'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds, Part 3
"The Voice" went into its third night of battle rounds full of bluster but ended on a quiet note, with one contestant's solemn dedication to her father.
Erin Willett had told us during blind auditions that she was giving her all to "The Voice" for the sake of her dad, to whom she was very close and who had just been diagnosed with cancer. (He was the guy who, while watching on a monitor backstage as his daughter performed, hollered for the "chickens" to press their buttons. Now that's a dad.)
Unfortunately, just before she was set to face off against teammate Gwen Sebastian, Willett received news that her dad was near death. She knew he'd want her to continue, she tearfully told her coach, Blake Shelton. So she did.
But Willett wasn't the only high-stakes performer on Monday night's show. Some were doing it for their kids, or to justify the decision to put off having kids. Others were doing it for their dreams of stardom or for the opportunities stardom could bring. Whatever the motive, all the contestants wanted to get a chance at the live shows. But alas, only half would make it.
Here's how it all broke down:
Pairing: The always nattily dressed 19-year-old Pip versus former competitive swimmer Nathan Parrett
The song: Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good"
Thoughts going in: Pip's eyebrows are a little distracting, but it's hard not to notice that, although Adam Levine is encouraging Parrett, Pip is still the front-runner.
The performances: They both sang strongly, and Parrett managed to get through the song without nervously shoving his hands in his pockets or crossing his arms, as he had done in rehearsal.
The response: Shelton praised Parrett's "clear" and "strong" voice but said he leaned toward Pip because Pip seemed like a singer who "can do everything." Christina Aguilera also liked Pip's stage presence, saying he seemed like someone who might have done Broadway. Cee Lo Green liked Parrett's "effortless cool," which he said reminded him of Winehouse, and thought he stole the performance. But Levine, the only vote that mattered went with …
Pairing: Model-turned-weird-singer Erin Martin versus garage-rocking duo the Shields Brothers, in the weirdest matchup of the night -- and season
The song: Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It"
Thoughts going in: Let's hear it for the guest mentors! The Shields Brothers' guest mentor, Babyface, nailed it when he said the fraternal duo reminded him of "Wayne's World." And Ne-Yo said, basically, that Martin was relying on her looks, but to succeed, she'd actually have to sing, too.
The performances: It was like a duel of the delusional, with lots of flash (especially if you count Martin's peculiar shoulder-pad and garter get-up) and posing (one of the Sheilds' brothers hoisted his mike stand in the air). It was very, very strange.
The response: Even Green seemed amused by all the onstage shenanigans. Levine called it "so weird," and opted for Martin, as did Blake, if only for her outfit. Aguilera gave it to the Shields Brothers on the basis of energy alone. And Green? Well, he chose the somewhat less strange of two strange options …
Winner: Erin Martin
Pairing: Pretty pop singer Ashley de la Rosa, who just wants to help people, versus R&B dude Jonathas, who wants to win for his kids and his mom
The song: "No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown
Thoughts going in: Jonathas has the swagger and confidence. De la Rosa sounds tentative … until she gets into the ring for rehearsal. Then she's all shoulder and sass, while Jonathas comes off as a little cocky. Aguilera told him to stop mouthing De la Rosa's lines.
The performances: They both sounded a little breathless ("No Air," indeed), but De la Rosa was more fun to watch.
The response: Green, Levine and Shelton picked De la Rosa as the round's winner. Ultimately, so did Aguilera, noting that she felt she could help De la Rosa, who's only 17, realize her potential.
Winner: Ashley de la Rosa
Pairing: Jermaine Paul, Alicia Keys handsome backup singer, who wants to make it on his own, versus ALyX, whose name consists of a difficult-to-remember assembly of capital and lowercase letters
The song: Billy Ocean's "Get Out of My Dreams"
Thoughts going in: ALyX doesn't have a prayer.
The performances: To repeat, ALyX doesn't have a prayer, though she did do better than you might have expected. However, hollering "Sometimes you just gotta say, what the hell" there at the end -– to prove she could go out there and have fun, as Shelton had challenged her to do –- was overkill. Paul, on the other hand, killed it.
The response: Aguilera, Green and Levine concluded that Paul had emerged the clear winner. "You took this song and kicked its ass, man," Levine said. Aguilera tried to offer ALyX kind words: "Great effort," she said. Ouch. Was there any doubt who Shelton would pick? Nope. …
Winner: Jermaine Paul
Pairing: Young survivor Angel Taylor versus cubicle escapee Katrina Parker
The song: "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis
Thoughts going in: Taylor seems like the front-runner; guest mentor Robin Thicke even thinks she could win the whole thing. But Parker's tone is appealing, and she makes her mentor, Alanis Morissette an instant fan. Hard to call.
The performances: Not sure what happened to Taylor's onstage energy, but she just seemed to curl into herself, singing to her own belly and shuffling around in her flats. Parker, meanwhile, looked and sounded poised and in control.
The response: Shelton, Aguilera and Green called the match for Parker. "I think Katrina just flat-out won this," Shelton said. Did Levine agree? After hemming and hawing and hiding under his sweater, he did indeed.
Winner: Katrina Parker
Pairing: Doing-it-for-dad Erin Willett versus gave-up-kids-for-music Gwen Sebastian
The song: Pat Benatar's "We Belong"
Thoughts going in: Before Willett's sad family news was announced, I had pegged Sebastian because she seems like the storyteller-type Shelton usually goes for, while Willett is more of a power vocalist. But with her heart-tugging backstory, it's really anyone's guess.
The performances: It was still anyone's guess as it was a fairly even match.
The response: Aguilera and Levine called it for Willett; Green thought the match was Sebastian's. And Shelton ... tick-tock-tick ... Willett. Phew. She didn't miss her dad's last hours for nothing.
Winner: Erin Willett
And there you have it. Do you think the best people advanced?
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— Amy Reiter
Photo: 'The Voice' contestant Erin Willett. Credit: Mitchell Haaseth / NBC