It was another week of battle rounds on The Voice Monday night, and every single one of my favorites from this season competed, including Charlotte Sometimes, who I didn’t list in my post of favorites because instead, I dedicated an entire post to her. This was a pretty exciting episode for me with an overall great outcome, considering the vast majority of the people I was rooting for made it through their battle rounds and will be in the upcoming live shows. Glad me and the judges are on the same page when it counts.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have any opinions on the specifics of what went down Monday night, because I do. Believe me, I do.
Christina Aguilera once again pitted her best vocalists against each other. During the first week of battle rounds, it was Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell; this week the battle was between Geoff McBride and Sera Hill. I don’t see any semblance of strategy in this. Why would any coach choose to discard some of the strongest voices on their team? The only explanation I can think of is that all of these people–Anthony Evans, Jesse Campbell, Geoff McBride, and Sera Hill–all came into this competition performing pretty much the same genre of music with the same type of energy. These are powerhouse singers who are big fans of adlibbing.
Initially, I wanted Sera to win. Ultimately, however, I enjoyed Geoff’s performance more, particularly because of the control and restraint he had over his voice. Having passion and evoking emotion in your voice is one thing, but getting so caught up in what you want to do that your voice runs away without you and you end up squeaking because you couldn’t hit a note you wanted so badly to hit is quite another. I think the reason why Christina chose to send Geoff home instead of Sera is because she still has Jesse Campbell on her team who, as we have already covered, has the same type of voice and feel as Geoff.
I am fairly certain that Blake Shelton is incapable of choosing appropriate songs for his team members to perform. First there was the decision to have Brian Fuente and Jordis Unga sing “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, and then this week he chose “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People for Lex Land and Charlotte Sometimes. Blake obviously knows country music, hence his presence on this show, but I think he should seek advice from anyone who isn’t so entrenched in the country music scene to choose songs that better fit the style of music that the majority of the people on his team sing. Seriously, he could go up to a random person on the street and ask them for song suggestions and I think he would probably have a short list of songs to choose from that would fit these people better than what he has come up with thus far.
To be honest, I felt immediate relief when Blake announced that Charlotte Sometimes would be competing against Lex Land in a battle round; there was absolutely no way that Charlotte couldn’t win, and if she was sent home, I would have had yet another reason to be disappointed in Blake’s overall position as a coach on this show. I would have had the same reaction to anyone–literally any other contestant on the entire show–being put into a battle round with Lex Land because she is terrible. Just to make sure I was being fair and open-minded, I watched her blind audition again, and after that, I wholeheartedly stand by my previous statement. Terrible.
On a side note, with all of the battle rounds we’ve seen so far, it always looks like the contestants get along extremely well and are happy to be performing together. Charlotte Sometimes and Lex Land, however, look like they can’t stand each other.
Before we get into the next battle round, Juliet Simms vs. Sarah Golden, can someone please tell me what Juliet Simms is wearing and why? Thanks.
Now that we got that out of the way… It was no shock whatsoever that Juliet won this battle round, sending Sarah home. It is still unfortunate, though, because I liked Sarah; she’s a great folk singer and (wait for it) Blake was right when he said that she is capable of doing a lot of different things with her voice and can be a very versatile singer. I would argue that this was a poor choice in pairing, but I’m not sure if any other contestant could have been on stage with Juliet and sounded as if they belonged next to her. Maybe if she were paired with a male vocal, but even then I’m not so sure. Her voice is just very different from all of the other voices on the show.
The moment Cee Lo announced Juliet as the winner, Twitter flooded with comments about how The Voice is promoted as a show that isn’t about looks, hence the blind auditions, but is about looks once those auditions are over. I agree with this sentiment up to a point. In this specific instance, Juliet won the battle round because her voice is incredibly unique, and because she makes for a very convincing female version of Rod Stewart. Juliet Simms and Sarah Golden are from two completely different genres of music; had the song chosen for them been something from a folk background, it’s likely that Sarah would have done phenomenally while Juliet could have just sounded weird and out of place. Also, I think The Voice set up this specific kind of backlash on their own, and on purpose.
Before her blind audition, Sarah Golden spoke about how she could have had opportunities in the music industry, but was repeatedly turned away because of the way she looks. To amplify this, her audition was edited and aired in a way where we only saw the back of her body, the side of her head, a close-up of her fingers strumming the guitar, a far-away look at her singing on stage but with her completely blurred. In a 1 minute and 30 second performance, we didn’t see her face until 1 minute and 10 seconds into her song, when Cee Lo Green pushed his button and his chair turned around. They hid her so much that we, the viewers at home, were set up to expect something horrific. Instead, we got a normal looking individual with absolutely nothing wrong or weird about her, except for the fact that she does not fit neatly inside a box of femininity. This is a problem, a big one, and it is the fault of the entertainment industry as a whole as well as those who believe that gender, perceived gender, or gender identity is something that is easily navigated in the same way by everyone–in the way that is deemed acceptable by our society.
I knew Whitney Myer would be going home before even seeing her battle round against Kim Yarbrough. Whitney had a distinct intimidation problem right from the get-go. When they showed her practicing the song “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige with coach Adam Levine and adviser Alanis Morissette, she was nervous, unsure of herself, and she set herself up to fail. In her own words, when she commented on how she and Kim were both powerhouse singers, she stated that “Kim’s house is larger than my house.”
Unfortunately, I was generally underwhelmed by Whitney and Kim’s performance. Afterwards, Blake said that he felt like he was “watching one of those diva concerts,” which is probably what Adam had in mind when he initially paired these two women up. However, the emotion just wasn’t there, as much as I wanted it to be. There were a few parts where the energy was rising and I was ready for the explosion of passion, particularly from Whitney, only to have it fizzle out before any real effect could take place.
It was extremely awesome to see Lindsey Pavao perform again, this time in duet form! She was put up against Lee Koch who, like Lindsey, also has a very peculiar sound that makes you want to hear more, even if you don’t know what it is that you’re hearing or why you like it. That is something special. Their performance of “Heart-Shaped Box” (seriously Christina, WTF!?) was bizarre and downright creepy. They pulled it off effortlessly. I was definitely rooting for Lindsey to come out of this battle round triumphant (which she did), but during this performance I almost forgot that there was a competition going on. I was just really into the show that these two strange and awesome vocalists were putting on and that was enough. In fact, once this season of The Voice is done and over with, I would love to see Lindsey and Lee form a duo and put out an album because I think it would be really fantastic. I want to hear more.
Jamie Lono in the blind auditions and Jamie Lono in a battle round against Jamar Rogers are two different people, I am sure of it. Okay, maybe not, but his performance in the battle round is the perfect example of what happens when your nerves turn on you. Also, I would debate that this is the worst pairing of contestants of the blind auditions thus far. I would have loved to see Jamie Lono and Sarah Golden in a battle round together; I think that their similar styles would have complimented each other very well; you hear that Cee Lo?
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.