S2E4: Another Monday, another two-hour episode of blind auditions on The Voice. The teams are so very close to being set and Carson continues to be the biggest cheerleader of all time back in the green room. Last night was a night of ‘ones.’ One word names ala Madonna for the contestants and a bunch of auditions finishing with only one coach buzzing in dominated the show. Next week, we finish off the auditions and then, as Cee Lo so succinctly put it, the coaches can start molding the singers like raw clay.
We started right off with a no-go for Ducky, who looked like an American Salvador Dali with his Pringles mustache. His girl is patiently waiting for an engagement ring and Ducky says The Voice was his ticket to making that happen. I guess she’ll be waiting just a little longer as he was sent packing right after Adam gave him props on the stache. From that point on, not a lot of notable people were sent home. It was a streaky night with a lot of outlandish auditions adding to some powerhouse teams in the making.
“I thought that was a prank, I thought that was actually Usher” - Cee Lo
What happened to last names? After Ducky, Jonathas stepped up to the plate and just when it looked like two in a row were going home, Cee and Christina buzzed in. Jonathas, 23, hails from Brazil, has two adorable little kids and has dealt with poverty his whole life. On a more important note, the boy literally Tebowed on one knee before he went on stage - well-played, sir. He used music to learn English and he's perfected Usher’s “U Got It Bad” - much to the delight of the women in the crowd. He chose Christina after she and Cee went back and forth vying for his affections.
We saw two in a row for Christina when she was the only one to select Monique Benabou who sang Kelly Clarkston’s “Mr. Know It All.” Well, this was a case of "Miss Know It All" because Christina was smart enough to pick this young girl, who has a good head on her shoulders after having to deal with her mother’s breast cancer at the age of 12. She stayed home from school at that ripe age to take care of her mother. Talk about growing up fast. This was the rare moment when the coaches were gracious to each other with Blake actually calling Christina the best female vocalist of our generation, hands down. We're feeling the love on The Voice.
“The minute you started singing, you just made me smile” - Blake
A hippie street musician Naia Kete came next and after making her living on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, she used her unique, fluttery voice with “The Lazy Song” to attract Blake and Cee Lo. Even with dreadlocks you’d assume were perfect for Team Cee Lo, she was won over by Blake’s energy - he was so excited he said her music made him want to dance. Blake thought it was over, saying “I’m so screwed” Not so fast, my man, she chose you! One more for Team Blake.
“You guys should get a room...you can use my place.” - Cee Lo to Adam and Christina
Our next singer Charlotte Sometimes almost didn’t make it to the show after she suffered from a jaw disease that required surgery. While her jaw was wired shut for months, this tenacious girl hummed songs to keep her dreams alive. After she opened up with a Fiona Apple depth in her voice during a sassy rendition of “Apologize,” all four coaches swooped in and picked her. Someone had to do it and Christina broke the ice by playing with her name and saying she wants her “all the time.” (Not just sometimes - like her last name, get it?) That must have turned her off because she went with Blake. The man was on fire! Where were Cee and Adam on this one?
“I think I kick ass!” - Tony Vincent
Tony Vincent was up next and after starring in Broadway musicals like Rent and American Idiot, no one would feel sorry for him if this guy wasn’t picked. Vincent, after working with Queen, decided to sing what he knows and busted out a real crowd pleaser in “We Are The Champions.” How can you not like that song? But here's the funny part: after a fantastic performance, Cee Lo was the only one to hit his button. “Are you guys’ ears burned up?” Cee asked the coaches. Seriously, what were they thinking? I even said “Damn!” the second Tony opened his mouth. Did anyone else get chills when Cee approached Tony and whispered, “Let’s win this thing.” Maybe they will.
Another artist picked by just one coach Anthony Evans was so close to not making the cut when Cee Lo chickened out, but Christina jumped in and stole him literally at the last second. Evans is no stranger to the big stage with his father in charge of a congregation on more than 8,000 people. Amen.
