Teams Adam and Cee Lo hit the stage to sing for America’s votes.
By John Mitchell
Last week on “The Voice,” Teams Blake and Christina hit the live stage and saw their numbers dwindle by two contestants each after all was said and done. On Monday night (April 9), it was Team Cee Lo and Team Adam’s turn to sing for their survival in the competition and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Levine and Green, out of his Elvis clown costume from last week but sporting the bright red he’s been rocking all season, seemed in good spirits at the top of the show, even joking with Blake about how underdressed he was.
Remember: The top three vote-getters from each team will move on automatically, while the bottom three will perform for their respective coach (and America, duh!) Tuesday night, hoping to secure Cee Lo or Adam’s lone “save” to stay in the hunt to be the next “Voice.”
Away we go!
Up first was Team Adam’s Katrina Parker, singing the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight.” Adam’s big advice for Katrina was to stay away from belting too hard to avoid comparisons to Adele. She did what he said but drew mixed reviews from the judges, who felt the song wasn’t a good showcase for Parker’s talents.
Team Cee Lo’s first contestant to take the stage was Cheesa, whose play on the ’70s classic “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was brimming with coach Cee Lo’s signature Technicolor swagger and had the judges championing her showmanship. “That was like watching ‘Solid Gold,’ ” Blake said. “That had Cee Lo written all over it.”
Team Adam’s Tony Lucca has become an early favorite for one big reason: He used to share the TV screen with coach Christina Aguilera — who’s been looking better than ever with toned-down makeup and hair since the live shows began — on Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Sensing what Aguilera ultimately called out — that he can be a “one-dimensional” performer, who has been helped along by his connection to her — Adam pushed Lucca to go more pop with Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” but Lucca’s rocker growl struggled through the song’s falsetto moments.
Kim Yarbrough was reliably strong if imperfect singing Adele, but when are we going to put a moratorium on tackling Adele? In its relatively short life, “Rolling in the Deep” has been pillaged by reality-TV singing contestants almost as much as, well, Christina’s “Beautiful” circa 2004-ish “American Idol.”
Boston mechanic James Massone from Team Cee Lo got tossed a curveball with Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” and proved himself both a chameleon with a killer falsetto (take lessons, Tony Lucca) and quite a lady’s man. Blake was his most enthusiastic supporter, declaring, “I almost threw my panties on the stage just now.”
(And here we thought he only got worked up like that when his best bro hit the stage. Hope Adam doesn’t get jealous!)
Meanwhile, the night’s next two performers, gravel-voiced rocker Juliet Simms and unique-voiced Mathai, played right to their strengths with Sting’s “Roxanne” and a jazzy remix of John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” respectively, and earned the expected raves. “You did the best of anyone who’s performed so far,” Adam said of Simms. “Your voice is dope,” Xtina concurred.
Ultra-confident rocker Tony Vincent was up next, singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” If the Broadway-meets-dictator-podium stage setup was strange, his vocal performance was anything but. He reeled it in from previous performances and proved he could control his powerful voice.
Simms, Mathai and Vincent were definitely tough acts to follow, but subdued Karla Davis, singing “Airplanes,” and Team Cee Lo’s former model Erin Martin were picked for the task. Christina called Karla the “biggest surprise of the night,” while Blake criticized the song choice, and even Adam commented that Davis did a stronger job when she was less nervous while they were practicing in the rehearsal space.
Martin certainly brought serious production values to her take on the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” (with her chariot and man dancers, she was giving us Madonna at the Super Bowl vibes, albeit in a much smaller way) but forgot to bring much aggression to her actual performance. “Here we go again with the male strippers,” Blake commented. “I think Blake just bought a one-way ticket to Boner Town,” Adam quipped in response. “And it’s not refundable,” he hit back.
It’s never a great sign when the judges are more consumed by the production than the performance when you’re on a show called “The Voice,” is it?
The folks behind the scenes wisely chose two of the show’s best-known showstoppers for the end of the night, saving Team Adam’s preppy Pip and Team Cee Lo’s Jamar Rogers for last. Adam wanted Pip to break out of his shell and gave him the chance to show off his rock-star bona fides with “When You Were Young.” Pip brought flash, but Christina wasn’t loving it, saying she didn’t feel like he was connected to the song and had early pitch issues. Adam agreed; Pip’s got the voice, but he’s missing the grit and, should he move forward, that is something they will have to work on.
Closing out the night, Rogers hit the stage in his best Michael Jackson jacket for Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” The audience loved it and so did the judges, and Jamar, with his unstoppable stage presence and dramatic backstory of overcoming drug addiction and living with HIV, continues to seem like a front-runner in the competition.
Who do you think gave the best performance tonight on “The Voice”? Let us know in the comments below!