Before any of the performances started, Carson Daly checked in with Cee-Lo Green, who has been ill this past week and consequently asked his friend Pat Monahan from Train to pinch-hit as the studio coach. Christina Aguilera admitted she was bummed about losing her entire team, but she threw her weight behind Blake Shelton’s rising star Cassadee Pope. Out of the six contestants, Cassadee seems to be closest to taking home the title, but you never know how viewers will vote.
Oh, and Christina Milian is still really, really annoying.
Team Blake Shelton Steps Up, Nicholas and Amanda Wobble
Cee-Lo picked Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” for bearded hippie Nicholas David. While it was fun and would have filled the dance floor at any wedding, Adam wished that Nicholas hadn’t shied away from the high notes on the chorus, and Christina wanted Nicholas to be more adventurous. Let’s be real, everyone is kind of surprised Nicholas has made it this far – he is a nice guy, but it would be a definite upset if he wins this thing. And I will note that Pat from Train was only in the studio and not on set at the show’s taping, so I’m still not convinced that he and Adam Levine are two separate people, given how often I confuse Train’s music with Maroon 52s.
Next up was the girl to beat, Cassadee, looking truly fantastic in her metallic duds and subtle hair and makeup. She stormed the stage like a seasoned professional singing the country song “Stand,” and everyone in the audience was indeed standing by the end of the song. Cassadee shouldn’t be going anywhere this week. Christina agreed with me, calling her an “all-around true star.”
Team Adam Levine's Amanda Brown chose “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin. My initial reaction: UGH. Is anyone going to sing this song better than Aretha? No, no, you’re not. I will say that her dress was really sparkly and pretty. Blake couldn’t find anything to criticize about the performance – clearly, he wasn’t watching at our house. There’s also something odd about a glammed-up doll with two inches of makeup on singing about being a “natural” woman, no?
Back to a more reasonable mountain to climb – Team Blake Shelton’s Terry McDermott took on Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” This song is featured in one of my favorite Broadway musicals, “Rock of Ages,” so I’m biased in its favor. The stripped-down arrangement allowed Terry to strut his vocal stuff, and for me, this was his best performance of the competition. Christina Aguilera was moved to her feet and said that Blake definitely has the strongest team left in the competition, with Cassadee and Terry.
Odd Song Choices
Pat Monahan helped Trevin Hunte through learning “Walkin’ On Sunshine.” Few people like ’80s music more than I do, but even I wouldn’t claim that this is a cool song. It does seem like the show doesn’t quite know what to do with the combination of Trevin’s powerful voice and tender age. Sure, it was sung perfectly, and he seemed to be having fun, but the whole thing was just kind of dorky. I continue to be suspicious of the overwhelmingly positive responses from the judges to even average performances like this one.
Stop the presses (or, you know, whatever the online equivalent would be) — Melanie Martinez now has green and black hair instead of white and black! She seems to think she is the first one to do a slowed-down version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which she isn’t, but, again, she is 17 so we can’t expect too much musical knowledge. The staging was interesting, with Melanie positioned as larger than life next to a tiny toy piano and surrounded by mannequins. Christina criticized Melanie as being “a hair under” most of the notes in the song, and Adam agreed that there were pitch issues. Her fans will probably still vote for their favorite bow-head.
Back to the strangely uncool song choices, Blake chose Rod Stewart’s “Stay with Me” for Terry’s second song. At least this week the coaches balanced out the slow song with some up-tempo selections. Was he trying to tap into that crucial Rod Stewart-fan voting pool? It was a fine rendition of a boring song.
Go Big or Go Home
A somewhat more predictable choice was Trevin singing Jennifer Hudson’s “Dreamgirls” hit “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going).” Pat from Train opined that Trevin’s vulnerability is his strength and he should build the song slowly. The song does embody most of what the general public considers to be the negative, overly theatrical, screamy elements of Broadway singing. Trevin’s version however was less screechy than the typical female version of the song, and the crowd seemed to love it. Christina had to break out her fan to recover from the passionate delivery, and she offered to take Trevin on the road with her if he does not score a record deal out of the competition.
Alright, clearly Amanda was trying to get back in my good graces by singing Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” which happens to be the Act I finale number from “Rock of Ages.” Did she live up to the greatness of Constantine Maroulis? Well, not quite for me, but it did truly rock, and Amanda seemed much more in her comfort zone with a rock song, clad literally head to toe in red leather. Amanda should survive to make the top four next week.
Melanie seems poised to go home unless her fans ignore tonight’s performances, as she followed her lackluster beginning with an undeniably bizarre “Sesame Street Live” version of “The Show,” complete with a cardboard dolphin and rainbow. My boyfriend is generally good-natured about me making him watch The Voice, but he did let out an expletive and ask me what was going on during this performance, and even the lawyer in me could not defend the utter weirdness of the number, which was apparently a collaboration between Adam and Melanie. Adam’s nasty streak came out when Christina mistakenly complimented someone else for the staging (which she actually liked, go figure), and he corrected her in an unnecessarily harsh tone, reminiscent of his attacks on her last season. You have to feel a little sorry for him, though – his pony pretty much laid an egg in both songs.
Bringing It Home
Cassadee chose Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” for her second song, and it was a spot-on selection. There is definitely room for this girl in the music business – you could easily see mothers taking their tweens and young teenage girls to a Cassadee concert. Blake was a proud papa as he praised his prot'eg'ee's storytelling and vocal ability.
Mild-mannered Nicholas seemed like a strange choice to end the night, especially after Cassadee’s huge song. He did tackle an iconic tune, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Thankfully, it was not the Jack Johnson ukulele version of the song, but rather a typically Nicholas grooved-up arrangement. It was an interesting and surprisingly satisfying take on the familiar version. Not a bad way to close out the night, but will it be enough to keep Nicholas in the competition?
What do you think? Did I judge the cardboard dolphin too harshly? Let me know, and tune in Tuesday night to see who makes the cut this week!