Tells Billboard He and Adam Levine Hatched Idea to Sing Britney Months Ago
A winged singer, the return of Cee Lo's group Goodie Mob, Adam Levine on drums and an impressive show opener from Jamar Rogers took a back seat Monday to Tony Lucca's musical retort to Christina Aguilera on "The Voice."
Aguilera saw Lucca, her former Mouseketeer buddy, as a one trick pony and Lucca fired back with a song from one of their fellow Disney show colleagues, Britney Spears' ""...Baby One More Time."
"Months ago I was doing an email exchange with Adam about song selection," Lucca told Billboard after the performance. "I'd be into doing something ironic, a little unexpected, like taking a pop song and turning it on its head like Travis did with '…Baby One More Time' -- an alt version of it. The more we talked about 'what would be that song?' the more he said that's the song. All of a sudden it crystalized.
"In the wake of Christina's comments, the whole Mickey Mouse Club story that got me through the door on this show, this moment was mine alone to experience -- and we did it. PR stunts and shenanigans aside, there was a point when we said how do we do this musically so that it's credible and warrants me moving on to the next stage of the competition. And once we got in with the band and started grooving on it, I was thinking this song is great. It's got a really sexy old school soul thing and the band went there with me."
As far as contestants go, that was the night's biggest unexpected moment. There were other highlights, chiefly Rogers' performance of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," Katrina Parker's cool and collected reading of Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts" and Juliet Simms' powerhouse singing of Aerosmith's "Crying" amid feather-ridden staging. Parker was the only one of the three who liked her song from the beginning.
Simms, who wished she could have used her wings to fly, recalled her original groaned response, "oh great, another classic rock song. People are going to think that's all I can do, which it's not. Cee lo had me sing it a couple times in rehearsal, restoring my confidence. He had the belief that I could sing a classic rock song and not go home."
Rogers, too, needed some extra prodding. "Cee lo convinced me," he says. "I said 'can I change up the arrangement' and he said have at it it. If we got it to where I wanted it, it would have been a little different. He's urging me to not conform. I'm not a pop singer by any means, and I'm not an alternative singer either, It's like soul-rock-electro. If people purchase the iTunes (version) they'll hear some industrial stuff that I got in there."
Parker's attitude was 180 degrees different from the start when it came to singing Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts." "That's the kind of music I love; I was thrilled when they gave me that song."
It's the sort of song that can easily get a singer sent packing - it's not that well known, it lacks histrionic elements and the tempo is neither rocking nor dramatically slow. It also stands a chance to get lost if surrounded by flashy performances.
"I don't think about what anyone else is doing," the former office worker says. "I like being vulnerable onstage. It's good for me. To do something intimate and heartbreaking on a stage like that, it's hard to do."
The other acts who face possible elimination on tonight's show are Cheesa, who says she sang "I Have Nothing" as "a tribute" to Whitney Houston and Mathai, the 19-year-old who says it's "just about singing and connecting, who performed Nelly Furtado's "Fly Like a Bird."
Monday was another instant elimination round, which found Cee Lo Green dismissing James Massone after his performance of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" and Levine saying toodles to Pip Andrew after he did Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know."
"I'm not upset one bit," Massone said backstage, still wearing his stage outfit of white pants and a studded letterman's jacket. "I do a lot of music for younger fans so I wanted to show people I can do older songs. I think it's important to hit every age and I left everything on stage that I could as an artist."
Andrew said Monday was the most fun he had on the show and had nothing but compliments for Levine. Coaches always huddle with contestants after they are told they would no longer continue and in that private moment Andrew said Levine gave him "a lot of encouragement. He said there wasn't a right or wrong decision. He made a decision he thinks is right for his team -- the rest of his team did so many awesome things tonight.
"As a great coach and mentor, he comes across really honest on TV and I think we all picked him because he wouldn't sugarcoat anything, which has been a big advantage in this thing."
Each team's final four had the opportunity to perform with their coaches, Team Adam doing John Lennon's "Instant Karma" and Team Cee Lo pulling out the black-and-white TV effects for the Motown hit "Dancing in the Streets." Goodie Mob performed its new single, "Fight to Win."