“The Voice” Recap: Did Pip Squeak By?

Now that I’ve gathered all my tweets about The Voice, loaded them into a cannon, and fired them at joyless time-waster Christina Milian, let’s criticize Teams Cee-Lo and Adam Levine like the withering warblers they are. We suffered two instant eliminations tonight (and I’ll name those below), and I’d only give the best performance of the night a B+. Harsh, I know. Onward!

Team Cee-Lo

Jamar Rogers: Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”

Man, 1998-9 was all about comfortable, inoffensive pop rock, wasn’t it? Everything from Vertical Horizon to Natalie Imbruglia was moody, gray-sky pop, and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” sticks out for me as a sprawling cirrus cloud from that era. As such, Jamar Rogers’ adequate vocal served the song well, but that’s like saying he came prepared with an umbrella for a light drizzle. He handled the job, but the job was a tepid rock ditty that my Dad would recognize from sedan commercials. Hit me with a melodramatic ’98-’99 vocal if anything, Jamar; let’s hear Vertical Horizon’s “You’re a God” (video featuring Tiffani Amber Thiessen!) or Third Eye Blind’s “Never Let You Go.” Don’t give me Jon Bon Jovi’s tamest single. He looked like Chris Evert in that video, child. Slippery When Wet or bust.

Grade: B

James Massone: Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” (ELIMINATED)

Poor little vampire bat! James Massone’s eyebrows were arrows to nowhere, and now Cee-Lo has eliminated the letterman-jacketed imp in a fit of mostly rational thinking. I confess that James Massone’ shy, but sincere vocal grew on me, and I even enjoyed bits of his coo-ey Billy Joel cover. Piano-based balladry fits James’ temperament and delivery, as he has plenty of time to fit shoulder shrugs and nervous grins between verses. But he still suffers from projection issues, pitch inconsistencies, and a chronic inability to sing with his chin up, and for that he must die. You can’t be unassuming in this game, Monsieur Massone. You have to boogie, pout, pivot, and strut. Turn a cartwheel or something, girl. We’re looking for a pop star, not my weird niece’s next date to prom.

Grade: B-

Cheesa: Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”

Cheesa’s balladeer renaissance is reassuring since the judges really dig her command and range, but I actually miss the Cheesa of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” who growled disco lyrics and stuck choreography. She was kinda ferocious with her wacky outfits, scary facial glitter, and wild neck thrusts. I’d pay to see her krump or jump into the splits, if that’s her thing. “I Have Nothing” is the most Idol-licious ballad of all-damn-time, so she loses points for invading J-Hud/LaKisha Jones/Leona Lewis territory like a crazed Capture the Flag renegade. That said? Girl stood tall in her glistening Jessica McClintock disaster dress and belted it out! Once I looked past the sapphire barf she was wearing, I realized I was in the presence of a confident Earth mother. She didn’t teach us anything we didn’t know about Whitney’s chest-pumping biggie, but she offered some sweet concluding notes that felt sincere and deep. But don’t leave us this way, Cheesa! Remember to jive skyward and pop the butt next.

Grade: B+

Juliet Simms: Aerosmith’s “Cryin’”

First of all, check out the plumage on Throatney Love here. I don’t know what Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story or community theater production of Angels in America Juliet abandoned, but she looks like a mutual fever dream between Bob Mackie and Jean Paul Gautier, and I should like that more. Except it’s contrived and heavy-handed. And when she started howling Aerosmith’s best ’90s song as white feathers fell from the sky like chunks of…metaphor(?), I had too many mixed feelings. Her “Roxanne” was so much more direct and powerful, and there were several moments I thought she didn’t stand out enough from the band. OR THE OSTRICH HOLOCAUST, either. She’s a bankable talent, but Juliet has to clean up her pretensions before she can run away with this contest.

Grade: B

Team Adam

Katrina Parker: Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”

Oops! I hate this song. I hated it on So You Think You Can Dance, I hate it’s cheese-tastic, melancholic lyrics, and I hate its hipsteria. No to it all. Katrina’s still pumping out the serviceable, forgettable vocals that will make her inevitable elimination less a devastation and more a lame non-event, but I subscribed to her stage presence here. Nice striding, nice trilling. I wish there was more to love, is all. Hope voters remember to tolerate this… fineness.

Grade: B-

Mathai: Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird”

Am I missing something, or is Tatyana Ali’s mewing cousin turning in baaaaaad performances? Newsflash: Adam picked “I’m Like a Bird” because the kitty affect in Mathai’s voice could sound like Nelly Furtado if Mathai had a stronger voice. No dice, girls. She’s hocking up Erin Martin’s old Meow Mix gurgles, and she’s compensating with lots of post-performance smiles. NO DICE, DEAR. Infuriating. It doesn’t help that this song is pretty much drivel. Sheryl Crow would call these lyrics bland. I’d have preferred a salacious remix of “Promiscuous” or “Maneater,” but I think Mathai’s outstayed her welcome as is. Time to holler “Whoa, Nelly,” America, and do the right thing. Vote no on cat coughs.

Grade: D+

Tony Lucca: Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”

Hear this: Man Mouseketeer Tony Lucca’s “F— YOU” to Xtina, who disparaged him last week as a “one-note” talent, was a genius idea. He performed her rival Britney’s signature hit “…Baby One More Time,” the smuttiest pop song maybe ever, and added some Stratocaster stank to its carnal sophomore vibe. I admit that Tony’s vocal was decent, but much of this performance passed before me like sands in an hourglass. Couldn’t he have worn a naughty kilto reference Britney’s wardrobe in that iconic video? Or bared his midriff and revealed a tattoo of Mickey Mouse on fire over his navel? These simple improvements could’ve helped. Still, he achieved a raunchy Robert Palmer vibe here, and I found that (wait for it) simply irresistable.

Grade: B

Pip: Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” (ELIMINATED)

Probably not a good sign when I listen to a performance and then feel obligated to throw my face in a woodchipper. I scrunched and heaved during your boyfriend Pip’s pitch-pitiful take on Keane’s biggest (only?) hit, and that’s not just because he botched the big note in a Hindenburgian way. He also tripped between notes and pitches and flatnesses like a scared mortal, and I want nothing to do with mortality when I watch a singing competition. No surprise here, Adam catapulted Pip to Smithereentown, and while I’ll miss his vaguely frightened bunny stare as much as you, I’m glad he won’t win another voter-ordained pass into the next round. Toodles, Pip-py Longsuffering!

Grade: D

Did you dig this episode? Hit me with your woes and revelations below.