The Voice: Let’s Get Ready To Ruuuumble!

It’s The Voice BATTLE ROUNDS, where two singers enter and… well, both singers leave. Yeah, it’s hardcore but there’s no fighting to the death. This ain’t no Hunger Games. (I assume there is fighting to the death in those books, I have actually never read them. If there isn’t, insert some other fight-to-the-death reference there. You know, I’d talk about Fight Club but…) Anyway, in the BATTLE ROUNDS (which will always be capslocked and bolded because such a dramatic concept deserves an equally dramatic representation) coaches typecast their contestants and make the two with the most face value similarities sing against each other. These contestants then get coached by their coach and another famous person (or Maroon 5’s music director) before they step into the ring and screech as loudly as they possibly can while drawing unanimous praise, regardless. They’re brilliantly produced (if excruciatingly slow) and hilariously indulgent. It’s going to be an amazing (if excruciatingly slow) four weeks of BATTLE ROUNDS.

I don’t have a lot more to say, so let’s just dive right on in to the matchups, shall we?

Tarralyn Ramsey vs. Frenchie Davis – “Single Ladies” (BeyoncĂ©), Coach: Christina Aguilera
So the BATTLE ROUNDS were kicked off with the affirmation that yes, they would be utilized to reinforce stereotypes. Thus, two bigger black women were pit against each other and dubbed as the resident divas. Then, because Christina Aguilera is evil, they were forced to sing a song which has no room for runs or oversinging or glory notes. (Well, I thought it had no room for runs or glory notes, these two ladies fought valiantly to prove me very, very wrong.) Despite Tarralyn having claimed to be a fan of Frenchie’s stint on Broadway, she wanted nothing to do with her during rehearsals. The Voice producers should’ve just played like a three minute clip of crickets chirping and other awkward silence music for their rehearsal footage. There was, most definitely, tension. Christina Aguilera and Sia showed that judges can actually hear pitch when they told Frenchie she now sings sharper than a Japanese knife. It was refreshing. Like, look, sometimes I just want to know that the people in the magical TV box thing can hear what I hear.

Of course, when you put two singers with gigantic voices against each other and make them sing the same song in hopes to stand out, there is going to be oversinging. The two sounded the best when Tarralyn was sticking to the melody of the original song and Frenchie was singing backup. Because the second Tarralyn veered from the original, it turned into a gigantic mess. She was still hitting her notes, but no one ever wanted to hear “Single Ladies” sound like that. Even worse, Frenchie started and failed to have any sort of pitch at all. She was good on Idol, right? Because she hasn’t proven she’s good enough even for a Lee DeWyze-level victory yet. She sounded awful again, though was much more restrained than Tarralyn. I don’t know if that’s a compliment though, it just means she sounded terrible because she can’t sing and not because she is prone to oversinging. Worst part? Winner: Frenchie Davis

Patrick Thomas vs. Tyler Robinson – “Burning Love” (Elvis), Coach: Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton brought Reba in as his advisor person. Patrick’s reaction can be appropriately represented as, “SLKDFNLNid sdznkjszdf k!!!!!! Jlkaslkfsjlkzsjdoifqp!LDSJ” whereas Tyler’s reaction was much closer to, “…” I think this pretty much covers the differences between the two. (Actually, no, the main difference between the two is that one of them subjected us to the horror that is “Hey, Soul Sister” a week ago. By default, he loses a million points.) Patrick knew the Elvis song, Tyler didn’t. Patrick can sing. Tyler can’t. Patrick got a whole nice long talk with Reba about being sexy and hot and oh-so-dreamy. Tyler got told by Blake Shelton that he shouldn’t sing runs. (The subtext here was that he shouldn’t sing runs because he’s terrible at them.)

Battle on! Patrick started off strong and hot and dreamy and oh-so-sexy (or whatever I said last time). I’m not going to lie, I really like Patrick’s voice. I don’t know why. I usually run screaming from anything remotely twangy or country but I like the tone of his voice and I like how he uses it. That and the fact that he never made me listen to “Hey, Soul Sister” had me on his side from the very beginning. Right after Patrick finished with his full, smooth voice, Tyler came out (well, no, he came out last week, I mean “started singing”) with his paper thin voice singing the line, “help me, I’m flaming.” Yeah, that really happened. At the end of it, he’s just a mediocre singer. Unsurprisingly, Blake Shelton stuck with his country roots (and resparked the controversy that had been raging on around him for a week already). Winner: Patrick Thomas

Casey Weston vs. Tim Mahoney – “Leather And Lace” (Stevie Nicks and Don Henley), Coach: Adam Levine
Funny story, I didn’t remember either of these people but when I heard that “Casey” and “Tim” were going against each other, I thought Casey was going to be a guy. Which is a bit ironic, given that Tim was the one Adam Levine thought was a chick during the blind auditions. Basically, these two people were wholly unmemorable and then continued to be wholly unmemorable during their build-the-drrama rehearsal footage. All we got was that Casey had never sung a harmony before (what?) and that Tim didn’t want to have to use his falsetto (I’m guessing it’s non-existent).

Casey walked into the ring looking exactly like Mariah Carey. Exactly. It was an uncanny similarity, really. If she doesn’t make it very far on this show, she can fall back into the head of some sort of Mariah Carey tribute band (well, you know, if she learns what a harmony is down the road). The duet was kind of unspectacular, but very pretty. (I mean, Casey was looking really pretty. Really, really pretty.) It was nice and sweet. I like female voices more than male voices and, despite Adam Levine’s initial confusion, that means I was partial to Casey. Her tone in her lower register is money where I find Tim’s tone anywhere to be a little grating. Moot point though. Casey is a very, very pretty girl. Adam Levine was the judge. Winner: Casey Weston

Niki Dawson vs. Vicci Martinez – “Perfect” (Pink), Coach: Cee-Lo Green
Female? Check. Tiny? Check. Ethnic? Check. Rhyming names for god’s sake? Check. We have ourselves a pairing, folks! I honestly don’t remember anything about their rehearsal footage. But I am supremely jealous that they both got to meet the insanely gorgeous and uber-talented Monica. Monica, if you’re reading this, call me! I love you! Um. Yeah. So, where was I, again? Oh, right, right, Niki and Vicci. They both just seemed happy and nice during rehearsals. It made me like both of them immensely, but resulted in some terribly boring footage.

Okay, so other than the aforementioned similarities, why did Cee-Lo put these two up against each other? Both of them were so good. I want to hear more from both of them. Vicci’s tone reminds me of Allison Iraheta’s, even if her overall voice isn’t quite as strong. She strains for some of those power notes, but everything else (phrasing, tone, heck, enunciation) is very Iraheta-esque. Niki’s voice is a little smoother (which, granted, makes it slightly less interesting) but more soulful and she has better control and a better idea of her range. She also threw in some really great R&B-tinged flavor on some of her solo in the second verse. Anyway, they both have great voices and really threw down into the song. They were both having fun. The song sounded good as a duet, even though both were going full throttle. I’m sad one of them had to go. Very, very, sad. Ultimately, the fodder contestant stayed fodder (weep!). Winner: Vicci Martinez

What’d y’all think about the first episode of the BATTLE ROUNDS? Are you as appalled as I am that they last an entire month? Do you think the judges will learn to place their best four people against their worst four people so we can have entertaining live rounds and not entertaining BATTLE ROUNDS? Did you also think the best part of tonight was the lack of a “Rolling In The Deep” cover?

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