'The Voice' Recap: Dia Dominates

Despite confusing rule changes, first live show yields clear leader

Jacob Lewis/NBC
Dia Frampton performs on 'The Voice'.
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It's kind of a miracle The Voice is as good as it is considering Carson Daly seems to be making up the rules as he goes. This week he had four new ones to deliver: the show went live, we had to vote, only Blake's and Christina's teams competed, and each of the two coaches would be saving a team member in addition to the one rescued by us. This late in the game, it was like being a senior in high school and still not knowing the school hallways. Where were we? Where would we be in two weeks? Was this Memento? Why were four famous singers mangling Queen? By the time Dia Frampton took the stage, things were thankfully starting to feel familiar. We'd seen her before. She's adorable, and looks either like Lyla Garrity or Jessica Alba, depending on the kind of adorable face she's making.

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But this version of Dia was different from the one we've been seeing. This Dia was cool and collected, only a little adorable, mostly confident. With all kinds of poise, she spun out an eerie, fog-licked version of Kanye West's "Heartless," rolling the words "talkin', talkin', talkin'," at the piano like Regina Spektor. It wasn't a particularly original concept. The Fray's done an acoustic "Heartless," as has Kris Allen on an episode of The Voice's very own nemesis franchise, American Idol. But Dia's real triumph was in setting herself apart from her past performances. Last night she had enough power in her voice to surprise even Christina Aguilera, the Kim Jong Il of insanely powerful voices. "I saw a fighter in you," Christina said. Cee-Lo claimed he'd be calling Kanye later to tell him about the amazing thing we'd all just witnessed (what, Kanye doesn't watch the biggest new hit on network TV, according to Carson Daly?).

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Unfortunately, the equally adorable Xenia didn't manage as dramatic a transformation. By some weird glitch in coaching, she'd been instructed to move her hands in very literal expressions of the words she sang. Turns out Jessie J's "Price Tag" has a lot of direction words ("left" means left). As coltishly awkward as Xenia normally is, this new development was sort of painful to watch. Still, her voice is gorgeous and that is what this show is constantly telling us it's all about.

In the people-without-hair corner, Jared Blake sang a cover of "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon that was super respectable aside from his questionable use of a headkerchief, guitar-throwing, and a possibly strange woman in the audience. Beverly McClellan, no surprise, took on Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" (next week: The Indigo Girls!). She powered through with a cold that dampened just enough of that good ol' Bev fire to give her some dignity on stage, despite being dressed up to look like a Scottish Nazi. Meanwhile, Frenchie Davis showed her Broadway chops on David Guetta's "When Love Takes Over," ft. Kelly Rowland, leaving Adam liking the song for the first time ever.

As far as bag-packers go, all bets on Raquel Castro, Lily Elise, Patrick Thomas, and a toss-up between Jared Blake and Xenia. Raquel, Lily and Patrick were pretty mediocre, but even Jared's and Xenia's goodness might not be enough to counter the greatness that was Dia. As Alison Haislip commands, so it is TwitterFacebookHashtagTableted: Dia Frampton is the closest thing so far to #TheVoice.

LAST EPISODE: The Battle Rounds End in a Kiss