Tuesday night put Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton in their respective hot seats as the knockout rounds sped on (and on and on). There were a few surprises, but Teams Blake and Christina were pretty dedicated to their scripts—infuriatingly so, in a few cases.
Ah, the first of the Christina Clones to duke it out on stage. Both singers made an attempt to court Christina’s favor by indulging in two of Christina's favorite things: belting high notes and reminding everyone that she’s a “Latin Superstar,” which I never stop thinking is hilarious because SHE’S FROM PITTSBURGH, OKAY? Not even actual Pittsburgh, but an amazingly dull WASP-y suburb. (It’s cool that she doesn’t embrace it, though. We don’t like to brag about it either.) ANYWAY, Devin went the Whitney Houston route and Laura went the Marc Anthony route. I gave Laura brownie points for singing in Spanish because I have a hard time doing anything more complicated than ordering hamburguesa con queso y papas fritas. Musically, though, I thought she was forcing it. I’m a sucker for the contestants who make it look easy and Devin did just that.
While I gave Laura points for the Espanol, I had to detract some from Celica for her Justin Bieber musical selection. At least when he inevitably performs on every NBC talent show ever, I can hit mute and mourn for kids these days, but I had to actually, you know, pay attention to Celica’s performance, which means I had no such option. Thanks for that. Adriana opted for a Kelly Clarkson song which, while better, was kind of predictable. Team Christina should just call itself the “Top 40 Team” and be done with it. At the end of the battle, Christina turned to her fellow judges for guidance and Blake pointed out that both singers were pitchy. Adam accused him of being “mean.” Blake accused Adam of being “bitchy.” I’m so bored with this bromance. Christina picked Adriana.
Blake dubbed it “The Battle of the Heartthrobs” and the face-off between pretty people Alessandra and Dez was actually one of the better performances of the night. Alessandra sang Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” and Dez sang Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You,” which was a nice change from Team Xtina’s trademark “Greatest Oldies of the Last Five Years.” Adam remarked that Alessandra had showed tremendous growth since he'd worked with her, buuuut Christina went with Dez.
Hands down, the biggest surprise of the night came from the battle between former Lady Gaga backup singer Chevonne and self-proclaimed misfit De’Borah. On a side note, I tend to side-eye self-proclaimed “misfits” who take fashion cues from Glee because I can’t help but wonder if it’s like back in high school where my friends and I all caked clown makeup on our faces and declared ourselves “goths” or “punks” but really, we were just My Chemical Romance fans. The shocker during Chevonne and De’Borah’s battle was not that De’Borah was awesome, but that Christina actually acknowledged that and chose accordingly. Chevonne’s “Dancing With Myself” (which totally paled in comparison to the Shields Brothers’ audition last season) was entertaining, but mostly due to the “WTF is she DOING?” factor. Basically, she just got really caught up in the dancing to the point that I think her singing suffered. De’Borah, meanwhile, stuck with The Fray and did okay, easily advancing to the live rounds.
Let the sucking-up begin! While the pandering and ego-stroking wouldn’t reach full-swing until Team Blake’s knockout battles, we got a taste of the coming hour when Sylvia picked an Xtina classic, “Fighter” and proceeded to spend half of her rehearsal complementing Christina’s songwriting abilities, fretting over the difficulty of the song, and encouraging her mentor to sing sing SING every chance she got. You guys, I called this one before they even hit the stage. Meanwhile, Aquile went with a Bruno Mars tune, “Grenade” that didn’t quite get Xtina excited the way Sylvia’s overwhelming hero worship did. At least Sylvia can actually sing, though, so it wasn't the worst decision Christina’s made all night.
I’m going to try to play nice but ultimately, the battle between Liz and Gracia highlighted the underlying problems with Blake and Christina’s rigid adherence to genre. Both Liz and Gracia auditioned under the country banner, but when the women were allowed to pick their own songs in the knockouts, Gracia horrified Blake by picking an Aerosmith song while Liz won the suck-up award by choosing yet ANOTHER Miranda Lambert song. The best part of their battle was watching Blake try to make sense of this ultimate betrayal, even though “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is hardly slapping country in the face. In fact, country star Mark Chesnutt recorded a horrible country version of the song back when Armageddon was in theaters. So. Calm down, bro. It’s going to be okay. Just not for Gracia; Blake went with Liz because “she knows who she wants to be,” and doesn’t like to try scaaaary new things like... adding twang to a pop-rock song that was already halfway there to begin with.
So sad to see Rudy go, especially considering we saw so little of him after his awesome blind audition, what with The Voice’s love of montage magic. I’m actually tempted to go back and compare who got shafted during the battle rounds with who ultimately made it to the live rounds. Would there be a correlation between who made it and whose battles actually got shown on television? Probably. It’s all pre-recorded at this point. It would make sense not to waste time showing footage of contestants who didn’t get through. Still, I can’t argue that Terry wasn’t crazy-awesome during his knockout battle with Rudy. My mad love for singers who make it look easy? Yeah, Terry is totally in that group.
Arguing that both performances were equal in their good and bad points, Blake made his decision based on “it comes down to what I’m into,” and what he was into was “that little girl,” Michaela Paige. Ugh. Stop CALLING her that! According to her official bio, she’s a senior in high school, which means there’s a very good chance that she’s barely old enough to buy cigarettes and porn, vote, and in Canada, get crazy drunk if she’s in Alberta, Manitoba, or Quebec.
The final two battles on Team Blake landed in “pandering but I’m not entirely sure why” territory. MarissaAnn’s decision to pull out Christina’s “Lady Marmalade” made more sense than Cassadee Pope and “Payphone,” though. Considering her original spot in this competition was on Team Christina, I like to think MarissaAnn picked the song, and performed it rather well, mostly to thumb her nose at the judge who almost sent her home. UNFORTUNATELY, that didn’t do much to sway her current judge, and Blake ultimately went with Julio because he'd already invested time in him. Hmmm... I’m beginning to suspect that this might be the downside to The Steal.
Any hope I may have had of bestowing my misplaced hair-envy on Suzanna was dashed when her laid-back Bob Marley cover seemed anti-climactic in comparison to Pope’s Ode to Adam Levine. Cassadee picked “Payphone” because she wanted to do a “feel good” song, except “Payphone” is kind of a grumpy song if you actually listen to the lyrics. It’s okay, I know that pop songs don’t like to put a lot of thought into meaning. It’s really all about the surface value, and on the surface, Cassadee totally delivered. Her performance was more exciting than Suzanna’s. I just personally prefer Suzanna.
Blake and Christina’s final rosters heading into the live rounds are:
1. What are your thoughts on Blake and Xtina’s eliminations?
2. How do you feel about the long-term implications of The Steal—where the stolen MarissaAnn was sent home because Blake had more time invested in original team member Julio?
3. Do you think the vast montage conspiracy has any merit or have I just had too much coffee today?
4. Is it too early to start making winner predictions?