The Voice recap: Coaches' Choice
It's double-header week for the final six, as each contestant performs a coach's pick and a song choice of their own.
What, no more Kermit?
Last week we got spoiled with a visit from The Muppets. But this week, we get the next best thing: another visit from Dr. Teeth. Or as Carson calls him, Nicholas David. (Just kidding! I love you, Nicholas!)
Also, we get to see everyone perform two different songs, one that’s chosen by the coaches and one that’s selected by the contestants. Just one question, though. When do the coaches get to pick the contestants’ outfits? I can’t be the only one who wants to see Nicholas perform in Cee Lo’s snakeskin muumuu! Right guys? Anyone?
Anyway. Moving on…
TEAM CEE LO: Nicholas David
If there’s one thing Nicholas can teach us, it’s how to cure sickness. (“Oil of oregano and elderberry extract, and… couple that with a nondairy probiotic,” advises Doctor Feelgood.) If there’s another thing he can teach us, it’s that no probiotic can cure his fever… for the flavor of Earth, Wind, and Fire! (Yeah, I said it. Sorry.) When Cee Lo selects “September,” Nicholas gamely boogies along in his red pants, stomping his boots, and bringing his sweet soul crooning to the song. The coaches dock him a few points for stepping away from the highest notes, but overall, everyone’s pleased. This guy has more personality than anyone on stage.
Next up, Nicholas goes for a softer, sadder tune with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” He’s accompanied by a harmonica, kind of like his Muppet brethren, but the wandering, organ-fuelled melody and the searching tone of his voice makes it feel like his very own song. Says Adam, “That’s one of those songs that make people weep. I’m sure there are people weeping right now, in a good way.” Sniff. No comment! Sniff.
TEAM BLAKE: Cassadee Pope
Blake’s still trying to get this pop-punk princess to put on some cowboy boots and call herself “country.” So after getting Cassadee to perform an emotional Miranda Lambert ballad and a duet with Rascal Flatts, he chooses “Stand,” another Rascal Flatts song. “The difficulty is finding the moments when her vocals can really soar,” he admits. And he’s right. Despite all the glow-stick-waving on the crowd’s behalf, this isn’t a standout performance. I mean, she doesn’t even pump her fist into the air! How can we pinpoint the exact moment she really commits to the song?
Cassadee’s own pick isn’t much more surprising. Allowing her to sing Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” is like allowing a frog to croak, or encouraging a parrot to headbang along to a death metal track: she’s just doing what comes naturally. True, it’s a little weird that she dedicates this song to Blake, especially since she’s hollering the not-so-subtle come-on “Won’t somebody take me home? / It’s a damn cold night.” But overall, it’s a solid Avril impression, right down to the streaks in her hair. And Blake loves it. “People are realizing that you can’t teach-slash-coach somebody how to connect with a lyric,” he explains. “You have to be born with that…. Plus, you have to be able to sing really really good.” Lucky for him, being born to use correct grammar isn’t a prerequisite.
NEXT: And I Am Telling You, Trevin’s Not Going!
TEAM ADAM: Amanda Brown
Ladies’ choice! Amanda picks “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman” because “it’s a feel-good song, and it’s for the ladies.” And that’s funny, because Cee Lo believes this particular lady is performing completely for his own benefit. Amanda rocks this classic like a true Aretha Franklin fan, starting really softly, then building to a full-blown, crack-those-stained-glass-windows gospel. (You can’t say she doesn’t take risks!) But Cee Lo can’t hear her. He’s too busy daydreaming. “I love, appreciate, and adore all women,” he gushes. “There’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing a woman feel… natural…” Um, Cee Lo? [Snapping fingers in front of his sunglasses.] Can we move on?
Adam prefers Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” because it’s a callback to Amanda’s rocker days of “Dream On” glory. And she handles it surprisingly well, donning an awesomely crazy leather jumpsuit and triumphing over notes that are probably too high-pitched for hyenas to hear. Plus, did I mention that there are acrobats cartwheeling around her? And guitar solos wailing behind her? All she needs is Tawny Kitean’s wind machine in her hair. Even Christina—who never has anything nice to say to Amanda, ever!—manages to give her a heartfelt compliment afterward, telling her “it was really great.” Later, Carson reveals Amanda’s secret weapon. “[The Voice’s music director] Paul Mirkovich once played with Whitesnake,” he says. “I just looked that up.”
