Night three of the battle rounds played out like the late-season episode of a scripted series that was plagued with questions in its early episodes—and by “early episodes” I mean pretty much the entire series. Whether or not The Voice meant to touch on the points I’ve been poking with a stick since the season premiere is debatable, but that doesn’t make the attention to detail any less amusing.
Exhibit A: Battle Round Song Choices
My favorite moment of the entire night because featured my biggest pet peeve of the entire competition being addressed in a refreshingly frank manner—by a contestant, at least. Terisa Griffin pointedly asked Blake Shelton why he chose to make her compete against Julio Castillo on “Conga” by Gloria Estefan. She rationalized that “Conga” was a song closer to Castillo’s comfort zone, and therefore the song was deliberately chosen to eliminate her from the competition. Blake was, of course, the portrait of incredulous innocence, and to be fair, we got plenty of footage of Castillo struggling with the song during rehearsals and voicing his own concerns about his ability to perform, but just to have a contestant SAY IT was utterly vindicating.
Do I think Terisa Griffin was set-up in this case? Not really. Do I think that other contestants have been set up for elimination in the past? Certainly. Last season’s pairing of fierce lady-rocker Lindsey Pavao and acoustic-lovin’ Bob Dylan-channelin’ Lee Koch was hilariously blatant with Christina Aguilera assigning them a Nirvana song. Christina fell back on the old “leave the comfort zone” argument, which seems to be the failsafe justification whenever an artist on this show questions a song choice, but only certain artists ever seem pressed to leave their comfort zones. Judges’ pets Juliet Simms and Raelynn were rarely, if ever, asked to sing anything outside of classic rock or country, respectively, genres which they both felt comfortable in and felt showcased their abilities the best. Those two made it rather far in last season’s competition... in contrast to Naia Kete, who only wanted to sing a freaking reggae song, but found herself stuck with pop song after pop song in the name of “branching out.”
Blake had no idea where Terisa got that idea and seemed a little insulted by the accusation (which, okay, is fair) but frankly, I think anyone who has watched The Voice for more than one season knows exactly where she got the idea.
Ultimately, Terisa Griffin lost her battle with Julio Castillo because Blake didn’t think she worked as hard as he did. Luckily, Cee Lo was there to swoop in with a steal. Speaking of Cee Lo, that brings us to...
Exhibit B: Why Team Cee Lo?
County wannabes gravitate toward Team Blake because Blake Shelton is the country expert on The Voice. Divas and potential boyband members go to Christina Aguilera because that’s her thing. “Serious” musicians vie for Adam Levine’s favor because Adam is a “serious” musician.
The identity of Team Cee Lo is a little harder to pin down. Cee Lo Green dressed up like a peacock that one time during a concert, so he tends to appreciate fellow peacocks, but since he can’t see contestants during their initial auditions, he must rely on his ears to determine their peacock potential. This leads to a bit of a mixed-bag team—Cee Lo has divas and he has hipster bespectacled coffeeshop lurkers. Cee Lo has people that I’m not entirely convinced can actually sing but just happen to put on a good show. It’s a wildly diverse team that I can honestly say I’m always excited to see compete because there really is no way to know what we’ll see from them on any given night.
So, that’s awesome and to be honest, I wish the other judges would make an effort to avoid clinging so fiercely to their pet genres, but at the same time, the lack of a concrete identity on Team Cee Lo resulted to some recruiting difficulties earlier this season; it just seemed like artist after artist chose a different judge over Cee Lo if given the opportunity. Contestants who wanted to work with a mentor from a similar musical background found those needs met by one of the other three, OR, those practical contestants who thought further ahead and saw The Voice more like a networking opportunity than the be-all-end-all of their career, went to Adam or Blake, who both have a history of working with ex-team members after the show ends.
Apparently so does Cee Lo Green. He’s just pickier about who he works with. Or maybe less obvious about it. Or something. Regardless, the camera sure went out of its way to document—with subtitles—the fact that after Cee Lo chose bearded wonder Nicholas David over Todd Kessler following their Hall and Oates battle, he pulled Kessler aside and told him to “Give me a call. We’ll talk.”
Well, okay then.
Exhibit C: Blake Shelton + Florence + The Machine
This one just amused me because Christina made such a big deal when Blake lost Caitlin Michele to Adam during his own recruitment slump earlier this season. Michele auditioned with a Florence + The Machine song and despite an impassioned speech to curry her favor, Michele chose to work with Adam rather than Blake because she didn’t want “normal.”
Already frustrated by the loss, Blake also had the misfortune of sitting next to Christina, who took the opportunity to point out that he didn’t even know who Florence + The Machine was, which may or may not have been sarcasm, but honestly, would anyone be surprised if it wasn’t?
As though to make a point, which also wouldn’t be surprising, Blake had Lelia Broussard and Suzanna Choffel battle one another to “Dog Days are Over” by Florence + The Machine, complete with a quick monologue affirming how much he just loves Florence + The Machine. Way to tie up loose ends.
Suzanna Choffel won the round, by the way.
Rounding out the rest of our battles, on Team Christina Dez Duron and Paulina faced off and 16-year-old Paulina gushed that she grew up listening to Green Day. This sent the occupants of my home into a pre-mid-life-crisis-crisis when we did the math and realized that she may have grown up listening to Green Day but she definitely didn’t grow up listening to GOOD Green Day even though she probably THINKS she did. CHILDREN, gather round and let me tell you about Billie Joe Armstrong and how 16 years ago he wouldn’t have been caught dead on a show like The Voice.
Or at least that’s what we old-timers like to think.
Dez Duron won that battle.
Team Adam featured Sam James and Benji battling it out to Bon Jovi. I love me some Bon Jovi. I love me some “You Give Love a Bad Name” too and their battle was the most energetic of the night. There was a lot of unresolved sexual tension on that stage, and more than one person in my living room wondered aloud if they were going to start making out. PASSION, MAN.
Adam’s fellow judges all liked Benji, but he went with Sam James because Sam has his own style and even though Benji screamed really well (really!), when he wasn’t screaming, he was kind of not sure what to do with himself.
Team Christina finished the night off with a diva battle: Joselyn Rivera and Sylvia Yacoub. I thought they both spent an inordinate amount of time trying to one-up each other, rather than actually calming down and just singing the freaking song already. Christina’s indecision got us our first appearance of haggard, snippy Carson Daly who snapped at her to make a decision already after much hand-wringing and looking around the set as though someone else might tell her who to choose. I figured that we were in for a steal session since there were still ten minutes left in the hour, so there was no practical need for Daly to rush things, unless he was trying to condition serial-time-waster Xtina BEFORE her endless contemplation made its way to the live shows and forced us to miss the first few minutes of Revolution which would just be tragic. (On a side note, Revolution, I don’t care about saving Danny anymore. I DON’T CARE.)
Christina went with Sylvia Yacoub and Teams Adam and Blake immediately buzzed in to steal Joselyn Rivera who, ultimately, went to Adam.
Here’s a quick summary of the wins, losses, and steals for Monday:
Julio Castillo (Team Blake)
Dez Duron (Team Christina)
Sam James (Team Adam)
Nicholas David (Team Cee Lo)
Suzanna Choffel (Team Blake)
Sylvia Yacoub (Team Christina)
Paulina (Team Christina)
Benji (Team Adam)
Todd Kessler (Team Cee Lo)
Lelia Broussard (Team Blake)
Terisa Griffin (Team Blake to Team Cee Lo)
Joselyn Rivera (Team Christina to Team Adam)
What'd you think of Monday's battles?