'The Voice' Recap: Juliet Simms Lights It Up, Erin Martin Stumbles
'The Voice' Recap: Juliet Simms Lights It Up, Erin Martin Stumbles

The 10,000 hour theory gets frequently quoted when aging rock fans aim to point out that today's music lacks character, skill, instrumental chops -- you name it. The theory contends that to excel at anything, 10,000 hours need to be invested in practice and/or research before someone is ready for the spotlights, a notion born out by Juliet Simms on Monday's edition of "The Voice."

Simms, one of Cee Lo Green's six singers, has worked in rock bands for more than seven years, signed a label deal and was dropped and played the Vans Warped Tour last year. More than any of the dozen performers who sang Monday, Simms exhibited the traits that only experience can teach: Stage presence, vocal control and commanding the attention of an audience. Not everything about her performance of the Police's first hit "Roxanne" was A plus - she needs to resist holding onto syllables at the end of her runs -- but she provided enough indications that she is a superior talent in this pool.

Her performance was one of six that came from the school of rock, and by far hers was the most affecting. Rock 'n' roll, "The Voice" seems to be making clear, is a tough genre to sing convincingly. Covering pop sings requires a certain level of panache and an ability to hit the right notes. Most rock songs selected by contestants on "The Voice" and other shows almost always seem to come from iconic performers or the generation that followed those icons. To reach for a rock tune, it seems in the early going, means a singer has chosen a tough model to be compared against. Even if that singer is Brandon Flowers.

Granted, my judgment comes from a perch positioned behind the center-field camera inside the Burbank studio where the show is shot. Some of the night's performances felt goofy in the room and may well have played just fine on TV; the band was at a deafening volume on Jamar Rogers' performance of Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way," which makes it hard to judge, but it was enjoyable.

Tuesday's show will see the elimination of two members of each team. Based on Monday's performance alone, here's a personal ranking of the talents on the teams of Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green.


Juliet Simms (The Police's "Roxanne," Team Cee Lo)

A few weeks ago, Simms told Billboard.com that she was "holding back...not showing all her cards." It will be interesting to see how she evolves from this point forward. The judges loved her performance and it feels like we're only beginning to see her potential.


James Massone (Jesse Harris' "Don't Know Why," Team Cee Lo)

Girls scream a lot when James takes the stage. A lot. The girl next to me screamed and said he was the only person she had ever voted for. His performance, a cool, falsetto-driven rendition of the Norah Jones hit, was comfy and cozy in the arrangement, and when he went out to the audience the girls went wild. Cee Lo suggested he keep that under control, but judging from his wardrobe of a letterman's jacket, untucked shirt with a skinny tie and a kooky headband, his goal is t float into boy band space while singing about matters of the heart.


Mathai (John Legend's "Ordinary People," Team Adam)

Not an extremely strong vocal performance, but one that the 19-year-old from Hawaii can use to build a fan base. She might be voted off right away, but it won;t be for a lack of putting a distinctive stamp on a cool song. Christina Aguilera found her performance "lounge-y" in places, but that was part of its charms; she put a song on a roller coaster and enjoyed the ride.


Cheesa ( Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's "Don't Leave Me This Way," Team Cee Lo)

Remember in "High Fidelity" how the lead character always wants to make random lists? Let's try this one: Top 10 songs where you love to sing just one word. Who can resist the word "baby" in this Thelma Houston disco classic? It;s in my top 10. She got a pinch screechy twice, but for the most part nailed this number and surrounded herself with dancers who made it fun to watch without going over the top. Imagine that - a pure voice on a dance track. Does not seem to happen much any more.

Jamar Rogers (Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way," Team Cee Lo)

It was loud, it had dancers on stilts, it was rock 'n' roll. But at the end, I believed Jamar Rogers and that is important in rock 'n' roll: Does the audience believe you? You;re not sinigng about the pain that soul singers sing about and you're not singing about the joy that modern pop acts sing about so you have to be convincing as a character. Rogers stands out in that department.

NEXT PAGE: Kim Rolls In It, Tony Rules, Erin Stumble Like an Egyptian

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