Two more frontrunners emerge on The Voice

Javier Colon is emerging as a frontrunner on the NBC show, "The Voice."I apologize for the fact that this week’s recap from The Voice comes a day late.

But Tuesday was primary election day in Pa. And other newspaper duties took priority since the results were coming in just as the second night of the battle rounds got under way.

Ah, the battle rounds. I like the concept, though some to the attached trappings, like having the contestants sing in a boxing ring, come off as over-the-top corny.

For those who haven’t checked out The Voice yet, it works this way. Each judge has a team of eight singers they mentor. During the battle rounds, they pit their team members against one another in duets. After the performance, they have to decide which singer advances and which singer goes home.

Imagine that, Idol fans. Judges who do judgy things, like making decisions. Novel concept, huh?

Another thing I like about the Voice: Unlike Idol, it doesn’t pretend the show “discovered” all these performers. The Voice is merely giving them a chance to showcase their talent.

For instance, Tuesday’s winners included 32-year-old father of six Jared Blake, 36-year-old blues artist Nakia, father of two Javier Colon and Beverly McClellan, who’s been performing music for 20 years. All have released albums, either independently or through a record deal.

The most interesting of Tuesday’s battle rounds pitted aforementioned Nakia, from Austin, Texas, against Tre Austin, a good-looking R&B singer from Sweetwater, Texas. Both compete for Team Cee Lo Green, and Nakia figured he was at an immediate disadvantage because they’d be singing an R&B hit, Ne-Yo’s “Closer.”

Nakia could have also been at a disadvantage because he looks about as unlike a pop or R&B star as possible. But, hey, Cee Lo can identify with that. And, besides, Nakia earned a spot on the team by singing Cee Lo’s biggest hit, “Forget You.” That might have earned him a special place in Cee Lo’s heart.

So Nakia went bombastic on “Closer” and earned a spot on the live shows. Say farewell to the smooth stylings of Tre Austin. I bet he would have fared better on Christina Aguilera’s team.

Jared Blake advanced Tuesday on The Voice. The oddest of the battle rounds pitted Jared Blake, of Team Blake Shelton, against Elenowen, already a duet featuring Josh and Nicole Johnson. They hoped to do well on The Voice so they could move out of her parents’ basement; Jared has higher aspirations, supporting his wife and six daughters with his music.

Like Nakia, Jared figured he’d be at a disadvantage. After all, it was two voices against one. And they’d be singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” not exactly the type of southern rock anthem he prefers

Turns out being a duet singing a duet with another artist isn’t as easy as it sounds. There’s just not a whole lot of time to display either voice. And Jared went the Nakia route, meaning he turned in one of the most animated versions of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” you’re likely to see. He stole the spotlight.

The biggest mismatch during Tuesday’s battle rounds pitted Angela Wolff against Javier Colon. During the blind audition, Javier earned what The Voice has dubbed “a four-chair turnaround.” That’s a fancy way of saying all four judges wanted him on their team.

Angela? She had to sing twice to get anyone to turn a chair around.

She knew she was in trouble from the start. Perhaps as a result, their duet came off more like a duet than a battle. Javier, with a two-album deal with Columbia Records as part of his past, is a guy to watch on this show.

Beverly McClellan survived the battle round on The Voice.So is veteran rocker Beverly McClellan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She was pitted against 33-year-old soul singer Justin Grennan, the only guy on Team Christina.

Well, he used to be the only guy on Team Christina. He was sent packing after a performance of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley (Teenage Wasteland),” a song he didn’t know prior to the showdown.

Unfortunately for him, Beverly was quite familiar, a fan of The Who in fact. If her performance was a little over the top, it was clearly the better of the two.

So add Beverly McClellan and Javier Colon to the list of frontrunners on The Voice.

That list should also include Vicci Martinez from week one of the battle rounds.

Two more weeks of battle rounds will follow. Then come the live shows, where the 16 finalists will square off.

The next battle round is Tuesday at 10 p.m. Good luck with ratings that night, NBC.

That’s an hour after Idol’s performance finale ends.

And the most avid Idol fans will still be frantically voting while the voices on The Voice square off.


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