Live, and Let Live: From a Hairy Situation to a Chippendale Moment, ‘The Voice’ Enters Its Next Phase

by | April 3, 2012 at 3:10 AM | Recap, The Voice

Chris Mann performs on The Voice (NBC)

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m totally thrilled that “The Voice” has entered the live show phase. Who wouldn’t enjoy the drama, the energy, the music, the chance to see Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera try to out outfit each other on a weekly basis? There’s just one tiny problem, though. Spending time at the live shows and then talking to the singers afterward takes a fair amount of time, which means I need to manage my schedule better than I do. That’s why, with your permission, I’m going to start making better use of my time by combining my review of the show with my To-Do List.

Find Out Who Does Cee Lo Green’s Hair, And Stay Away From That Person. When I first saw from behind someone with shoulder length dark hair trying to get into Cee Lo’s chair, my first thought was, “James Brown has really let himself go since he passed away.” Then, upon realizing it was Cee Lo with a wig on for tonight’s live opener, my second thought was, “He may well be the only guy with the only job where that look is actually considered normal.”

Whatever I Have Planned For the Day, Do the Opposite. Which I want to try because it worked out so well for Jermaine Paul tonight. The soulful R&B singer opted to go in a completely different direction, tackling big-hair arena rock with Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer.” And what sounded at first like a colossally bad idea turned out to be one of the evening’s strongest numbers. I’m not sure whether he gave the song more spirit or it made him a rocker dude, but the plan worked quite well. So tomorrow I will try the Jermaine approach by going against my usual instincts and actually write a blog that says something insightful.

Send Some Money To PBS. Watching Chris Mann apply his opera pipes to a classic arrangement of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” reminded me of one of those PBS specials with Andrea Bocelli that the network drags out at pledge time. And that I haven’t pledged in years, so I should take care of that. PBS plays a Bocelli concert because they know we’ll realize the music is so entertaining, it’s worth paying for. And the same could be said for Mann’s performance, which revved up the crowd as much as any rock number did the rest of the night.

He seemed pretty pleased with how it all went too, saying after the show that “it went better than expected. I felt very present, which is important…but I don’t even know what happens half the time up there, to be honest.” The ever-dapper singer was present enough to notice coach Christina up and swaying to his sound, as well as hear the enthusiastic crowd. “I have the best fans out there. They’re brewing. The Mann Fans…they’ve got a name now. We need t-shirts. Or actually suits. We’re going upscale.”

Crush My Daughter’s Dreams Of Being A Singer. I loved country girl RaeLynn’s fiery, boot-scooting version of Maroon 5’s “Wake-Up Call.” She took coach Blake Shelton’s advice and totally Carrie Underwood-ified the tune. Barely two lines into it, she already had the crowd cheering more than it did almost all night. But here’s the thing. This 17-year-old was up there swaying and shimmying like a dancer in search of a pole, to the point where even Christina called her a “sassy little thing” and asked if she was “allowed to grind her hips at an age like that?” All I could think was a) RaeLynn could go much further in this competition than I originally thought and b) nix the idea of singing lesson for my daughter and get her to a nunnery right away.

Adopt An Alter-Ego. Maybe it’d work for me to have another identity who is a much livelier, more entertaining person than I am. After all, the  idea certainly works for Moses Stone. Whenever he gets up on stage, he admitted after the show, his alternate personality comes out. It’s a fellow named That Dude who “comes out when I’m up there, and after that, he goes back to the dressing room and knocks off and all’s good. He sets things up, but all the money and credit go to me.” Stone was quite happy with how That Dude did tonight, before a high-energy medley of Kanye West’s “Stronger” and “Power” that didn’t quite win everyone over. (Coach Adam Levine confessed that he finds Stone to be a better singer now than a rapper.) Nonetheless, his coach, Christina, was happy and he walked away convinced he gave it his all and “whatever happens happens. Everyone has a destiny and whatever is in mine is going to take me there. This is a great platform for us to get fans, so if we all work hard, we’ll all be successful no matter what.” Yes, but does that include That Dude?

Perfect My Plan To Meet Purrfect. With all due respect to the performers and coaches on “The Voice,” my biggest goal in coming to the show isn’t to meet them but to get some quality time with Purrfect the Cat. (Who can’t come to the live shows, Cee Lo told the audience, because he might freak out with the crowd noise.) After tonight’s show, though, I have a plan to make my dream come true. An audience member who traveled all the way from Brazil just to see Christina convinced her to walk over and give him a kiss. So next week, I’m going to say I’ve traveled all the way from…I don’t know…Lichtenstein just to meet Purrfect. Fingers crossed…

Contradict Myself And Now Don’t Do Anything Different. Jermaine had me all convinced that going against the usual grain was the way to go. Then I watched Naia Kete and completely changed my mind. The dreadlocked singer, with coach Blake’s blessing, opted to do a somber, straight-forward version of Adele’s “Turning Tables” rather than stick with her usual folksy, reggae style. The end result was something pretty slow and unenthusiastic. She put on a good face about her performance afterward. “I was very, very nervous but I was also like, okay, that’s probably going to happen. Every note wasn’t perfect but I was feeling that song so much tonight.” However, Christina seemed to nail it when she confessed she would have preferred to have seen Naia stick with the reggae. Point well taken and now I’m totally convinced I should never try anything different ever. Sorry about that, those of you who were now expecting an insightful blog after all.

