Welcome back to the second night of the battle rounds, Voice-ettes. What have we learned? Adam Levine has never tasted tangerine ice cream. I should never have to reference Jason Aldean in these recaps. And — I’m pretty certain — NBC is saving its talent-iest bits for the Monday episodes. How else to explain tonight’s personality-full but vocally so-so outing? In a night of 12 singers, my ears counted less than five moments of good singing. I’m glad Usher’s been practicing his stone-cold stares. But I would have been gladder to hear more great face-offs. Carson Daly promised us “epic performances and agonizing decisions.” Carson Daly is a liar.
Let’s run them down.
TEAM ADAM: MICHAEL AUSTIN VS. WARREN STONE
In the so-dubbed “Battle of the Civil Servants,” it was country artist versus country artist. That is, both Michael-the-sheriff and Warren-the-firefighter auditioned with country flavor and both men were happy to wear plaid and/or cowboy boots so off they went into the country-o-matic and out they came as the “male country singer section” of Adam’s team.
The pair’s first meeting with Levine and adviser Hillary Scott is overshadowed by the news that they’ll be performing Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party,” which is, full stop, not the kind of song anyone should be performing on a singing competition. It’s a stomper, sure, but it requires little from its performer for good reason: Aldean isn’t a great singer. So why make singers who are striving toward greatness follow behind him? Anyway. Adam tells Warren to watch the consistency on his notes and to work on showcasing the harmony, while he advises Michael (who’s worried that he might have trouble softening up on a song about debauchery) to warm up his upper register a few times before going on stage. We also learn that Michael had a tumor removed from his sinus canal. Hillary says nothing, basically.
Warren is just better in the pre-performance performance, though Adam reminds him to finish his lines. Heading into their battle, Warren (“firefighter and single dad”) name-checks his kids. Michael tells us that he’s been “beaten, bruised, and bloodied” and he comes practically shooting onto the stage. But still: His performance is the weaker one, and it isn’t helped by over-energy. Sure, he’s gravelly but that doesn’t mean his voice is strong. Usher may or may not agree: When the camera cuts to him, he looks like he’s trying not to laugh. Blake? Blake is blank-faced, though the show would probably love us to think that he’s secretly seething — my country stars, mine.
Afterward, the foursome is split on the merits of Michael versus Warren. Usher notes (correctly, I think) that Warren made the song young and that the women in the audience (heteronormative, Usher) ate it up. Blake, though, thinks that Michael better captured the Aldean-ness of the song. Ironically, Adam says that Blake gave him some insight into the genre’s many nuances, and how Michael and Warren (“firefighter and single dad”) are but two different points on a spectrum. “Looking into the future,” Adam picks Warren. The lesson? Doing justice to a bad song doesn’t mean you’re doing well.
NEXT: The worst battle round of the night!