Brick by brick, diva by diva, underqualified teenage girl by overqualified 20-something dude, The Voice’s coaches are slowly building their teams. And there’s something just the tiniest bit strange about that pacing.
The Voice airs a whopping three hours each week, making its regular outings nearly as long as James Cameron’s Titanic. So it’s remarkable that the series still doesn’t have time to show full performances by every singer. Tonight, Team Christina’s Celica Westbrook and Team Blake’s Rudy Parris made it through to the competition’s next round while barely making it onto our TV screens. Rushing through a few blind auditions is one thing; not showing every battle, on the other hand, gives contestants like Celica and Rudy a distinct disadvantage in The Voice’s next stage.
But hey, maybe their vocal skirmishes just weren’t as interesting as the ones we saw in full. Which brings us to tonight’s featured battles:
Team Cee Lo: Cody Belew vs. Domo
Brash, Bronx-born Domo probably loves referring to herself in the third person. She belts, she dances, she rocks neon accessories like the fearless child of the ’80s she is. In Domo’s mind, Domo’s only fault may be that Domo is just too good: “My problem is that I look like a rock pop star, but I can sing like Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin,” she explains during battle rehearsals, inspiring an eye roll from mentor Rob Thomas. That’s harsh, especially coming from the guy responsible for lyrics like, “I wonder what it’s like to be the rainmaker / I wonder what it’s like to know that I make the rain.”
A song like Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone” should be right in Domo’s wheelhouse. But soon after the battle begins, her duet partner Cody starts to steal his competition’s thunder. The song’s key is comfortably within Domo’s range – but Cody has to reach for his high notes, creating the illusion that he’s working harder than she is. His winky interpretation is also more appealing than Domo’s relatively straightforward take. So even though the girl is sporting what can only be described as a Cee Lo Green magnet – a spangle-covered, midriff-baring Michael Jacksonian military jacket – the Soul Machine ends up picking the guy in the white v-neck and understated jeans. Domo arigato, Miss Diva-boto.
Team Christina: Aquile vs. Nathalie Hernandez
James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something” isn’t exactly designed for singing competitions. It’s understated and placid – great for soundtracks, but not an ideal vehicle for showing off vocal chops. At least, that’s what I would have said before hearing Aquile tackle it tonight. The soul singer’s smooth, radio-ready voice takes to Morrison’s tune like Xtina to a bedazzled fan. It’s no wonder Mr. Billito Armstrong calls the contestant’s version better than the original.
Though 15-year-old Nathalie and her limited but lovely rasp are outmatched, she keeps smiling her nervous smile for the battle’s duration – and manages not to lose it when Christina chooses Aquile over her. Nobody moves to steal the high schooler, which surprises her ex-coach – “I would have loved to see Nathalie on Blake’s team,” she tells us. But evidently, Blake has learned from the Great Xenia Martinez Debacle of ‘011.
NEXT: The Rumble in the Black-Dyed Jungle