The Voice: Goodbye to the Bow Tie

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The Voice S01E16: "Live Quarter-Final Performances"

Finding a place to watch The Voice this week proved to be quite the challenge, which, in a small way, made the performances a little sweeter. Long story short, I went to Cleveland for the weekend and at the last minute, decided to stay an extra day because Cleveland is a modest utopia built of fun with a large collection of utterly insane intersections (is a 12-way stop really necessary?). Tuning in required a little creativity and I finally ended up on a sofa in the back office of a college radio station, sitting in front of an itty bitty TV with the volume turned down low to avoid disrupting the show The Boyfriend was guest-hosting in the next room.

Team Adam and Team Cee Lo were up this week, and they're the two teams who I feel consistently bring the awesome to their performances. And about the team performances—they were pretty spectacular. Team Cee Lo’s retro performance of “Dancing in the Street” was energetic, theatrical, and fun. Team Adam rocked out to “Instant Kharma” and everyone seemed to be in their element, with Adam backing his team on the drum set.

I was a little bummed to see Pip and James Massone say goodbye during this week’s insta-cuts, but there was no one else I could particularly justify sending in their stead. James Massone crooned well, but he's been starting to feel tedious and a little repetitive. I was thrilled to see Pip lose the bowtie and aim for a more mature stage presence, but despite Adam’s warning not to try too hard, the embellishment on “Somewhere Only We Know”—which is, at its core, a very lovely, simple song—was too much.

Here are my rankings for everyone else:

6. Mathai (Team Adam)

Mathai’s rendition of “I’m like a Bird” wasn’t bad, but just like Adam said during his on-camera angst over who on his team would go home, SOMEONE had to go home. Mathai was a little shaky in the beginning and I agree with the judges' sentiments that the dude flying around in the background was unpleasantly distracting. Like James Massone’s compulsive crooning, Mathai’s shtick appears to center on...low-energy renditions of dull songs. I’d love to see her do something with a little more flair and OOMF.

However, I’m not quite sure what Christina was getting at when she said that Mathai’s last performance was her favorite. I’m pretty sure she referred to it as “loungy” and that it wasn’t meant as a compliment.

5. Cheesa (Team Cee Lo)

In the past, I have perpetually failed to understand the judges’ adoration for Cheesa’s performances, but tonight, her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” tentatively showed me the light. It was easily my favorite of her performances so far. It was powerful, and managed to be tough and strong without being overwhelming. However, this was Cheesa’s second performance in a row that basically consisted of Cheesa in a prom dress belting something from an adult contemporary station, a more polished version of the one that saved her two weeks ago.

4. Juliet Simms (Team Cee Lo)

The feathers falling from the ceiling were cool, but contrasted with Juliet’s last performance—an awesome, awesome rendition of “Roxanne” that showed off her range and her ability to be soft and pretty as well as angry and fierce— “Cryin’” almost felt like a step backward. There was a lot of screaming, too much, in my opinion. Juliet is another contestant who consistently performs the same type of song and no one ever feels inclined to encourage her to do anything else. So far, this adherence to a homogenous selection hasn’t harmed Juliet the way it has others who have come before her (most recently, insta-cut James Massone), which can readily be credited to her strong stage presence.

3. Tony Lucca (Team Adam)

There’s just something about a Britney Spears song that is so much better when performed by someone who isn’t Britney Spears. I highly recommend the Frames’ cover of “Everytime.”

Tony Lucca tried to change things up by performing the first of Britney’s many many hits, “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” It was a fun way to channel his Mickey Mouse Club roots, paying homage to another former Mouseketeer, while managing to rock out to a song that typically doesn’t rock very much.

2. Katrina Parker (Team Adam)

The stylists have finally started to style Katrina like an adult, which is nice. Also in a show of brutal honesty (the kind of brutal honesty I tend to expect from Adam, actually) Adam admitted that at first, Katrina was not one of his favorites, however, she has come a long way. He went on to explain that her cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” was “flawless.” It was pretty awesome. I think she and Adam are getting better at figuring out what works for her.

1. Jamar Rogers (Team Cee Lo)

Jamar Rogers is so energetic. It’s like he’s the living embodiment of Red Bull come to Earth to make the rest of us feel like couch potatoes. The vigor captured during his performance of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” was rivaled only by the team collaborations later in the show. It’s no surprise that he was the opener for tonight’s show. We needed his performance to carry us through the snoozefest until Team Cee Lo pulled on their Technicolor bellbottoms and tore the stage up later. Jamar himself is a freaking ball of sunshine, despite the fact that out of several contestants with sad stories, his might just be one of the saddest, kicking a drug habit six years ago after learning he was HIV positive. And yet, the man is one of the most openly happy contestants on The Voice. Lots of singers on this show have claimed to channel their life experiences into their music, but Jamar one of the few whom I think actually does.

How would you rank the remaining performers on Team Cee Lo and Team Adam? Leave your thoughts below and tune in Tuesday at nine to see how close we came.

And is anyone else as stoked about Florence + the Machine appearing tonight as I am?

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