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The Voice recap: Back to Duel

In the show’s second battle round, vocal powerhouses go head-to-head with more understated singers. Guess who comes out on top?

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Lewis Jacobs/NBC

The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson
Current Status:
In Season

Last week’s Voice battles — a scream-filled diva-off, a country-pop Elvis cover, a gentle, Disney-esque ballad, and a bona fide showstopper — were a diverse batch of performances in which, generally speaking, the duetters were all fairly evenly matched. But this week, every single battle featured a powerhouse singer being pitted against a less forceful presence (or, in the case of Elenowen, two less forceful presences) — and, eventually, wiping the floor with said second songbird. It’s a pity that such a predictable pattern emerged tonight, since The Voice‘s greatest strength is its ability to pleasantly surprise us. Even so, the episode was entertaining; with folks as talented as these contestants, how could it not be?

After yet another lengthy explanation of how this round of the competition works — when do you think The Voice will finally trust its viewers to remember the rules week to week? — we began by zeroing in on Team Cee Lo. The red-clad coach asked Nakia and Tje Austin, his two hairiest mentees, to sing Ne-Yo’s “Closer.” At first, Nakia was wary of Cee Lo’s song choice because it seemed tailor-made for Tje (whose name, Microsoft Word, is not “The,” no matter what AutoCorrect might think). His instinct wasn’t off-base; in the initial piano run-through, Tje’s soaring tenor fit the song perfectly, while Nakia’s rougher, Joe Cocker growl seemed pretty out of place. At least Nakia presumably won extra points by aping his coach’s style; wearing sunglasses inside is totally the new wearing sunglasses outside, guys.

But in the end, Nakia sang the hell out of “Closer” without making it unrecognizable (take note, Frenchie and Tarralyn). And so did Tje, even if for him, “singing the hell out of ‘Closer'” didn’t mean straying far from his comfort zone. Blake, Adam, and Christina all thought that the round should go to the one-named wonder — and Cee Lo agreed. Even though I think he made the right choice, I’m really sorry to see Tje go. He’s incredibly talented, he comes across as a really sweet guy in this interview with EW, and his facial hair kind of makes him look like a ventriloquist’s dummy. Hm… maybe that last thing actually isn’t a plus. In any case, bon voyage, Tje. I sincerely hope that your career continues growing even though you’ve been forced out of the Voice Box. (That’s the new name I’m trying out for the arena in which the show is taped; do you like?)

Blake must have cooked up his team’s battle by filling out some sort of music-themed Mad Lib. In a bizarre mash-up of duetters and genre, the country singer selected rocker Jared Blake and folk duo Elenowen (a.k.a. Josh and Nicole) to duke it out while singing the Motown classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

NEXT: Holy lopsided battle, Batman!