The first week of The Voice battle rounds started with, in my opinion, some of the more underwhelming of the 48 contestants. There were a few notable exceptions, but for the most part, I had completely forgotten about some of the people who competed in the first set of battle rounds. Maybe it’s because there are 48 contestants to start with, which is a lot of people to keep track of, or maybe some people have just been genuinely boring. When it comes to reality shows, they always start off with at least a few filler people no one really cares too much about.
This was the first time I had seen anything beyond the blind auditions, so while this may be the second season of The Voice, I had no idea what to expect when the actual competition part of the show started up. What I thought was going to happen was that we would see one person sing a portion of a song and then the person they were competing against would sing the same portion of the song and they would be judged on who did it better. Instead, the two people battling it out in hopes of going on to the live shows have to sing a song chosen by the judges together, and they have to work together to pull the song off while simultaneously trying to outshine the other. That is a really interesting way to set the competition up.
The first battle round, Tony Lucca vs. Chris Cauley, came out in full we’re going to annoy the hell out of you mode. No, seriously, their entire performance of U2’s “Beautiful Day” drove me up a wall, mostly due to Tony Lucca’s
harmonies screaming. Every time I saw him take a deep breath I immediately thought, ‘No, please, don’t make me listen to that again.’ To put it nicely, I was thoroughly confused by Adam Levine’s final decision on who to keep for the live shows and who to send home.
This confusion quickly became a trend.
I really didn’t like RaeLynn when I saw her audition. When Blake turned his chair around I thought that perhaps he sensed there would be a lack of country vocalists and so he snatched up whichever ones graced the stage in an attempt to get to coach at least a couple of people with hopes of a future in his specific genre of music. That dislike carried right into the battle rounds when she was teamed up with Adley Stump to sing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”. I wasn’t a big fan of Adley to begin with either, and to be fair, I am generally not a fan of country music. However, Adley did impress me. Her voice was strong while RaeLynn was pitchy and didn’t seem to know what she was supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, Blake confused this inability to sing on key with emotion and passion, sending Adley home and thus keeping in line with the trend of coaches making downright mind-boggling final decisions.
Blake made all sorts of bad decisions during this first episode of battle rounds. When he chose both Brian Fuente and Jordis Unga during the blind auditions, he said that he liked them because they had voices that lent very well to rock music, and he liked that. When put together for a battle round, Blake then decides these two “rockers” should sing Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” What?
I had completely forgotten all about Brian Fuente, and when I saw him perform alongside Jordis, there was not one redeeming quality about him. In fact, I think he may have a bright future as a backup vocalist, since that’s pretty much all he did during this battle round.
Jordis’ performance wasn’t that great either, but I did a little research and found videos from her time on the 2005 competition reality show Rock Star: INXS. The woman has some definite skills, but she is also very inconsistent. Since Blake chose to let her continue on to the live shows, hopefully she can pull it together and put on stronger performances. “Ironic” was definitely not her song.
Christina Aguilera provided my first real disappointment of the night by sending Monique Benabou home. I really enjoyed her voice and she almost made my list of favorite contestants from the blind auditions. She was competing against Chris Mann, who I have to tell you, I am sick of hearing about. Apparently everyone I follow on Twitter and Facebook cannot get enough of him. They have known about him for years and want to support him, and I get that. Really, I do. I’m the same way when it comes to Charlotte Sometimes. However, with social media, you can in fact talk about the same thing too much and you can reach the point of overkill, where you start to alienate people with your fanaticism. I have reached that point with the number of #mannfans tweets that clog up my Twitter stream every Monday night.
I enjoyed the idea of turning Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” into a duet, but I did have a little problem with how this song was performed, and I wouldn’t say it was necessarily the fault of Monique Benabou or Chris Mann. This applies to any song that was written by or originally performed by a woman that is later covered by a man. What is with the need to make sure the song fits into a little heteronormative box? Would it really have killed Chris Mann to sing the words ‘I’m your lady,’ or would that have upset viewers to the point of boycotts and other ridiculous actions? This is something that bothers me a lot.
I originally thought the outcome of the Angie Johnson and Cheesa Laureta battle round would be an easy nod in Angie’s favor. I didn’t think much of Cheesa’s very low register at first, and I couldn’t see the qualities that Cee Lo undoubtedly did when he turned his chair around for her during the audition. Low and behold, she did an awesome job belting out “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The only issue is that so did Angie, making it extremely difficult to determine who came out on top. They sounded great together and I really enjoyed both of their performances, but Cheesa did overpower Angie in a few parts of the song, which is probably why Cheesa was chosen to go further in the competition, sending Angie home.
As if the last battle round wasn’t close enough, we then saw Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell, which did not come across as a battle round at all but the best damn duet of the night. While these two men complimented each other extremely well, I think they are just too similar of singers. After watching their performance several times after I had originally seen it last Monday night, I still don’t know who I would have sent home. Because of that inability to see who was a tiny bit better than the other, I can’t really say much about the fact that Christina Aguilera sent Anthony Evans home, although I don’t think that I would have put those two vocalists in a battle round together in the first place.
The Voice battle rounds continue tonight at 8:00pm EST, and I’ll continue to write about each episode. I’d love to hear some other thoughts on the contestants, so leave yours in the comments.