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On 'The Voice,' Cee Lo Is the Straw Stirring the Drink

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Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green
Matthew Rolston/NBC

Team Cee Lo is so far out in front it’s almost sad. This guy is clearly not just the greatest judge in the history of TV singing competitions, he’s a life coach for us all. He’s spent the past few weeks on The Voice buffing his "Red Zone" team into a funhouse mirror to reflect his own bonkersosity, and the whole show benefits from it. Last night he led the kids in a version of Sly Stone’s "Everyday People," wearing a vintage dashiki and an Afro wig that the Thompson sisters could have jumped out of (maybe next week?). He also took the team out to the spa, where he lived large in his red-and-black kimono. Oh, to be this man.

I love how he sits there watching his Red Zone protegees sing, smiling behind his Cool Hand Luke prison-guard shades. It’s "sick," as Blake Shelton told him last night; it’s almost like Cee Lo is taking all their raw hopes-and-dreamsiness and using it as raw material to assemble his own kicks-and-giggles playlist. So he made those plucky little Thompson sisters do "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," the 1940s Andrews Sisters chestnut that Bette Midler revived as a Seventies glam anthem. It was, well, strange, with WW2 fleet-week dance routines and hello-sailor costumes that seemed to have fallen off the truck on the way from Elton John’s mansion to the Salvation Army. It was also kind of awesome.

Cee Lo also took the country boy with the doofy Caesar haircut, Curtis Grimes, and made him sing Robert Palmer’s "Addicted to Love," as sexy-robot cowgirls twirled around him. Curtis looked confused and terrified, but that’s what made it great — like the song says, "your heart sweats, your teeth guh-riiiind," and he definitely brought that element of get-me-outta-here desperation to his performance. As for Vicci Martinez, Cee Lo let her call the shots and sing the hell out of the song she wanted — Dolly Parton’s "Jolene." But his perverse taste is the main reason why his team is the kickiest part of The Voice.

Not that the other teams are slouching. Everybody is shrewdly playing to their strengths, coaching their teams into Mini-Me squads, so Blake Shelton has the country-ish one while Adam Levine has his wheeler-dealer-schmealers-squealers doing smoothed-out rock hits. Christina Aguilera whittled her team down to a chrome-dome zone — as her MVP Frenchie said, "two bald girls." Xtina called it "the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make," although it probably comes in second to when she had to pick out the right assless chaps for her "Dirrty" video. (All chaps are assless—yet somehow not calling them assless takes the fun out of assless chaps. Why?)

Still, I’m rooting for Red Zone all the way. Everybody on The Voice is bringing it, but Cee Lo is clearly the straw stirring the drink, and everybody owes him thanks for molding the Zone into America’s team. And so on, and so on, and scooby dooby dooby.

Bonus weirdness: Last night, right after the show, Cee Lo zipped to the Hollywood Bowl where Motley Crue were playing with Poison and the New York Dolls. Naturally, he hopped onstage to rock with the Crue, singing "Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" as a medley with his own "Fuck You." Shout at the devil, Cee Lo!

Related:
'The Voice' Power Ranking: Cee Lo Pulls Ahead With Sister Act
'The Voice' Recap: Sisters Rule Girls Night

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV and pop culture. He is the author of two books, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran and Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.

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