Is it just me, or are the match-ups for tonight’s battle round a little strange? An R&B take on Cyndi Lauper? A showdown between a folky duo and a rapper? A Broadway star singing Journey? These pairings go together like so much Doritos and chocolate sauce.
Then again: Doritos dipped in chocolate sauce? SO GOOD! So let’s begin with Team Cee Lo, before I finish the whole bag…
TEAM CEE LO: James Massone vs. WADE
So a third-generation body shop worker leaves his garage in Boston to pursue his dream of…becoming an R&B singer on a reality TV show? Okay, it’s a little off the regular formula for a true-life Hollywood story, but doesn’t this sound like the premise for a Ben Affleck movie? We’d like to cast Mr. Affleck as James Massone in the film adaptation of The Voice, and we’d like to request lots of scenes where he shakes his fist at the sky and shouts out, tearfully, to his auto mechanic dad, using his finest Boston accent, “I’m doin’ this for my fah-dah!”
Maybe Cee Lo’s already seen this movie. Because when he first hears James practice Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” with Wade, he tears up. “That song made me CRY, man,” he says, wiping his eyes. “Okay, dude. I surrender!”
The fact that so-called “blue-collar Boston boy” James Massone happens to be a very smooth R&B singer kind of blows my mind. He’s such a strange hodgepodge of looks and sounds. Tonight, for instance, he’s wearing two earrings, a headband, and a varsity jacket that matches Cee Lo’s, except that it’s monogrammed with his own initials, JM. (“I love that you already have your own merch, and you’re wearin’ it,” quips Blake.) Now, Cee Lo wants this guy to cover a Cyndi Lauper song?
Hearing the song choice, poor James admits, “I think it’s not my style.” From the start, James is anxious about everything: not knowing the words to the song, being coached by Ne-Yo, breathing air. And just in case you didn’t notice, he lays it out for us: “I’m a little nervous right now,” he says, “maybe I don’t have much confidence in myself.” Still, he knows, “I need to outshine Wade, because I don’t want to go back to the body shop.”
When the battle round first begins, it seems that James will be a weak sparring partner for Wade, who owns “True Colors” as if it were a long-lost Al Green classic. Clearly, Wade understands the lush sound of ’60s and ’70s soul, even though he “looks like he’s only 12 years old,” according to Babyface. (Is Babyface secretly mean? The Shields Brothers are probably still smarting over that Wayne’s World comment from last week, and now this?) Yet, for all of Wade’s technical prowess, it’s hard to distinguish him from the many, many talented soul singers in this competition. Also, he can’t compete with James’ personality. As Adam points out, James has a voice that “catches your attention,” with just a hint of wicked-awesome Boston swagger.
Having grown up in the Bronx, Cyndi Lauper knows a bit about working your hometown accent to your advantage. So it’s almost karmic that James pays tribute to her music by not hiding where he’s from. Cee Lo ultimately picks James. The underdog wins. The crowd cheers. And somewhere, Ben Affleck wipes a tear from his eye.
NEXT: Adam Levine steals a piano, nearly makes a grown woman cry