Welcome back to The Voice. While I have no evidence to support my hypothesis, I am going out on a limb and guessing that this episode will be comprised of people singing duets of hit songs. Again. I know that these so-called battle rounds are necessary to whittle the flock, thin the herd, and remove the wheat from the chaff. (And that is the total of things I know about farming.) I know this, yet at the same time: It's repetitive. Perhaps verging on boring. I know it's different competitors singing different songs hoping and dreaming to make it to the next round, but still I find myself, dare I say? Bored. I know, I know, sacrilege. This does not mean it is not true. Search your soul (it's like Googling via your belly button) and just try to tell me I am wrong.
And since I'm feeling old and crotchety and fist shaking, I am still confused as to why the very successful recording artists Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and Christina Freakin' Aguilera -- who are ostensibly coaches and mentors to the contestants -- are deemed incapable of actually coaching and mentoring the contestants and have brought in back-up coaches and mentors. I mean, we all know why Adam Levine needed help, but Christina Aguilera really can't handle doling out advice to a 22-year-old all by herself? And if she can't handle it, why is Australian recording artist Sia any better at it? And why was Christina given the job of coach in the first place if she can't manage the great responsibilities? I have questions! And no answers. I bet Carson Daly has answers. I bet he keeps them in his pocket and strokes them whenever he starts feeling lonely and says quietly to himself, "Precious. My precious."
Anyway, where were we? Oh, right: Welcome back to The Voice! Carson helpfully reminds us that math is a thing, unless you're in England and then maths is a thing. Carson ponders the story problem and then calculates for about ten minutes using a complex algebraic formula and some geometric proofs in order to determine that each coach has two people on their team. Then, the battle rounds continue.
Christina goes first, because, you know, ladies first. She is wearing the same dress as last week and the week before. Either she is as drunk as US Weekly makes her out to be or I am. I have a third complaint: Couldn't the show have tried just a little to make us feel like they didn't just shoot the entire season in an afternoon? I mean, really. Put some effort into it! And by effort I mean shoving Christina's gruesome twosome *ahem* into a different skin tight and revealing dress after each round just for the illusion that this show took some actual time and effort. Seriously these eternal battles make me wish the show was two hours and we could hurry the damn things up.
In this battle duet (which could not sound less butch), Christina pits two adorably fresh-faced girls against each other: the diminutive Raquel versus Julia the soccer player. Christina selects the song "Only Girl (In the World)" by Rihanna. I had to Google it to get the punctuation correct. Speaking of punctuation, did you all see the list of 169 Song Titles with Parentheticals (In Order of Parenthetical Charm)? Rihanna's song topped out at 153. Just think how many songs have so much more charming parentheticals. I think the show should have done a theme night where all the songs had to involve parentheses. Maybe they are? Fingers crossed!
Christina tries to explain the song choice without mentioning that the producers probably picked it from a list of ten songs they had acquired the rights to. It's like $10,000 Pyramid, but less interesting. Christina opines that Rihanna is young and fresh and so are they. That is so logical, Christina should sign up for the LSAT. She then claims that they remind her of her when she was young and fresh "out the gate". Wasn't Christina in the Mickey Mouse Club and, thus, like four-years old when she started? Anyway, Christina wants to drink their life force and make herself young again. The girls nod meekly and let Christina lead them to
their doom the practice room.
As we transition from one room to another, Raquel lets us in on the juicy tidbit that when she was seven years old, she was in the worst movie known to man: Jersey Girl with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Being in such a stinker of a movie at such a tender age taught her a valuable lesson. Namely, she never wants to be that close to failure again. Nor to Ben Affleck's hair, but that's easy enough since she got the restraining order against it.
Australian recording artist Sia greets the girls and they stand around the piano singing glorified karaoke. Soccer player Julia is about a foot taller than Raquel and Raquel is wearing heels. This is not important information, but does create a visual that leads you to imagine Julia squashing Raquel Godzilla vs. Tokyo style, which is awesome. They head to the arena to practice in situ, and Christina undermines their confidence by pointing out that they have pitch problems. Yes, both of them. She is still better than they are. They should probably peel her a grape, stomp on it, ferment it, and let her chug a bottle of wine already.
Then it is competition time and the ladies don their finest...wait, what the heck is Raquel wearing? It's a black nylon sleeveless zipped up jumpsuit with a low slung metal belt, like if Fat Elvis spent a lot of time at the Jersey Shore. She also has a Snooki-sized Bump It on the front of her head. You suddenly realize that despite the abject terribleness of the movie, wee Raquel is still living life as if she was still on the set of Jersey Girl and would be for eternity. It's like the worst Twilight Zone ever. Julia, however, looks pretty cute in her red dress.
Carson Daly's reanimated emaciated corpse stands in the middle of the stage and introduces the little ladies. Raquel wails her little head off and Julia sounds quite... nice. I don't know. They are singing a cover song. They are trying to sound like Rihanna, but they are also trying to "make it their own." The song ends and the coaches weigh in: Cee Lo thought that "little mama" took it, and Blake Shelton and Adam Levine think it was a bit more even of a competition, but they are just being nice and Raquel prevailed. Christina kindly fake hems and haws, but it was all Raquel. And with that, Jersey Shore 2018 has its first contestant.
Next up is Team Blake. He is pitting Dia Frampton (with that name she should be way more metal than she is) versus Southern preacher's daughter Serabee Apparently they have very different singing styles. We know this because Serabee says it, then Blake says it, then Carson says it. They will be bringing their very different singing styles to the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love." Blake thinks it is going to be awesome. I don't think anyone else agrees with that statement. The girls head into the rehearsal, do their requisite "Holy shit, it's Reba McEntire!" spittake and then get down to the business of crafting a duet. The girls take a moment with their mentors/coaches and Dia confesses to having a bit of stage fright, Reba tells her to suck it up. Then Blake tells Serabee not to over sing, because it is tiresome.
After those helpful hints, it is time to compete. Carson's corpse wracks up another two minutes on camera (it's going to be the first dead person to get a SAG card!) introducing the girls. Serabee is doing Stevie Nicks in a fedora sort of look, while Dia looks charming in a white lace A-line dress and red shoes. Hey, you know what? The girls have really different singing styles. They are so divergent that they probably shouldn't be on the stage together because it sounds terrible, contrived, and like a middle school talent show lipsync act after the sixth graders got into the peach schnapps.
As the song ends, the coaches scratch their coll