A Strange, Emotional Week on "The Voice"

The VoiceBy Karen Moul

The Voice’s first two battle rounds brought few surprises as the coaches sought to whittle their teams by pairing similar vocalists. It’s probably an effective strategy as it ensures that the team brings a variety of strengths and styles to the live rounds, but it’s not always interesting television.

Last week, however, Cee Lo shook things up with the strangest pairing of the past two seasons: soft and sultry Erin Mitchell took on the hard-rocking Shields Brothers in a performance that Adam Levine called just plain “weird.”

After the show, Erin agreed that it was a difficult pairing. “I think it was sort of like worst-case scenario for someone who has a voice like mine,” she told Scifi Vision.

The tension was evident as Erin and the Sheildses tried to find a way to work together and pull together a coherent duet. The boys toned it down a bit and Erin pumped up the volume, but their differences went beyond loud vs. quiet. It was a clash of styles and personalities that was bizarre and kind of cool at the same time.

When it was all over, Erin summed it up: “If you had put Nora Jones against AC/DC, that's what you would come up with.”

After the show, Scifi Vision spoke to the battle winners in their weekly confenrece call with digital media outlets.

The Voice airs Mondays at 8 pm on NBC.

NBC Conference Call
The Voice Contestants Katrina Parker, Pip Arnold, Jermaine Paul, Erin Willett, Erin Martin, and Ashley De La Rosa
March 20, 2012

Pip ArnoldQUESTION: I was wondering if you guys could each talk about what you've taken from your mentor that you'll carry with you?

I'm taking advice to just kind of have a good time and have fun with it. Yeah, Blake was very adamant on having a good time on stage and not being so serious for me. So I plan on doing that.

Well, I think the biggest thing I learned from Alanis was that sometimes it's better to hold back a little bit and not over-sing everything and not throw everything out - you have out just hold back and it makes the moment a lot more special. And that definitely was what I took away from [her].

Alanis was a huge calming effect on me. She basically identified with the nerve issues I was having which was surprising to me because, you know, she's Alanis Morissette. And she gave me some really great advice on just accepting I'm going to have nerves, assuming that they're going to be over soon enough and that I'll be able to just do what I do. And she also gave a huge boost of confidence. I'm sure a lot of people got that from their mentors. But I really felt like I left that rehearsal with her that day feeling 10 times better about myself, just the kind words and the encouragement. That alone for me was a huge boost. So I took that away from it.

Just being in Kelly Clarkson's presence was amazing. But I think for me it was just we got to sit down and talk with our mentors. And we kind of had a life talk, I guess. And it was always making sure that you are confident in your decisions and whether that be a business decision or a performance decision. And it was really great to have someone on your side. And I totally agree with what Pip was saying, you know, making every moment count and not always just throwing everything out there. She also touched on that.

But, yeah, and as well with Katrina it's just amazing to have someone in the industry completely be supportive of what you're doing as well, in conjunction with your coach. So, yeah, that was just awesome and it was just a great boost as a person. I felt so much more confident in what I was doing and where I was - the choices I was making.

I’m going to pose this to my guys from Team Adam. Katrina, I'll start with you. How much stock did you put into what happened in the blind auditions going into your battles? Were you thinking about how many chairs that your competition had turned around or how many you did or didn't? How much did that factor in?

I was thinking a good bit about that when I first was paired with Angel. She had three chairs and they fell hard for her. And she was really exceptional. So obviously I knew I was at a certain disadvantage because I only had one chair.

I think when you have to fight for someone you naturally maybe without even realizing it are looking at them a little differently. So for me it was on my mind. I was aware of it. It was the truth. But I had to get past that and really focus on my own experience going forward. I really think the worst thing you can do is focus on anyone else in this competition. You have to look at yourself. You have to look at what you're doing. You have to compete with yourself. Otherwise I feel like it's not going to go well at all.

Erin Willett wins!QUESTION:
Erin, could you tell us a little bit more about what happened after the show that we saw last night went off the air? Were you able to call your dad? Was your dad still cognizant at that point? Were you able to talk to him and tell him what happened? And how long did he have left at that point?

Yeah, he actually ended up passing away right before the battle round so he wasn't. But I had spoken to him about a week prior and...the crazy thing is he was actually supposed to come out. It just happened that fast. And I had the support.

All the decisions I made were not just my decisions, they were my family's decisions. And I had problems with that just because of Blake and he would be like, “You know, no one's going to judge you for your decision. It's what you have to do; you have to make it for yourself.” And with the guidance of my family I was going to stay. And so unfortunately I was unable to but for me I'm just grateful that he was able to be there for the blind audition and see me be a part of the show and know that this was my destiny and it was going to happen. And as (unintelligible) as it is it's what it was.

