It's Week Two of the Battle Rounds on The Voice, and by the end of last night's show, every coach was down to eight contestants. A couple of great singers had to go, and a lot of great singers are still in the competition.
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The best thing about these Battle Rounds? They kick the butt of every horrible duet or group number we ever had to sit through on American Idol! And the fact that everyone can actually sing leaves me totally free to think about their performance, their interpretation, and other nuanced subtle differences between these generally super-talented pairings.
Here's how it went down.
Battle #1: Jessica vs. Vedo sang "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
They were both awesome, and they both really committed. I'd probably go with Jessica…she had a bit more confidence and warmth. And let's face it, she's about the cutest little thing any of us have seen in a long time. The word "bubbly" was kind of made for Jessica. And when she said "Let's bro down, dude" to Adam? Who could resist. Well. Apparently Usher could resist. Usher chose Vedo. Which is a little surprising. And no one stole Jessica. Which was even more surprising. It's a sad bubble-free day.
Battle #2: Orlando vs. Ryan sang "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
There was a lot going on there,enough that I would have to say they were milking this just a little too hard. But I do think Orlando brought the emotion in a way that Ryan didn't, because Ryan is used to just naturally having an emotional tone in his voice. Orlando had to bring it, and he did. Usher chose Ryan, but I'm glad Adam stole Orlando.
Battle #3: Michelle and Chelsea sang "Titanium" by David Guetta and Sia
And it apparently wasn't good enough to show us. Usher picked Michelle (who I'm pretty much constitutionally required to like because she's a nerdy brunette introvert).
Battle #1: Luke vs. Monique sang "You and I" by Lady Gaga
Again, another great duet, but for me: I would pick Luke. Monique is powerful, but she remained affected. Luke did some awesome things up there vocally that showed both range and subtlety. So he'd get my vote. In an interesting turn of events, Shakira admitted she was picking Monique because the other coaches seemed more excited about Luke, so she's hoping he gets stolen. And she was right…both Blake and Usher wanted to steal him, and he went with Blake. That's very nice of her, but not too strategic. Which is why I like this show. It really does seem to be about the talent, not the competition.
Battle #2: C. Perkins vs. Kris sang "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars
Nice blend and harmonies. Kris is clearly the better singer technically, but there was something warm and appealing about C. Perkins. It was kind of a toss-up. I probably would have chosen Kris too, as Shakira did. Usher waited until the very LAST moment to steal him, so he'll have another chance.
Battle #3: Brandon vs. Shawna sang "Piece of my Heart" by Janis Joplin
Brandon's that obvious odd duck, but he has a nice rich open tone that's unexpectedly mature. Shawna exhibits an unusual range of dynamics for a rocker. I loved it when she pulled way back and contained herself. Being shallow though, I don't know why she wore my mom's "lounging gown" from the 70s. Shakira picked Shawna, as I would have. She was right it would have been a bummer for her to lose to a 19 year old, and while he kept up, in the end he wasn't her match.
Battle #4: Katia vs. Mary sang "Antes de las seis" by Shakira
Leaving aside the weird attempt to make it seem like these two had a cat fight during rehearsals. Um. No. I thought this was a no-brainer. Mary was behind the beat quite a bit. And had a pretty voice, yes, but a bland voice. Katia is just more of a grown-up. I didn't understand the lyrics, but Katia had more actual emotion in her voice and vocal choices, not just making big gestures and physical movements. I would definitely have gone with Katia. No way I would have chosen Mary like Shakira, so I'm glad Usher stole Katia.
Battle #1: Jacqui vs. Savannah sang "Little White Church" by Little Big Town
Jacqui was just kind of smiling inappropriately through the whole thing. It bugged me. Savannah also seemed to have a lot more personality in her vocals. She played around with the melody…not too much, really, just enough. I'd go with Savannah. I thought it was pretty obvious, and Blake came through and picked her.
Battle #2: Justin vs. the Morgan Twins sang a song I didn't recognize.
And despite all the attention to the Morgan Twins on the very first blind audition episode, this full battle was not shown. Justin won. And looked fine doing so :)
Battle #1: Midas Whale vs. Patrick sang "Burning Love" by Elvis Presley
They gave this classic an uptempo bluegrassy arrangement. Unlike most of the other battles, these battlers tried to act as though they were each the only ones on stage. The duo and Patrick didn't relate to one another at all (and the duo barely related to each other), which made the whole thing a little dispassionate. I would have picked the duo just like Adam did. They're just more interesting. It's not just about the quirk. Patrick has a great bluesy voice, but I've heard it before. And he's just lacking personality. Which does matter when you sing. Blind auditions aside, eventually you have to see them sing. I'm trying to think if there's *anyone* out there with a rich singing career who doesn't do TV or concert appearances. (Sure some divas have gone a little hermit-y a la Streisand, but after they were established, right?)
Battle #2: Duncan vs. Sarah sang "Wanted you more" by Lady Antebellum
They sounded beautiful, but the whole time I was wondering: Why is he smiling? Sarah has a very intriguing voice. I disagree that it's entirely original, but she has such an interesting ability to bring in the rasp in a way that feel authentic. She's like Sarah MacLachlan (a lot) with an actual edge. It was beautiful though, and I'd pick Sarah too.
Battle #3 Amy vs. Agina sang "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar
Another one that wasn't good enough to show us. Amy won.
So the teams are set for the next round. Do you have any personal favorites you're rooting for by now?
From this week's group, I'd have to call out Luke and Sarah. How about you?
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