The Voice Review: The Virtual Panty App Episode
On this week’s episode of The Voice, Teams Adam and Cee Lo get their first taste of the live competition. And while some contestants shocked in this tenth week of competition, others just left the judges stumped. Ironically enough, it was Blake Shelton who had the tough decisions to make this week, proving that even when your team’s not up on the main stage, your job is never done. This week Blake had an awful sort of predicament and an epic choice no one should ever have to make: toss the panties up on the stage or reach in your pocket and make it rain. Decisions, decisions… hey, what can I say, it’s a tough job.
If I had to go on bravado alone, I’d say that someone from Team Cee Lo’s going to win this season. Sure all the judges say they’re going to take this one, but there’s something about Cee Lo’s arrogance and confidence that makes me think that he actually will. And that’s not even taking into account the fabulous voices that he has on his team, because every judge has at least one member that can carry this thing away; but Team Cee Lo has two members that I’m counting on: Jamar Rogers and James Massone. To be fair, Team Adam gave a solid standing on the whole this week, and we’ll probably never see what all these guys can do until it gets down to the finals. So, let’s keep an open mind, shall we?
First up this week for Team Adam is Katrina Parker singing “Tonight’s the Night.” Katrina chose this song because she really wanted to step away from the Adele comparison, and her plan was to simplify it to showcase her voice. While an admirable effort, this was not a successful endeavor. Her sound really didn’t mesh with the song; so as great as her voice is, the performance came off a little awkward. Adam seemed to love it, but then again she is on his team; Cee Lo and Christina on the other hand didn’t seem too impressed.
Also failing to impress is Kim Yarborough, who’s been a strong contender up to this point. So why in the world she chose to sing “Rolling In The Deep,” I have no idea. Unless you’re really going to change it up and do something surprising with this song, I think it’s best left to the original at this point. As it is, there’s nothing distinctive in Kim’s performance, but if you don’t pay attention to what she’s singing and just listen to her voice, it is quite nice. All the judges agree that this performance had its share of problems.
Unjustly criticized this week was Tony Lucca, who was torn a new one by his fellow former Mickey Mouse Clubber Christina Aguilera. What exactly he did to piss her off so much, I don’t really know, but on the bright side it’s sure to bring his fans rallying around to keep him in the competition. I hope. Tony sang, “In Your Eyes,” and did an AMAZING job, if I do say so myself (which I did, check a few words back.) The whole thing just worked: his voice, the mood, the lighting, it all came together to wash over you like an island breeze. I loved it, and the end was so mesmerizing I got stuck watching him. That’s not a complaint. Christina said that it was a good, though one dimensional, performance. She also said she didn’t know where he would go from here and intimated that he was getting through on celebrity backing… um last time I checked Justin Timberlake was not there singing in the background. I don’t get it, but then again I have a very short memory, all I know is, it was good.
Mathai’s next, and she’s singing “Ordinary People.” In rehearsal, Adam warns Mathai not to stray from the emotion of the song. And I mention this only because during her moody performance of the John Legend hit she completely ruined it by cheesing the whole time. The light was perfect, the staging was simplified, all she had to do was bring it and it was a total bust. Christina says it was a bit “lounge-y” and I’d actually have to agree. She seemed to be having fun, but I couldn’t take her seriously.
Karla Davis had a misstep this week singing “Airplanes.” Adam loved her boldness to choose a song so far out of her usual country bent and while being courageous and enterprising is a great thing, with so much at stake one must wonder at the wisdom of this. From the first moment it’s clear that Karla’s straining with this song, her whole upper body is stiff and that’s especially disconcerting. In fact, if you look away, Karla does sound decent but the strain in her body is off-putting. Christina is surprised at the song choice and Blake thinks that she did as well as she could have with the song. Adam thinks that Karla’s nerves got the best of her onstage, and that it was a lot better in the rehearsal. I have a problem believing this because if I was her coach and she bombed on stage I would say the exact same thing.
Also being adventurous this week is squeaky clean singer Pip who wants to try out a new rock image. He wants a crash course in Rockstar 101, and while Adam is the one to go to, there’s only so much he can do. Pip’s singing “When You Were Young” and I’ve never heard the song, but watching Pip I image that he’s channeling the Beatles in there. And they’re technically rock stars but I’m not sure that’s what Pip was going for. I still liked it though. Christina thought that Pip was trying too hard, while Adam wanted the performance to be a bit more dangerous and “scary.” If Pip makes it they’ve got to work on making him “less trustworthy.”
Team Cee Lo:
First up for Team Cee Lo is Chessa. Cee Lo starts out this week upset about the flack Chessa’s been getting over beating Angie out in the battle rounds. He says that her next performance is going to prove that he made the right choice in keeping Chessa on his team. She’ll be singing a contemporary take on the ’70s song “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” She starts off strong in the beginning, but somewhere in the middle she sort of loses it and is drowned out by the music. Blake loves it, while Adam thought that the performance didn’t really pop. Cee Lo disagrees.
