The Voice had been teasing last night’s big moment since last Monday in promos and sneak peaks – a melismatic “Vision of Love” showdown between Trevon Hunte and Amanda Brown that was meant to highlight the new “steal” option that judges can use to pick up a contestant who would otherwise have been eliminated during the battle rounds. Even Cee Lo claimed not to know of Brown’s Whitney-like range (lord have mercy on anyone who further underestimates this woman’s voice), and seemed to think his team’s pick-to-win soul powerhouse Trevon would mark Brown for easy elimination. Nope. Adam Levine stood on his chair and all the judges theatrically slapped their buttons like lab monkeys to take whomever Cee Lo discarded. Levine turned on his flirt death ray and nabbed Brown, a former backup singer for Adele, though given what we now know he heft of her talent, we don’t need to qualify her as Adele’s little helper.
This over-the-top show closer blotted out the night’s real fist-pumping, chill-giving moment, which was Team Xtina’s De’Borah de’stroying “Message in a Bottle.” In the b-roll, she faltered and was lost the whole way. Growing up in the church, the Police hit was entirely unfamiliar to her. But when it was time to battle teammate Nelly’s Echo, who sounds like Sting anyway, De’Borah laid in the cut and then ripped it to shreds, bounding around the stage. Every contestant says the same thing before they go on, about how their whole life comes down to this moment and leaving it on the stage – but De’Borah is the only contestant who actually has this season. Her dad was doing praise hands in the front row, and every judge (including her own) was making a “whoa” face. Adam choked up with emotion, praising her in disbelief and sadness that anyone had ever rejected this girl, who was frozen out by her church community when she came out as gay. De’Borah put all the soul-screamers and he-divas on notice last night; she could take this thing.
On to the power rankings! This week it’s a tie!
Coach: Adam Levine
He pulled Brown to his team with a smile and a plea for forgiveness for not turning his chair for her in audition rounds. As we stated in an earlier recap, girl is going far this season. She’s probably the best thing on his team right now. Also, his praise for De’Borah was genuine and not just typical coach hyperbole – he seemed like he was about to cry.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
Though her team is largely a sea of indistinguishable 11th-grade divas with their cascading hair and Katy Perry dreams, Xtina’s superpower is the bowtied and butchy De’Borah, who took her competitor to school and the rest of us to church.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo stuck with Hunte after the showy battle with Brown to encourage the shy, self-doubting singer, who has pipes like a young Luther Vandross. Props to Cee Lo for taking the riskier pick in the JR Aquino–Diego battle, too. Aquino may have 44 million YouTube views but his bland, smooth voice would havebeen a better match for American Idol – or a wedding band. Diego is admittedly unfamiliar with American Top 40, wore tuxedo culottes on stage and has a hard time singing in English. Yet the Team Cee Lo underdogs, as we know from previous seasons, should not be counted out.
Coach: Blake Shelton
It was no surprise that mother-daughter duo 2Steel Girls was an early elimination victim after they went up against the honky-tonkin’ holler of Gracia Harrison. As Shelton said in the rehearsal reel, he realized that 2Steel Girls’ voices don’t actually work together. OOPS. They probably should have thought of that before the mom quit her job to do this. It’s probably also the reason they were staring at Shelton with Firestarter eyes as he eliminated them. Shelton also kept rockin’ Scotsman Terry McDermott who owned Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son”; if they keep handing him Seventies songbook entries, he will go far. Inexplicably, Shelton did a “steal” and picked up Adam’s discard of Yale dropout Collin McLoughlin, a.k.a. the dude with the shell necklace. His voice is very, uh, “local band” and his vibe is very Potsie from Happy Days. He is not going to win this – so why pick him?
Most questionable styling of the night: Who dressed the biggest guy in the competition in a jean jacket with a leather coat over it and then put him under stage lights? When Hunte was done performing he looked like he had juststepped from the shower. Plus, in a brim hat, acidwash jean jacket and red spiked leather jacket he looked like a New Kid-Michael Jackson-1988 turducken. Runner up: Gracia Harrison’s look was very Playboy/prom.
Best matchy-matchy: Christina Aguilera’s assistant coach this season is pre-rehab Billie Joe Armstrong and she appears to be dressing “punk” in her scenes with him.
Most “Really?” moment: When Brown, whose lifechanging band is Radiohead, got totally geeked out and star struck by Rob Thomas.
Best parental display of pride: When Levine was complimenting De’Borah, her dad, ever the minister, audibly shouted “YES SHE DID!”
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