Bring My Checkbook To “The Voice” Next Week. I learned three things about Jordis Unga tonight. The first was something I pretty much expected, that she is going to go a long way in this competition. The way she literally went from a whisper to a scream in a very strong performance of “Alone” proved that she is back after a pretty shaky battle round. However, I also discovered that she likes to design her own shoes. (Not only did she put ninja-ready spikes on the backs of her heels tonight, she also wrote “Team Blake” on the soles.) Even more importantly, she explained that in school, she would always try to go last when it came to giving speeches but “when it was math, I was right there in the front of class. I can still do long division. I can totally balance a checkbook.” I can do neither of those things so America, please vote for Jordis so I can bring my checkbook in the next time she sings.”

Start A Lindsey Pavao Fan Club In My Neighborhood. I’ve said it before. Alterna-rock girl Lindsey has the most seductive voice in the entire competition. She was also the most seductive-looking singer last night, with her slinky black dress and darkly sexy stares that added an element hot mystery to her version of “Somebody I Used To Know.” Okay, I still don’t know what the guys in the scary bird masks were doing on stage with her, but I don’t care…she’s still my favorite and Christina was right when she said she asks herself “where can I buy her album?” whenever Lindsey sings. So it’s time. I have to join the faithful throng that performer says she’s starting to attract. “There’s no t-shirts yet, but there are Lindsey Pavao fans on Twitter. They’re so kind and supportive. They really understand me, and I relate to them. So I guess if I ever need a place to say anywhere in the country, I’m set.”

Get To the Gym One Of These Days. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Sera Hill’s take on “Find Your Love.” She seemed large and in charge parading around out on stage, surrounding by a bunch of shirtless male dancers who apparently had the night off from their usual Chippendale’s gigs. And the judges were understandably enthused. It’s just that seeing those guys flexing and dancing, I stopped thinking about her performance and started realizing maybe I should alter my plan of eating a dinner of pizza and dulce de leche ice cream, and reacquaint myself with the gym’s Stairmaster and bench press machine starting tomorrow.

See About Buying Stock In Adam Levine. You can’t see or hear this on TV, but in the studio, it’s like a Levine lovefest. Women spend much of every commercial break screaming his name, and I swear he got a standing ovation from half the females in the audience when he got up to take a bathroom break. If there is a way to buy stock in his future, I want it.

Stop Whining About My Little Problems. If anyone had the right to phone it in tonight, it was Erin Willett. After all, when last we saw her in the battle rounds, she was coping with the fact that her dad had just died. That would have been enough reason for her to look sad or lost up there performing Stevie Wonder’s “Living For the City.” However, she stormed and stomped around the stage with such authority that her admittedly biased coach Blake called this “the best vocal performance of the night.” Erin just seems to be getting stronger since the loss of her father, which is something she hopes fans have noticed. “Out of tragedy comes a blooming flower of hope and I hope I can be that strong person to look up to. Sometimes people let these things break you, but it can also be something you can surprise yourself and find strength in.” If she can be that positive after all she’s been through, I really need to stop complaining about things like my life being ruined because my DVR didn’t record the “Alcatraz” finale.

Hurry Up and Accomplish Something Already. I realized this upon seeing 17-year-old Ashley De La Rosa deliver an electric version of Alanis Morissette’s “Right Through You.” Up until now, as Adam noted when she finished, Ashley has seemed like the talented yet timid type who was too nice to go very far in the competition. Tonight’s performance changed all that, and seeing her strut with so much style and confidence at such a young age, I made a mental note right there. She’s actually young enough to be my, let’s say, oldest daughter and she’s already up there showing signs that she could win this whole thing. So what’s my excuse? I’m not getting any younger, and that Pulitzer isn’t going to win itself….

Find A Live, Nationally Broadcast Music Competition Show To Get Some Revenge. I thank Charlotte Sometimes for convincing me to put this on my to-do list. She opted for something quieter tonight, Paramore’s “Misery Business,” a song that’s much less rock and roll than we’ve heard from her so far. The important thing here isn’t how she showcased a softer side of herself, or how Adam’s off-hand comment that she had pitch problems prompted Blake and Christina to gang up against him with their vehement disagreement. No, what’s most important is that Charlotte used the song about getting the upper hand on a romantic rival to send a message to a certain someone out there. “I had someone in mind that I sang to, so I gave it to that person,” she explained in a post-show interview. “I’ll just say it’s a girl. It’s not romantic thing that we have. Just a little fire between us. I think she know who she is. That’s all I’ll say.” Taking her cue, let me warn several ill-fated romances of mine out there, if I ever get a chance to sing on “The Voice,” beware. (Of course, you should all beware because I can’t sing.)

Give This Whole Meditating Thing A Try. Now sure, Jesse Campbell singing “Wonderful World” was the golf equivalent of laying up – as in, playing it safe and comfortable rather than taking a huge risk in order to reap a huge reward. Still, when he stepped on stage and started to sing, the crowd went crazier than it did all night and proved once again that he may very well be the one to beat here. So what’s the soulful crooner’s secret? How can he seem so calm and collected out there, constantly winning raves from coaches and the crowds? “I always take time to meditate before I go out,” he said after the show. “I think that’s what has saved my life. Whatever is going on, if I have control over my feelings and how I relate to whatever is happening, that helps me. And that’s what I get from meditation. So I just sit there backstage and zone out for a little while.”