With just four team members left, both Adam Levine and Atlanta star Cee Lo Green had to do “automatic” cuts last night and chose young, popular singers that the voters might have saved.
Green knocked out Boston heartthrob with the boy band voice James Massone after he inexplicably gave the poor kid a sleepy 1970s Billy Joel ballad.
Levine had an even tougher time but ultimately chose Pip of Marietta, who failed to find comfort in Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.”
Though Pip has done mostly pop/rock, he admitted that he dabbles in so many genres, he’s not sure what direction to take. Plus, he knew his take on the Killers “When You Were Young” didn’t quite work two weeks ago, though he was voted in by the viewers.
“Let me help you find the right pocket to fit into,” Levine said. “The less you try, the more successful you are.”
During his performance, which actually fit him well (minus the bow tie), his pitch seemed off at times and his falsetto at the end didn’t click. (grade: B-minus)
Meanwhile, Mathai, who grew up in Dallas but moved to Atlanta a year ago, survived, though she could certainly get voted off tonight.
Levine offered her Nelly Furtado’s 2001 breakout hit “I’m Like a Bird.”
This seems like a good selection for her, given her quivery voice matches up well with Furtado’s. Yet she oddly said she was caught “off guard” by this song choice.
“She has a very carefree attitude and I don’t want her to lose that,” Levine said.
“I have very one-way vision,” she said. “I wanted med school. Now I’m supposed to be a singer. I want it to be perfect.”
She did it slightly slower than the original version to open. Her vocal style is similar to Furtado’s, though she has a slightly deeper timbre. The arrangement takes several detours and she even tries a bit of soprano (which was okay but not great). I give her points for taking a lot of risks. (Grade: A-minus)
Distracting: a guy on a trapeze above her.
Christina Aguilera: “I didn’t feel you truly connected with the song. It sounded a little force fed to me.”
Levine: “That’s like you’re opinion man… I thought it was great. The one thing I didn’t know is the sketchy dude flying around… he distracted me. Your energy is infectious and I think the joy of singing. I wanted to do a song with you, so happy and carefree. I thought you accomplished that.”
Here’s my take on the other six performances:
Jamar Rogers (Team Cee Lo “It’s My Life” Bon Jovi) – A little over anguished vocally but Jamar commits and pulls you in. He brought a good mix of soul and rock edge. Grade: A-minus/B-plus
Katrina Parker (Team Adam “Jar of Hearts” Christina Perri) – I absolutely adore the original version. Christina’s voice has vulnerability and fragility that Katrina does not quite have. Katrina basically sounds and looks a bit like Adele, which is probably why she’s even here. But do we need another Adele? I found it a bit too stylized. Grade: B/B-plus
James Massone ( Team Cee Lo “Just the Way You Are” Billy Joel) – This is one of Billy’s sleepiest, sappiest songs. What is Cee Lo thinking? James tried his best. As Christina and Blake said, it kind of just sat there, never quite took off (as if it’s possible with this song.) Grade: B-minus
Tony Lucca (Team Adam “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” Britney Spears) – Alluding to his “Mickey Mouse Club” alumni days, he chose Britney Spears breakout hit. He made it darker and much edgier. Oddly, it worked really well. He grinded it through and got a deserved standing ovation. Grade: A/A-minus.
Cheesa (Team Cee Lo “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston) – I’ve already heard this song sung a thousand times on “Idol.” She has a few pitch problems but nothing major. Overall, a very impressive, strong vocal performance, even if it aped Whitney’s original. Grade: A-minus
Juliet Simms (Team Cee Lo “Crying” Aerosmith) – She is a favorite to win this entire competition after her incredible “Roxanne” two weeks ago. This wasn’t quite as good. She growls well but when she tries to go “pure,” it isn’t quite as compelling. She has a great stage presence even if she pushed this one a bit hard and the production folks decided to stick wings on her and feathers falling from the sky. (Huh?) Grade: B-plus
Green also brought back his buddies in Goodie Mob and earlier, sang “Dancing With the Streets” using a black-and-white life-sized TV stage set up. Levine, in his team sing, opted for a much simpler set up as he played the drums and turned the quintet into a band to do “Instant Karma.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk