Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice saw five more contestants eliminated in another battle round. War is hell.
Flamboyant farm boy Cody Belew and hip-hop dancer Domo (I know it’s “dah-mo,” but in my head I will forever pronounce her name like it comes before arigato) are sent to the gladiator games for the pleasure of Emperor Cee Lo Augustus.
Cee Lo has the pair sing Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” He encourages them to incorporate choreography into the performance, but nevertheless emphasizes that their vocals should come first. In rehearsals, Rob Thomas offers detailed suggestions on how to hit each note. This makes sense, because when I think Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé, Matchbox Twenty comes to mind immediately.
On stage, their dance routine proves to be a lot of fun, but — how many times do I have to say this, America? — detracts from the quality of their singing. This show’s called The Voice for a reason, son.
At first, this choice of song seemed to deliberately disadvantage Belew — it’s hard to imagine a track so obviously out of Cody’s comfort zone and so comfortably within Domo’s. (Couldn’t we have given her a mopey, acoustic country ballad?) Yet, Cee Lo ultimately chooses Cody. Domo accepts her loss gracefully, as demure as one can be from beneath aggressively crimped hair and neon-pink epaulets.
By the way, Domo’s dance troupe Rhythm City appeared on Season 4 of America’s Best Dance Crew, seen here in a clip that somehow feels incredibly dated despite being only three years old. But take note: Here, our intrepid performer is not Domo, but ooh-la-la Dominique — I feel like I don’t even know you, whatever-your-name-is. Domo-nique also had a pivotal role as Sassily Walking Woman #8 in this commercial for an HPV vaccine.
For her first battle of the night, Christina matches up Aquile, who delivered a lady-killing “Your Song” for his blind audition, and precocious 15-year-old Nathalie Hernandez. Hearing Aquile’s first run-through of “You Give Me Something,” Billie Joe Armstrong chirps, “I think it sounded better than the original!” (“Where am I?” continues Billie Joe, “Can I have some ice cream? Let’s hug!”)
Christina comments that Nathalie’s tender age will likely pose a challenge, as she hasn’t yet suffered the “heartbreaks” the song was written about (Xtina, please — s**t gets real in AP Calc). Nevertheless, in rehearsals, Christina soon coaxes an earthy maturity out of Nathalie’s voice.
Their duet is sweet, and I like the interplay between them, but Aquile — his name sounds like NyQuil because he soothes me and I’d abuse him every night if I could — simply kills it with his buttery smooth voice. (Fun fact: My boyfriend challenged me to use the phrase “buttery smooth voice” in my recap tonight, for no other reason than that he likes how it sounds. Little did he know I’d use it to describe the man I am now leaving him for. Goodbye, my love; helloooo, Aquile.)
Christina ultimately decides to keep Aquile, though she and the other coaches praise Nathalie’s youthful talent. “When I was 15,” Adam notes, “I was a zit.” Nowadays, of course, he’s long since matured into a boil. I’d assumed Blake would steal Nathalie, but no luck — that’s too bad; I liked her a lot.
Two condensed battles flash by. From Team Christina: Celica Westbrook, who sang that song from that thing where the guy who proposes to the girl with all the memes, vs. Lisa Scinta, who… I don’t remember. Camry Corolla Celica wins their duet of “My Life Would Suck Without You.” On Team Blake, long-haired grandpa Rudy Parris ousts smog technician Charlie Rey on “Bad Day.”
The last battle of the night is Adam’s: He pairs Caitlin Michele, who suffers from panic attacks and excessive eyeliner, and hipster Pebbles Flintstone Melanie Martinez. Levine assigns the indie artists Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” because it represents a slightly gritty, unusual niche within pop.
Both performers feel a little weak in rehearsal: I love Melanie’s voice, but it can err on the side of a little-girl whisper, and Caitlin is so musical theater-y that I find it difficult to buy her in any other mode.
But happily, their live performance is great; Christina rightly calls it the day’s “prettiest and most moving.” I have a soft spot for Melanie, so I’m psyched when Adam chooses her — but whichever artist you preferred, it’s a win-win, because Caitlin is quickly stolen for Team Cee Lo.
The Voice returns next Monday at 8 pm for two more hours of battles. Share your thoughts, questions, and/or haikus about Adam’s facial hair with me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credits: NBC]
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The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.