'The Voice' recap: The battle of the underdogs
Tuesday night's episode of "The Voice" should've been subtitled "Songs of Innocence and Experience." Every showdown found a newbie competing against someone who, by comparison, sang like a veteran rock star -– or at least lived like a veteran rock star, possibly by sleeping in her car. (We're not naming any names here, Rebecca.) Watching all four rounds was like seeing a team of professionals battle a team of fuzzy, mewling kittens. And those kittens delivered a violent beat-down every time.
Throughout the night, the skinny and the teenaged and the nerdy triumphed over the big-voiced and the traditionally schooled and the old-enough-to-vote. During Round One, Christina picked 16-year-old Raquel Castro, a former child star who appeared in "Jersey Girl," to face off with 18-year-old Julia Eason, who looked like she earned new wrinkles every time someone referred to Raquel as "the youngest girl in this competition."
It was a bit of a cruel joke for Christina to make these two duet on Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World)," a song that reminds them, again and again, that there ain't room in this competition for the both of 'em. ("Want you to make me feel / like I'm the only girl in the world / Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love.") With her full, soulful voice, Julia was clearly the better singer, but she was no match for Raquel's giant anime-character eyes, which threatened to weigh down her tiny head and appeared to shoot truth-beams directly into Christina's brain, forcing her to erupt with spontaneous confessions. "Before a show, I literally sometimes want to puke or pee my pants!" Christina said in an attempt to make Raquel feel better. Well, OK … but Raquel clearly didn't suffer from the same nerves. After the energetic high-schooler fist-pumped, jazz-handed, and nearly tap-danced around stage, Christina chose her. By the time Julia did her walk of shame backstage, she was 5,000 years old.
Team Blake also matched an innocent with a not-so-innocent -– and guess which category the preacher's daughter who once wrote a song called "Crazy Chick" fell into? Preparing to sing "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, Christian bad-girl Serabee boasted that she could summon the Holy Ghost with her voice. "I have performed in front of 10,000 [people]," she insisted. Then, smiling slyly, she added, "I've got a lot of experience." (If there was a double entendre there, our pious ears certainly didn't hear it.) At first it looked like Serabee would squash the soft-talker Dia Frampton, a self-confessed stage fright sufferer and shy folk singer (she plays in the indie duo Meg & Dia). But maybe the Holy Ghost is a secret folkie, because when Sera opened up and unleashed her inner Diana Ross, growling her way through the song, the judges weren't having it. Blake condemned Sera for over-singing and seemed to choose Dia just to punish her. Looking at Sera, Cee Lo simply said, "That was bizarre." Coming from a man who wears giant rainbow-colored peacock feathers on stage, that means something.
Next up was Team Levine with a David vs. Goliath battle that was really more David vs. David. The song choice felt like another mean punchline: Radiohead's "Creep," as performed by Rebecca Loebe, aka The Girl Who Sleeps in Her Car, and Devon Barley, a gawky, bespectacled med student who's BFFs with his parents. "I feel like this song's about not necessarily fitting in ... and that's sort of where I am in my life," confessed Devon. But after being coached by Adam to "access [his] inner freak," he stole the soaring choruses. If Devon didn't know how to rock, he looked like he'd at least studied rocking, and boy, were his parents proud. "Good job, buddy!" his father exclaimed backstage, giving Devon a pat on the back. "Good job!" Daa-aad! You're embarrassing him!
Last up was Team Cee Lo – or as the judges will forever remember this match-up, Team OMG So Freaking Cute!!! Watching former Mickey Mouse Club member Kelsey Rae share the microphone with twin sisters Tori and Taylor Thompson (one of whom may have a slight pitch problem, though her sparkling white teeth distracted us from it), we wanted to hire some lol cats to provide live commentary. Midway through Natasha Bedingfield's perky pop hit "Unwritten," Kelsey even playfully tapped one of the twins on the shoulder (Hey you! Apple-cheeked California girl!), and the twin shot back a faux-surprised over-the-shoulder look (Who? Little ol’ me?) before they tag-teamed their way into the chorus, complete with synchronized shimmying. "That was adorable!" Cee Lo gushed. "Whose idea was that?"
Adam agreed. "I can't pick! It was just too cute!" he confessed. "There's so much cuteness going on!"
But Cee Lo's mind was already made up. Nodding to the twins, he said, "You guys have an innocence that's so charming and so sweet, you can't help but be swept away by it."
Sadly, that innocence will get them to the next round, when they'll no doubt be destroyed and humiliated by one of the stronger singers in this competition. Let's hope they don't leave the stage sobbing their eyes out, needing a bear hug from their coach. Then again, we feel guilty for saying this, but: Awww, that would be so cute!
-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Julia Eason and Raquel "Jersey Girl" Castro. Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC.