'The Voice' recap: Javier and Beverly take the lead
Is it a coincidence that the two front-runners in this competition -- velvety-voiced Javier Colon and raspy rocker Beverly McClellan -- are both bald? Or is Cee Lo sending mind-control beams into the other judges' brains, forcing them to vote for his fellow cue balls? Clearly, Adam Levine has fallen under Cee Lo's spell. At one point he seemed almost offended by the folically rich showdown between big-afro'd Tje Austin and plentifully bearded Nakia on Team Cee Lo. "So much hair!" Levine exclaimed. "So much hair flyin' around!"
If overly wild coiffure wasn't going to win anyone over, overly wild voices weren't either. During the practice rounds, the judges spent most of their time trying to get contestants to simplify their performances – which meant less gospel-ready vocal runs, less forehead-vein-popping power-singing, less time spent ascending from the upper register into an upper-upper register that only special hummingbirds can hear, less jumping around stage, waving one's arms upward in a "make some noise" gesture just to get the judges' attention.
Granted, Blake Shelton didn't help tone anything down when he pitted not two but three contestants against one another, and chose a song primed for an over-the-top battle: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." As alt-rocker Jared Blake challenged newlywed folk duo Elenowen (a.k.a. Josh and Nicole), Shelton briefly lost his patience. "This is not happening here," he said. "Everyone's trying to out-sing each other." In a round that was all about scaling things down, Jared proved that one artfully bandana'd dude can take out two harmonizing lovebirds with the sheer force of his grunge angst -- even if he's singing a song by the not-so-grunge Marvin Gaye. "I love it that this was just so wrong for you, Jared," Adam Levine marveled. Blake Shelton agreed, and sent the lovebirds home to Nicole's parents' basement, where they'll be free to harmonize with Mom and Dad.
Team Levine's showdown was by far the saddest. Even Angela Wolf knew she was outmatched when paired with Javier Colon. "He's probably the best singer in this entire competition," she said, smiling, with a lower lip that may or may not have been quivering a little. When the two approached "Stand By Me," Coach Levine warned them, "It's so simple, it's like a nursery rhyme. I want you to sing less."
Poor Angela couldn't have sung any less. Javier -- the reigning king of reality TV R&B, who's already got our vote for winning this whole competition -- could've out-sung her if he had to throw his voice through a ventriloquist dummy. Levine picked him, and Blake Shelton loved him -- maybe a little too much. "There is an extremely beautiful girl on stage right now, but all I could do was sit here and go … Javier…," he said, batting his eyelashes at Colon. When Javier joked that the comment made him feel strange, Shelton responded. "Imagine how I feel." Oh, Blake Shelton. First the Shania scandal, and now this? Stop driving your gay fans crazy!
The grand finale belonged to Javier's biggest competition, Beverly, who wrestled a highly-prized "hey-eeey!" from Christina with her raw treatment of the Who's "Baba O’Riley" (a.k.a. "Teenage Wasteland"). Justin Grennan didn’t have a chance against her. When Carson Daly introduced them, he pitted "high-rise window installer" Justin against "wild rocker" Beverly, making it clear who was going to win this one. When Christina cautioned Justin to take his singing down a few octaves, Beverly tried to play it cool. "Confidence can sometimes be cockiness, and I don't want to get the two mixed up here," she said. But it certainly looked like cockiness that grabbed Justin by the leather jacket (hey, at least he tried to rock!) and used him to mop up the sweat pouring down Beverly's brow as she Janis Joplin-ed her way through the song, tearing it a new high note.
"You stole it, you owned it, and then you sold it!" cried Cee Lo to Bev. The heavily tattooed singer with a voice as subtle as a fireplace lighter? She totally brought down the whole boxing ring. So, yeah, less might be more. But sometimes more is more-er.
-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Beverly McClellan, saving on conditioner. Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC