‘The Voice,’ Night Two: A Prince, A Soldier and Four Jokers

Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green perform a Prince medley on The Voice (NBC)

I’m the first one to admit that I have some fairly odd habits. For instance, if I see somebody biting a towel, I freak out and have to leave the room. I hold my breath and make a wish when I drive through tunnels because I’ve heard that’s supposed to work. And whenever I’m on anyone’s website, I look for the FAQ section. I love seeing what Frequently Asked Questions people have, largely to see if I can come up with new ones that should be added. With that in mind, here are the Top 10 questions I think needed to be asked frequently following Episode Two from Season 2 of NBC’s “The Voice.”

1) How badly does Christina Aguilera want a shampoo commercial? I mean, seriously, just look at her segment in the opening credits. The other three coaches are goofing around in their shots. Then there’s Aguilera, with her slo-mo hair tosses and Make-Love-to-the-Camera pout….I didn’t know whether to stay tuned for the show or go buy a crate of Pantene.

2) Why Prince? I know he’s a legendary artist with more memorable songs than you can shake a drumstick at. But was the opening number with all the coaches performing a mini-medley of the Minnesota Mighty Mite’s greatest hits the best way to go? Sure Cee Lo Green looked the part in his glittery red suit, and he sounded perfectly comfortable doing a few lines from “Little Red Corvette.”  But Blake Shelton’s honky tonk-ish “Kiss” seemed as strange as seeing Cee Lo without sunglasses. And why is it that shows that want to appeal to the youngsters, like “The Voice” and  “American Idol” fall back on performers from my ancient generation, whether it’s Prince or Bon Jovi or, yes, Aerosmith? Not that I mind. I’m firmly entrenched in the oldie but goodie demo they’re apparently after. But still, shouldn’t these shows really be leaning more toward the audience that knows Katy Perry than the one that has heard of Perry Como?

Watch the Coaches Perform the Opening Prince Medley:

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3) Did Blake really say ‘boobs’? The first act of the evening, the duo of Hailey and Leland (a.k.a. The Line), wowed the crowd and all the coaches with their rousing rendition of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” And in the process of trying to win the pair over for their teams, the coaches instantly became teenage girls fighting over the cute boy they want to ask them to the prom. Christina reminded Blake he sent a duo packing last year. Then he let Hailey and Leland know that he’s part of a country duo courtesy of his wife, Miranda Lambert. To which Adam Levine  implores Blake to stop wielding his wife as a weapon to woo singers to his team. Finally, Hailey and Leland went with Christina and a bitter Blake complained that “they were fooled by flash and….” Wait a minute! Did he really say “fooled by flash and boobs”? As if that’s a bad thing?

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4) Exactly how much Red Bull do they serve backstage? There’s no doubt that Jamar Rogers, an ex-meth addict who is HIV-positive, has a moving personal story. And his rocking but soulful version of “Seven Nation Army” was a complete crowd-pleaser (although not so much for the coaches, since only Cee Lo turned around). But watching his reaction to getting picked by his idol – Cee Lo – was even more memorable. He seemed about two leaps short of actually flying, he was so ecstatic. It was genuine, touching and made you wonder how many energy drinks he’d just had. (By the way, I digress but Cee Lo was back with his Bond villain cat, petting her as he talked about Jamar….is this feline the uncredited fifth coach now?)

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5) Why are these people so freakin’ nice? Part of the way through the third hour, there was a Loser Montage – many of the singers who didn’t make the cut still got their 15 seconds of fame as we saw snippets of the coaches blasting their dreams out of the clouds the contestants had just been walking on. But every time anyone was told “Thanks, but no thanks,” they always politely gushed about how great the coaches are. But c’mon….just once could somebody say what the rest of us are thinking? Something along the lines of, “What the hell! I just told you my whole sad story and laid all my dreams on the line, and now you’re sending me home? I’m not leaving till you change your mind!”

