On night-two of “The Voice” live playoffs, we had two Katy Perry songs, two reinventions and two one-trick ponies. We also had an “American Idol” reference and an American flag sweater (guess who wore that). But mostly, we had some clear front-runners and some clear eliminations emerge.
Team Cee Lo and Team Xtina were up tonight. Christina Aguilera’s team of four girl pop singers plus an American Eagle model puts her in a tough position, as the four girls have been essentially interchangeable up till now, and the male model just blends in to his surroundings as catalog models should.
Cee Lo Green, on the other hand, had a real mixed bag of performers. The disadvantage for him, though, was that they just aren’t as strong singers all around.
But both coaches had at least one major standout tonight. For Xtina, that was Sylvia Yacoub, the one pop girl who insisted on playing her own instrument, piano. Till now Sylvia was just a pop voice, albeit a forceful one. But tonight she emerged into her own, taking down Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” to a heartfelt and intimate level. In that one song, she transcended the rest of her teammates.
Cee Lo’s big reveal tonight came from Nicholas David, the pasty white, caveman-bearded Minnesotan, who took on Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything,” with great deep-voiced finesse. He’s a great presence on the show, at once commanding and self-deprecating. “I don’t understand the ‘swagger’ thing,” he said of Cee Lo’s advice to him. “I feel like a grandparent…how do you work the VCR?” But he was all silky, purring swagger tonight.
Other standouts were Christina’s De’borah, who will heretofore be known as “Gumby” for her leggy bounce she does around the stage. The judges all claim to be moved and touched by her pain on Pink’s “Who Knew,” and it was moving, but the whole pain thing could really be dialed back a bit next time.
And Cee Lo’s Trevin Hunte, on “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” was once again, as always, soaringly powerful.
So who should go home? Team Xtina: Adriana Louise did “Firework,” and it was too imitaty-Katy. Dez Duron, the aforementioned model, sounded fine on “Wanted,” a country song, but just fades away compared to the other coaches’ unique male singers.
Team Cee Lo: Diego Val seemed to be getting apologies from the coaches for not letting him do his own material, and he seemed just as apologetic about his uninspired performance of “Bailamos.” Mackenzie Bourg, repeating his standout “Call Me Maybe” unplugged, did a similar performance of “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” and got this comment from Adam Levine: “You’re an American Idol, but I don’t know if you’re the winner of ‘The Voice.’” Ouch.