Teams Christina and Cee Lo Look to Shine on ‘The Voice’

Jacquie Lee (NBC)

On the second night of “The Voice” semi-finals, Teams Cee Lo and Xtina took to the stage for their chances in the Top 12.

There were some stellar performances, but the show didn’t start out as strongly as it did Monday night. That was largely Cee Lo Green’s fault, as his contestants went first. And he chose to open with Amber Nicole, a teenager who doesn’t seem to have experienced the world-weariness that Cassadee Pope had at her age. But she sang the Season 3 winner’s “Wasting All These Tears.” Much was made that it was country song, but let’s not pretend Cassadee was ever really country. Amber delivered it full-on pop, and very sweetly, until she belted two seriously bum notes.

Next up was Jonny Gray, whom Cee Lo gifted the curious selection of “Bittersweet Symphony,” which basically has one repetitive line throughout. There’s not much you can do with that, and Jonny does try, but it’s underwhelming. Cee Lo, though, is obsessed with this guy, and seems to think he’s the next generation of “Americana, grunge.”

But his team wasn’t all bad. You can tell Tamara Chauniece is a brilliant singer, because even though Cee Lo gave her the number one karaoke song ever, “I Will Survive,” she found ways at times to make it sound not completely and utterly played out.

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Kat Robichaud’s got a good voice, but it’s her personality she’s got going for her. She does Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” with the necessary emotion, though not quite total vocal achievement. But then tops it off by hugging a random audience member. She gets hippy dippy about it when Carson questions her. “I just love her! There she is, she’s experience this with everybody. You guys are so beautiful and amazing!” Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera didn’t think she went all the way, but the hug may have saved her.

Cee Lo saved his secret weapon for last. The baby-voiced “indie” girl with the weird accent, fill-in-the-blank-name. Oh, this one is named Caroline Pennell. He gives her the White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends,” because it reminds him of their friendship, and he tells her the objective is to give the audience cavities. And yes, it’s totally sweet. Adam says he didn’t think she sang too much like Regina-Michaelson-Adele tonight, but more like herself. And Blake Shelton says if he was getting an amputation and heard her, he’d think about cotton candy.

Christina faced some real challenges tonight, mainly in figuring out how to speak in her commentary. She’s veering on Mariah Carey-level unintelligibility.

Josh Logan kicked off her team with Cee Lo’s “Crazy.” He’s on guitar, though not really playing it. It’s all syncopated and crazy, but also kind of soft-rock R&B, like a version you’d hear while shopping in a Lane Bryant. Cee Lo was flattered, though admits he was a little worried, since he wrote it as a rapper. Xtina loved the originality, but then started talking about Mozart, and she really cannot talk.

Xtina’s country singer, Olivia Henken, was up next. If I remember correctly, she was the lesser of two evils in her previous Battles and Knockouts. But now, when not in comparison to someone much worse, it’s pretty evil to make us listen to this. She’s instructed to countrify Katy Perry’s “Roar.” The whole thing was off-key and basically painful. All the judges give her good feedback. Snooze.

Things got better after that. I think Stephanie Anne Johnson is my favorite contestant in the show. Mostly cause I love cruise ships, and by default, their singers. But this girl is also just adorable and awesome. With “Georgia on My Mind,” she’s powerful and sultry and interpretive and just a total pro. I would buy that single. Hot damn she also sings opera! Christina asks her to sing for one second, and she chooses the highest possible note. SAJ for the win!

Matthew Schuler is another major front-runner. He just laid it all out there on “Wrecking Ball,” (what might be the first music competition performance of this song?). All the coaches are jealous that he belongs to Xtina.

Jacquie Lee looks like she’s five years old and I just don’t care. That voice! Just end the show now and give this girl the trophy. She sang “I Put a Spell on You.” And it was just oh-my-god. Cee Lo forsakes his own team to tell her she’s the best. “Blake knows he’s not going to win this season,” he says.

So even with rough starts by both teams, they ended well—and Christina’s team had the upper edge. Once she gets rid of the dead weight Josh Logan and Olivia Henken, hers will be the team to beat. Cee Lo should lose Amber and Jonny and he’ll have a decent lineup, but no one who could take on that Jacquie.

Check back Thursday for the results!

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

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