6) So how old are the coaches anyway? Twelve? Don’t get me wrong. The reason “The Voice” is so much more fun to watch than “Idol” is because the coaches behave like children most of the time, hurling insults at each other like it’s a Comedy Central roast. But geez! They just don’t stop, getting to the point where it actually overshadows some great performances, like that from 37-year-old Gwen Sebastian, the pride of North Dakota. She did a great, tough-yet-tender rendering of “Stay” that got a three-chair salute from the coaches (What’s your problem, Christina?). Blake seemed genuinely ticked off as he accused the other two guys of turning for Gwen just to, well, tick him off.

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“You bastards!” he ranted. “You did this to get under my skin!” Not willing to let it go, he told a nervous, shaky Gwen that she had a choice between spikes and tattoos and a real country guy. I’m not sure what the spikes are about, but his playful antics worked. Gwen signed on to Team Blake. The banter battle continued when the big voice and bigger attitude of 50-year-old Kim Yarbrough nearly caused the venue to crumble to the ground with her “Tell Me Something Good.” Adam and Christina turned for her, each singing and dancing along in their seats. After more than an hour of taking grief from Christina, Blake offered to help Kim make her decision by reminding her which coach won “The Voice” last year. That would be Adam, whose team Kim quickly joined.

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7) Shouldn’t host Carson Daly at least pretend to be impartial? Judging by his reaction to the performance of Air Force Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson, apparently not. Daly bragged before she went in front of The Chairs to sing “Heartbreaker” that he saw a clip of her singing with her military band and got it up on the Internet. Which not coincidentally helped land her on “The Voice.” Now sure she turned in a solid performance, good enough to land her on Cee Lo’s team after America’s favorite dirty uncle asked if she “is as beautiful as I think you are.” But watching Daly bounce around backstage with her family, hugging and congratulating them all, it felt like he was already counting residual checks.

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8) Do the coaches get do-overs? Well, they don’t, but never have they wanted one as badly as they did after watching Yale football player turned wanna-be singing sensation Dez Duron. Not only did he look like the second coming of a Backstreet Boy, he sang a surprisingly sleek and classy version of the extinct boy band’s “I Want It That Way.” And not a single chair turned. After Christina saw what she passed on, she blurted out, “I’m so angry right now!” As Dez walked off-stage and right by her, she had the same longing look my cat does when she sees me throwing out the last couple bites of steak.

9) Should they give Christina a teleprompter? Of course not, because that would ruin much of the fun. Take the performance of Lindsey Pavao, who had a sultry, Fiona Apple-esque take on the Trey Songz tune, “Say Ahh!” It was my favorite performance of the night. Her look, her voice, the way she worked the stage….this is a star that’s already shining. Lindsey earned herself three chairs (Shame on you, Adam!), and Christina promptly announced, “I just want to play with you.” To which Blake, quite rightly, responded, “That’s weird!” Let’s just hope Christina was speaking musically, because Lindsey is now on her team.

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10) The coaches can dish it out, but can they take it? They’re constantly questioning each other’s abilities, which is vastly entertaining. Even better, though, is watching them sit there getting grilled by the contestants they’re trying to recruit. Some are direct and to the point, like Jermaine Paul, who sang “Complicated.” You can tell his time spent as a back-up singer for Alicia Keys has given this guy plenty of confidence. Cee Lo and Blake both picked him, but he pushed them both hard to explain why they’d be the best choice to help him win. Blake pushed back, refusing to say he’d keep Jermaine on his team but he certainly needed him on it.

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Meanwhile, shy Angel Taylor seemed like she was going to shatter as she song a delicate version of “Someone Like You.” Still, as fragile as she looked and sounded, she had to get strong quickly when Adam turned for her but then told her how rough the beginning of her performance was. Angel pushed back, with the help of the other coach who picked her, Blake. She may not have seemed tough at first but after getting Adam to admit he knew exactly “what I can do for you,” she signed on to his team.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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