A Season 2 semifinalist, I blog about the NBC competition for TheWrap
After some fast and furious Blind Auditions, we've now moved on to Battle Rounds. It's one song plus two people fighting for a chance not to be sent back to the “horrors” of working a day job or living with parents who support them financially (based on the editing, you would think this was a fate worse than death?!). Gentle sarcasm aside, let's chat my highlights from this week's “The Voice” on NBC.
1. Staying alive
In our biggest age gap this week, coach Usher paired Biff Gore with T.J. Wilkins, a singer 21 years his junior. This match-up was highly entertaining. Biff's more lived-in voice provided a good counterpoint to T.J.'s smooth dexterity. And T.J.s surprising dance moves inspired Biff to crouch and kick his way through the song with an enthusiasm that was contagious. While T.J. won this round, Biff was stolen by Blake, giving everyone happy endings!
2. Let me dry your tears
It's always hard to watch teenagers compete on this show when it's clear they're not emotionally prepared for the intensity of the competition. Viewing Team Blake's gentle comeback kid Jake Worthington duet with the terrified Lexi Luca, all I wanted to do was give the girl a hug. The cut-throat premise of Battle Rounds can be difficult for an adult psyche, so I can't imagine handling it at 17. Lexi pulled it together, but Jake still won the round with his steady Southern charm. Dear Lexi, you're adorable, talented, and you'll be just fine.
3. Hair so healthy it shines!
I don't know which member of The Band Perry has the most luxurious hair, but every time they were on camera I kept thinking I'd stumbled upon a Pantene commercial. Do you think they use the same hairstylist? Do they do group hair masks during rehearsals? So. Many. Questions.
4. Let's talk about that note!
When coach Blake Shelton pitted 24-year-old Paula Deanda against 44-year-old Sisaundra Lewis, I was concerned. While Sisaundra had four chair turns versus Paula's one, women of a certain age don't always fare well in Battle Rounds. The rapid fire “Do What You Want” seemed more geared towards Paula's strengths, but Sisaundra blew through the song with a passionate fervor, hitting a crazy note in the last half that made everyone's hair stand on end. Naturally, Blake couldn't deny the power of Sisaundra and the mother of three stayed.
Watch the battle again above.
5. Best mentor sound bytes
Team Usher mentor Jill Scott gave us some of the best lines this week. First, during Biff Gore and T.J. Wilkins's rehearsal, she noted “Biff, when you beg, BEG.” Then, she encouraged Stevie Jo and Jake Barker by saying “You can save the world with this song.” OK, all the other mentors can go home now.
I have a bright idea. Let's have Kat Perkins and Patrick Thompson form a duo and call it a day! When coach Adam Levine paired them on the classic “Whenever I Call You Friend,” I was surprised by how much I loved their voices together. Instead of an “awkward duet,” we were treated to a truly great collaboration. Both contestants won (Kat via Adam and Patrick via an 11th hour steal by Shakira), and everyone won when mentor Aloe Blacc creatively noted Patrick's voice was “meaty like a bear.”
7. My '80s jam!
First, “The Voice” gave me Kenny Loggins this week… then they took it up a notch with Steve Winwood during Jake Barker and Stevie Jo's battle pairing. “Higher Love” was a brilliant idea on Usher's part, giving both guys a chance to showcase their particular talents. Usher gave it to Stevie for his range and flexibility, but Jake also stayed thanks to a pre-announced steal by Adam.
8. Why so serious, Aloe Blacc??
You're singer/co-writer of a monster hit, you're being worshipped by Adam Levine on national TV and you're named after a healing plant everyone knows and loves. Smile! Your life is awesome.
9. Vocal doppelgangers
While Team Shakira's pairings weren't as compelling this week (No tears! No melodrama!), they did reveal that coach Shakira has a bit of a vocal doppelganger in Clarissa Serna. During Clarissa's run-through with her battle partner Jeremy Briggs, the ladies’ tones sounded eerily similar as they ran lines. It was uncanny. Clarissa ultimately won the battle with her charismatic performance.
10. The donut king & the singing barista
My first reaction to Adam's pairing of Caleb Elder and Delvin Choice was “Why???” Their blind auditions were unusually joyful and I thought both were strong contenders. However, their duet of mentor Aloe Blacc's “The Man” was less evenly matched than it appeared. Delvin shined, while Caleb clearly struggled (no longer powered by donuts). This round went to Delvin. Caleb, you'll be missed.
11. Battle of the cheekbones
The last battle of the week was Team Usher's Brittnee Camelle versus Melissa Jimenez. Yes, both girls worked through various issues to give strong performances, but all I could think was “My God, they're pretty!” Usher was not as blinded by their beauty and made the hard decision to keep Melissa. But Brittnee won a steal via Adam, who was impressed by her scrappiness.
If you're in the L.A. area, join for a show at The Hotel Café Thursday, April 10th (tickets available here!). And don't forget to check out my album “In & Out of the Dark,” which is available on iTunes NOW. For more updates, follow me on Twitter at @katrinapmusic and visit my website, katrinaparker.com.