Our second week of battle rounds on The Voice begins with Team Blake: it’s Julio Cesar Castillo against Terisa Griffin, performing Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” Julio and Terisa meet with Blake, his advisor Michael Buble and Voice bandleader Paul Mirkovich, and both have a little issue with the fast pacing of the song, which is apparently a common issue. “No one in the history of the world ever really knew the words,” Michael quips.
Terisa has some “concerns” about the pairing, according to Carson Daly’s voice-over, and she tells Michael that she thinks Blake paired them together “to get rid of me.” This surprises Blake, who points out that he had to beg her to pick him as a coach, and he tells us that she ought to be focusing on something other than the ‘why’ of it.
By second rehearsal, both Julio and Blake note that Julio is intimidated by Terisa – but once the battle is on, you can’t see that or their previous timing issues. Whatever question marks there were about the pairing or the song choices are erased after an energetic performance. Christina says she’s “kinda speechless” afterward, while Cee Lo compliments Terisa, and Adam is likewise a little tongue-tied. “Blake, you’ve really outdone yourself on this one,” he says, adding that “It was odd and it worked.” He adds that he’d choose Julio because he’d want to have something “completely different.”
That means it’s decision time for Blake, who cuts Carson off when he tries to deliver the “who is the winner of this battle?” line, and still has a hard time picking a winner. In order to make a decision, he thinks back to the rehearsal period, saying that since Julio “probably put the most work in,” he’s going to select Julio.
Here it’s important to keep score of the number of “steals” still available: Adam, Blake and Cee Lo each have one, while Christina still has both of hers – and we’re not even halfway through the battle phase of competition, so the coaches must be very careful who they hit those buttons for.
Blake and the audience beg the other three coaches to step in, and Cee Lo uses his final steal to save an overjoyed Terisa. Blake’s convinced that Terisa will shove him not picking her in his face later on.
The next battle pits Team Christina’s comeback kid Dez Duron against Paulina on Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.” Dez and Paulina meet with Christina and Billie Joe Armstrong to rehearse. Dez loves the song but says he’d never choose it for himself because of how high it is, and Christina cautions Paulina against ad-libbing too much. Both singers are told not to overthink it.
Rehearsal day two sounds pretty fantastic, although Christina cautions Paulina about her unique pronunciation, advising her to “just sing the song…so they don’t think it’s a lyric flub or a mistake.” She also wonders if Dez’s nerves will get the better of him, but that’s not the first time we’ve heard that and it won’t be the last. I’m pretty sure everyone who steps onto that stage is at least a little bit terrified.
With that, it’s time for battle, and even though they’re competing against each other, you can see the love between Dez and Paulina. If their harmonies are any indication, they should sing together more often. They’re not perfect, but they could be. Meanwhile, the female members of the audience fall all over Dez, again.
Cee Lo calls Dez “the total package” and picks him, while Adam calls them both “a little inconsistent” but also selects Dez, and Blake makes it a clean sweep, citing Dez’s additional experience. Christina compliments both singers, but ultimately awards the win to Dez for his “consistency.” Perhaps Adam heard something she didn’t? Paulina goes home, while Dez is determined to bring the title home for Team Christina in Season 3.
Next on deck is Team Adam: it’s Benji (read my interview with him) against “blink and you missed him” Sam James; seriously, we see more of Sam in the recap clip here than we did the first time around. They get Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name,” which Adam calls “one of those wild cards I threw out.” He likes to do that.
In rehearsal, Adam compliments his advisor and longtime friend Mary J. Blige, talking about how she brings a perspective that he doesn’t (which is the entire point of having an advisor, right?), and Sam thinks Mary’s trophy room is probably bigger than his house. Mary thinks Sam has a great voice, but Sam admits that he strains to hit “one or two notes” in big songs, and Adam and Mary try to help him get around that. Benji, on the other hand, already has the swag factor required for this particular song.
By the second time around, while Sam is learning to push himself to those notes, Adam is advising Benji to pick his spots for his big moments. “It’s almost like you have the opposite problem,” he says, but is optimistic about both artists, telling us that “the both of them should be able to thrive from this song.”
The battle is on, and it’s as big as one would expect from a classic rock song like this. The audience is loving it, the coaches are smiling, and I would thoroughly support these two starting their own band. Cee Lo says the one word that sums it up perfectly: “Damn.”
Blake thinks Benji has a bigger range than Sam, and so gives the win to Benji. Christina thinks Sam has “an Adam Levine thing” going on in his voice, but she ultimately agrees with Blake. Cee Lo seconds Blake’s comment about Benji having better range and also sticks with him. That brings the conversation back to Adam, who thinks Benji screams “like a bat flying straight out of hell,” which is an awesome way to put it, but that he also has “a little bit of lack of control.” He admires Sam’s growth and his own style coming through in the song – and surprises everyone by going against popular opinion and taking Sam. “It means so much to me that Adam saw something in me the other coaches didn’t,” says a shocked Sam. “He believes in me.”
