Hello again, Voice fans! (The Voice fans? Voicers? Voice Boxers?) Tonight, we continue watching the Battle Rounds, and thus we continue pretending that all the battles were not performed on the exact same night.
To be honest with you all (as I always am), the battle rounds started out exciting, but now that we’re in our third week of watching the duelets, they’re starting to drag. I miss the sassy judge banter that kept things interesting during auditions, but another, even more troubling factor seems to be at play: It’s been a month since we met some of these vocalists, and I’ve forgetten who some of them are. It brings to mind what I’d hope is an important question for this show to consider: Should we (and can we) care who wins these battles when we can barely recall their names, let alone their stories? And will the show ever afford us a better chance to get to know them in the live episodes? I hope so, because otherwise they run the risk of crowning a “Voice,” but not a Name and a Personality to go along with it.
Just something to think about. But we have more pressing matters: Vocal smackdowns! Here’s who won in tonight’s battles:
Xtina Battle Three: Battle of the Young Ladies
Xtina pits Raquel Castro against Julia Easton, and they’re singing “Only Girl in the World” by Rihanna. There can be only one.
You’ll remember Julia from her rendition of “Mercy” and her brave white jeans during auditions, while many savvy fans noticed that tiny powerhouse Raquel was in that movie Jersey Girl all the way back when J-Lo and B-Aff were a thing.
During their coaching season, the slightly older Julia seems to be overpowering Raquel a bit, and Sia recommends that she relax her voice a bit to make the tone even more beautiful. Raquel says she’s a dancer and would like to stand out, but the coaches advise her not to go too crazy and focus on her, you know, voice. After rehearsal, Xtina says that her two young performers have some pitch issues, but she hopes they’ll make her decision a tough one in their final performance.
I’m rooting for: It’s tough, but I think Raquel is gonna take this one.
Raquel is rocking some RIDICULOUS long extensions and a little leather get-up. She’s like a living Bratz doll. Both girls seem to be holding back a bit at first, but Raquel makes up for it with personality. Julia comes off a bit pitchy, as predicted. She seems nervous, but she recovers. Julia’s vocals are cleaner, but there’s no question that Raquel is engaging the audience. The harmonies are a bit … non-existent, but the solos are powerful beyond the girls’ years. On personality and “it” factor, I think Raquel took this one, but we’ll see what the judges say.
The judges’ critiques: Cee Lo loves “lil’ mama” Raquel and agrees with me that she won out. Blake too says Raquel is better “all around,” but Julia is great when she opens up. Adam thinks Raquel “just has this thing.”
Xtina’s Decision: Raquel‘s voice and strut (and her Rapunzel extensions — a girl after Xtina’s own heart) won out.
Blake Battle Three: Battle of the Wallflower and the Preacher’s Daughter
Blake thinks it will be “more than entertaining” to battle Dia Frampton and Sarabee (who?). They’re singing “Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes. A classic!
I remember Dia for her adorable voice and overalls. Blake and I were both completely smitten. But Sara isn’t jogging my memory — must be because her audition got brushed over during the second week. That doesn’t bode too well for Sarabee’s chances tonight.
During coaching, Sarabee goes for power, while Dia purrs sweetly. I am biased toward Dia’s cuteness — but also away from Sarabee’s jaunty hat addiction. The hats seem like the outward symptom of a confidence that could easily slide into cockiness. (“I’ve performed for ten thousand” she said, a bit too proudly.) They’re both talented, so it may come down to whether Blake prefers Sarabee’s overpowering stage presence or Dia’s unassuming, natural charisma.
I’m rooting for: Dia, obviously!
Dia adapts the song to her folksiness and seems to overcome her stage fright almost instantly, but once Sarabee starts singing in her church gospel style, it’s like they’re not even trying to work together. It’s jarring, and on vocal power alone, Sarabee overshadows Dia, but it’s more off-putting than impressive. The judges look confused and a little irritated. I know my ears are irritated. Sarabee oversang, just like Blake warned her not to, so I think she’s a goner.
Judges’ critiques: Adam liked Sarabee’s carefree vibe more than Dia’s timidness. Cee Lo says it was “bizarre,” but Dia’s voice stands out more to him. Xtina is stumped by the “odd pairing.” Reba likes that Dia stayed true to herself.
Blake’s Decision: He’s a little disappointed that Sarabee oversang the song, and he doesn’t blame Dia for looking uncomfortable next to her. He chooses Dia.
Adam Battle Three: The Battle of Dougie Howser and the Homeless Singer
Rebecca Loebe and Devon Barley will sing “Creep” by Radiohead. It’s dark and brooding, especially for a guy who sang Jason Mraz in auditions. Rebecca, whom you’ll recall currently lives in her car, sang Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” in auditions, so she’s got a slight edge.
In coaching, we learn that Rebecca loves the song, but Devon doesn’t even know it. Adam can tell Devon is feeling concerned and reserved, but in rehearsals he seems to have found his footing (throating?) a bit more.
I’m rooting for: Rebecca. She’s just so sweet. But to be honest, this is one of those “who? huh?” battles I mentioned earlier.
Devon’s clearly gotten more comfortable with the song. I wasn’t sure how his voice would work with it, or with Rebecca, but they bring a young, fresh but still substantive and soulful combination to the song. True to her word, Rebecca didn’t know how to compete with Devon, and instead they made deep, harmonic love to Thom Yorke’s song. I have a soft spot for Rebecca, but Devon impressed me.
Judges’ critiques: Blake jokingly tells Adam not to pick one of them. “Don’t ever separate these two!” Xtina says Devon stole the chorus, but she loves Rebecca. Cee Lo says if he had to pick, he’d pick Devon because he doesn’t look like his voice.
Adam’s Decision: He’s torn, but he has to isolate the performance, and he picks … Devon. Adam runs out and gives Rebecca a hug and tells her not to stop singing.
Cee Lo Battle Three: Battle of the Hot One and the Two Cute Ones
Cee Lo has paired up his pig-farming, Disney Channel-esque sister duo, Tori and Taylor Thompson, against Kelsey Rey, the one who cried because she was “always the pretty face who could sing.” (Boo hoo.) They’ll be singing Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”
In coaching, Kelsey mimics the divine, perfect Monica’s intonations with success, while T&T seem to have a little harder time getting out of their normal range. Cee Lo advises the sisters to win over the crowd with their double charisma. It’s tough to tell if Kelsey has the edge because she only has to look out for herself, or if she’ll come off like the “odd woman out” against the Thompson sisters.
I’m rooting for: The Thompson sisters. How can I NOT root for two young, precious pig farmers against a girl who whined because she was so big in Europe?
Kelsey nails her solo in the beginning, while the Thompson sisters get off to a rockier start, but when they harmonize it’s undeniably adorable. Kelsey is more polished and when she lets loose, her raspiness seems to overshadow the sisters’ more basic vocals. But their cuteness never wavers.
Judges’ critiques: Adam “can’t pick, it was just too cute!” Blake thinks Kelsey is more seasoned, but Xtina would choose the Thompson girls. Monica thinks the sisters have something special, but Kelsey is more self-assured.
Cee Lo’s Decision: He’s charmed by the Thompson sisters. For a minute it looks like he’s going to pick Kelsey (…or cry!) but his heart leads him back to Tori and Taylor, and they come from behind for the win.
Next Week: It’s the final battle round, and “the season’s most surprising moment” will leave Cee Lo’s mouth agape. We’ll have to wait and see what that means. Until then, what did you think of tonight’s victors?
(Images courtesy of NBC)