Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 10 of NBC's "The Voice" titled "Final Battle Rounds"
Aren't you tired of the Battle Rounds? I was so sick of them that I fell asleep tonight before they started.
Don't forget some of the songs we've had to hear battled (Cee-Lo, you're still on probation for making us sit through"I Don't Want To Miss A Thing").
There's only so many spinning cameras, diva-on-diva vocal runs and Cher I can realistically take. Episode 10 of "The Voice," the final in a series of battle rounds, packed clips from six vocal showdowns in just one hour -- Monday's previous episode had twice as much time for the same number of songs. This episode was a battling blur. Maybe the producers are ready for the knockout rounds, too.
That means there were only a few seconds given to my favorite contestant so far this season: platinum blonde Minnesota pancake waitress Holly Henry, who sings Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn."
Watch Holly and the other two battles that didn't receive maximum airtime below.
But back to the beginning. This wasn't a surprising episode of "The Voice." It felt more like tying up loose ends. The first battle was Team Cee-Lo's, featuring two war veterans: Shawn "Big Sexy" Smith against Jonny Gray.
Cee-Lo, master of unpredictable song choices, gave the two men "Refugee' by Tom Petty to sing. It's a great song, but the intensity seemed almost off-putting. Seeing "Big Sexy" punching his fist while hollering about refugees at the top of his lungs was more intimidating than incredible. I felt like I just witnessed "Big Sexy" make it through a hard workout at the gym. Maybe that's why smoother singer Jonny Gray took home the win.
In the next battle, Adam handed a Temptations classic, "I Wish It Could Rain," to the supple-voiced Preston Pohl and Barry Black. Yes, you may remember Barry Black as the guy who makes horn sounds with his mouth. While this is an enviable talent to many (including me!), and the judges even asked Barry to do his mouth sounds again, it was clear that imitating a flugelhorn was not going to take Barry to the next level of "The Voice." And rightly so -- that's what session musicians are for! Both singers did this Motown track justice, but Preston's soulful, deep pipes were spellbinding. David Ruffin would be proud, Preston!
As the final battle was announced, Cee-Lo was the only judge left with a steal to use. See what I mean about the lack of surprises?
Tax preparer Olivia Hencken and cruise singer Stephanie Anne Johnson both wanted to impress Christina during the rehearsals. The song, "Done" by The Band Perry, was more in Olivia's wheelhouse, since she's Christina's lone country superstar-in-the-making. This was a tough moment for Stephanie -- you've never heard the song before, plus you're singing against somebody who likely belts it in the shower. Christina also bumped the song up a key, and you could see that Stephanie felt nervous about that, too.
Christina really wanted these ladies to throw a VH1 "Divas"-esque hoedown on stage. "It's just as important, if not more important, to sell it," she warned them. Olivia was nonplussed. "We've mastered sass," she said. Stephanie just looked freaked out.
Despite her misgivings, Stephanie gave Olivia a run for her money, honey. But as Olivia howled "Dooooone" into the microphone, it seemed likely that Stephanie would also be done in the next minute or two. Judges Cee-Lo and Adam actually preferred Stephanie's performance to Olivia's, especially when they realized she's never heard the song before. Blake disagreed, and there was a real uncomfortable moment when Adam asked if it's because Olivia resembles his wife (Yikes). Christina ultimately sided with Olivia, which was sad, because Stephanie's sweet grandmother was cheering her on from the stands. Stephanie waved sadly to her like a little girl, and, oh, you just wanted to give her a hug.
But wait! Cee-Lo stole her! Stephanie cried, and even Olivia said off-stage that she deserved it. Then Cee-Lo hugged Stephanie's grandma, he was so overjoyed. Then the crowd started chanting "Grandma," and everyone hugged, and all was well in the brightest-lit soundstage in America, once again. And while "The Voice" wasn't surprising tonight, at least it can still be sweet.
Now that the Battle Rounds are (thankfully) over, it's time for Knockouts. The clips look amazing! Each artist chooses their own songs, and Adam tells us that "song choice is a huge factor." They'll also be working one-on-one with their coach. And in a new twist, each coach now gets one steal during the Knockout Rounds. At the pace Season 5 is at, we might still be watching "The Voice" in July.
"The Voice" will air a special this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, and airs next on Monday at 8 p.m ET on NBC.