Tuesday, October 22, 2013

“The Voice” – The Battles (Part 3)


It’s the final week for the Battle Rounds on The Voice, and last nights show highlighted just how much the remaining artists want the win... but it also had a few shocking choices and some surprising performances.

Spoilers of Part 3 ahead...

CeeLo Green had only one battle last night, and prepared George Horga Jr. and Juhi for their vocal duel against each other. CeeLo chose “Best I Ever Had” for his two youngest artists. During rehearsals, we saw just how well Juhi can ride the scales... her range really is outstanding, but I couldn't help but notice how far George has come since the Blinds. He may not have the range that Juhi has, but he is vocally strong and has a perfect ‘roughness’ in his voice.
As the battle between them began, they both came out strong and owned that stage. Juhi’s unique voice showed its full power and control last night, but George seemed to nail almost everything right along side of her. Technically, they were almost equals on the stage, but Juhi’s range and energy overshadowed George. She put so much personality into her performance that you couldn’t help but focus on her... she was having fun, and her smile seemed brighter than the stage lighting at times. With no doubt, my point easily goes to Juhi for the win... CeeLo, however, saw differently.
CeeLo picked George, and myself and the other coaches were shocked. Yes, George was good, but Juhi owned the night and had the audience reveling in the performance. CeeLo chose George not because his performance was better than Juhi’s, but because George was more “committed” to the path of music. I do not agree with his choice or reasoning, and I think he made a huge mistake his decision. During Carson’s declaration of George’s win, the chatter from the other coaches were that of disbelief, and Adam Levine made the biggest steal of the Battle Rounds this year. Juhi was the only one from Team CeeLo that was on my top list, and now she is part of Team Adam... good job Juhi and GREAT steal Adam!

The one battle for Blake Shelton last night had his two male country singers battling it out with “To Love Somebody.” In the rehearsal room, it was evident that Austin is not only a powerful vocalist but also connected with the song and lost himself in it. I’ve often said that it's not the technical performance or the lyrics that make a great song... it is the emotion and personality that an artist emotes through it. Brian, on the other hand, isn’t as powerful as Austin and seems to have a problem connecting emotionally with the song.
Before the battle began, Brian made a decision to not play his guitar while performing. Honestly, it was probably the best decision as he was more able to focus on his vocals. During the battle, Austin started much weaker than I had expected, while Brian seemed to have just the right amount of power. Although Austin connected with the song and was on pitch, he seemed to put a little too much blues into his rendition. Brian’s pitch was good, and he seemed so at ease on the stage that his performance seemed effortless... but there was that lack of connection. Even with the missing emotional element, however, my point still goes to Brian... on the grounds that an artist will not always be able to connect with a song that was chosen for them. Blake didn’t see that and declared Austin the winner. No other coach decided to use a steal, so it was the end of the road for Brian Pounds.

Adam’s first battle of the evening put up his two power singers. James Irwin (with a four chair turn during Blinds) and Matt Cermanski (with a three chair turn) would duel with “Counting Stars.” Adam sees the absolute connection between emotion and success and said that he was going to pick the winner based on who can move him the most with the performance.
The battle began, and oddly, Matt also chose to perform without his guitar. Personally, I think that during the Battle Rounds losing the guitar is the best choice for the artist. We, and the coaches, need to see heart and soul on the stage and not be distracted by an instrument. Anyway, Matt, for the most part, was right on pitch from the beginning. James, however, came out with heart and personality. You could tell the connection between the song and the artist was there. When the chorus hit, both showed what a true vocal battle was about. Both hit their notes well... both showed fire in their souls... both showed how much they wanted the win. This one battle, it was hard to pick a winner, but that extra level of connection James had, I have to give my point to him. Adam saw that connection as well and also picked James. I was surprised, though, that no coach stole Matt. He is very talented, but we had to say goodbye.

Adam’s second battle was also between a ‘four chair turn’ and a ‘three chair turn.’ James Wolpert and Will Champlin will duel with “Radioactive.” Will struggled technically during rehearsals, mostly because of nerves, while James seemed confident and showed wide range and great pitch.
As the battle started, Will was a little flat compared to how strong and clean James was. Incidentally, James’ look really did not match what was coming out of his mouth. This odd juxtaposition, however, worked for some reason. Maybe because we are conditioned to associate a certain sound with a certain look, James seemed to stand out that much more and seemed even more powerful in his singing. As the song progressed, Will did get more confident, and consequently, much stronger. James, in a few spots, did push himself a little far, causing some notes to fall short. Overall, both of them had good points and some bad, but in the end, my point went to James. I just think Will needs a little more time and practice to overcome some nerves and to loosen up on stage. Adam chose James... but Christina stole Will. No one goes home from this battle, but I do question Christina’s choice using a steal.

Christina opened the show with the battle of Josh Logan and Michael Lynch. She chose “Harder to Breath,” a song that Adam Levine originally wrote, for them to sing. During the pre-battle clips, it seemed as though this battle may just make both artist fall on their faces. It is a very ‘angry’ and ‘lyric-packed’ song that both seemed to be struggling with. Even by the second meeting with Christina, neither Josh nor Michael had the lyrics right yet. Christina was frustrated, and both Josh and Michael were going to need to really push themselves during the battle.
Fortunately, at the battle, both artists seemed to have learned the lyrics and did the song (and Adam) proud. Both delivered a relatively solid performance, but as amazing as Michael was in the blinds, he was simply out-powered by Josh on stage last night. Josh seemed more comfortable, while Michael seemed too bouncy. Although Michael is in my top picks, after the battle last night, my point goes to Josh. Christina agreed and the journey was over for Michael.

Christina’s second battle, and the most intense and amazing one so far on the show, was between Destinee Quinn and Lina Gaudenzi. Christina picked “Not Ready to Make Nice,” because she wanted to see “some fire out there.” Christina strongly believes in the effects and importance of emotion and connection when performing a song, and this song choice has some seriously powerful emotions.
At rehearsals, Lina started to over think causing her nerves to interfere with her vocals, and Destinee seemed too distant from the song to connect properly. Christina simply told them that they would need to let go of themselves and just give in to the song... basically telling them to just trust in their abilities and find a way to feel the song.
Well, the battle started, and I’ve got to say, Destinee took every word Christina said and blew up the stage. She looked absolutely stunning, and the conviction in her vocals was far beyond anything we’ve seen from her before. You could see some of her nerves coming through, but she just fought through them and let every other emotion loose. Vocally, Lina had a little more power, and she was solid throughout... but she didn’t have the intense connection to the song that Destinee did. 
Both put on an amazing battle, but Destinee’s emotional connection to the song was so real, I really thought she was going to break down and cry at the end. Easily and with no doubt, my point goes to Destinee... and after that performance, she is the one to watch. With that kind of performance... she'll easily make the top 3. Christina saw that raw and true emotion and picked Destinee as the winner, and Adam got another huge steal (his second and last one), picking up Lina for his team. Adam’s team is starting to look much better than it did last week.

Last night’s battles were by far the most entertaining. Everyone gave it their all, but Destinee Quinn’s performance stole the night... but, following not far behind are Juhi and James Irwin. I definitely can not wait for the knock-outs.

Watch The Voice every Monday and Tuesday on NBC! Check your local listings for times.
Go to nbc.com/the-voice for all the great info on the judges and artists.

Who caught your ear? Who’s your favorite? What do you think? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

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