Whitney Myer and Sarah Golden are among the contestants sent packing on Monday night.
By John Mitchell
Last week on “The Voice,” the battle rounds began and Monday night (March 12), they continued with a bang as judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton chose six more hopefuls to continue on to the live shows … and sent six others home.
With a recording contract with Universal Republic Records on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher for this diverse group of mega-talented singers.
First up was Team Xtina and two of her most soulful vocalists, hotel clerk Sera Hill and 51-year-old Geoff McBride. Gathered around the piano, the pair wowed Xtina with their powerhouse voices and the coach seemed in her element working with two seasoned vocalists.
Sera was paired with mentor Jewel, who complimented the emotion she brought to Aretha Franklin’s classic “Chain of Fools.” Geoff was teamed with Lionel Richie and seemed at first in awe of the pop legend. “When Geoff walked in, his delivery was unbelievable,” Richie said. “[But] he’s got to give us the personality, he’s got to give us the character.”
Adam felt Geoff was more “in the moment” during their face-off in “The Voice’s” pop boxing ring, but said that Hill put on “an excellent show.”
Christina complimented Sera’s technique throughout both the rehearsals and the final performance, saying she admired the preciseness of her vocal runs. Ultimately, Sera’s ability to hit her notes and execute her ad libs was enough to carry her though the tough showdown and get Xtina’s vote of approval.
For her second pairing, Christina pitted her two most unique voices, Lindsey Pavao and Lee Koch, against each other to tackle Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box.” Jewel encouraged Lee to really learn the song (Lindsey is a big Nirvana fan and already knew the song inside out) and make Kurt Cobain’s highly personal lyrics his own.
Their performance was “inventive and original,” according to Cee Lo. Adam chose some different adjectives, calling their take “delightfully creepy,” while complimenting the pair on delivering a truly unique take on Nirvana’s song. Impressed with the character and improvement she brought to her vocal, Aguilera chose Lindsey. “What tipped the scales was that Lindsey is extremely versatile in her vocal approach,” Aguilera said, “and I can’t wait to see what becomes of her.”
“I chose Lex versus Charlotte for a very simple reason: their personalities,” Shelton said when he announced that outgoing Jersey girl Charlotte Sometimes would hit the ring against the more quiet Lex Land to sing Foster the People’s hit “Pumped Up Kicks.”
Lex is admittedly very shy, and Blake wanted to see if being paired with the much more extroverted Charlotte would bring her out of her shell — something he believes she needs if she wants to succeed on the show. And while Lex did rise to the challenge by stepping out of her comfort zone and bringing her distinct and sultry sound to the song, she also had some pitch problems. Charlotte didn’t have any such issues, and Shelton chose her more consistent vocal performance to move forward.
Team Cee Lo
For his first battle of the night, Cee Lo went with two very different singers, gravel-voiced rocker Juliet Simms and folk singer Sarah Golden, singing Rod Stewart’s “Stay With Me.”
Sarah was teamed with Babyface, who supported Sarah’s choice to keep close to her simple, folky roots. “The only way I’m going to beat Juliet is to stay true to who I am,” Sarah admitted.
“The only thing I would tell you is to pick your spots,” mentor Ne-Yo told Juliet, recommending she not over-sing the song, but rather pick the right moments to let her unique voice shine.
Juliet delivered the raspy vocal Cee Lo expected, and while Blake was a fan of how Sarah’s unique, near-country delivery complimented the band’s shredding guitars, the other judges urged Cee Lo to go with Juliet … which he did.
Cee Lo’s final pairing of the night was an emotional one — the music Renaissance man paired Jamar Rogers and Jamie Lono to take on Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Though the two had become good friends, in a winner-take-all competition like “The Voice,” it’s every man for himself.
Jamie was having trouble with his voice cracking throughout rehearsals, and mentor Babyface advised him to “do what your voice tells you.”
Paired with Ne-Yo, Jamar got the encouragement he needed. Ne-Yo told the young singer that a song like “I Want to Know What Love Is” is all about the emotion the singer brings to it. And Jamar certainly has plenty of life experience to draw upon — the young man was once a heavy drug user who overcame his addiction, but as a result of his drug use contracted HIV. “If I win this, it will be a victory for anyone who has ever overcome anything,” Jamar said on his way into the battle ring.
Jamar’s strong vocal performance won over Adam and Christina, while Jamie’s style earned Blake’s vote. But the final decision was Cee Lo’s, and he chose Jamar to move forward to the live shows.
Both singers were left in tears singing the other’s praises during their interviews following their performance.
Whitney Myer, who got all four judges to turn their chairs during the blind auditions, found her nerves wracked immediately when Adam paired her with Kim Yarbrough, a far more seasoned vocalist who is two decades her senior. Both Adam and mentor Alanis Morissette encouraged the young singer to not even try to overpower Yarbrough but instead opt to spotlight the strong personality in her own voice.
Kim’s mentor Robin Thicke pushed for her to embrace the emotion of the song and not focus so intently on showing off her already-developed chops.
“I truly felt like I was watching one of those diva concerts,” Blake said of the vocal Olympics that was Kim and Whitney’s performance of Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama.” Unable to be of any assistance, Blake declared, “I pick Carson [Daly].”
Meanwhile, both Christina and Cee Lo picked Kim, feeling the song better fit Kim’s more mature vocal. It was a tough decision that clearly weighed on him heavily, but Adam ultimately sided with his fellow judges and chose Kim.