The Washington Post

‘The Voice’ Season 2: Judges pit singers against each other for battle round

Kim Yarbrough and Whitney Myer — from Team Adam — battled Monday on "The Voice.” (Lewis Jacobs/LEWIS JACOBS/NBC)

The battle rounds continue as the coaches/judges make their carefully selected competitors sing at each other in a boxing ring, and sending home the least compelling one.

Team Christina Aguilera, round 1

Contestants: Geoff McBride, 51 (dad who frequently wears sunglasses inside due to a nasty boxing eye injury) vs. Sera Hill, 24 (hotel front desk clerk)

Song: “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

Rehearsal: Christina squeals when Geoff and Sera rehearse, and she compliments herself on choosing such a great battle. The song naturally fits Sera’s range, but Geoff reminds us that because he’s 51, he can connect to Aretha tunes. Mentor Lionel Richie is blown away by the volume of Geoff’s voice, and Christina advises Geoff to fight back when Sera starts playing the “diva” card while performing on stage.

Meanwhile, Jewel thinks that even though Geoff’s got the volume, he’s lacking emotion, and Sera can easily beat him at that game.

Battle: Geoff and Sera are high energy and pretty evenly matched as they belt every word. Plus, they treat the song like a real duet, a nice change of pace from contestants who sing on opposite sides of the ring.

Judges: Cee Lo is pleasantly surprised and thinks they work well as a duo, but Geoff ultimately kept more control of the song. Adam agrees that Geoff did a better job connecting to the crowd, and for Blake, it’s all about what “turns him on” — he goes with Sera.

But it’s Christina’s choice that really counts, and she chooses ... (the much more marketable) Sera.

Team Blake Shelton, round 1

Contestants: Charlotte Sometimes, 23 (had a jaw disease as a child and thought she would never sing again) vs. Lex Land, 24 (visibly terrified classically-trained jazz singer)

Song: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People

Rehearsal: Charlotte is a self-proclaimed Jersey girl who never stops talking. “I’m not as talented as she is,” Charlotte says faux-modestly to Lex. “Plus, you’ve got better boobs.” Lex is obviously mortified, and Blake says that if Lex doesn’t come out of her shell, “Charlotte’s gonna eat her alive.” Mentor Kelly Clarkson thinks that Charlotte has stellar vocals but warns her not to be too crazy. Later, Blake’s wife Miranda Lambert compliments Lex’s harmony and thinks that shy Lex is mysterious enough to intrigue people.

Battle: The giant boxing ring isn’t the best showcase for both Charlotte and Lex’s soft voices, and it’s a strange song choice for the venue. Lex tries to bring a sultry, quiet strength to the material, but it just gets lost next to the boisterous Charlotte, who shows off with lots of hand motions.

Judges: Christina likes Lex’s “sexy” voice, whereas she proclaims Charlotte “sassy.” Cee Lo dittos Christina’s assessment of Lex’s voice, but he chooses Charlotte, and Adam is more impressed with Lex.

Finally, Blake has to make a decision, and he goes with ... Charlotte.

Team Cee Lo Green, round 1

Contestants: Sarah Golden, 27 (guitarist/folk singer, and the show seems fixated on the fact that she has very short hair) vs. Juliet Simms, 25 (aspiring rocker tired of touring coffee houses)

Song: “Stay With Me” by Faces

Rehearsal: Juliet’s gravelly voice fits well with the rock song, but at least she’s humble ... oh wait. “I definitely noticed my voice was more prominent,” Juliet explains. “I’m louder, prettier.” Okay then. But Sarah thinks she’ll give the song her own unique twist. Mentor Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds tells Sarah to be herself, while Ne-Yo is impressed by Juliet’s originality.

Battle: Juliet’s grit could not be more mismatched with Sarah’s pure twang, and neither of them pay much attention to the other in the boxing ring while belting out the song.

