Welcome to Tuesday (June 14) night’s installment of “The Voice.”
Yes, I know that I hated 7/8ths of last Tuesday’s episode and expressed the desire to politely walk away from recapping duties on a show I’m not especially enjoying at this point. But y’all convinced me that Team Christina and Team Blake were the two weakest teams and that things will be better with performances from Team Adam and Team Cee-Lo.Â
It’s time to test that theory… After the break.
9:02 p.m. This entire live-blog may be dedicated to Christina Aguilera’s Cleavage. That’s not me being sexist and it’s not me being a misogynist. It’s what Christina very clearly wants and what a girl wants…
9:03 p.m. Before anybody performs tonight, we’re going to deal with the results from last Tuesday’s show. We’re starting with Christina’s Cleavage’s Team. Â “Honestly, my heart’s beating so fast. I’ve grown so attached to all of you and I’m literally so sad,” Christina bawls. She regains some composure in time to reassure her artists that she loves them.
9:04 p.m.Â America’s Save is… Beverly McLellan. That means we’re going to have to spin our wheels until Christina uses her save on Frenchie. Speaking of Christina, she’s still trying to deal with her mascara. “I’m shaking in my shoes right now. Thank you America,” Beverly bellows. Christina is proud and happy for Beverly, saying that she’s “broken through boundaries.”
9:07 p.m. Oh. We’re going to get Christina’s Save now? And does anybody want to explain to me why we’re calling these “Saves”? Nobody’s SAVING anything. “All of you have deserved what’s gone on on this show for you all,” Christina says confusingly. Does that mean that two of them deserve to go home? She’s correct. Christina’s Save is… Frenchie. Yawn. Christina Aguilera hates hair.Â
9:10 p.m. Shut up, Carson Daly. Gracious. He’s just up there blathering incoherently. He tries to get Frenchie to say how she feels, but instead Christina’s Cleavage rushes up on-stage to steal the spotlight. In the glow of the cleavage, Carson stops caring and kicks things over to Alison Haislip, who can’t even tell us what’s trending on Twitter, because it’s too soon.
PERFORMER[S] NO.1: Tori & Taylor Thompson (TEAM CEE-LO)
Song: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
My Take: Ah, a Flag Day classic. The Thompson Sisters are costumed for a World War II USO strip-show. Sigh. Because nothing’s at all sketchy about turning a 17 and 19-year-old girl into patriotic fetish objects! [They’re more “adorable and peppy” than “sexy,” but there’s a quantity of leg and cleavage that would make the Andrews Sisters blush.] And Cee-Lo has stuck them with a group of prancing GIs. I’d hoped that nobody would bother with dancers after Christina’s various disasters last week. But the Thompson Sisters, with their “American Juniors” training are far better prepared for this sort of grand production number. Because they play off of each other, rather than their environment, they’re just having fun together and they couldn’t care less about the silliness surrounding them. They start off strong, but they’re out of breath by the half-way point. The question by the end isn’t “Are they in tune?” but “Are they going to pass out in front of 12 million viewers?”
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: Adam Levine calls it “incredible” and “good, old-fashioned entertainment.” “Were the outfits your idea, because dude, you’re sick,” Blake says to Cee-Lo. “Did I just step off the set of my ‘Candyman’ video?” Christina says, making sure that everything is about her and her cleavage, also calling the performance “beautiful” and “luscious.” Ew. Cee-Lo thinks the Thompsons would have made the Andrews Sisters proud.
PERFORMER NO.2: Casey Weston (TEAM ADAM)
Song: “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree”
My Take: Hi, Casey Weston. Leave KT Tunstall out of the equation for a second. When it comes to reality TV performances of this song, I’ve seen Katharine McPhee and you’re no Katharine McPhee. Casey’s trying to differentiate herself with a guitar, though she may as well not be playing it. You certainly can’t hear or distinguish her guitar playing from the elaborate band, the group playing percussion on buckets and several background performers who are only there to clap, from what I can tell. And there’s nothing to distinguish Casey’s voice from the overall cacophony. She might as well not be there at all. If Adam wanted the world to know that Casey Weston can sing — and this show *is* called “The Voice” — he did her no favors with this arrangement/showcase.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: Blake says he’s going to download the performance. “That was really fun,” says a pleased, but not ecstatic Christina, who cautions Casey not to let the background overwhelm her in the future. Note: When one of the mentors on this show finds something negative about you, that’s a HORRIBLE sign. Cee-Lo says it was “wonderful” or something. Adam says it was “amazing” and that Casey “killed it.” The director reinforces that “The Voice” is a digitally integrated show by sticking his camera directly into Blake’s phone. Rather than showing that Blake was, as promised, downloading the song, we just get a big blurry glow.
