Network: NBC, airs Tuesday nights
Original Telecast: June 14, 2011

I have so many mixed feelings about THE VOICE, that I’m still unsure whether I like how they’re trying to shake up the traditional AMERICAN IDOL formula or if they’re doing a disservice to the singers for not letting the show play out a little longer so audiences can get used to the contestants more.

Either way, “Live Show, Quarter-Finals 2” is here and we not only saw four singers go home (two from Team Blake Shelton, two from Team Christina Aguilera), but Team Adam Levine and Team Cee Lo Green got their chance to showcase their remaining four contestants apiece.

The show was more evenly paced than last week, with Aguilera not as annoying and overtly sexual (someone clearly told her to tone her antics down). It’s better when she’s playing nice, instead of trying to one-up her fellow coaches.

First off, this is who is safe. For Team Christina, audiences picked the wonderfully unique Beverly McClellen as their favorite, while Aguilera surprisingly saved Frenchie Davis as her other diva moving forward. Honestly, I give Aguilera props for picking Davis, because honestly both Lily Davis and Raquel Castro were still a little rough around the edges and have a lot more work to do before they’re ready.

For Team Blake, the viewers chose the amazing Dia Frampton as their favorite (no surprise here, she was the clear winner last week) while Blake chose to save the mousy and still in progress Xenia as opposed to either of his country boys Jared Blake or Patrick Thomas. It’s kind of a surprise, but again, it was a smart move because Xenia’s voice is so unique and has so much potential that another week singing will only benefit her. Blake and Thomas are already pros and this exposure is going to help them out considerably.

Now on the new performances …

TEAM ADAM contestants

Song: “Black Horse And A Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall
I really like her voice and look. Another very different type of singer and someone who may not have had a chance to make it this far on IDOL. This was a great song choice for her and she has star appeal across the board. Levine was right in moving the tempo up for her, even if it did seem to throw her off her game a little bit. Still, totally solid.
Grade: B

Song: “Stop And Stare” by One Republic
This guy has charisma and a nice vocal range, but this One Republic song didn’t do him any favors. It was refreshing for a Coach to actually criticize one of his contestants, which Levine did here noting Barley was pitchy in the beginning of the song. I would say he was pitchy across the board. Definitely the weakest on Levine’s team, even though he clearly has so much potential to be a breakout star. First though, he needs grows a little more confidence and pick better songs to sing.
Grade: C-

Song: “Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood
I don’t want to knock on this clearly talented kid, but this song just didn’t work for me. Yes, it was emotional and he connected with it, but it didn’t showcase what a fine vocalist he truly is. Moving the song up a key (Levine’s suggestion) didn’t do him any favors either. I think he has a chance to make it another week (and I would love to see him get another chance), so let’s hope there’s enough love for him to push him through because he does deserve it. That said, let me add again, that’s why AMERICAN IDOL’s formula works so well. It gives you multiple weeks to see a performer grow. Jenkins had an off week, but if he survives until next week, he could totally blow everyone out of the water with everything he learned this week. Just think if he had four or five more weeks to develop!
Grade: C

Song: “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
Full disclosure, this song has been ruined by those depressing animal shelter commercials that McLachlan licensed it to. I can never listen to it the same way, so it was a bit oft-putting when Colon started singing. However, it was a great choice for him because he was the hands-down winner this week (something about pianos seems to be making THE VOICE contestant’s stand-out). He really took this song to a whole new level and clearly knows who he is as a performer (apparently he went back and forth with Levin on this selection). He will be around next week – this guy has the chops and charisma to take him far.
Grade: A-

TEAM CEE LO contestants

Song: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters
I’m totally shocked at how infatuated I am with this cute sister duo. They have something special going on, even if their harmony vocals are often times a bit off. They sound good separated, but together, it can get a little too much. Nonetheless, Green picked a great song for them to do, which relied more on moxie and showmanship than actual vocal precision, but it provided something unique and memorable, and you rarely get on a singing competition show like this. I want to see more of them!
Grade: B-

Song: “Jolene” by Dolly Parton
There’s something about Martinez that I don’t really like. It’s not her singing, it’s her somewhat harsh personality. She clearly is a frontrunner her, because she is a phenomenal singer, but there’s something a bit abrasive about her that turned me off, That said, as much as she did a phenomenal job on this Dolly Parton song, I’m also sick of hearing it (AMERICAN IDOL contestants use it WAY too much). Still, this is a show called the Voice and her Voice was really was quite good.
Grade: B+

Song: “Sex On Fire” by Kings of Leon
Way to go Cee Lo – let’s give these singers really complicated songs to step out of the shadows to sing. In this case, Nakia pretty much owned this song and showcased a different side to Nakia than we’ve seen. Kings of Leon are such an original group, doing cover versions of songs is a dicey proposition, but Nakia was ready for the challenge. He has a great voice and look, and I would be shocked if he didn’t survive past next week.
Grade: B+

Song: “Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer.
Didn’t the coaches hear what the rest of the audience heard? Yes, it was the sound of a train wreck. A good idea, gone horribly wrong. Taking Palmer’s rock song and putting a country twang on it seemed like a good idea in theory, but Grimes’ voice does not work that way. It was a disaster. He sounded terrible, he looked uncomfortable and it didn’t do him any favors at all. This was AWFUL, and it was Green’s fault not Grimes for forcing him to do it. Taking chances is always a great thing, and this risk should have worked, but the iconic Palmer song just didn’t translate into a country barnburner and I feel really sorry for Grimes who blew his shot here.
Grade: D+

In addition to the single performances, we also got a group sing with the coaches for each team. Cee Lo Green won this round with his 1970s inspired rendition of the Sly and the Family Stone song “Everyday People.” Damn this was fun and a great showcase for all the singers. Tori and Taylor Thompson were as cute as ever and Green really delivered on his soulful vocals. Martinez was also solid as was Nakia (who needed a little more spotlight) while Grimes proved to be the weak link in the bunch.

For Team Adam, the group sing was more toned down with the Joe Cocker tune “With a Little Help from my Friends.” It was a good song to give everyone a chance to showcase their skills with Colon, Weston and Jenkins standing out, with Barley not cutting it once again.

So who will make it? After picking the audience favorites last week (Dia and Beverly), I was totally off when it came to the coach pick. However, I think it’s clear that from Team Levine, Javier Colon is safe with Casey Weston getting the other slot (even though I think Jenkins might squeak by).

For Team Cee Lo, Nakia is clearly the frontrunner, while the other slot is anyone’s game though I think it might go to Vicci Martinez.

Click below for a gallery of photos from this episode


Click on Link: AX’s THE VOICE Season 1 review of  LIVE SHOW, QUARTER-FINALS 1

Click on Link: AX’s THE VOICE Season 1 review of BATTLES, PART 4

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