Listen To Your Heart Episode 4: We’re All Swifties Now

This is the fourth episode of the music-dating or dating-music show, and it opens on narrator Ryan, who is wearing Harry Potter glasses to undercut my analysis from last week. Umm… he does look like a sexy nerdy Harry Potter. We get footage of Savannah being smitten with Brandon and Sheridan being smitten with Julia, so I guess things are about to get rocky for our weakest couples. 

Chris Harrison tells everyone that they will all be going on dates… with someone other than their partners. “Dun, dun, duuuuun!” he does not add. The producers were probably worried about how fast their beloved show about relationship drama and backstabbing had morphed into the Voice: Couples Edition. Collectively, they decided “Nope!” Let’s not let our favorite show be tainted by association! I mean, how is it possible that in the 67 seasons of the Voice, the show has yet to produce one legitimate musical star? So I, for one, applaud their effort in putting these switcheroo dates together so this doesn’t just become the Voice with Chris Harrison.

The switcheroo dates are:

Jamie and Ryan – this is their second date, as they were almost a thing in the first episode until Trevor defeated Ryan in a John-Mayer-song sing-off. Ryan is now with Natascha who thinks Jamie’s partner Trevor cheated on Natascha’s friend. 

Chris and Rudi – Umm… I don’t know why this is happening. I think Rudi had to introduce herself to Chris. And as we see in the credits B-roll, Rudi was probably way too distracted by Matt doing his CrossFit routine in the LTYH mansion to go on this date. This may be an example of the producers trying way too hard. There’s probably one genuine love story to watch here (Chris and Bri) and here they are trying to throw a wrench into that relationship for no apparent reason. But I think the producers are putting this date together for an entirely different reason. 

Julia and Brandon – Julia likes Brandon and not her partner Sheridan, Brandon likes Julia and also Brandon’s partner Savannah. This date is the real reason that the producers put these dates together. I’m pretty sure that the Jamie-Ryan and Chris-Rudi names wound up on the date card the same way that North Korea wound up on the second iteration of the Muslim Travel Ban. Ha! I’m glad our civil rights are being eroded with the same care as the producers put into this show.

I suppose it is relevant that everyone else will be hanging out back at the house, which I guess is the fourth date. Good! That way Victor and I can each write about two of them. 

Rudi and Chris Date

Before this date starts we see Natascha flirting with Rudi’s partner Matt. Matt is surprisingly jacked and working out by the pool and showing off a direwolf tattoo from Game of Thrones. His beard is definitely House Stark. Rudi is about to tell Matt to stay away from Natascha when Chris awkwardly interrupts to take Rudi on a date. Here is a dramatization: 

At least it was the cheapest date in show history. The retail value of this date on the Price is Right would be about the $12 it took to buy the two sandwiches and bags of chips that made up this picnic. I think the producers literally told them to climb to a hill about 100 yard from the house and eat there. All Rudi did was to use the binoculars that inexplicably came with their picnic basket to watch Matt walking around the house. Her disappointment was audible when Matt decided to put on a shirt. I’m not even sure she remembered that Chris was on the date with her. 

Back-At-The-House

I suppose in later seasons (if this format takes off, which the aforementioned ratings suggest it has not), there will be a lot of house drama. If you are left behind you will need to consider the possibility that you’re about to be dumped and decide whether you need to make a contingency plan with someone else. Notably Natascha, the only reality-show vet, seems to be the one most willing to hint at some mansion shenanigans. Alas, it is only a hint, and perhaps a nod to Matt being just shockingly jacked. The North Remembers… to bring its protein powder and creatine. Instead of drama we get Sheridan writing and performing very weepy songs about how he is a big chump. Don’t let anyone tell you that living in a Subaru Forester is not a good way to get in touch with yourself. 

Really, not much seems to have happened back at the house during these dates. Which means there will be a lot riding on Brandon and Julia and Savannah and Sheridan to carry this episode until the musical performance. 

Jamie and Ryan Date

Ryan and Jamie were sent off to a spa day, which at least probably cost the show a few hundred dollars. This date had the makings of some drama, as Jamie smooched Ryan in the first episode and then tearfully struggled over her decision before ultimately choosing Jed Wyatt 2.0 Trevor, a decision she believed would lead to Ryan leaving the show. Alas, whatever spark was there has long since been extinguished, and both of them seem pretty clear that this is some friendzone stuff, and that’s okay. Great, actually. Good for these two. I got to assign the dates this week and I assigned this one to myself because I knew the drama was going to come from Brandon and Julia and I like when Victor writes about the Bachelor. Jamie and Ryan predictably returned from the date within the first thirty minutes of the episode and they looked refreshed by what I assume was an uneventful spa day. In fact, they were home in time to sit with Savannah and Sheridan, who were awkwardly waiting to see if their shady partners managed to not be shady. 

Julia and Brandon Date

This date is at the Roxy – supposedly a famed LA Nightclub for concerts and other events in the BC era (Before Covid). Apparently, Neil Young, Bob Marley, and Guns N Roses all recorded live albums at the Roxy. The Nightclub will not be letting these two reality show losers contestants sully the recording equipment at the club. Instead, Julia and Brandon will be writing a song with each other, under the guidance of Joel Crouse – a guy who once toured with Taylor Swift and wrote a song with Ed Sheeran. The “guy on the periphery” is really getting their shine in this show. I’ll be excited to watch “Guy Who Filmed Beyonce at a Concert and Uploaded the Video to YouTube” on a date next week.

