couldn’t quite prevent the song from immediately conjuring images of sad-looking one-eyed dogs. It wasn’t his best moment, but he’s one of the few people on the show who can afford to coast for a week. One thing about Javier: Why does he always wear that hat? Is he balding? It’s OK if he is. I just want to know.
And then, finally, the Team Blake results. The voting process saved the absurdly cute but kinda boring coffeehouse singer Dia Frampton. This left a flustered-looking Blake to pick Xenia, the painfully overmatched-looking little-kid singer. Blake’s reasoning: He felt like he could “effect change” with her. Well, I hope so! Because right now, she sucks! For my money, big-voiced country dude Patrick Thomas was the obvious pick here, but Blake’s obvious affection for Xenia sure seems pretty genuine.
Next week, we’ll say goodbye to the Thompson sisters, Casey Weston, Devon Barley, and Curtis Grimes! Or that’s what I assume we’ll do, anyway.