The beef between Christina Aguilera and her former fellow Mouseketeer Tony Lucca cast a distracting pall over the final live performance episode of "The Voice" Monday night.
Lucca, the last-standing representative of Adam Levine's team, had one last chance to prove to America—and to Aguilera, his most ruthless critic—that he deserves the $100,000 prize and recording contract at stake in the three-month competition.
"Tony needs a moment again," Levine said ahead of Lucca's performance—meaning he would need to impress the audience the way he did when he put a rock spin on Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" in response to Aguilera's critique that he was one-dimensional.
Applying a similar formula, he transformed Jay-Z's "99 Problems" into a Kid Rock-eque guitar-heavy song. Like his other performances, it seemed to be a direct response to Aguilera's criticism; he was not one-dimensional and—just maybe—that he had 99 problems, but she wasn't one.
He danced and spun around the stage, got the audience on its feet and kept the song prime-time appropriate, choosing to mute out the b-word in the song's hook: "I've got 99 problems but a mmm ain't one," he sang.
When the performance ended, he stood next to host Carson Daly, beaming as he awaited his final critique. It took mere seconds for Aguilera to throw a match and ignite an explosion that seemed to burn Levine more than Lucca.
"I thought it sounded great—you have a really cool voice," she began.
After pointing out that his "beautiful wife" and children were in the audience she said that she thought the lyrics were "a little derogatory toward women."
Levine's reply fired out of his mouth like bullets from a machine gun.
"We're not referring to women, we're referring to everything," he said, pointing out that he and Lucca had discussed the song lyrics "for hours" and decided that their interpretation was about "life getting at you."
Aguilera stood up and said something inaudible to Levine, who responded by jumping to his feet and saying, “I just want say, I love you Christina, but Tony, I thought you did fantastic.”
He then tore off his button-down revealing a "Team Xtina"-emblazoned t-shirt. He shoved himself back in his seat and put his foot up, mustering his meanest look for Aguilera.
Daly tried to skip around the tension, ushering the show along, but he couldn't put out the embers.
Aguilera wielded her own team member's performance as a weapon against Lucca. After Chris Mann, her final contestant performed, she stood beside him on stage and shouted to the audience that, "this is a real man, who respects women.”
Lucca had a final chance to respond. Daly handed him the microphone after he finished performing a tribute to his coach, and told him that he could say whatever he’d like.
“I just want to say thank you to all four of you,” he said for the “completely amazing, life-altering experience.” Aguilera appeared to be texting and didn’t look up once throughout his appreciation speech, or after he descended the stairs to give Levine a hug.
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