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The Voice: The Final Countdown

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The Voice S02E09: "The Final Battles"

I’m excited to be moving on to The Voice’s live shows next week just to avoid contemplating the existence of Christina Aguilera’s flying saucer hat. It’s very distracting. Sometimes when I look at it I feel like there’s a buzzing in my brain and I consider the possibility that it might be some sort of experimental mind-control device: equal parts top-secret government project and vintage X-Files prop.

It seems that our judges saved the best for last when it came to these final six battles, and as a result they certainly put themselves into some tight spots. Tonight’s performances were hard to judge, and I say this as someone whose opinion is largely irrelevant. I would have hated to be sitting in the hot seats tonight.

Team Cee Lo: James Massone vs. WADE

Confidence issues plagued James Massone throughout rehearsals for a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s "True Colors." WADE kicked butt in rehearsals and then the two seemed to switch places during the actual performance. Both contestants started out strong—so strong, in fact, that I told the television (which I often speak to in lieu of flesh-and-blood people) “Okay, I need one of you to screw up so I can form an opinion.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, WADE got pitchy and I felt bad. Apparently, my TV is magical. Who knew? Cee Lo picked James to advance to the live shows.

Team Adam: Nicolle Gallyon vs. Mathai

The Nicolle/Mathai team-up was actually a lot of fun. Maybe it was the combined brightness of their incredibly shiny personalities? They just looked like they were having a blast the entire time. Adam handed them Sara Bareilles’ "Love Song" and effectively got the tune stuck in my head for the rest of the night. Thanks, Adam. (Not.) Much of Nicolle’s rehearsal time was spent deliberating between piano or no piano before Adam nixed it during dress rehearsals. Despite losing her comfort zone, she stepped up, but the pipes on Mathai, man, they can’t really be beat. Mathai won.

Team Christina: Moses Stone vs. The Line

Christina chose "Satisfaction" for this battle because she’s clearly a sadist. I mean, for the longest time, the Rolling Stones didn’t even like to perform this song live. This pairing was probably one of the weirder match-ups of the night with rapper Moses Stone pitted against country tag-team The Line. I gave Christina the squinty eye when she said that Moses needed to become “more than a rapper” as though rap was a lower form of musical art than belting high notes in a sequined thong. But ultimately, I came around and saw her point, namely that Stone has a great singing voice when he’s confident enough to use it. Meanwhile, Jewel called The Line a wedding band in so many words during their rehearsal and I laughed really hard. Christina picked Moses Stone for the live shows.

Team Adam: Orlando Napier vs. Karla Davis

Adam originally gave his final battling duo the Hall and Oates song "Rich Girl," but after watching both Napier and Davis struggle through their first rehearsal, he switched songs because unlike Christina, he is a kind and benevolent mentor. The new song, "Easy" by The Commodores, was a much better fit. Adam encouraged Karla to find her inner “Bertha” and put some power behind her voice and oh my god, you guys, she was so awesome. I seriously didn’t think she had that fierce sound in her based on her pretty (but timid) rendition of "If I Die Young" back in the blind auditions. Adam decided to take her forward and I’m excited to see more from her.

Team Blake: Jordan Rager vs. Naia Kete

Jordan Rager was the second "country" contestant who panicked over a judge’s decision to give him a song that falls outside the strictly country genre (The Line similarly freaked out over the song Christina gave them earlier in the episode). Other country artists have expressed dismay at being pulled out of their genre throughout competition on The Voice, and the trend is starting to both amuse and confuse me. There is such a huge overlap between pop, country, and rock that I just don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, I have a duet between Def Leppard and Taylor Swift on my iPod. The lines are really blurry. Calm down.

So Blake gave Naia Kete and Jordan Rager a Jason Mraz song, "I’m Yours," and Jordan was nervous about it. He struggled to harmonize with Naia and the results were unfortunate in rehearsal. However, he seemed to pull it together for the battle performance. I don’t fault Blake at all for siding with experience in choosing Naia, but the decision was closer than I initially thought it would be.

Team Cee Lo: Tony Vincent vs. Justin Hopkins

Finally, in what was, for me, the hardest performance of the night to judge (possibly the hardest of the entire show so far) Cee Lo teamed Broadway veteran Tony Vincent with Justin Hopkins for a battle over Journey’s "Faithfully." It. Was. Perfection. It brought Cee Lo Green to tears. And having learned my lesson with WADE, I didn’t demand that someone screw up so to make my choice easier. I was rooting for Justin Hopkins because I preferred his more natural-sounding voice to Tony’s, but I’m not going to argue with Cee Lo’s decision to choose Tony. It was a complete toss-up.

And that wraps up the battle rounds! Our teams are completed. Here’s the final roster:

Team Adam:

Karla Davis
Katrina Parker
Kim Yarbrough
Tony Lucca

Team Blake:

Charlotte Sometimes
Erin Willett
Jermaine Paul
Jordis Unga
Naia Kete

Team Christina:

Ashley De La Rosa
Chris Mann
Jesse Campbell
Lindsey Pavao
Moses Stone
Sera Hill

Team Cee Lo:

Erin Martin
Jamar Rogers
James Massone
Juliet Simms
Tony Vincent

Who are your favorites?

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