Even though Cassadee Pope charting on the Billboard Hot 100 seems like a dream-crusher for the other contestants hoping to win Season Three of The Voice, last night’s live show proved the other remaining five ain’t going out easy. Most notably, Trevin Hunte pulled himself up from the bottom of the pile with a song that, inexplicably, he labeled “a risk”: “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going.” If there is any song that is showboat-ier, full of big notes and soulful bluster, who knows what it is. There is a reason the Dreamgirls fave is a popular go-to for pageants and drag balls. Though I predicted in last week’s recap that someone would do that song, and that they would do it in tears, Hunte instead whipped off his jacket and went down on his knees, aiming for defiance rather than pathos. Coaches gave standing ovations, Xtina fanned herself and then offered to take him on the road with her and Hunte beamed.
On to the power rankings.
Coach: Blake Shelton
Shelton gave Pope another country song this week, and she chopped it up on Rascal Flatts “Stand,” despite looking peeved in her rehearsal reel. Nevertheless, it was a very rare showcase of her control and dynamism, much more so than her choice of Avril Lavigne “I’m With You,” which just seems too easy: she is very much cut from the same cloth as Avril. Scotsman Terry McDermott pulled out all the sensitive stops for “I Wanna Know What Love Is” in a piano-and-cello setting, verging on tears as it he dedicated it to his wife, who helped him deal with the loss of his mother. It was a different side of him and one that seems likely to propel him on. He followed it up with a more predictable take on Rod Stewart’s “Stay With Me,” where he pranced through the audience.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
This week Cee Lo was out sick and in his stead was Pat Monahan from Train, who advised everyone to get out of their comfort zones – with mixed results. Hunte clawed his way back into the game with a bizarre display of pop range. First he foghorned his way through “And I’m Telling . . .” and then followed by unexpectedly bopping through the perdurable Eighties hit “Walking on Sunshine.” Nicholas David opened the show with a wedding-band staple, Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” which was oddly static and perhaps his least impressive showing in weeks. Then he closed the show with a tender dedication, to his mother, of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” perhaps sensing his time on the show might be up soon. Per fill-in coach Monahan, David went for some big notes, and hit them fine, but that business seems better suited to some of the other contestants. David is still in the game because he he’s an individual and his magic hippie vibes go right through the TV screen. Cee Lo, back for the live broadcast, seemed a little underwhelmed and gave “you are my bro, I believe in you”-style elegiac comments after his performances.
Coach: Adam Levine
Team Adam this week is veering toward pandering, but alas, staying in this game is about pleasing America. Amanda Brown reported in her rehearsal reel that all her Facebook and Twitter comments are people begging her to do a rock song, and on Monday’s show she did a womanly reclamation of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” in head-to-toe red leather while dancers, uh, artfully moshed around her. It seemed a little forced, but ultimately it might be what keeps her in for another week. She also revamped Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with some contemporary sensuality and diva notes. Melanie Martinez, who is running a strong second to Pope, interpreted the Cee Lo-penned “Crazy,” seated amid a be-bowed mannequin girl band and heavy fog. Her performance was quite pitchy. In case you forgot she is the youngest person in the competition, she accompanied herself on a toddler sized toy piano. Why not just have her perform in a diaper? Or lick a giant lollipop? Perhaps they were saving those for her performance of Lenka’s “The Show,” where she sang about how she’s “just a little girl lost” while school play-style staging occurred around her, including (but not limited to) being encircled by a cardboard dolphin. Le cringe. Martinez seems to be getting further away from being a living Rookie magazine DIY tutorial into something a little more disempowered and infantile.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
While all the tabloid speculation about diva judges melting down on live TV has been focused on Britney Spears over on The X Factor, last night’s show found Xtina trying to jam her foot back in the closing door of Season Three the only way she can without any team members to champion: make it about her. She bitched at Melanie Martinez for not looking at her during her critique, which was about staging for the third straight week; she gave “props” for the “props” then laughed, alone, at her own joke. In Martinez’s next critique she sang not one but three Fiona Apple song suggestions to her. Aguilera claimed she was now the co-coach for Team Blake, hitched her wagon to Pope and stole the thunderous moment of Trevin’s performance by saying that if he didn’t win she would take him under her wing. She shaded Brown with a patronizing sounding “great job.” Aguilera’s a sore loser and there is no way for America to vote her on home.
Best witty repartee of the season: Up in the Sprint micro-stagelet, where contestants were palming their complimentary smart phones, Christina Milian lobbed a WTF-grade question from Twitter to McDermott, asking if he was part hobbit. He gamely replied he did have a little hobbit in him and then asked Christina if she had any hobbit in her, to which she replied, “Not yet.” Carson Daly, down below, merely zipped his mouth by way of reaction.
Best outfit of the night: Christina Aguilera, dressed like a psychic in a B movie.
Memento or curse? Upon his ceremonious booting last week, Dez Duron bequeathed his latchkey necklace to buddy Trevin Hunte. Duron got the tchotchke from someone after he didn’t make it to Season Two. Tonight’s live rounds will tell!