TEAM BLAKE: Terry McDermott
Just when I think I’m getting sick of Terry McDermott’s Classic Rock Throwback Hour, he tackles a Foreigner ballad that could make a mother cry. Terry dedicates “I Wanna Know What Love Is” to his own mum, who passed away a while back, and you can hear some deep grief running through his version of the song. Some of the credit goes to Blake, who wisely suggests that Terry should strip down the track to just piano and “whatever that violin thing’s called.” (C’mon, man, that’s a cello.) On stage, Terry closes his eyes while he sings, and even when his voice strains toward the high notes, it’s very moving. Christina says she would’ve liked more tenderness in the low end, but Adam disagrees. “Dude, I love you,” he insists. “You slayed it.”
Later, Blake chooses what might be the coolest song he’s ever picked: Faces’ “Stay With Me.” And it’s fun to see Terry go for something far less heavy-serious, and way more flirty-sexy. (I love the way he tells some girl, “Let’s go upstairs and read my tarot cards.” Such a hilarious pick-up line. Plus, we already know he’s saucy. Did anyone else catch that dirty hobbit joke he slipped past Christina Milian?) He’s so comfy in his newfound rock-star mugging, he even starts singing in the middle of the audience, leaning on the microphone stand. Cee Lo eats it up. “When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, there’s nothing like the real thing,” he says. “And Terry, you are the real thing.” Amen.
TEAM CEE LO: Trevin Hunte
After so many weeks of Trevin Hunte Sob Stories, it almost like a prank for Cee Lo to select “Walking on Sunshine.” But this song turns out to be an awesome idea, because it melts ten years off Trevin, making him sound young and goofy and carefree for what might be the first time in this competition. True, he flubs one line (“I just can’t wait til you write me you’re coming around”), and he shies away from trying to hit the “whoa-ohs,” which is kind of disappointing. But it’s such an upbeat performance, it doesn’t seem to matter. As Cee Lo tells Trevin, “It made me feel so much better to see you happy, and moving, and connecting with everyone.”
Next up, Trevin keeps up the light, effortless vibe with… “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”? Okay, so this Dreamgirls nugget won’t exactly lessen the drama. But maybe that’s good, because his vocal fireworks sound amazing, especially when they’re augmented with literal fireworks in the background. Trevin insists that the song title is a message from him to America—”And I am telling you I’m not going!”— but I don’t think he’s really worried about being kicked off. “If a record deal doesn’t happen for you, I would love to take you on the road personally,” offers Christina as the crowd cheers. And Cee Lo’s even more confident in his star player. “I’d just like to have a moment of silence to mourn the loss of all the other competition,” he says, smiling. He’s joking—but he’s not really joking at all.
NEXT: A scene so cute, it could make you barf up kittens
TEAM ADAM: Melanie Martinez
Poor Melanie. No one told her that you can’t sing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” when you don’t sound crazy at all. First of all, this smash has been covered by so many people (including Adam Levine!) it’s hard to make it unique anymore. And all of Melanie’s attempts to make it quirky—playing the world’s tiniest piano with one hand, dying half of her hair blue, performing amidst headless department store mannequins with electric guitars, sighing the lyrics like she’s one Quaalude away from hibernating for the winter—just make it feel more painfully conventional. There’s not nearly enough intensity here. The judges are generous. (“The props are great!” says Christina. “You and Adam have such great taste in music!” insists Cee Lo.) But even those headless mannequins are ashamed to play guitar for this girl.
Elsewhere, when Adam picks Lenka’s “The Show,” it’s even more cloying. How condescending is it for him to get a 17-year-old high school student to sing,”I’m just a little girl lost in the moment”? That doesn’t show a lot of confidence in his teammate. And don’t get me started on the set design, which was like the New Girl intro gone terribly, horribly, kitten-adorably twee. The little cut-out-paper car was bad enough, but when I saw some poor actor pretending to row a paper boat through the ocean, while life-size paper dolphins jumped around him, I just feel embarrassed for everyone involved. Even Blake is surprised. “You’re definitely a darker artist, and you’re there, holding balloons?” he asks, puzzled. But who cares about the balloons? Tonight, I’ll be rowing a paper boat away from the devil in my dreams.
I’ll be shocked if Melanie doesn’t get kicked off soon. As for tonight’s winners? I love Trevin on “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” Terry on “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” Amanda on “Here I Go Again,” and, of course, Nicholas on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Tell me your own picks in the comments. And remember: if those paper dolphins come to kill you in your sleep tonight, just take some oil of oregano and call me in the morning.