PERFORMER NO.3: Vicci Martinez (TEAM CEE-LO)
My Take: It was just last week that I was on YouTube watching various cover versions of “Jolene,” which is probably somewhere on my list of 10 favorite songs. This is a straight-forward cover, more in the Alison Krauss vein than pure and basic Dolly Parton. And while Vicci’s got a great voice, she’s no Allison Krauss. Vicci doesn’t really open up til the last couple lines of the performance. Up until then, she’s strong, but not remarkable. I expect better, but I guess if the only standard is “Better than Casey,” Vicci passes with low-dragging colors.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say:Adam calls it “soulful,” “raw” and “honest.” Blake calls her “explosive,” but I wish she’d have exploded earlier. Christina calls it “honest” and both praises and mispronounces “ambiance.” Cee-Lo is glad they picked the song together, saying it was “perfect.”
PERFORMER NO.4: Devon Barley (TEAM ADAM)
Song: “Stop & Stare”
My Take: Oh, Devon. Lots of those notes you’re singing just aren’t notes. A few of them are close. I get that you may be trying to sing over the deafening arrangement, an arrangement that’s designed for a far larger voice than you possess. But it’s better to whisper and be thought out of tune than to scream and remove all doubt.Â I’ve compared Devon to Kevin Covais in the past and this is, fully, a Kevin Covais performance. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. Then again, Devon, there’s always a starring role in “College 2,” if you can just get somebody to fund, write and produce “College 2.”
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: Blake calls it “powerful.” “I’m into you, Devon,” Christina says, also calling it “powerful.” Cee-Lo blathers. And blathers. And blathers. Carson Daly and Devon are wearing the EXACT same outfit. Whose idea was that? “It was a little pitchy in the beginning,” Adam admits, but adds “whatever.” Yes. Whatever. Because the show is called “The Voice” and a singer just ruined a fine song with his inadequate “voice” and nobody wanted to mention it. Just a suggestion: Maybe “The Voice” should add judges for the live shows. Not “Idol”-style celebrity judges. Get three music critics and give them 10 seconds apiece. Because as likable as the mentors all are, their evaluations make Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson seem sane and substantive.
9:51 p.m. It’s time for Team Cee-Lo to experience the wonder of Cee-Lo. He promises that he has enough fearlessness for all of them and his red track suit/bathrobe proves that point. They all talk about how much they appreciate him. And they talk about how much they appreciate each other. Are they going to take a sauna? “Let’s get some massages,” Cee-Lo yells after getting a collective “Hell Yeah!” from his team.
9:53 p.m. Team Cee-Lo, led by Cee-Lo on keyboards with a giant afro, hits the stage to attempt to sing “Everyday People.” I say “attempt,” because what Curtis Grimes is doing to the song isn’t “singing.” Nakia kinda gets into the song and Vicci does her best. Tori and Taylor struggle with an arrangement that’s been set too low for them. But really, Sly and the Family Stone and Arrested Development are both taking out a restraining order separating Curtis Grimes from “Everyday People.”
9:56 p.m. What’s trending, Alison Haislip?!?!? Poor Dia Frampton is nervous. Alison asks Muppet Jeff Jenkins about fan interactions and he responds, Â “I’m still waiting on that legal Thompson Sister.” Wow. That’s a major “Ick,” dawg.
PERFORMER NO.5: Nakia (TEAM CEE-LO)
Song: “Sex on Fire”
My Take: Gracious. Nakia has women in bustiers standing behind him doing a fire-baton routine. That’s not at all distracting. But here’s the thing: Nakia’s good enough that I’m mostly not watching the pyrotechnics. I’m listening to Bryan Adams/Michael McDonald-style blues voice. It takes him a bit of effort to wrangle in a couple of the bigger notes, but when all is said and done, he hits every one of them, holding the stage like an absolutely profession, basically making a mockery of the night’s first four performances.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: “He pointed at me and said ‘Your sex is on fire’ and I felt the burn,” Blake says. “That was a great job,” Cee-Lo says. Apparently we’re running out of time? So we don’t get to hear substance-free commentary from Christina and Adam? But… But… I’m sure this time they’d have been substantive. At the very least, this time their praise would have been justified.
PERFORMER NO.6: Muppet Jeff Jenkins (TEAM ADAM)
Song: “Jesus, Take The Wheel”
My Take: Adam heard Jeff’s first version of this Carrie Underwood song, but he was all, “Not Muppet Enough!” and tried to raise the octave. It doesn’t sound like Adam got his way. Maybe Jeff should have listened? Because the verses are definitely too low for him. And even when he gets into more comfortable terrain on the chorus, he’s really, really sharp. Cut to Adam Levine, who apparently is an excellent singer himself, but can’t recognize proper melody from others. Yes, I know he was emotional. Who can quibble with Jeff’s emotion? But he also was out of tune. When James Durbin cried through entire performances on “American Idol,” I praised his emotional honesty, but I didn’t praise his voice. And this show is called, after all, “The Emotional Honesty.” Wait. It’s not? Hmmm… “Momma was proud of that one,” Carson says.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: Christina calls it “beautiful.” No time for Cee-Lo or Blake. “There’s just something about your presence and the power of your voice that demands your attention,” Adam says. Oh. Right. The judges on this show don’t judge anyway and they’re particularly incapable of judging a young guy singing about his late mother. And it’s not like I want them to eviscerate him. But there are ways of praising his feelings, while not pretending that wasn’t awful.
