The coaches expect blood, sweat, and mountain-climbing from contestants as the battle rounds wage on

By Melissa Maerz
Updated April 14, 2015 at 10:59 PM EDT

The Voice

S3 E14
  • TV Show

Tonight, with only two weeks left until Election Day, we gather around our televisions to witness a heated competition between two Great Americans who will be fighting for your vote in November. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you…

Alexis Marceaux and Daniel Rosa!

Why? Who did you think we were talking about?

The next POTUS? Pshhhh! Let’s boycott the debates until Romney and Obama are allowed to battle it out like true patriots. Preferably in a boxing ring, while belting out Adam Lambert songs.

Team Cee Lo: Alexis Marceaux vs. Daniel Rosa

Can bees really smell fear? If they can, Daniel and Alexis might as well have slathered honey all over their bodies and rolled through a field of extra-pollenated flowers, because anxiety is just radiating off them. When Cee Lo asks them to sing Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me,” they both lose all confidence. First, Alexis worries that Daniel might bring more “pain” to the song than she does. Then Daniel worries that he won’t be able to hit the high notes. Then Rob Thomas worries about how much diction is too much diction. Then I worry that Rob Thomas thinks “diction” means something much dirtier than it does.

Anyway, Alexis and Daniel are just about equal in many things: talent, nerves, taste in vintage eyeglasses. But once they get in the ring, Alexis sounds more polished and professional. (As Cee Lo keeps reminding us, she’s “classically trained.”) And Daniel sounds more emotional. He’s on the verge of tears the whole time, flinging his arms out in a dramatic Why?!? gesture, making you feel everything he’s feeling. It’s hard not to root for him, even though Alexis might be the better singer. By the end, even his coach wants to give him a bear hug. “His voice hurts me in such a good way,” says Cee Lo. He chooses Daniel, who runs off stage, triumphant, huffing and puffing like an old WWF pro. “He’s so sweet,” says Adam. “He’s gonna go pass out.” Aww!

Team Adam: Brandon Mahone vs. Nicole Nelson

Ain’t no mountain high enough. Ain’t no river wide enough. Ain’t no leather pants tight enough. To keep Adam from loving this song. “It’s one of the greatest duets of all time,” the coach explains to Brandon and Nicole. “You just have to do it justice.” So, y’know, no pressure or anything.

Playing Tammi Terrell to Brandon’s Marvin Gaye, Nicole is a wonder to behold. Somehow, the more power she puts into her performance, the more easy-going it feels. Poor Brandon knows this round will be rough. But after a lesson from Mary J Blige about Struggle and Survival and Using Your Mama as a Muse, he’s inspired enough to play along.

And, apparently, so is his mama. “That’s my BABY!” she shouts from the crowd while Brandon jumps up on stage with a look that says, Awww, mom! He’s so cute in his suit and tie, looking every bit the part of “the high-schooler from Chicago with the classic Motown voice,” as Carson calls him. And he’s a great showman, too, demonstrating “high,” “low,” and “wide” with dramatic hand gestures, getting playful with Nicole like a kid flirting with his teacher. There’s a quiet, old-school charm to his performance that I love. But he’s no match for Nicole, who sings like an Olympian, hurdling her voice like a Hungarian discus champion.

Adam goes with Nicole, but he tells Brandon that his performance was phenomenal. “Thanks, coach!” chirps Brandon. “I’m growing as an artist every day.” That’s our BABY! Make mama proud.

NEXT: Free your mind, and duress will follow

Team Adam and Team Blake: Montage time!

Because you might fast-forward through these clips, here’s a recap: “Single father” Brian Scartocci battles “wedding singer” Loren Allred on Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” Adam chooses Loren. Sadly, no one mentions how a singing competition between a single father and a wedding singer would make the best rom-com ever.

Next, Blake pairs “studio demo singer” Ryan Jirovec with “former rock band lead singer” Cassadee Pope, as they take on Gavin Degraw’s weepie “Not Over You.” Blake likes Cassadee’s “signature sound” better. But maybe Ryan deserved to lose. It takes a special kind of bozo to get classified as a “studio demo singer.” If he was any good, wouldn’t he just be a singer, full stop?

Last up, Adam gets Joe Kirkland and Samuel Mouton to sing theNew Radicals’ “You Get What You Give,” an awesome song, despite its weirdly hostile attack on Beck. Samuel, a longhaired burnout kid whom Carson insists on calling a “hip-hop reggae singer,” makes Adam happy with his performance. But Joe wins, maybe because he’s got that pop-punk brattiness down. All of which brings us to…

Team Christina: MarissaAnn vs. Devyn Deloera

When these two ladies attack En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” there’s some growling. There’s some purring. There’s some clawing of the air. At one point, Christina jokes that she’s coaching a cat fight. At another point, she says she wants to give her team “the opportunity to really roar.” You’d think this was a battle between two lions. Which, come to think of it, would be amazing. If only Siegfried and Roy could coach.

At first, Devyn and MarissaAnn are both having trouble adding some much needed grit to their squeaky-clean versions of the song. (Billie Joe suggests that they might consider spitting on him to remedy this.) But after a couple of therapy sessions in that white-dove sanctuary that Christina calls home (at least during Voice season), they’re both prepared to belt out lines about prostitutes and selling dope. Progress!

I like the feisty huh! and hah! that both girls add to their intros, and it’s fun to hear them sass their way through the lyrics, snarling and bellowing the whole time, and flipping their hair around like ’80s video vixens. The oooh-la-la-la harmonies are a little rough for both ladies, maybe because it’s hard to go back and forth between the tough-girl verses and the gentler flourishes. But overall, I think they’re both great. Christina chooses Devyn, mostly because she wasn’t quite as “attacking” as MarissaAnn. But Blake steals MarissaAnn right away. “Come give me a hug,” he tells her, and suddenly, Christina and MarissaAnn are making a Blake Shelton Cheeseball Sandwich. Yum.

When the hour’s up (damn you, debates, for shortening this week’s episode!), it’s still hard to tell who the winners are tonight. The only person who really stands out to me is Nicole. So I’ll leave it to you, America. Who should win? Who should give a concession speech in the next weeks? Until then, Lady Bird for Prez in 2024!

Episode Recaps

The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

  • TV Show
  • 15
  • 388