NBC billed the second-to-last battle rounds on "The Voice" as one of the most unique and memorable performances in the show's history. Well, they were right. Pity the weirdness – or predictability? – came in the form of the battle between live-at-home punk rockers The Shields Brothers and breathy, warbling former model Erin Martin. Not going to lie, it was horrible. Almost in a good way.
The Shields Brothers versus Erin Martin: Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?"
This is so weird. So weird. And just awful. The Shields Brothers are loud (remember when they said they wanted to punch America in the face with rock'n'roll? I still want to punch them in their faces). Erin's quiet and breathy. These were the two weirdest, most annoying acts in the blind auditions, and pairing them somehow made everyone just that more annoying. Erin's got this weird, gravelly, breathy voice, and instead of hitting high notes, she just … squeaked. Literally. The Shields Brothers kicked in at the end with their harmonies and some really great energy, and almost won me over. And yet …
Cee-Lo's Pick: Erin Martin
Pip versus Nathan Parret: Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good"
And again the beast that is the lingering mourning of Amy Winehouse rears its emotional head. Nathan's worried about being the underdog, and I get that – remember how delightfully awesome Pip was with his blind audition? I mean, I didn't even remember Nathan. This one was tough; Pip's got a killer voice and killer range, but Nathan's got old-soul goodness. And we have matching skeleton key necklaces! But Pip's more versatile, Adam said, despite the unique tone to Nathan's voice.
Adam's Pick: Pip
Angel Taylor versus Katrina Parker: Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love"
Did this performance seem ridiculously endearing to anyone else? Like, here are two beautiful, strong women who are genuinely connecting to each other, the audience and the music? And gosh, every word Angel sings just sounds so damn sincere. Angel had a rawness and earnestness to her performance, but Katrina had a kind of control and power – awesome, given how nervous she was. This was a tough call, and Adam had a tough time picking, but he went with …
Adam's Pick: Katrina
Jonathas versus Ashley De La Rosa: Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown's "No Air"
I don't really have strong feelings toward any part of this formula. The song was OK, if you're into Chris Brown, and Jonathas and Ashley did alright – excepting a little flatness on Jonathas' part, and pitchiness on Ashley's. But Ashley delivered, with a little more heart and soul.
Christina's Pick: Ashley De La Rosa
Jermaine Paul versus ALyX: Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car"
What a fun song, and what a great match. ALyX has a bigger voice, but Jermaine's smoother – and quite dapper looking, with his vest and fedora. Jermaine's a back-up singer for Alicia Keys, so he knows performing, and he took this one home. It's hard to showcase vocal ability with this song (Christina said so), but Jermaine did. Who knew that song could sound so good?
Blake's Pick: Jermaine
Gwen Sebastian versus Erin Willett: Pat Benatar's "We Belong"
Blake described this song as dynamic, and that's putting it lightly. Gwen's all country, and Erin's all soul, and together, it was awesome. Gwen turned her country twang into rock'n'roll, and Blake said Erin played it safe, but I disagree – it was heartfelt and strong. She was clearly singing for her father, and it showed.
Blake's Pick: Erin
One week of battles left, and one week left for judges to cut their teams in half. Blake and Christina each have one more cut to make, and Adam and Cee-Lo each have to send two of their artists home before the live rounds can begin. This is when the audience can start to weigh in, and when "The Voice" spreads itself over two nights a week. To put it another way, this is when the real fun starts.
Heartbreaker of the night: Gaithersburg native Erin received word that her dad's pancreatic cancer is reaching a critical stage, and understandably, it's a struggle for her to decide whether to go home or to stay on "The Voice." Erin decides to stay, knowing it's what her father would want, and it made for the most emotionally charged performance this season – no, of the entire series. Erin's father, Chuck Willett, passed away in December, several months after the filming of this episode.
The horrific realization of the night: Erin Martin just flat-out, cannot sing. I'm certain she couldn't hit a note if she tried; she'd just squeak or gravel her way through and everyone would be like "Oh, my God, she's so good!" No. You are being fooled.
Surprise of the night: In retrospect, The Shields Brothers actually weren't horrible. Or maybe I just find Erin Martin more horrible
Most spot-on guest coach observation of the night: As The Shields Brothers prepare for battle with the help of Cee-Lo and Babyface, Babyface notes that the brothers' first run-through of "What's Love Got To Do With It?" was "challenging." Furthermore: "I felt it was like 'Wayne's World.'" Accurate.