When we've spoken to your teammates they've talked about the battle round, how difficult it is to send home your teammates and your friends. But can you tell us a little bit about the good that comes from the battle round, how it motivates you, how it really brings out the best in your performances?

It totally does. You are standing right next to your competition and you're singing the exact same song. For me I had a great [chemistry] with Gwen. We became very close especially with the tragic situation that was going on with me right at that time. She was there with me in my hotel room. She was always one call away. She would check on me right before I went to bed. So for me and Gwen…I have a sister. And it's really hard but at the end of the day I feel like when you have such mutual - for me at least when you have (unintelligible) respect for each other you're just happy for the other person. And I know that Gwen was genuinely happy for me. And if I had gone home I would have been feeling the exact same about her.

But, yeah, it's hard. It's a hard round. And it was a lot more difficult for me than I thought it was going to be - I guess for me emotionally because you don't want to send someone home that you're really close with. But then you are able to talk about it with your partner. And you realize that it's not in your hands and so you can't do anything about it. And all you can do is give your (best) performance.

Me and Nathan actually became really good friends at the very beginning of this competition. And I actually ended up moving to LA at the very beginning and he became one of my roommates. And so when we found out we were paired up in battle it was kind of this shock and we thought it was going to be this awful thing. But in the end it made us be able to commit to the performance even more.

 And because we were such good friends we could work the song a lot more because we didn't have to make time to work out what we were going to do in the song. And it just organically came in like normal settings we would just be like, “We should do this here” over dinner or something. And so I think it helped us make the performance as good as it was. It was actually a blessing in disguise.

Erin Martin, you had the distinction of having to sing a duet with three people last night. Could you talk about both what it's like trying to coordinate three people and the stylistic clash that you guys had to overcome.

Yes, three people singing together on a stage that big with such a very large audience and a huge sound system was - it was overwhelming. And I don't know, I think it was sort of like worst-case scenario for someone who has a voice like mine. I would say if you had put Nora Jones against AC/DC that's what you would come up with. So it was quite a challenge.

And I'm glad that I won but it was a difficult pairing from the beginning. And that's just television. But it was definitely challenging. And when I was on stage I couldn't hear myself because I had a band on stage with me; I had a band behind me and I was in a huge room, obviously everyone was in a huge room with a huge audience. But it just didn't help. I'm not a power singer, I'm not a belter so the way that it came across on TV is not naturally how I sing. I had to sing louder, which made my voice sound different for that particular battle just because there was so much pressure to bring something huge and massive to the table.

So I did the best that I could. And I've made it to the live shows and I’m just looking forward to showing my real artistry during the live shows, which is a softer folk style.

And speaking of that artistry, after the battle was over in your post-battle interview you talked about your unique sound and that you think it's time for something new on the radio. Would you like to elaborate on that at all?

I think that we have this mindset that if you don't do runs you're not - if you don't have that soul and you can't belt out a note that you're not a singer. But I disagree with that. And there's plenty of singers that sing softer and make people happy and sell records and people enjoy their music.

And right now it's, you know, you turn on the radio and it's a lot of club music. I think it's great to have power belters over that music but sometimes you run across a really cool song that has like Ingrid Michaelson over it or someone like (Olan) mixed into it. And I'm really into both those styles. I'd like to be able to hear that kind of music on the radio.

So, yeah, not everyone is open to my sound now and understandably so because last night was just challenging on all sides. But I think that you can tell from my blind audition that I do have a unique style and it just needs the correct song; it needs to be showcased in the proper arena. So that's what we're working to achieve in the live shows.

My question is for both Katrina and Erin Willett. Some of the comments that were being made to you by both the judges and the mentors were that you both had a tendency to play it safe. Do either of you think that you did play it safe last night?

Katrina ParkerERIN WILLETT:
Katrina, would you like to say?

Sure. You know, at the time it didn't feel like I was playing it very safe. I definitely feel like I let go a lot more than I have previously. I'm used to being behind a keyboard [more] than a microphone so for me to hold the microphone, much less walk around a stage without falling over - falling off the stage - for me that was kind of miraculous. But definitely in watching my performance I see that there's still so much more room to grow. And there's a lot more things I probably could have done vocally.

But in that moment you just do the best you can and you let go as much as you can in the moment. So considering all the factors I feel pretty good about it.

