Artists from Team Christina and Team Cee Lo perform in the second night of live rounds

By Jennifer Arellano
Updated April 14, 2015 at 06:54 PM EDT
NBC

In the second night of live rounds, we’ve seen all 20 remaining artists hit the stage before they’re whittled down to 12 on Thursday. Tuesday night’s performances lacked the hokey choreography of Monday’s show and featured singers venturing out from their comfort zones. Also, fair warning: Miley lives again in these rounds, as one artist wrecks the original version apart. The tone of the coaches’ commentary was again overwhelmingly positive, and notable for a very restrained Christina who seemed buried in her notebook most of the show. Carson read a fan’s inquiry regarding the contents of her tome, to which she responded that it contains “a lot of stuff, a lot of thoughts.” Well, we’d like to know them! We also saw her perform with A Great Big World in such a subdued, understated performance that she was almost unrecognizable from her usual power-belting persona. Also, can we talk about how much more interesting Carson Daly is as a host when the shows are live? We see him awkwardly (but adorably) death-gripping embracing the contestants, giving them kisses, fake-sparring with the coaches, and even attempting jokes. “Do you want to be my friend?” he asked Caroline Pennell after she sang “We’re Going to Be Friends.”

First up is Team Cee Lo…

TEAM CEE LO: Amber Nicole

The song: “Wasting All These Tears” by Cassadee Pope

The performance: Cee Lo chooses this song for Amber Nicole because he wants to showcase that she has “a range that a lot of urban artists don’t have.” I get that he wants to associate her with greatness, by picking a Season 3 winner’s single, but it was a bit too on-the-nose and a waste of Amber Nicole’s talent. Her performance felt breathless and rushed, as if her R&B voice couldn’t keep up with the country/alt-rock pace of Pope’s song. It also exposed the nasally quality of her voice. Not Cee Lo’s best song decision.

The feedback: Adam and Christina noticed a big note that Amber Nicole couldn’t nail, but generally responded positively. Adam thought it was refreshing to see a different side of her. Christina lauded the Rihanna quality of her voice and how confident she has become. Blake is totally unhelpful and merely says “I thought it was good.”

TEAM CEE LO: Jonny Grey

The song: “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve

The performance: In general, this is a fantastic song. It’s a simply built one that requires some punchy attitude. Does Jonny deliver? Well, sorta. Jonny’s trademark shaky vibrato matches Richard Ashcroft’s vocals in the original, but Jonny just sang it straight, failing to add anything special. His voice has this quality of sounding like it’s riding on eggshells, as if it’s going to shatter suddenly from all the shakiness. The judges seem to love that trait, but I think it’s boring now.

The feedback: Adam acknowledges that it is “a snarling beast of a song,” but still craved more explosive energy. Christina praised his accuracy, but also wanted some excitement from Jonny. Cee Lo thought he did a great job and really represented America with that song. Whatever that means.

TEAM CEE LO: Tamara Chauniece

The song: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

The performance: Cee Lo chooses the everywoman anthem for the Texan gospel singer, and it’s a perfect fit. Considering the wordiness and iconic status of this tune, Tamara did a fantastic job. On a technical level, she’s always solid and thus it’s hard to critique her, but her consistent goodness actually renders her a bit forgettable. I usually can’t recall particular moments from her performances, I just have the enduring memory that it was good.

The feedback: Adam declares it her best performance. Cee Lo jabbers on about his mission statement of exposing youths to classic songs like the Gaynor one. Blake finally acknowledges the overly congenial elephant in the room: “Ain’t it amazing how nice we are being to each other this week?” (No, not really — it makes for terrible television.) He adds, “Next week, I’m going to be mean.” (Yes, please!)

NEXT: How to tame a kitty Kat…

TEAM CEE LO: Kat Robichaud

The song: “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert

The performance: Cee Lo picks a song with a gentle opening to showcase Kat’s range, or perhaps that she’s capable of more than growling, scowling, and singing like she’s a woman possessed. I mean it works for her glam-rock persona, but now that America is in charge, ya gotta go easy. Well, I think Kat dialed down her vocal gymnastics a bit too much. Towards the end, she managed some sultry snarls, but it seemed like she funneled her usual electric vocal energy to her physical performance (she hugged some random woman in the crowd).

The feedback: Adam missed her usual dose of zaniness: “There are seven gears of Kat, and I wanted to see the seventh gear.” Christina also wanted to hear her go all out. Cee Lo echoed the song’s message of acceptance: “I love you unconditionally and I accept you and I think you did a great job.” Is it just me, or has all the coach dialogue become mushy fodder for every greeting card company ever?

