The Voice: The Final Countdown

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?

Comments (5)
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Mar 29, 2012
I thought Orlando Napier was the clear winner in his battle. Overall, Cee Low has the weakest team for the second year in a row. He seems to make all his decisions in his pants.
Mar 28, 2012
The Tony/Justin matchup was really good. I thought Justin performed and sounded better than Tony, but Tony was picked. Tony was good too, so chalk this up to another inherent problem with the battle round idea. You sacrifice some of your best performers/singers for a better battle, while giving your lesser talents a chance at the later rounds. Stupid. That's like having the #1 and #2 play each other and #15 and #16 play each other in the first round of March Madness. Other than this performance, I would give last night's episode a D.

The Jordan/Naia and Nicolle/Matthai both sounded like something I would hear at a karaoke bar. I liked Naia's audition, but I was hoping both Jordan and Naia would be cut and bring back someone else that had already been cut. It was not good. I thought Nicolle's audition was so-so, so I'm glad Matthai won, but Matthai was very average last night as well.

I actually kind of enjoyed the Moses/The Line rendition of "Satisfaction". My problem with this was the choice. Christina makes this big speech about how The Voice needs to be versatile, then she chooses the rapper with a mediocre-at-best singing voice. There are millions of people with mediocre singing voices. His rapping is pretty good, but I would never use versatile to describe his talents. That's like saying Shaq is versatile, when we know all he's good for is standing down low and dunking over people.

I would give the Orlando/Kayla matchup a C+, maybe B-. It was fairly good, but not great. They are talented, but they have a lot of work to do to be professional quality. Other than that, I don't have much to say. I preferred the tone of Orlando's voice to Kayla, but they were pretty evenly matched. Either one could've won.

Now for the worst segment in the show's history. First off, I loved Wade's audition. I thought he was a sure thing after that. James on the other hand is the exact opposite. I couldn't believe anyone turned their chair around for him. To me, he sounded like a prepubescent Justin Bieber. Pretty bad. So, I was expecting a runaway. Wrong, but for different reasons than you would think. Nearly everything that is wrong with the battle rounds and this show popped up in one segment. Everything but the thing I mentioned earlier in my rant. The #1 faced the #16. So, going into it I was a little happy until #16 got home court advantage. The song choice was crap. It's a good song, but not for these guys to sing. Anyways, I still figured Wade would pull it off.

Now the performance. Wade is off his game and James has the game of his life. James, surprisingly, wasn't terrible, but is he good enough to pull off the upset? In my opinion, no. Not until the refs step in during the last minute of the game and favored James. The refs took control of the game and decided they wanted James to win. That's exactly what happened when C-Lo picked James. Wade did not have a great performance, but he was better than James last night. Not only was he better, but he has much more potential to go far into the competition. This was complete and utter failure on C-Lo's part.

If you're still reading this, thank you. I know most of you reading this probably don't like basketball, heck I don't like watching basketball, but I thought it was a fitting analogy. I hope the live rounds of The Voice are significantly better than the last week or 2, because it is falling dangerously close to American Idol bad. Hopefully the coaches, mainly Christina and C-Lo, start making good decisions for their teammates soon, or I will have to stop watching this and I don't want to. I enjoy competitions. And since the awesomeness that is So You Think You Can Dance is only on during a few weeks in the summer, this is the only competition on tv that I can actually enjoy watching this time of year (I love sports, but watching basketball sucks and all the other reality shows are boring).
Mar 27, 2012
The only decision I didn't agree with was Tony over Justin. This is my first season watching the voice so I don't know how much, if any, input the audience has in the live rounds but I think Justin is the more versatile and relatable performer.
Mar 27, 2012
Cee Lo and Christina were the ones to disappoint me tonight.. for Cee Lo, I thought WADE was better than James and Justin was a lot better than Tony. Christina chose Moses over The Line? what? this happened last season, a good group gets through but they toss them out in the battle rounds, and now Moses probably won't make it very far at all, probably be first one home next week. basically, if you're a group, don't bother with The Voice, they won't give you a shot even if you're better lol

each team has atleast one person I don't like though, and honestly I can't really place them just by names yet anyway so there could be more

Tony just creeps me out, but if they were to make a Nightmare Before Christmas musical for Broadway, he could totally be Jack Skeleton
Mar 28, 2012
I agree about Wade. Overall I found myself irritated more so than usual over some of the mediocre talents making it through and greater ones getting canned.