NBC’s ‘The Voice’ review: Briana Cuoco steps out of Kaley’s shadow; Caroline Pennell shines

Ready? -Tonight, “The Voice” ended the first stage of their battle rounds, otherwise known as the most terrible part of their competition. These segments are so bloated, we’re stunned that viewers continually sit through two hours for just six battles when this could be easily halved. Do we really care what Ryan Tedder and Adam Levine have to say in these cardboard critiques? Just tell us that they happened, and then move on to the real part of the show that matters.

Luckily, we’ll be burning through this part of the competition over the next couple of weeks, and these were the battles that got a ton of airtime tonight.

Nic Hawk vs. Grey (Team Adam), “Domino” – It’s the battle of the strange names! Nic has a good voice, but we see him as more of a theater entertainer than a pop star. Grey is a much better overall artist, but we still want to dock her a few points for not realizing that going by just “Grey” is a bad decision since everyone is going to ask her about how many shades of her there are. The right decision was made here by Adam, but we have no idea what Blake was thinking. Grey wins, and Blake steals Nic.

Timyra-Joi vs. Amber Nicole (Team Christina), “Listen” – Every season on “The Voice,” there is one battle that goes down with an outcome that you don’t see coming. Amber had little screen time before now, so why would anyone expect her to actually emerge as the winner? The answer here is that they wouldn’t, which is what made the victory by Amber all the more impressive on a song that was huge. The fact that nobody stole Timyra makes us feel like she is a little too young, but also that they are not just looking for these “diva”-type singers when they are not really doing that well in the market right now. Christina picks Amber.

Justin Chain vs. Shelbie Z. (Team Blake), “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” – A good performance for Shelbie, which is saying something coming from us, given that we weren’t fans of almost anything that she did in the blind auditions. (She does still feel like she is at a beauty pageant for whatever reason.) The big edge that she had over Justin here is that she does have a ton of talent, and in addition to that, Justin was just dull. Blake picks Shelbie, and no save is used.

Anthony Paul vs. Caroline Pennell (Team Cee Lo), “As Long As You Love Me” – This is yet again some early evidence that when he’s on, there is really nobody better than him at coming up with cool arrangements. This brought out the best in these quirky singers, especially the latter. There have been tons of contestants on “The Voice” in the offbeat mold, but Caroline has the best legitimate chance at being in the competition in the end. Cee Lo picks Caroline, and Christina saves Anthony.

Donna Allen vs. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam), “Next to Me” – The results of this one remind us somewhat of the “Listen” performance earlier, given that they were both great, but there are so many singers of this type that there was no need for the other one to be stolen. Plus, we imagine that no one really imagined that Donna was going to have an extensive career beyond the show at this point in her career. It’s a little harsh since she’s such a nice woman, but it’s also true. Adam picks Tessanne.

Briana Cuoco vs. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina), “House of the Rising Sun” – We really weren’t that sold on Briana during her audition, as it felt like it was all “look! Famous people!” Even tonight, there were some gratuitous shots of Kaley in the audience, but hey, at least she’s cool enough to show up here and support her sister. Briana was awesome tonight on a very hard song to do, but so was Jacquie. There was no drama in this battle since the show already teased that there was a steal, so it was really all about who was picked for what team. Christina picks Jacquie, and Blake steals Briana.

Which battle was your favorite tonight, and how badly do you want to see this part of the competition trimmed? Share below, and click here to see some more highlights from “The Voice” this season.

Photo: NBC

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