Someone aced Bon Jovi (again), Juliet beat the competition (again), and Tony Lucca got back at his Mickey Mouse Club rival, probably not for the first time.
You know you’re in trouble when Carson Daly has to tell you to grow up and act like a professional. Yes, that’s the same guy who built his career by making jokes about Cloris Leachman’s lady parts.
But that’s exactly what happened tonight in the live quarterfinals, as all of the judges got drunk on Blake’s sarsaparilla. Or at least, it seemed like that’s what happened. First, Christina wasn’t even looking at the camera when Carson introduced her; she was writing on her sketchpad. (No doubt she was doodling little sketches of Adam Levine with big red Xs over his eyes.) Then Cee Lo and Blake couldn’t stop laughing long enough to talk about their teams. (“Blake! Focus!” said Carson, exasperated.) Finally, Adam quipped that in order to win The Voice, all you have to do is “just follow your fart.”
Ugh. Where is Purrfect when you need her to claw somebody’s tongue out? Enough with the coaches. Let’s get to the teams.
TEAM CEE LO: JAMAR ROGERS
Normally, the Voice‘s insistence upon making every song so damn literal just makes me laugh. (Did they really have to have to illustrate “I Am Like a Bird” with an aerialist actually flying like a bird? We understood the metaphor!) But having HIV-positive Jamar sing Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” did feel like a fairly moving choice, especially after his mother confessed that when he was first diagnosed, he thought he wouldn’t live past the age of 30.
Looking like a member of The Warriors—complete with graffiti-strewn backdrop, street-hooligan backup dancers, and shipping crates that some poor NBC intern probably set on fire despite not having health insurance—he was a natural for making this Jersey rock anthem sound even Jersey-er. I loved the way he growled his way through Bon Jovi, and so did the many, many, many screaming girls in the crowd. “J-Bird, I wanna pause for a moment and listen to the love!” enthused Cee Lo. “It’s a triumphant victory of life!”
I don’t know if I believed Jamar’s tears were real. (It looked to me like he might’ve been focusing really hard on the images of chlorine and chopped onions in his mind.) But tonight, he had the most heart in this competition. So come on, you Bon Jovi-fearing Americans. KEEP HIM
NEXT: “I’m Like a Bird” isn’t much like a bird at all. (Unless that bird sings badly.)
TEAM ADAM: KATRINA PARKER
Poor Katrina. It must’ve been hard to follow Jamar, and not just because he’s such a great singer. When you step onto the stage after an HIV-positive survivor, people might not have as much sympathy for your own sickness, especially if your sickness is a mold allergy.
Luckily, Katrina “Mold Be Gone” Parker managed to get the crowd to love her… by performing inside a giant neon heart. Taking on Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts,” her voice was clear and strong and pretty, even a little sexy, especially when she made come-hither eyes at her coach, crooning, “Adam put the light back in my eyes!”
Hearing her shooting that love-light out of her throat and into Adam’s ears was so intense that Adam had to close his eyes. Or maybe that was the only way he could convince himself that he wasn’t listening to Adele.
Yes, I know: more Adele comparisons. Always more Adele comparisons when Katrina’s around. But this time, Christina, who’s endured a few comparisons herself (cough, cough!) told Katrina to forget about the fact that she sounds exactly like everyone’s favorite English retro-soul singer. “When I first came out, everyone was compared to everybody,” Christina insisted. “And some of those people you don’t even hear about anymore.” Okay, fair enough: KEEP HER. Apologies to Britney Spears, who probably just threw a bubblegum margarita at her TV.
TEAM ADAM: MATHAI
Say it with me: NO. MORE. MATHAI. You can’t fault Adam for choosing Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird,” which was a pretty good song choice for this skinny little thing who looks like she subsists on sunflower seeds and the occasional ladybug. But I cannot handle hearing Mathai sing in that Fake Billie Holiday tone for one more week. No more pronouncing “bird” as “boi-yerd”! No more highly affected, cigarette-holder-puffing, fancy-lady-jazz-singer ad-libs! No more wearing crazy, puffy-sleeved, Miss Universe contestant gowns! And, as Blake said about the aerialist-focused performance, “I coulda done without Captain America swingin’ around out there.” DITCH HER. Now. Please.
TEAM CEE LO: JAMES MASSONE
Watching James Massone tonight, it was clear that the ladies still loved him. “I go to work and there’s posters everywhere, all over the garage door,” he told Christina Milian. Then again, he confessed, “I don’t know if it’s my dad doin’ it.”
Well, his dad should’ve brought a few more posters tonight. (Suggested slogan: “My Son’s a Real Catch!”) Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” might’ve been a perfect choice for this so-called “ladykiller,” a Boston auto mechanic who’s so in touch with his feminine side, he rocks a headband every week. But this rendition was way too slow and boring, and the Romeo and Juliet setup was just silly. Who was that girl up on that balcony? Also, there’s a reason that Shakespeare’s version didn’t end with a lady saxophonist soloing into the night.
Blake and Christina didn’t like it so much, and while Cee Lo tried to blame their lack of ladykiller-ness (“Blake’s married and Christina’s a woman,” he said, as if this explained everything), he eventually yielded to good taste. JAMES WAS ELIMINATED in the final round. On the plus side? We got to hear him call his coach “Uncle Lo” (cute!), and before he got the boot, James got to see Cee Lo perform with those cool glow-in-the-dark teeth.