10:19 p.m. Team Adam gathers for an awkward lunch at Adam’s house. Adam’s looking woefully hungover and instead of actual conversation, they’ve resorted to, “Let’s ask our mentor questions the producers gave us.” I can imagine Adam passing each of them 10 bucks and telling them to go see a movie together.
10:21 p.m. Team Adam does a low-key rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends.” In order to take the attention off of his team, Adam’s brought in a full gospel choir. Only Javier Colon registers in the slightest. Well, Adam Levin and the choir are pretty good, too. Sorry, Devon, Casey and Muppet.
PERFORMER NO.7: Curtis Grimes (TEAM CEE-LO)
Song: “Addicted to Love”
My Take: This is a strange and interesting song choice for Country Boy Curtis. He’s got some slutty cowgirls dancing around him. For a couple lines, the dancers provide the illusion that Curtis has an iota of energy. Then they leave. And Curtis is just standing stock-still barely moving. He’s not addicted to love. He’s addicted to Valium. He’s practically sleep-walking through the performance. He also has to have just about the worst diction I’ve ever heard. “Might as well face it… mumble mumble mumble.” And his voice? Monotonous. There’s no passion or range on display here.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: “You really wear a cowboy hat,” Adam says. He then helpfully says that “It was like a country version of that Robert Palmer song.” Blake praises Curtis for slamming his guitar down. Then, rather than talking about Curtis’ VOICE, we talk about which background dancer Curtis is making out with. Because the show is, after all, called “The Singers Who Make Out With Background Dancers.” Cee-Lo says it was “awesome.”
PERFORMER NO.8: Javier “The Chosen One” Colon (TEAM ADAM)
My Take: Is anybody else waiting for a montage of recently deceased celebrity to play behind Javier? Because Javier is the only person who can save “The Voice,” Adam has given him an arrangement that actually accentuates… his voice (and his ability to play the piano). Somebody still needs to train Javier that not every run that comes into your mind is a good idea, but he’s the only star they have on this show. Period and incontestably. Nobody else is close. The gap between Javier and the rest of the field is laughably wide.
The Judges Who Aren’t Judges Say: “There’s nothing I can sit here and say about him that everybody in this room doesn’t know,” Blake says. Christina Aguilera’s Cleavage calls it “truly special.” “Your ability really epitomizes the point of this show,” Cee-Lo says. Adam is humbled.
10:50 p.m. We just watched the winner of “The Voice,” but let us not forget that we haven’t eliminated anybody from Blake’s team. Incidentally, that’s why they’re called Saves, because the producers realize that for all of the hype, most of these people aren’t very good and most of them should probably be going home. Elimination is the default state for most of these singers, a Save would, indeed, be the exception rather than the rule
10:52 p.m. Blake’s on the spot. “This is a fun show and it’s exciting to watch, but I hate this moment, ” Blake says, expressing pure dread.
10:54 p.m. America’s Save for Team Blake is… Dia Frampton. Whew. I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know we share appreciation for Dia Frampton.
10:54 p.m. Blake’s now got a tough choice. Does he pick his mediocre rocker, his mediocre country singer or the scared high school girl who probably wants to go home.
10:56 p.m. Blake’s Save… XENIA. WOW. It’s a ridiculous choice on a qualitative level, but Blake does it for exactly the right reason. Blake knows that he’s a mentor and he knows that there’s no purpose to his trying to mentor Patrick or Jared, because they’re both as good as they’ll ever be. But he thinks he can work with Xenia. He thinks he can improve her confidence. He thinks he can improve her stage presence. He thinks he can make us see what he sees. To me, that’s a far better reason to Save somebody than any he could have come up with for picking Patrick or Jared. As I was last week, I remain Team Blake.
Bottom Line: As long as Javier and Nakia advance out of this group, I don’t much care what happens. And they will. If America Saves Nakia, Cee-Lo will save Vicci and vice versa. The only way anything interesting will happen is if America does something wacky and Saves the Thompson Sisters. As for Team Adam, it’s a pity that he’s going to have to Save Devon or Casey or Muppet, who were all awful. It’s my assumption he’ll save Muppet.
Your thoughts? Was this week better than last week? Really? Even with Devon, Muppet, Casey and Curtis? Better? Sigh…