Jesse Larson beat a country singer at his own game to survive his first battle round on The Voice last night.
Larson, a Minnesota fellow who Prince once hired to back singer (and former Voice contestant) Judith Hill, squared off against cowboy-hatted Taylor Alexander, who appears to have no Minnesota connections at all.
“Taylor Alexander?” Prince would say if he was still around. “Never heard of him.” Taylor Alexander probably can't name one Replacements song. Somebody totally overhead Taylor Alexander backstage saying that Bob Dylan shouldn't have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The two men sang “Shameless,” which was written by Billy Joel, popularized by Garth Brooks, and should have been dedicated to Adam Levine’s ugly sweater.
The Minnesota guy sang it better, of course.
Both performances were met with exuberant platitudes from the judges. Blake Shelton managed to squeeze the phrases “work cut out for him,” “step up to the plate,” and “raise the bar” into his short comment period, and surely would have added “at the end of the day” if given more time. He voted for Alexander. Gwen Stefani gave Larson the nod and imitated his guitar work (“do do do do do”). Alicia Keys did not vote, but that’s cool, she’s still Alicia Keys.
Both singers were competing to remain on Adam Levine's team, and Levine picked Jesse, telling him “music kind of effortlessly flows out of you” and calling him one of those contestants who “share their joy for making music.”
If you're feeling nostalgic for early March, here's Larson’s first appearance on The Voice, his blind audition of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”