NEXT: “Oops, I did it again!” The Tony Lucca Story.
TEAM ADAM: TONY LUCCA
Call Christina what you want, but tonight, Adam Levine was the resident mean girl. Even explaining the context behind his song choice for Tony Lucca makes me feel like one of his gossip-girl henchmen. (I’ll try to keep it short: Tony Lucca used to be on the Mickey Mouse Club with Christina and Justin Timberlake. Timberlake has publicly supported Tony. Christina thinks this gives Tony an unfair advantage. So Adam got back at Christina by making Tony sing a song by fellow MMC alum and longtime Christina rival Britney Spears. Yeah, I know. Hollywood really is high school with money.)
Asking Tony to cover “Baby One More Time” might’ve been very funny, if Tony had been in on the joke. (“At first, Tony didn’t want to do it at all,” Adam later admitted.) Instead, it was obvious that Adam used Tony to make a point. Besides, the idea of playing an ultra-serious version of this totally ridiculous song isn’t exactly original: just look at all the dry English folk legends and Finnish heavy metal bands who’ve done it before.
What really foiled Adam’s plan was that Christina actually enjoyed the Britney cover. “Let’s get Britney Spears out here on stage and we’ll have a real Mickey Mouse Club reunion,” she quipped. And, to be honest, that wouldn’t be a bad idea for Tony, who hadn’t exactly wowed anyone this season with his whole John Mayer 3000 thing. I’d vote to KEEP HIM FOR NOW, but only because Adam has such a weak team overall. Maybe this whole prank wasn’t a bad joke. But good jokes don’t always make good songs.
TEAM CEE LO: CHEESA
Her name always makes me hungry. And that was especially true tonight, when she bellowed Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” with all the cheese she could muster, showing us why my colleague Marc Snetiker calls her “Pepperjack.” Or maybe it was just the way she sang, “Stay in my arms, if-a you dare!” like one of Super Mario’s pizza-tossing brothers.
And yet, Cheesa was pretty good tonight! She didn’t always hit all the high notes, but she sang like a real tough broad, with a voice that could knock you down and pull out your hair extensions with the sheer force of its volume.
Claiming that “Whitney Houston’s my fairy godmother” (hmmm, wonder where he got that idea?), Cee Lo called Cheesa “this generation’s power vocalist.” That might be overstating things, but she’s obviously talented. Plus, she gets bonus points for inspiring Cee Lo’s best commentary of the night. “I’m ready for our [power] vocalists to be women, and this is a grown woman’s song, not this Autotune, Tinkerbelle kinda thing. I’m talking about from the gut. Grown woman, childbearing strength! You know what I’m sayin’?”
We know what you’re sayin’, Uncle Lo. KEEP HER.
TEAM ADAM: PIP
Watching Pip perform without his trademark bow tie was like seeing a unicorn head into battle without its horn. You always ask yourself: Where does this creature get his superpowers? No wonder his version of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” felt a bit sad and weak and frightened, especially after Adam told him, “It’s the Wild West out there.” (Suddenly, I was worried that renowned gunslinger Blake Shelton already had his rifle pointed at Pip.)
The opening piano part was cool, but the second Pip stepped away from the keys to walk around stage, you could almost hear his tiny, nervous-parakeet heart thumpity-thumpity-thumping away into the microphone. Poor little guy.
Even Blake blamed Pip’s failure to ace that falsetto on his lack of appropriate formal wear. “Where in the hell is the bow tie, man?” he asked. “That’s like me without alcohol!”
Sadly, PIP WAS ELIMINATED. But at least Pip got to take part in that “Instant Karma” performance with his coach before he left. And Blake had another cute, fuzzy-headed mammal to take aim at this season. That’s good news for all those woodland creatures who aren’t named Pip.
TEAM CEE LO: JULIET SIMMS
Can anyone argue that she’s not one of the best singers in this competition? Even taking on a track like Aerosmith’s “Cryin,'” she was able to convince Cee Lo that she had “a voice like a great guitar solo.”And when she sang it live on stage, that guitar solo had giant feathers tied to its back. Because every time someone sings an Aerosmith song, a young rocker girl gets her wings.
I loved hearing Juliet wail like she was going to lose her voice any second. She always uses her real voice (unlike Mathai), and that voice can get so raw, it conjures up visions of dead mallard carcasses. At least, that’s what it did tonight for Blake, when the performance peaked with feathers falling from the sky. “It brought back good memories from this fall of duck season,” he said, smiling. “It was really good!”
Christina agreed. “You are fabulous,” she told Juliet. “Each week, you don’t care, it’s almost like you black out when you’re on stage.” And that’s…. a good thing?
I most agreed with Cee Lo on this one. “My little electric guitar, my Little Red Corvette, I’m impressed with your voice,” he told Juliet. “It’s so rugged, it’s built to last. You are definitely one of the hopefuls that everyone’s rooting on.” Yes, she is. KEEP HER.
So what do you think, my Little Red Corvettes? Did the right people get eliminated? Will Juliet and Jamar and Katrina and Tony be able to hold their own against Jermaine and Erin and Lindsey and Chris? Tell me in the comments, and come back tomorrow for some more recaps, complete with free sarsaparilla.