I actually kind of did agree with them. And when Blake said that, I remember standing on stage and being like, “Oh no, I didn't (feel) everything out there.” But the great thing is he did see that I possibly have these other things that I can bring to the live shows that I might not have shown yet.

Yeah, it's a nerve wracking experience. And you feel like all of your eggs are in one basket. And everything is being judged by its own performance. And I think for me, in my emotional state - I just didn't want to break down and just trying to hold it together as long as possible. And yeah, I mean, it's hard. But I think the great thing is I can only be thankful that I did what I did and that was enough to get me through to the live shows. But, yeah, I don't know. I do agree with him a little bit. But that was just because I was just trying not to fall apart, I guess.

Katrina, when you were chosen last night you looked a little surprised. Were you?

Oh gosh, yes, I was surprised. I did my ugly cry after I got off the stage. I warned everyone it was ugly and it was. I knew Adam was being very fair the whole time but, I knew that in this particular pairing, in all honesty, I was not the favorite. And I had reconciled myself with that fact. I had my good-bye speech ready to go.

And I think once I stopped worrying about the end result I was able to actually have fun out there. Once I said, “Okay, I'm very likely going home so I'm just going to enjoy it,” once I was in that mindset oddly enough I started having fun. Thinking this might be my last time on that stage.

So yes, I was shocked, very, very shocked. Every time someone opened their mouth and said something really positive about my performance I thought I was going to fall over just because things have been tough the last few years and good things don't often happen to me so this was a good thing and it really took me by surprise.

Jermaine PaulQUESTION:
Jermaine, how did it feel to have all the other coaches choose you?

It felt like validation. I was really excited and happy to hear all their comments and just happy that they all said that they liked what they heard from me. Being that I got Blake (unintelligible).

Ashley, when the blind auditions aired yours was significantly shortened. And I was wondering if you knew why NBC did this and do you think it gives you any kind of disadvantage going into the live shows?

Yeah, I knew that they were going to do that. Fortunately, the producers called and they told me it was mostly for time reasons. You know, they were trying to fit people in and certain people's spots cut shorter and mine was one of them. I felt like initially I did have a disadvantage just because I wasn't really shown. But then I also thought that it was a good thing because when I came out for the battle rounds it was sort of a surprise. And either way I'm here now so probably it wasn't that bad of a choice by them. But it was great anyway.

Erin, I want to touch on a little bit of what was talked about earlier with your dad. And did you feel closer? I saw that moment with Blake and it was a really tender, sweet moment. Did that make you feel closer to him as more than just a mentor or how did that experience feel for you?

At first, I'll honestly say that it was kind of awkward because I didn't really know what to talk about. I didn't know if I was being put on the spot to explain my story.

But I began to. And then he was like, “That's not what I'm here for; I'm here to help you through something and be your guidance and be your friend.” And it definitely made me feel a lot closer to him. To feel someone genuinely reach out to you when they didn't really need to and give their time and their energy and their calming words and to understand that he also kind of has gone through this - a similar situation. But it was an emotional period. And having him be a little bit on my side and step away from being a mentor and step closer into being a friend truly made me feel so loved.

And the show and the other artists - I feel like as much as it was an unfortunate situation, that I wasn't with my father, I was in a great place. And I think that people forget that we all become a close family and so do the producers and all the people behind the scenes, they're always there to help us and support us. And I always had someone there along the way with me no matter what kind of news I was (unintelligible). So as much as Blake was definitely a help, just being able to feel loved by all the other artists genuinely - Pip and Nathan actually sent me flowers and my mom called me crying and it was the sweetest thing.

And I genuinely am thankful for this experience during a really difficult time because I feel like I have a whole new family that I am able to lean on. In my after-interview I kind of touched on that. Gwen was a really big part of it as well. She was there for everything. And I felt that support. And I'm feeling that support from everybody.

Pip, I know that Christina last night commented on your musical theater background. And it's been shown a bit on the show. Do you feel more drawn to the theater or to being a solo artist?

Well, honestly I've always been in musical theater and stuff in high school and middle school. Just like small productions around my town. But I don’t know, I've been drawn a lot more to becoming a recording artist. I love theater and I love acting but I think right now I want to put my passion and my time into becoming a recording artist and going on tour and doing stuff like that because that's what I've been working for for the past couple years.

I also recently saw that Rolling Stone called you a lesbian Harry Potter with a bow tie.


Could you maybe comment on that comparison?

I don't really understand that comparison. But I guess I can see it a little bit. It's kind of strange. They did say a lot of other really nice things in the article though, too. So I think they were just trying to be a little funny. But those were very random.

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