TEAM CEE LO: Caroline Pennell

The song: “We’re Going to Be Friends” by The White Stripes

The performance: Oh, sweet Caroline, you have pretty much been anointed The Voice Of Every Indie Film Soundtrack after this choice by Cee Lo. Initially I didn’t think she could do much with the creaky-cool voice of Jack White’s original, but she managed to create an even cuter version of an already cute song. Her performances always have a light quality to them, and this one felt like a pretty pink little cloud. Is there such a thing as being too sweet for your own good? On a side note, how annoying is that crowd in the pit? They seem to wave and clap their hands willy nilly, regardless of the tempo of every song.

The feedback: Adam said, “For the first time tonight, I heard purely you.” Blake praised the angelic quality of her voice with a bizarre metaphor, saying that if he was getting amputated, her voice would still make him think about cotton candy, and obviously not the excruciating pain of losing a limb. High fructose corn syrup and blood for the mixed-metaphor win!

And now for artists from Team Christina…

TEAM CHRISTINA: Josh Logan

The song: “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley

The performance: Christina’s skills as a coach are so underrated. In this episode we really get to see how thoughtful she is in doling out the advice. In rehearsal she advises Josh, “It’s really important that you don’t let the listener relax” on the Cee Lo tune. I’ve never really been a Josh fan; he is skilled, but not interesting to listen to. There’s so much wordplay going on in this song that a simple, straight-laced rendition would do, but he gave it too many runs and superfluous vocal decorations.

The feedback: Adam thought his over-accessorizing was “overwhelming my experience.” Christina has shown some over-reliance on her trusty notebook these past live shows. I wish she would spout what’s on her mind instead of her over-diplomatic approach. She even stopped herself from critiquing Josh by referencing the “too many notes” scene from Amadeus. Oh Christina, What A Girl Wants is to utilize her awesome pop culture knowledge!

TEAM CHRISTINA: Olivia Henken

The song: “Roar” by Katy Perry

The performance: I applaud Christina for trying to expand Olivia’s safe country genre horizons. But Olivia’s rendition of this upbeat, power-pop song lacked the zippy melody and cadence of the original. She has power and she can sustain these breathy notes, but Olivia made this song impossible to sing along to — which is a crucial quality of any good pop song.

The feedback: Blake was “surprised at how well a country voice works on this song.” Christina, in another rambling display of commentary, said, “You did my heart so proud… You’re beyond just one thing… You can do it all.”

NEXT: A Miley cover that will make you forget about her naked swinging (well, almost)…

TEAM CHRISTINA: Stephanie Anne Johnson

The song: “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles

The performance: I wasn’t a huge fan of Stephanie Anne’s last Norah Jones performance, but she toned down the overabundant vocal quirks for this one and I think when she sings simply — well, her version of simply — she’s at her best. But sometimes she has this genre-switching issue mid-song, where it sounds like a diva just morphed into a singer-songwriter — and the result is distracting.

The feedback: Cee Lo enjoyed her vocal assertiveness and command. Adam liked how she “opened it up and kind of changed it.” Christina praised her versatility and even had Stephanie display a little operatic soprano run.

TEAM CHRISTINA: Matthew Schuler

The song: “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus

The performance: Surprise, it’s Miley Cyrus week at The Voice! If there’s anyone that can transform a song into something completely original and different, it’s Matthew Schuler. He tackles another female vocal and totally blew me away. I loved hearing the softer sides of his voice and then his trademark transcendent runs. Christina explains to Matthew why she chose this song: “because you are a wrecking ball!” Duh, that’s called logic. The crowd went wild for Matthew’s performance and deservedly so.

The feedback: Finally we get some vitriol, albeit fake vitriol. “I hate you, I hate you so much,” jokes Cee Lo. “Three hearts just broke,” said Adam. “You light a fire under me to make my team even better,” he added. “Forget you, man,” said Blake. And it seems even Christina was too engrossed in Matthew’s amazing performance to jot down notes because all she could muster was another rehash of the “Wrecking Ball” lyrics.

TEAM CHRISTINA: Jacquie Lee

The song: “I Put a Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

The performance: The youngest artist in the competition really threw me for a loop with this performance. She may still be a kid, but she sang like a fully realized diva. That last note she sustained was too good. Her song also had the crowd giving rapturous applause.

The feedback: “Oh my God, Jackie, dang,” said Cee Lo. Christina said she was honored to be her coach.

What did you think of tonight’s performances? Anyone else tired of the overly nice commentary? Who was your favorite performer? (Mine were Jacquie and Matthew.) Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Voice fans: Stick with EW this week as we give you the chance to pick each of the finalists’ official photos after the Top 12 is revealed on Thursday. Your favorite pictures will be featured on NBC.com! Stay tuned…

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