Several days into the Battles on “The Voice,” it’s clear the coaches used up all the good ones already. Tonight’s six featured pairings were either extremely uneven or just odd. And almost all of the coaches’ choices about who moved on seemed random. Or were they? It looked like every Battle victor was just the contestant who was standing on the left side of the stage, that’s how little it mattered who did what. Ponder that, “Voice” Truthers! Luckily, there were a few Steals left to make things right.
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Team Xtina: Josh Logan vs. Michael Lynch
Christina Aguilera gave fellow coach Adam Levine a whole lotta love by devoting this battle to Maroon 5’s first hit, “Harder to Breathe.” Watching her two guys–a gigging dad and a landscaper with hopes of breaking into Latin music—struggle with the song, it seemed to dawn on her only then that Adam is a pretty solid songwriter. Josh and Michael, however, didn’t earn as much praise during rehearsal, as they tripped over the words and ignored the audience. In performance, things went only a little better. Josh sounded a lot like Adam, so he had an advantage. Michael did some interesting but unnecessary runs; he tried to loosen up on stage but came off uncomfortable. Cee Lo Green called it Michael’s “unassuming energy.” But mostly the coaches focused on Josh’s uncanny resemblance to Adam, vocally. “He has a more masculine version of my voice,” Adam said. “And image,” Blake Shelton quickly added. Adam admitted he liked Josh better, and ultimately, so did Christina.
Team Cee Lo: George Horga, Jr. vs. Juhi
Ok, I can’t quite figure out Cee Lo’s strategy here. Not only does he usually wind up with some of the less desirable contestants from the Blind Auditions, but then he makes the totally not obvious choices in Battles. Here, he pitted two imperfect singers, George, whose parents are from Romania, and Juhi, a 16-year-old in high school. Juhi does little shrieks and growls and things that are a bit more current than George’s smooth boy-band-without-the-band sound. And in rehearsal of “Best I Ever Had,” George psyches himself out when he hears Juhi’s cute little quirks. He works hard to distinguish himself, but right off the bat, cracks a note in the Battle. The coaches take pity on him but don’t totally let him off the hook. Meanwhile, they all love Juhi. Cee Lo, in his evaluation, calls her a “young Einstein.” So why, then, did he declare George the winner? He says it’s something about George being completely committed, and someone who has no plan B. Like high school, I guess. Adam, though, he doesn’t care if Juhi still has the option of getting an education, ‘cause he steals her right up.
Team Blake: Austin Jenckes vs. Brian Pounds
Welcome back to The Cher Show. Carson Daly tells us we’re going to check in on Blake and his guest mentor, and we see the two of them just cracking up while they wait for the two guitar-strumming country guys to show up and start rehearsing “To Love Somebody.” Immediately Cher has some excellent advice, hat Austin not show all his cards at the beginning of the song. “You rely on your power,” she tells him. “I did, too.” And she proceeds to give us all kinds of insight into the making of Cher. In the next day rehearsal, she gets more intense with her tips and her criticism. Brian, who has been the recipient of most of the criticism, knows what’s what. “When Cher talks, you listen,” he says. But he didn’t listen to Cher’s advice to go “balls to the wall.” Instead, he gives up his guitar, losing the only strong suit he really had. In the Battle, Austin does his coffeehouse roots proud and gets all into it. Brian’s just kind of there. Every coach picked Austin as their favorite. Blake tries to pretend it’s “dead even,” but he picks Austin pretty easily.
Team Adam: James Irwin vs. Matt Cermanski
Next up in the world of pairings that make no sense were Adam’s two “comeback kids,” former auditioners who didn’t get a single chair to turn for them previously, but this season got lucky. He gives them a song from his guest mentor, Ryan Tedder: “Counting Stars.” Ryan explains that the song is about his getting married young and supporting his family and wishing he wasn’t broke all the time, which James, a “former construction worker and family man” (thanks for that, Carson) has some experience with. Matt, a “singer-songwriter who has found his voice” (huh?) had a harder time connecting, even after he ditched his guitar at Adam’s request. Both of them had some pitch issues, but ultimately, it was the connection Adam was most interested in, and he chose James to move on.
Team Xtina: Destinee Quinn vs. Lina Gaudenzi
Biker bar singer and teen model pair up for a battle that has nothing to do with singing, but rather emotions. It’s “the most emotional Battle of the night,” Carson tells us. And Christina painfully tries to extrude any kind of feeling out of these two, on “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice.” Forget that Lina’s voice is strong and breathy and full of character, and Destinee’s is nasally and mousy with a hint of country twang. Christina works with them in rehearsal to get them to act the song by showing them how it’s done–her crutch teaching technique of completely stealing the spotlight from her protégés. The lesson sinks in for Destinee, who pretends that she’s “mad as hell” just a little harder than Lina. All of the coaches think Lina’s a better singer, but Christina, trying to prove a point or something, picks Destinee. That’s the real lesson: just do whatever Christina says to stay on her good side. Or, in Cher terms: When Christina talks, you listen. Adam got buzzer happy for the second time tonight and stole Lina.
Team Adam: James Wolpert vs. Will Champlin
Two infuriatingly nerdy guys went up against each other in the night’s last Battle. James works at the Apple Store and loves computers, and Will, whose dad is in the band Chicago, insists on wearing thick white framed glasses. So you can see my frustration. Even coach Adam admitted having them both on his team was redundant and needed to be remedied in a fight to the death. And so he paired them for “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Both of them sounded fine, but Will, who changed to black glasses, wasn’t quite as oddball as James, who looked like he belonged on “The Office.” Everyone was kind of enjoying the shock value of James’s nerdboy look. “You look like you could be working the stock market—in a cool way,” Adam told him. So James was his pick. But Christina thought Will was more “solid and consistent,” and so she used up her last Steal on Chicago Jr.
In other news, Christina freaked out when a bug crawled on her shoulder, of course, because that’s gross.
So, almost all the spots are taken up. Looks like we’ll be closing these Battles out Tuesday night. Here’s hoping the coaches saved one or two secret weapons for the end. In the meantime, what do you think about the coaches’ decisions Monday night? Was Cee Lo crazy to give up Juhi? Did Destinee really deserve to win just because she was more emotional? And which glasses look better on Will? Find me on Twitter @sharynjackson and let me know what you think.
Catch-up on Monday Night’s Entire Episode of “The Voice” Below: