Well, America, now you've done it.
By eliminating Dez Duron last week, you've officially knocked Christina Aguilera out of competition on "The Voice," and I warned you, I WARNED you, that she would become insufferable if she had nothing else to do but sit there. I tried, America.
Now, I know this is Christina's own fault, for putting together such a lousy team. But I'm still bitter, because without her own contestants to cheer on, Christina has put her support behind …. Cassadee Pope. Ughhhhhhh.
Let's get to last night's show. Carson Daly, in his melodramatic obviousness, proclaimed that now, there was double the pressure. Mathematically, I couldn'' figure this one out until he explained: each contestant performed twice — once with song their coach picked, and once with song they chose. Because, how else are we going to fill two hours?
Team Cee Lo
Nicholas David kicked off the night with Earth, Wind and Fire's "September," which suited him perfectly. That was Cee Lo's choice, but Cee Lo — though there for the performance — called in sick for rehearsals and was replaced by Pat Monahan. The guy from Train. Yup. A sample of Pat's profound coaching abilities: "When popular music sounds like this (moves hand in straight line), Nicholas is doing all kinds of things (moves hands around vaguely)." Hand gestures do not a coach make, Pat.
Later in the evening, Nicholas chose to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the world wept from its subdued beauty. Blake described the performance as "magic" — not something you hear too much from everyone's favorite mainstream redneck.
Trevin Hunte had a really good hit with his choice of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," and a colossal miss with Cee Lo's pick of "I'm Walking on Sunshine." While the "Dreamgirls" tune was true return to form for him, "I'm Walking on Sunshine" just left me scratching my head. It could be because Pat Monahan's only true direction during rehearsals for that song was to … sound exactly like Pat Monahan.
Speaking of returning to form, Melanie Martinez blew everyone away with her cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," going back to the breathless, twee takes on pop songs that she did at the beginning of the season. But the return came with stronger chops, and it was easy to see how much Melanie has grown through this experience. Besides, how cute was it to have Cee Lo say "We're cut from the same cloth, honey"?
One quibble: Unfortunately, Melanie's strange, stripped down rendition is nothing new — Ray LaMontagne did a marvelous cover of "Crazy" that beats out even Cee Lo himself.
Then, I don't know what the hell anyone was thinking with this, but Melanie sang "The Show," by Lenka, at Adam's request. I think it was supposed to highlight how young and fun she is, but I was so distracted by the god-awful set I didn't even listen to the song. Imagine a middle-school talent show, with cut-out scenery and an unflattering spotlight. It didn't make Melanie seem youthful. It made "The Voice" look like amateur hour.
Amanda Brown first took on "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" which was all kinds of retro fun, and then later sang "Here I Go Again," by White Snake, which is where she really shone. She's the best when she's tackling heavy classic rock (remember "Dream On"?) She can belt it out, and somehow makes screaming melodic. She just seems most in her element here.
Oh, adorable little Terry McDermott, how awkward does social-media-whatever Christina Millian make your life? Very? I understand. Exhibit A: Talking with Millian during a "social media break," Terry was asked by someone on Twitter if he was, in fact, a hobbit. Terry responded that he was actually born in Aberdeen Shire, Scotland, so he kinda is. He then asked Millian, "Do you have any hobbit in you?" Her response: "Not yet." Awkward, flirtatious giggling ensued.
Ah, Terry sang, too: first with a lackluster "I Want to Know What Love Is" (a song that should never be sung in earnest, only during karaoke night) and then with Rod Stewart's "Stay with Me." The second performance was by far the best, with Terry emulating all of Rod's swagger and stage presence.
Andddddddd I guess we have to talk about Cassadee Pope now, don't we? Do we have to? We can't just let pop emo rock go quietly into that good night? No? Fine.
She first sang Rascal Flatts' "Stand," because endearing yourself to your country-musician coach is cool. And then, toward the end of the episode, we got to her song choice, and I about died from how painfully mundane it was. Cassadee decided to sing "I'm With You," because it's the Avril Lavigne song that most resonates with her, and is closest to her heart. I never knew Avril songs had so much depth. Oh, wait. They don't.
Let me ask you this, America. When did you last genuinely like Avril Lavigne? Middle school? Ever?