Judges: Adam loved Juliet from the beginning, so he immediately chooses her. Blake is more impressed with Sarah’s harmonies and thinks she’s a much more valuable choice for Cee Lo. Christina, however, didn’t think the song did Sarah’s voice justice, and calls Juliet a “no brainer” win.

Cee Lo makes up his mind, and decides on ... Juliet.

Team Adam Levine, round 1

Contestants: Whitney Myer, 25 (performs in a family band) vs. Kim Yarborough, 50 (token “much older” competitor who has been singing since she was a teenager)

Song: “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige

Rehearsal: Whitney is nervous given how much experience Kim has, but mentor Alanis Morissette encourages Whitney to get out of her own head and calm her nerves. Adam echoes this, and also notes Whitney’s breath control issues. Meanwhile, Kim is nothing but confident as she meets with Robin Thicke, who thinks that her voice is incredible — though missing some tension from the song.

Battle: Kim starts off strong, and Whitney tries to keep up. While her vocals are admirable, she just can’t measure up to Kim’s power. She seems more like Kim’s backup singer than anything else.

Judges: Blake loves the performances, and thinks that even though both singers used their strengths — in fact, he can’t choose between them, so chooses host Carson Daly. Christina liked Whitney’s tone on the higher notes, and Cee Lo compares Whitney’s skills to an underclassman vs. Kim’s seniority.

Sure enough, Adam chooses ... Kim.

Team Christina, round 2

Contestants: Lee Koch (bakery worker with harmonica and guitar skills) vs. Lindsey Pavao, 22 (Fiona Apple-esque singer who struggles with nerves)

Song: “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana

Rehearsal: Lee is at a distinct disadvantage because he doesn’t know the song, while it’s right in Lindsey’s wheelhouse. Christina advises him to study the structure of the melody before he puts his own spin on it. Mentor Jewel tells Lee to study up the lyrics like “I wish I could eat your cancer,” which is a challenge all in itself. Meanwhile, Lionel Richie adds that Lindsey needs to overcome her shyness to connect with the audience.

Battle: Lee and Lindsay perform a snoozy version of the song, though it’s not entirely their fault, as it’s not the most dynamic song for a battle. They both hit some high notes while being bathed in eerie blue lights, but neither seem like they’re connecting to the crowd at all, who may or may not be asleep.

Judges: Cee Lo likes Lindsey’s cool, quiet confidence. He also notes that with the strange lighting, Lee looked like Jesus — and in that case, he’s going with Lee. Adam calls it a “delightfully creepy” performance, and Christina beams, taking it as a compliment to herself. “Thank you for saying that,” she says happily. Blake has never heard the song, though he chooses Lindsey anyway.

Christina ultimately goes with ... Lindsey.

Team Cee Lo, round 2

Contestants: Jamar Rogers, 29 (former homeless crystal meth addict who is also HIV positive) vs. Jamie Lono, 22 (sandwich shop worker whose family went into bankruptcy after his lung operation)

Song: “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

Rehearsal: Not only is this battle two horribly sad backstories, but Jamar and Jamie are pals. Neither of them wants to compete against the other, but Jamar doesn’t exactly look upset when Jamie’s voice cracks while rehearsing. Mentor Babyface and Cee Lo try to help Jamie get past the weak parts of the song and work on his confidence. Jamar gets time with Ne-Yo, who says he needs to connect more emotionally to the tune.

Battle: Despite having a great voice, Jamie looks terrified and never actually seems to be enjoying himself — and Jamar easily outsings him. Poor Jamie doesn’t stand a chance.

Judges: Adam raves about Jamar, expressing disappointment that Cee Lo was the only one who turned around back in the blind audition. While Adam mulls his regrets, Blake compliments Jamie’s style, and Christina prefers Jamar.

After all that, Cee Lo goes with ... Jamar. Both guys break down backstage, and it’s a rather heartbreaking way to end the episode.

Related reading:

Battle rounds begin

Blind auditions, part 1

Blind auditions, part 2

Blind auditions, part 3

Blind auditions, part 4

Blind auditions, part 5

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.


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