"The Voice's" first mano-a-mano round Tuesday (May 10) saw the show's four coaches taking on the role of promoters and pairing their singers to duke it out in the show's boxing ring.
Intriguingly, the four took different approaches in cutting one member from each team. Christina Aguilera went heavyweight. Blake Shelton countered with a couple of lightweights. Adam Levine pitted a fast-learning youngster against a chip-on-the-shoulder veteran and Cee Lo Green found two hungry tyros to duke it out. Despite a heavy handed touch in the decision-time music and tweeted onscreen comments, the bouts led "The Voice" to another round of winning television.
In the winner's circle, Levine wound up with a fast learner in Casey Weston, who went from not knowing "Leather and Lace" to a Stevie Nicks tribute singer faster than anyone can sing "Landslide."
Aguilera, who pit the two biggest voices in her crew on a slug-fest of a tune, Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," gave the decision to the more experienced Frenchie Davis. Shelton, with Reba McEntire guiding Patrick Thomas and Tyler Robinson through the Elvis Presley hit "Burnin' Love," opted for the singer whose style meshes closer with his: Thomas, whose performance was the weakest of the night.
And Green wound up having to decide between two perfectly matched singers. He made the right decision to go with the one who appeared to have more of a burning fire within, Vicci Martinez. So far, she appears to have the strongest appeal, an unassuming star power that transcends limits in her voice. She appears to be an eager learner, too.
In the end, it was more than the battles themselves that elevated "The Voice. " A sense of community has arisen from these collaborations, a give and take between the combatants during the competition that demonstrated camaraderie and a sharing in a learning experience. More than other singing shows, it used vocabulary one might hear in a rehearsal -- "you sing sharp" rather than "pitchy," for example -- and instructions to the singers were clear about phrasing and tone, connecting personal emotions with the lyrics.
Closing the show with Cee Lo hugging his charges Martinez and a teary Niki Dawson, NBC gave "The Voice" an emotional leg up on its obvious competition. The challenge for producers when the show goes live in June will be to keep the emotions feeling honest, something that NBC's other singing competition, "The Sing-Off," excelled at until its December finale, when the sappiness of "American Idol" crept into the mix. Hitting that note properly could be as important as any note created by a singer.
"The Voice" had the highest ratings in the 10 p.m. hour, attracting 10.3 million viewers and garnering a 4.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, more than doubling the second place finisher, ABC's "Body of Proof," according to the Nielsen ratings. Most importantly for NBC, the show is up 100 percent from the same time period a year ago. The being the May sweeps when viewership levels are converted into advertising rates, it promises to deliver a significant price hike for Tuesdays at 10 and the show in general.