The quarterfinals continued Monday night (April 23) on “The Voice” with the eight members of Teams Cee Lo and Adam taking the stage to sing for America’s vote, and two contestants were sent home by their judges’ instant eliminations.
You know times have changed when Carson Daly — former host of MTV’s teenage staple “TRL” — is the adult in the room, as he was at the start of the show when a little juvenile humor distracted the coaches. After Adam and Cee Lo had a tough time getting through their opening remarks about the seriousness of the competition without laughing, Carson got Cee Lo to confess that the panel was laughing because he was, well, a little gassy. “Well, this is live TV,” Carson observed with what sounded like a little bit of disappointment in his voice. (Right?)
The night’s first two performances set the bar high for the rest.
First up was favorite Jamar Roger, singing Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” While rehearsing the song, Jamar told Cee Lo his “Just a Thought” helped him through an especially hard time in his life, when he was getting clean from drugs and learned he was HIV-positive. The obvious bond between the two made Cee Lo’s words of praise in the theater all the more moving.
“I want to pause for a moment and listen to the love,” Cee Lo said to a teary-eyed Rogers of the audience’s wild reaction. “That’s your love.”
Katrina Parker, who was saved earlier in the competition by her coach Adam, turned up the glam factor in a purple gown and loose waves for her powerful performance of “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. (Can you even believe it was only two months ago that we were introduced to a shy insurance office worker?) She sounded great and won raves from each of the judges. Cee Lo agreed with Blake that this performance was like “hearing you for the very first time,” adding, “You look exceptionally beautiful, your voice sounded equally flawless.” Adam summed it up by calling Parker’s performance “flawless.”
Cee Lo kicked it old-school right from the beginning with Daly’s black-and-white, ’50s game show host-style intro for his team performance of “Dancing in the Streets.” When the lights came up, Cee Lo and his teammates were inside a vintage TV set before busting out onto a stage lit up with vivid colored polka dots and stripes. Cee Lo even tossed on a wig for the occasion. The weird and cool energy (and colors, come to think of it) was reminiscent of Cee Lo’s Muppet-heavy 2011 Grammy performance of “Forget You,” and every time the camera cut to the other judges, they were eating it up.
Mathai’s performance of “I’m Like a Bird” was more notable for Aguilera’s dissing of Adam for not paying enough attention to all elements of his team’s staging — none of the judges, even Adam, cared for an odd bit of choreography — and getting booed for elaborating a little too honestly on how much more she preferred Parker’s performance.
Team Cee Lo’s James Massone carried his clean-cut lady killer act a little too far into ’60s boy-band territory, crooning Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” staged like a teenybopper movie with Massone singing below a girl’s window. Blake and Xtina didn’t love it, but Adam saw what Cee Lo was going for, something “like a young Sinatra, like an old-school heartthrob.”
Thankfully, Cee Lo jumped back in to liven things up with his reunited Goodie Mob, performing their new single “Fight to Win.” Just when you thought the performance would be low-key by Cee Lo standards — you know, just the band clad in gold armor and capes, with a set of light-up stairs, pillars and lots of fog — they zoomed in on Cee Lo and his bandmates’ mouths, which lit up bright with some kind of mouthpiece.
After Tony Lucca’s last performance, Christina commented that she thought he was coasting on his easy acoustic-rocker style and the bit of celebrity that comes with having co-starred with her on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” and his desire to prove her wrong and “stare down” his “Mickey Mouse” past pushed him to remix Britney Spears’ ” … Baby One More Time” as a rip-roaring rock song.
His electric take on Spears’ bubblegum classic won all the judges over, including (finally!) Xtina, who called for an “MMC” reunion and cheered on how he made the song his own.
Saved previously by Cee Lo, Cheesa took a risk, performing the late Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Those are big vocal shoes to fill, and she delivered. “You still managed to do your own thing with it,” Christina raved, before declaring, “This week, Team Cee Lo is where it’s at.” Sorry, Adam!
Next up, preppy Pip showed off his piano skills with his reliably capable, definitely theatrical (we agree with Adam) but unremarkable performance of “Somewhere Only We Know,” and Juliette Simms’ shredded growl was perfect for Aerosmith’s “Cryin’,” even if the wings she wore weren’t our favorite accessories of the evening.
Adam jumped behind the drums for his team’s performance of “Instant Karma,” and unlike the other joint coach/team performances, Levine let his team lead this one. His four remaining contestants took turns with the lead vocal, while Pip played keyboard and Tony strummed his ever-present guitar.
But two had to go, leaving Cee Lo and Adam with a tough decision to make. Ever the diplomat, Cee Lo wrote a nice speech for his team, addressing how difficult this is for him and how much he supports each of them and read it off his phone. He decided to send James Massone packing, and the young Boston guy took it pretty well. (But it’s pretty impossible to get mad at Cee Lo, right?) Adam was admittedly less elegant with his words and ultimately decided to send home Pip, who seemed at first a little surprised but bowed out gracefully.
What did you think of the eliminations? Let us know in the comments.