'The Voice' recap: Back to Duel

Last week's Voice battles -- a scream-filled diva-off, a country-pop Elvis cover, a gentle, Disney-esque ballad, and a bona fide showstopper -- were a diverse batch of performances in which, generally speaking, the duetters were all fairly evenly matched. But this week, every single battle featured a powerhouse singer being pitted against a less forceful presence (or, in the case of Elenowen, two less forceful presences) -- and, eventually, wiping the floor with said second songbird. It's a pity that such a predictable pattern emerged tonight, since The Voice's greatest strength is its ability to pleasantly surprise us. Even so, the episode was entertaining; with folks as talented as these contestants, how could it not be?

After yet another lengthy explanation of how this round of the competition works -- when do you think The Voice will finally trust its viewers to remember the rules week to week? -- we began by zeroing in on Team Cee Lo. The red-clad coach asked Nakia and Tje Austin, his two hairiest mentees, to sing Ne-Yo's "Closer." At first, Nakia was wary of Cee Lo's song choice because it seemed tailor-made for Tje (whose name, Microsoft Word, is not "The," no matter what AutoCorrect might think). His instinct wasn't off-base; in the initial piano run-through, Tje's soaring tenor fit the song perfectly, while Nakia's rougher, Joe Cocker growl seemed pretty out of place. At least Nakia presumably won extra points by aping his coach's style; wearing sunglasses inside is totally the new wearing sunglasses outside, guys. Read More...



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