The Voice recap: Please Don't Stop the Music (Box)
The final steal is ruined, and we bid farewell to Dawn, Hawkes, and one very special box. And FINALLY, the battles are over.
Just like that, the second round of battles has ended, and since we’re teased throughout the entire episode that Blake Shelton has one last steal, that delightful bit of news looms ominously over the evening’s proceedings. At the end of Monday’s episode, we finally—FINALLY—have a Top 20, and they’re finally—FINALLY—ready to compete for your… wait, never mind. No, they’re not ready to compete for your vote yet. We’ve still got to weed out some of the lesser talents. There’s still another two weeks before they’re ready. Sigh. Oh well. Here were Monday’s battles anyway:
Clarissa Serna vs. Dani Moz
Without being informed with an onscreen visual, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what “Clarissa” did prior to this battle. Dani Moz, on the other hand, I remember well. The one they apparently call “Clarissa” immediately kicks us off by commenting on the pairing, “I can’t say I was super surprised—we both have really strong vocals.” I’m sorry, dear, but that is not for you to say. That is the reality show equivalent of taking a selfie. Clarissa’s humility aside, Dani’s talking head appears much kinder and complimentary, and so I’m already rooting for Dani going into rehearsal.
The two girls have to decide between Pink’s “Perfect,” Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath,” making it very clear that Shakira has basically one type of song in mind for them (which is totally fair, but doesn’t leave them too much Room de Wiggle). They pick “Perfect,” which is easily the best song on the list—and hey, what kind of post-2010 TV singing competition would it be without someone singing Pink?
During the battle, I’m sorry to say that Clarissa is impressing me more than Dani, although I’m thrilled when the former has a pitchy run (Pitch Perfect 2: Pitchy Run) leaving abundant room for Dani to swoop in. During the judging, Clarissa’s dead eyes and Dany’s District 2 blazer are all I can focus on, but everyone sounds like they’re throwing their support behind Dani. Shakira praises Clarissa’s poise (red flag!), so it’s clear she picks Dani to move on these alleged “playoffs.”
Does Blake Steal?: No.
Dawn & Hawkes vs. Kat Perkins
Oh, I loooove me some Dawn & Hawkes. While I remember Kat’s battle involving a swell “Whenever I Call You Friend” with that awful Zach Galifianakis fellow, Dawn & Hawkes are an adorable little pair who remind me of barista friends I wish I had. Plus, they’re the only duo left in the competition to root for, so if you’re pining for the days of buddy cop comedies or Mary-Kate and Ashley’s classic sitcom Two of a Kind, this pair is for you..
During the battle, I can’t help but laugh when Kat starts skulking around the stage with her hands raised and clawed like Sylvester the Cat trying to pounce on Tweety. It’s during Kat’s awkward tribal dance that Dawn and Hawkes stay put and really, I need Kat to stop singing so I can just focus on them. Hilariously, the duo barely acknowledges her, making Kat look like the absolute third wheel here, which can’t do her any favors in Adam’s eyes.
But as is always the case, I’m the fool here. To my surprise, Blake and Usher both inexplicably lean towards Kat, and I absolutely GASP when Adam chooses to keep her instead of D&H. I suppose Adam sees some potential in keeping Kat’s particular mash-up of Kristen Wiig and Katy Perry.
Does Blake Steal?: No.
Melissa Jimenez vs. Music Box
Well, well, well, Music Box. We meet again. Oh boy, where do I even begin with this battle? First off, I’m thrilled to see Music Box again, because I know that with the presence of Ms. Box it’s almost a guarantee that there will be skeptic glares, beautiful riffs, and judges uncomfortably attempting to say “Music Box” like it’s a normal name and they have to pretend they’re okay with it.
With Melissa, I didn’t immediately remember her making much of an impression, but I quickly grew fond of her. She had style, she had flair, she was there! That’s how she became the nanny a standout. You could tell that Ms. Box is looking at MJ like she wants to punch her in the face, though, because they represent two completely different sides of the coin. Maybe MJ is a little too Tia-Carrere-meets-Kim-Kardashian-meets-Morticia-Addams for Ms. Box’s taste, and I’m right there with her.
In teasing the battle, Usher says this will be a moment we’ll all remember in season six. So, does that mean it’s the Red Wedding of The Voice? Or the Ozymandias? Or the Quarterback, even? Likely this battle is actually not that memorable, and this will just be another mildly noticeable battle that blends into the background like Carmen San Diego at a Nordstrom Rack.
During deliberation, Usher stalls to make his decision, prompting Blake to make a September 2013 reference to “What Does The Fox Say?” which is inexplicably the third time this song has been referenced on the show (and it’s not even Throwback Thursday).