James Massone is next and I have to say I didn’t really expect this. I was a little surprised when CeeLo called James a “ladies man.” He’s not typically what I’d picture when I think of one. I think of a “playa,” suave, sophisticated; not sweet and gentle James. So I’m a little disturbed by the time we get to James’ performance of “Don’t Know Why.” And he’s still the same sweet, gentle James giving a soft, almost dreamlike performance that reminds me of one of those dreamboats from ’50s movies… We’re about 30 seconds into the performance when I realize that I have stopped everything to watch James perform. Seriously. Stopped. Everything… Yeah; “ladies man,” that’s a good term. Or maybe that’s not broad enough, as James’ performance gets Blake so worked up that he admits “I almost threw my panties on the stage.” I can understand that.
Between James and Jamar I’m going to have to get a virtual panty throwing app, if indeed one of these has not already been made. Where James is just so sweet you can’t help but crush on him, Jamar is so excited about everything that you can’t help but fall into that excitement and love him. Earlier in the show, Jamar says that in the competition he doesn’t have fans; he has “family” because we’re all in this together, going through this with him. Jamar humbly says that he doesn’t want to be idolized, which is of course the best way to ensure that you are. Silly, fabulous Jamar. Anyway, Jamar’s singing “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” and it’s a great choice for him. As always, he’s a natural on stage bringing great energy to the song. I love how Jamar looks like he’s enjoying everything he’s doing, and that alone should take him a long way in the competition because don’t we all want to be around happy people? All the judges loved it, even though Blake wasn’t too crazy about the guitarists on stilts. Adam told Jamar that he embodied what this show is all about.
Juliette Simms also got a great reaction from the judges. I didn’t understand it because I didn’t like her performance of “Roxanne” one bit. I’m sorry, that’s not accurate; I didn’t like it up until the end which was decent. The first part seemed dry and I couldn’t get into it, but the judges ATE IT UP. Christina gave her a standing ovation. Adam was mad because he really wanted her on his team and to see her giving the “best performance I’ve seen so far” with another coach makes him really bitter. Blake suddenly joins in on the fight telling her he finally gets what the other judges were so crazy about, too bad he’s all out of panties. (Virtual app to the rescue!)
Along with Juliette, Tony Vincent has a lot to celebrate this week. His wife recently gave birth to their daughter, so congratulations on that. This week, perhaps feeling on top of the world, he’s singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” His performance is sad. He’s up above the stage at this podium sort of blocked off from the audience for the majority of it and he sounds weird; it’s like one half of his voice is sort of half limping along. There’s just something not quite right about it. Blake is (as Adam calls it) “wonderfully vague” about what he didn’t like about the performance, while Christina said the song restricted his vocal ability. Cee Lo gives some BS convoluted speech about how Tony’s performance was about love conquering hate, because Tony’s all about love and if you vote for him you can save the world kind of nonsense. Remember Adam’s ‘you did better in rehearsal’ speech, well this is Cee Lo’s version of it, and instead of acknowledging its crappiness, he’s going to sweet talk it away. But it still sucked.
Last up we have Erin Martin singing “Walk Like An Egyptian.” I’d be a little offended by her literal take on the song that had everyone on stage dressed like ancient Egyptians (if not just for major corniness factor alone), but nothing here seemed too serious as her vocals were lacking and she didn’t even seem committed. Heck, even her background singers sounded bored. Blake thought that Erin did as well as she could with the song even though most of the time he was distracted by the male strippers (aka dancers) in the background. Christina thought that she could have brought it more; and Cee Lo apologized for the distracting dancers although in some ways he may have done her a favor.
On elimination night Chessa, Tony, and Pip were safe from Team Adam and on team Cee Lo the J’s- Jamar, Juliette, and James- were also safe. This leaves Kim, Katrina, Karla (Team Adam) Tony, Chessa, and Erin (Team CeeLo) to give a last chance performance. Kim sings “Spotlight” like she doesn’t care, Karla’s take on “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is boring, and Katrina’s voice seems the most interesting (though not by far) when she’s singing “Don’t Speak.” All the judges agree they’d save Katrina which Adam agrees to as well. She’ll be moving on. For Team CeeLo, Tony sings “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These,” like some sort of robot, Chessa takes on “All By Myself” with a great belting note in the middle, and Erin sings “Your Song” and makes me long for Elton John. When asked about the final performances Adam gets mad asking why the contestants would wait until it’s their last chance to sing like it meant something. That’s a rhetorical question of course, and no one answers; but that’s the kind of passion all the contestants will need if they hope to win. The judges are once again unanimous, Chessa will be moving on.
Season 2, Episodes 12 and 13: “Live Performances, Week 2” and “Live Eliminations, Four Go Home, Week 2” (original airdate April 9 and 10, 2012.)
The Voice airs Mondays at 8/7c and Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.
Images courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/NBC.