Unfortunately, nobody steals Benji, which is a decision that I think they may regret later on. The issues Adam pointed out with him are exactly the kinds of things that past artists have worked on over the course of the competition, and there’s nothing to say that he couldn’t have done the same. We shall never know.
Team Cee Lo then matches Nicholas David against Todd Kessler in the battle of Midwest dudes with beards, over Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone.” Their issues are more emotional: advisor Rob Thomas thinks Todd needs to find a personal connection to the song, and later asks Nicholas if he’s got the competitive spirit required for the battle – which Nicholas is concerned about because he’s grown close to Todd. “Wanting to win doesn’t make you a lesser person,” Rob tells him.
We don’t get second-day rehearsal footage for Nicholas and Todd, instead going directly to the battle, which is as smooth as butter even as most of the audience members look like they have no idea who Hall & Oates are. (Hint if you need it: they’re the guys who performed their song “Rich Girl” in the Season 2 finale.)
Adam calls the battle “awesome” and affirms that their voices sound amazing together. Blake compliments Nicholas’s sound and comments that “you look like Jesus and people like that.” He does, but no one looked like Jesus more than Lee Koch in last season’s Nirvana battle opposite Lindsey Pavao, am I right? Anywho, Christina has kind words for both artists, leading to Cee Lo’s “very tough decision,” in which he picks “Saint Nick,” but also tells Todd to call him. This may be the first time an artist has inspired both Jesus and Santa Claus references.
After Blake talks about how good Michael is (and deservedly so), Team Blake’s Lelia Broussard and Suzanna Choffel get Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” The two admit that they figured they were going to get matched up, with Blake calling it “the most obvious pairing” ever. Everyone compliments Lelia’s falsetto, while Suzanna is afraid that as a music teacher, she’s going to get too caught up in technique. This leads her to have a sit-down with Blake and Michael, who advise her to let the teacher part of herself go.
The next day, Lelia thinks she’s still “getting her bearings” with the song, particularly her pitch, while Suzanna, who has a multitude of influences, looks for a sound that she’s comfortable with. Blake already believes this is going to be a difficult decision for him. His concern is justified: the two ladies put on a show that Florence Welch herself would be proud of and that breathes new life into a song that’s been played over and over and over again.
Christina calls the rendition “really beautiful” and “a great pairing, a great match,” but doesn’t pick a favorite. Cee Lo says that both ladies have talent, while Adam admits to Suzanna that “I should have beaten his ass into the ground and taken you away from him.” Blake talks about Lelia becoming the song and Suzanna becoming other folks while still sounding like herself “when she wants to,” before he takes Suzanna, dashing Adam’s hopes at a steal. Adam considers stealing Lelia instead, but admits that he’s saving his final button push for a “special occasion” or an “epiphany,” and lets her go.
The last matchup of the evening belongs to Team Christina, and it’s Joselyn Rivera versus Sylvia Yacoub on Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had.” Billie Joe is worried that Sylvia might overpower the song, and invokes Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.” On the other hand, Christina thinks Joselyn is still searching for her comfort zone.
On the day of their second rehearsal, Joselyn calls Sylvia’s power both “impressive” and sometimes “annoying,” and Sylvia herself knows she has to dial things back a bit. It’s Joselyn’s range against Sylvia’s strength, with both ladies calling the battle and its outcome a turning point for them, for different reasons – the former credits the show with getting her out of her shell and the latter thinks this is the last chance for both her and her mother’s aspirations.
It proves to be a great choice of pairing on Christina’s point, as both singers show that they’ve got the sound and charisma to enter that already-crowded ‘female pop singer’ category. Cee Lo tells Joselyn she really impressed him, and also takes note of Sylvia’s strength, before deciding not to pick anyone (but then comes back in later and speaks up for Sylvia). Adam wants to know how they sung that many notes, admitting that “sometimes it was a little too much,” and Blake concurs, saying “I can’t even think that many notes.” An obviously agonized Christina gets upset that she paired the two, before finally settling on Sylvia.
This leaves Joselyn open to be stolen, with Christina and the audience begging for that to happen, and she draws the attention of both Adam and Blake. Adam makes his pitch, and then Blake takes a dig at Adam, who snarks right back at him. After that entertaining bit of banter, Joselyn signs up with Team Adam, while Blake playfully screams “It’s the end of a career!” Conversely, Christina tells Adam “I’m glad you got her.”
For those of you keeping score, four artists left the competition tonight (Paulina, Benji, Todd Kessler, Lelia Broussard) – and two of them changed teams (Team Blake’s Terisa Griffin to Team Cee Lo, Team Christina’s Joselyn Rivera to Team Adam). In addition, Team Cee Lo and Team Adam are now out of steals. See you tomorrow for another hour of head-to-head action!
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse, Examiner & Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.