In a happy turn of events, Usher picks Melissa, who has a little marketability to her (if only to be the spokeswoman for Lids). Thus, we bid farewell to good ol’ Box. You were fun while you lasted, and I’m sure we’ll see you again in life, Music Box, most likely as you sit somewhere in a dark corner in a dusty attic or spooky castle waiting to chime a creepy circus lullaby as Vera Farmiga picks you up and investigates you.
Does Blake Steal?: No.
NEXT: The light at the end of the tunnel! Three more battles conclude the night
Kaleigh Glanton vs. Ryan Whyte Maloney
Surely it can’t bode well for Kaleigh or Ryan that I had to look up both of their names—and not just last names, but FIRST names. Sorry about it, but if I can’t remember your name and your show is literally my job, then you’re clearly not ranking high on my eventual season six power list (coming soon to an EW.com near you).
As we learn during the rehearsal, this battle is all about emotion—one of those battles—and surprisingly, they both really do deliver both vocally and, I suppose, emotionally, although that’s sort of difficult to tell. I mean, maybe Ryan’s wearing his heart on his sleeve, but he’s got so many tattoos that I’m not sure where his sleeve actually is.
I actually really like the two of them together—they look like they’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company, playing off one another in an intimate high school production of Passion kind of way. That’s always delightful. Throughout the song, Kaleigh is a little more emotional, I guess? But Blake picks Ryan, and I don’t necessarily care either way because neither of these two is making it into the live shows.
Does Blake Steal?: No, it’s Blake.
Jake Barker vs. Brittnee Camelle
Look at this sexy pair! Now that’s a smart match, Miss Swann, if it’s not too bold to say. (That is too bold.) Both Jake and Brittnee stand out in my memory, if not for their Tiger Beat-ready looks than for their stellar voices. I’ve been anticipating a battle of this caliber all night long, and since the episode has largely been full of duds up to this point, we’re finally treated to a worthy showdown of the vanities.
The best moment happens when Jake and Brittnee are running through their possible song choices. Jake kind of smiles when he suggests “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj, smirking and then looking at Brittnee who is sooo not amused by the suggestion (hmm, I wonder who would have to “sing” the Nicki Minaj part?). “Let’s scratch out ‘Beauty and a Beat,’” she says matter-of-factly, and I already love her because she takes no nonsense, much like my dearly departed Music Box. The pair ends up picking Usher’s “Climax,” which isn’t as great a choice as “Beautiful Soul” could have been, but Jake is all excited about taking some big risk with this song. Now, risk is great (though Stratego is better), but falsetto doesn’t do anything for me except make me wish I was listening to Adam Levine.
Prior to hitting the stage, Jake confesses that he doesn’t want to bartend in New York ever again, which is surely the least threatening fate on the spectrum of hometown destinies awaiting eliminated contestants who still want to pursue their dreams. (Remember that one girl who, heaven forbid, had to return home to her husband and young children? Yikes!) If Jake does get eliminated, I’d like very much to visit the bar he tends to and have a conversation with him about how to get that GQ-ready undercut.
The song begins, and damn, climax is an understatement for this performance. Brittnee, for what it’s worth, is pretty flippin’ incredible, and Jake does equal justice to the vocal madness here. If ever someone should use a steal (ahem Blake ahem) it’s this battle, but lo and behold, deliberation rolls around and it’s overwhelmingly pointing towards Jake, who likely has the fullest fame-ready package of any contestant this season.
Tough luck for Brittnee, who is let go without so much as a second glance from Blake. What a waste of a great talent.
Did Blake Steal?: No.
But Blake still has a steal to use and there’s only one battle left: Yes, that’s why this is the least suspenseful season ever.
Madilyn Paige vs. Bria Kelly
Finally, we arrive at the last battle of the night, nay, the season. I guess I made a mistake calling Bria an underdog a couple episodes ago—though to be fair, it was only because she was the unassuming quiet child to the Regina Georgian Tess Boyer. In this match-up with District 12 tribute Madilyn Paige, Bria seems like the one with charisma. I adore both girls, and it’s a relatively even-handed match, but it’s evident that Bria is the one who has the opportunity to prove herself a major contender.
On the aesthetic front, Bria really surprises me, rocking three (3!) different hair styles in her opening package AND sporting a festive Elsa-at-coronation tiara. Vocally, she also blows past Madilyn, who does an admirable job keeping up but doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of thrills, much like a scary children’s picture book or low-intensity carnival ride. Ultimately it’s a fairly mild-mannered battle, but it does show off an admirable and promising talent in Bria. I think Bria will go relatively far in the competition, if she can open up to America a little more and turn on some personality fireworks.
With little surprise, Usher sticks with Bria, and it’s a shock to no one that Blake uses his steal on Madilyn. Whoever edits this show is easily the season’s least valuable player.
Did Blake Steal?: Yes!!! Did anyone else totally not see that coming?!
Stay tuned to EW.com for my Season Six Top 20 Power List.