'The Voice' recap: Pip and James Massone shove off
The eight singers on teams Cee Lo and Adam performed on Week 2 of "The Voice's" live quarterfinals Monday, and before the night was over two of them had gone home in another irritating "instant elimination" round, in which each coach must send home one team member before the performance sweat has even dried.
As I've said, I think it's ridiculous to hand this sort of game-changing decision to the coaches before the audience has even had time to absorb the performances, much less to vote for their favorites. Even Adam Levine, who had embraced the nod toward greater coach control last week and at the beginning of Monday's show (around the time the coaches were cracking each other up, apparently with fart jokes), seemed a little less enthusiastic by the time his turn came to suddenly crush one of his team member's dreams. It was "stupid," he said, that the coaches had to send someone home.
Then, after a speech about how being sent home wasn't the end of the world for the performers, Levine informed Pip, the dimpled lad who ditched his trademark bow tie and veered off key Monday with "Somewhere Only We Know," that he was letting him go.
That meant audiences would still be able to vote to save one of the remaining three members of Levine's team, leaving the other two to vie Tuesday for the coach's save:
Mathai: The former nursing student gave a so-so performance of "I'm Like a Bird," with what her coach, Levine, called a "sketchy dude" swinging acrobatically overhead, but she still emerged smiling.
Katrina Parker: The former cubicle worker distanced herself a bit from those Adele comparisons and gave an emotionally raw, vocally polished "Jar of Hearts" that ought to collect her a few votes.
Tony Lucca: The former "Mickey Mouse Club" member stopped the show by tweaking his past and hitting back at fellow former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera with a rocking rendition of Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time." Even Aguilera, who had ripped into Lucca after a previous performance, admitted she "thoroughly enjoyed" Lucca's performance. "Nice job," she said.
At least, before bringing the ax down on Pip, Levine spoke extemporaneously, rather than reading his singers a message he'd composed on his cellphone. That's what Cee Lo Green did before cutting his team's weakest link: letter-jacket-and-hairband-wearing Boston car mechanic and Green-dubbed "lady killer" James Massone. Massone had turned in a typically tame, teenybopper-targeted performance of "I Want You Just the Way You Are." "It just laid there for me," Blake Shelton said after Massone had performed, likely echoing the thoughts of many.
Massone's departure left three singers to seek the save on Green's team:
Jamar Rogers: Rogers' positive outlook and heart-tugging back story -- the HIV-positive recovering drug addict has said he didn't think he'd make it to his 30th birthday, crediting a Green song with helping to save his life -- gave a particular power and poignancy to his intense performance of "It's My Life."
Cheesa: Green's anointed "power vocalist" gained judge approval for her gutsy, throaty take on "I Have Nothing" -- Aguilera said she hit notes that Whitney Houston herself hadn't; Green weirdly hailed her "childbearing strength" -- but it just seemed all wrong to me.
Juliet Simms: The raspy-voiced rocker donned a set of giant "Angels in America"-esque wings and stood amongst cascading feathers for her no-holds-barred take on "Cryin'," but the melody flew away from her like a bird.
We'll get the audience verdicts tonight. In the meantime, who do you think gave the best and worst performances?
"American Idol" vs. "The Voice"
Each week our experts and readers rank the best of the best between the two blockbuster singing competitions. Last week, "American Idol's" Phillip Phillips came out on top.
Who will the favorite this week? Use the poll below to vote. Check out last week's performances and see what our judges had to say at latimes.com/idol-voice.
— Amy Reiter
Photo: "The Voice's" Carson Daly, Juliet Simms, Cee-Lo Green, Cheesa and Jamar Rodgers. Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC