The Voice, Final Battle Round and Smash, Episode 8
Catch The Voice at 7pm on NBC followed by Smash at 9pm!
Well we have finally reached the last of the pre-recorded episodes, the last of the battle rounds, the last of that ridiculous bedazzled Frisbee hat that sits atop Xtina’s head. I found this week’s episode to be full of disappointments. Disappointing performances from the contestants, disappointing decisions from the coaches, disappointing pre-battle intros from Carson Daly… well those are always awkward, I suppose. It almost seemed like they had used up all the good battles in the beginning and had only the dregs left over for this final episode, which arguably should have been the most epic of all.
But before things get ugly, let’s discuss what an adorable little raisin of emotion Cee-Lo Green was this week! Watching those plump, little tears streak down that plump, little face as he said, “You know, I’m a sensitive person, I’m an artist, man” almost gave me a cavity it was so freakin’ sweet. As the six-year-old for whom I nanny would say, that was ~ToTeZ aDoRbZ~!
As for the music, I’ma go ahead and side with Xtina when I say that the majority of these performances were lackluster. Nicolle Galyon and Mathai sang… they sang… I can’t even remember what song due to the utter and complete forgettableness of that performance. Jordan Rager, another rando from the blind auditions, and Naia Kete were also super lame, but this time we got some painful pitch problems thrown in! Even though Naia won, she knew she tanked. And then there was the weirdness that was Moses Stone, the only “emcee” on The Voice, and The Line, a country duo, singing “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones, a rock song. XTINA. WHAT. That bizarre, sparkly Frisbee hat must be cutting off circulation to homegirl’s brain, because that was the strangest, least-sensible, most unforgivable pairing of the season, nay, series. It made zero sense and hurt my brain. And then on top of that, she picks Moses Stone as the winner simply to prove her point about the importance of versatility? Really? Yes, adaptability is important, but so is having a good singing voice in a SINGING COMPETITION. For crying out loud...
The battle between James “Bahhhston Boy from the Baaahdy Shaaahp” Massone and Wade actually felt like a battle as the two sang absolutely independently, or rather, in spite of, each other, utterly refusing to work together in any kind of harmonic way. The battle was off and pitchy from top to bottom and that “riff-off” at the end was just plain dissonant. But I agreed with Cee-Lo’s choice on this one and think that James is not only talented but super endearing which will serve him well in the live shows.
And this is the end of the line in terms of the coaches’ good judgment.
I thought Adam’s reasoning for picking Karla Davis over Orlando Napier was inherently flawed—isn’t this a competition to find the most unique, most exciting voice? And isn’t part of that having an interesting, specific style upon which to capitalize? And isn’t that the very reason Adam sent Orlando home, for having “too specific” a sound?! No sense. None.
But the real atrocity of the night was Cee-Lo’s choice in the Tony Vincent vs. Justin Hopkins battle. From the very first moment this pairing was announced, I knew it would be a good one so long as the song didn’t lend itself more toward one than the other. But Cee-Lo’s choice of “Faithfully” by Journey was just the right amount of theatrical-belt for Tony and gritty rock for Justin. And the fact that they both have families was the extra touch, wasn’t it? But Justin… not only does he smile when he sings, he radiates warmth and passion and sincerity and makes your heart tingle. I bet he would put on an unbelievable live show in any size venue and make it feel intimate. Tony is a classically trained Broadway performer. He’s kind of like… a theater tool. One of those undeniably talented dudes who knows it and just wants to “practice his art” and wears eyeliner so his piercing gaze is all the more intense. They were both great in this performance, don’t get me wrong, but I think Justin is the overall better performer because he’s more relatable, more likeable— and just so gosh darn REAL. Maybe it was Xtina’s monologue about what The Voice is really about, or maybe it was all that emotion Cee-Lo expended earlier on that clouded his judgment. In the end, he chose Tony, and my soul cried out, “NoooOoooOoooOoooOoooo! JuuUuuuUuuuUuustiiiIiiiiIiiiiIiiin!” Sigh.
Overall, this wasn’t the greatest episode. But I am looking forward to the live shows, where the artists can really let loose and show everyone what they got! Here are my favorites from each team:
Team Adam: Tony Lucca, Pip and Mathai. All very different performers but all with a certain amount of star power. Tony is soulful and musical and raw. Pip is super versatile and hip. Mathai is cool and interesting. Depending on how creative they get with song choice, all three have serious potential.
Team Blake: Charlotte Sometimes… and maybe Erin Willett. Blake has a pretty weak team, overall. I’d be surprised to see any of them do all that well in the live shows.