“We should hook up man because I eat sandwiches.” - Cee Lo
The quote we’ve been teased with all season that had everyone falling over laughing on the panel. Well it worked because Jaime Lono chose Cee Lo. Jaime works in a sandwich shop, but looks like he should be in the movie Half Baked. Adam hit his button two seconds in for this extremely talented young man who watched his family go through bankruptcy after he got very sick as a kid and had to get half his left lung removed. His song choice was super strong with Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” This is another soulful singer who really has a shot to take it all the way.
Is the next contestant legal? Justin Hopkins was yet another singer chosen by just one coach - guess who? Our favorite teddy bear, Cee Lo, chose Hopkins after he sang “Babylon” but the real story is that Justin was in the house band for Last Call with Carson Daly! We think it’s a little fishy too.
Nicolle Galyon kept on about wanting to be a country star that doesn’t play the guitar and I just kept thinking, “You’re hot, stop complaining!” We all knew Adam was going to love this blonde with ultra long legs. He does, after all, date Victoria's Secret models. He was the only one to buzz in for Nicolle and his ear-to-ear grin could be seen across the room. He went as far as to call the rest of the coaches “dumb” for not jumping in. The LOVE across the panel continued here with a little flirtation from Blake to Adam. “You make me giddy, you make me fall apart. I lose my voice when you’re around," said Blake. (We can’t make this stuff up.) Is Blake trying to tell us something here?
“Attention: we are looking at a star.” - Blake
Again with the one word names; Mathai bucked her family trend and strayed away from the medical field to pursue her dreams of singing. She belted out a kinky version of “Rumour Has It” by the incomparable Adele and goaded all the men on the panel to hit their buttons...if you know what I mean. The guys all agreed that she sounded like no one else but in the end, she chose Adam, who finished the show strong after a shaky start.
So, with the auditions coming to a close next week, we will soon get to see the real claws come out when our four favorite coaches get to work with their respective teams during the actual competition. Dreams will begin to be crushed as singers are sent home but the cream will rise to the top and we should be in for some really inspired performances. It will be interesting to see what Cee, Adam, Blake and Christina do to mold our blossoming unknowns. Not to be too dramatic, but a star should be born before our very eyes. (Okay, so maybe a little dramatic.)
On paper Sylvain White’s ensemble thriller The Losers doesn’t display much promise. Its budget (around $25 million) is miniscule by action-movie standards; its cast apart from female lead Zoe Saldana is unexceptional; and its plot about a group of disgraced Special Forces operatives who seek revenge against the shady arms dealer (Jason Patric) who had them framed is hardly original. And yet The Losers makes for a surprisingly entertaining ride an apt prelude to the summer blockbuster season. Call it The B-Team.
Though based on a graphic novel (what Hollywood movie today isn’t?) The Losers boasts no superheroes just a quintet of mercenaries with complementary skills and catchy names like Cougar and Pooch. Presumed dead after being double-crossed during a black ops mission in the Bolivian jungle they languish in a third-world limbo until a mysterious woman named Aisha (Saldana) approaches their leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) with an enticing opportunity.
The Losers establishes a lively pace from the outset and with the exception of one appallingly disjointed planning scene director White adroitly handles the challenges of a plus-size cast. Save for a few extraneous twists that mar the film’s second half screenwriters James Vanderbilt and Peter Berg maintain a straightforward storyline keeping the tone determinedly light (always best when dealing with the constraints of a PG-13 rating) but never too cartoonish -- at least not by comic book-movie standards.
Morgan who previously underwhelmed in Zack Snyder’s doomed Watchmen adaptation isn’t the ideal choice to headline the film’s male cast and he appears hopelessly overmatched by Saldana. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if The Losers didn’t try to sell us on a hastily-hatched romantic subplot between the two which serves only to provide us with a few scantily-clad glimpses of the sultry Avatar star. Needless to say there are worse sins a filmmaker can commit.
The only aspect of The Losers that truly vexed me was the performance of one of its castmembers. I doubt that Joe Johnston director of the upcoming Captain America adaptation caught a screening of this film before he chose to award Chris Evans the coveted starring role in the big-budget comic-book flick. Because if he had I’m certain he’d have chosen differently. Evans’ clownish wiseass routine is instantly and perpetually grating. Even when delivering the most innocuous of line readings he radiates a natural douchiness that no Super Serum can fix.