Team Cee-Lo: Jamar Rogers, James Massone and (sigh) Tony Vincent. I know I just gave Cee-Lo hell for picking Tony, but I can’t deny the dude’s insanely talented. James Massone is adorable and has that super sweet voice, but I could see Jamar Rogers winning it all. He’s just… everything.
Team Xtina: Lindsey Pavao, Chris Mann and Jesse Campbell. Lindsey Pavao could make some cool choices a la Dia Frampton from last season. I just think Chris Mann’s a boss. And I could see it coming down to Jesse Campbell and Jamar Rogers in the end. I think these two are just bananasoutcontrolinsanelyamazing.
Welp, that’s it for the battles! See you next week for the live shows!
So first, some news: Smash has officially been renewed for a second season! HUZZAH! I shan’t go without my beautiful belting Broadway bit… beauties! But f’realzies, I’m glad NBC is investing in this show and continuing to support it! Hooray for NBC! Hooray for sequins! HOORAY FOR ALL!
But now to the nitty gritty.
So I thought this week’s installment of Smash was going to be inten—THAT FIGHT BETWEEN DEREK AND TOM WAS SO INTENSE! Talk about upping the ante. I sat there, mouth agape, throughout that entire scene and then I went back and re-watched it to make sure I didn’t miss a single vicious, spit-filled, in-your-face, theater-smack-down moment. I was hoping we would get a glimpse into the history of Derek and Tom, and this was exactly what I needed in exactly two minutes and 36 seconds. Eleven years ago, Derek and Tom worked on a production together that apparently hadn’t done so well. While we don’t really know whose version of the truth to believe, I’ll go ahead and ALWAYS side with Tom. It appears Derek went around systematically trying to dismember Tom’s career, questioning his talent and mental stability and talking trash to any and every producer in sight, while the critics (or rather, one critic in particular) lauded Derek for being a directorial genius. Derek denies, and I usually don’t care ‘cuz he’s pretty. But THEN Derek goes and starts running his mouth about how gay men “own the New York theater scene” but still “prance around, whining about what victims [they] are.” This was such an interesting moment. You have Derek, who works in the theatre in New York City with who knows how many countless numbers of gay men, and then seemingly attacks one of those very gay men for, well, being gay. I think the psychology of a straight man in that environment is fascinating, especially since I spent four years observing it with some of my straight male friends in the performing arts at Northwestern. At times defensive, at times aloof, at times combative, straight men and gay men in the theater have a psychological relationship worthy of an entire field of study it’s so complex. But then a ray of light appears as Tom informs Derek that the critic that praised him was also sleeping with Derek’s father. Aha. Derek’s father is gay. Might explain some of that latent homophobia. I still found the entire exchange utterly intriguing from start to finish.
Well when I was done hyperventilating from the sheer emotional expenditure of that scene, I remembered there was still half an episode left and refocused.
This epic battle between Derek and Tom was preceded by the musical number “Touch Me,” Derek’s attempt at a new approach to Marilyn that might help the musical get off the ground after the demoralizing failure of the workshop. For the first half of the episode, we see Karen sneaking around, working with Derek and Ryan Tedder from the band One Republic on what appears to be a musical number from PORN. We have Karen Cartwright. In a white bed sheet. Writhing on a bed. From like six different angles. Uncomfortable? Oh yes. Super weird? Most certainly. Did I feel blinding anger and rage at whoever wrote this song for sticking Katherine McPhee way down in the vocal gutter and digitizing her voice to the brink of near unrecognizability? YES. YES I DID. Not to mention all the choreography was too obvious and Karen couldn’t pull it off and just NO. Luckily, my sentiment was echoed by Tom, Julia, Eileen’s awesomely saint-like daughter Katie (played by Meryl Streep’s daughter?! WHAT A BLESSED CHILD.) and then finally Eileen herself. So while everyone admits Marilyn the Musical needs some work, apparently we aren’t going to move in the direction of overt pornography. Duly noted.
And then we had the heart-wrenching moment when Tom tells Ivy they’re hiring a real “star” to play Marilyn and she has to return to the chorus. My heart lit’rally bled for that girl. And Tom was just superb as he held her and quietly sobbed to himself. Alas. The brutality of show biz.
Next week it looks like the shizznit continues to hit the fizzan as Julia’s affair with Michael Swift comes to light and Ivy has a meltdown and eats it on the Big Broad Way. I CANNOT WAIT. Can you?
Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!