Joel (who actually has a Wikipedia entry) eggs on the pair with some producer-fed lines about exploring their connection. Apparently, all it takes is a guitar, a poorly-lit club, and some cheesy lines on paper for these two people to forget their “partners” back at the house. And before you know it, Julia and Brandon are singing to an audience of one (Joel) and belting out lines like “I might be wrong, but I need your love.” I mean, we’re on a reality show so the line between wrong and right are mostly blurred (amirite Robin Thicke?) but what these two are doing isn’t wrong if their goal is to fill out their Paradise audition tape. But I thought this show was about finding love through music – and what they’re doing is not that. 

They make out after the song ends and return to the house by consoling each other about the tough conversations ahead.

We see Julia pulling aside Sheridan first – and the conversation goes like this:

Julia: I’ve been trying to figure something out

Sheridan: what did you figure out?

Julia: I just can’t 

Sheridan: You can’t what?

Julia: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN!!

Julia: I don’t think I can do this with you.

Sheridan: Okay, good luck. I’m leaving.

Julia: YOU’RE JUST GOING TO LEAVE?!?!

Julia, you’re good to go. You’ve got what you needed for your Paradise audition tape. Even a blind scout could see your potential oozing off the tape: the flair for drama, the nonsensical outbursts, the tears, the indecision – it’s all there. You can leave the house now and just get ready to meet Tyler C, Hannah Ann, and Kelsey next summer. I bet the Germans have a word for something that is entirely predictable and yet still very sad. Sheridan apologizing to Julia for not being understanding enough about her dumping him was a perfect encapsulation of both of their character arcs.

The rest of the cast poured one out for Sheridan as he hugged them and headed for the production SUV outside the house. It probably would have made more sense to just have the Subaru parked on the driveway, but it would have been awkward for production to drive Sheridan around in his own house.

Sheridan got the full exit montage treatment as they kept playing clips of his short-lived showmance with Julia. If this isn’t a preview of a good-guy edit on Paradise, I don’t know what is. I think it was pretty cold to overlay this montage with Julia covering “The Bones” by Maren Morris, but I guess their other options were: 1) Sheridan’s half-written song about him being a chump that he was workshopping while Julia was making out with Brandon; or 2) spending money on the rights to a new song. So I guess they had their reasons. Criminally, the rendition of “As Long as You Love Me” did not make the cut for the goodbye montage. 

Brandon pulled Savannah aside and the gears in his head were spinning so fast you could see steam coming out of Brandon’s ears. They made small talk about the date, and then Brandon told Savannah that Julia still had feelings for him and those feelings are reciprocated – then he accused Savannah of being only “95%” committed to this with him. Savannah was taken aback and asked Brandon whether “we” were doing anything since he still has unresolved feelings for Julia. Brandon condescendingly called Savannah “sweetie” a couple of times during this conversation and then asked Julia to talk like “adults.” 

Brandon thought that this was going to play out on TV like he was taking the high road and the victim of an uncommitted partner; but that’s because Brandon has no idea what words mean or what his face actually looks like in these conversations. Or when he is singing.

Savannah ran out of the house; and Brandon rushed out to catch her and ask her if she’s “all in” on him. Savannah, with good reason, told Brandon that she can’t trust him and headed for the goodbye SUV. In her exit, she said that “this is not the end of my story.” She is right – I can’t wait to see her next summer in Paradise. Brandon and Julia are among the show’s all-time greatest gaslighters. They should have a show where they get into relationships with other people, cheat on those people with each other, and then try to convince their partners that they are the ones who are being unreasonable. It would be called: “You were serious about that? I just need you to calm down, you’re yelling for no reason. Gosh, you’re really being self-centered right now. You know, maybe your behavior is the reason this happened? I really think you owe me an apology now. What? Why are you leaving? You’re just going to give up on us? Well, I guess you aren’t the person I thought you were. <eye roll>.” Not saying the title doesn’t need work.

Performances

Chris Harrison stops by to tell everyone who survived the night that they will be performing at “Novo” in LA, which is a venue formerly known as “Club Nokia” when the adjoining theater was called “Nokia Theatre.” Now the Nokia Theater is the Microsoft Theater. So, you know, draw your own conclusions about the recent fortunes of some tech companies. Tell me about it – I just tried to download Julia and Sheridan’s version of “As Long As You Love Me” on Napster. 

The couples got their song assignments, and Brandon and Julia are about to ruin Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.” The other songs include “Lover” by Taylor Swift and some guy (for Chris and Bri), “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton (Rudi and Matt), “Like I’m Going To Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend (Jamie and Trevor), and “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne (Natascha and Ryan). I think the deck is stacked in that every couple seems to have gotten a song they were excited about except Brandon and Julia, whose song choice was very apt for a couple formed after they each dumped the people they probably “belonged” with. 

Brandon told me everything I need to know about him when he pointed out that he’d only heard “We Belong” a few times and “probably in a hair salon.” Natascha asked Brandon (in front of Julia) if Brandon would have stuck with Savannah if she had been willing to stay. Natascha asked Savannah to cover her ears, and then Brandon gave a very ambiguous nod. I like Natascha’s style. She smells weakness and she’s willing to sew dischord (no pun intended) to make sure she isn’t on the chopping block. Fine – I’m going to take credit for thinking up that great pun. The next day, when the couples were preparing to perform, Natascha told Julia that Brandon “definitely said” he would have stayed with Savannah if she had been willing. This is an over-read of an ambiguous nod. Also, Julia was there, so maybe she could have said “I wasn’t really covering my ears, and I know that didn’t happen.”

The judges this week included Andy Grammar, Bachelorette royalty Rachel Lindsay and her husband Bryan (Chris Harrison doesn’t give his last name, which is fair), and Toni Braxton (!!!). 

Rudi and Matt performed “Tennessee Whiskey” and everyone seemed to like it. Jamie started crying while watching, but mostly because her stage fright/imposter syndrome is being slowly developed as a potential storyline. At the end of the performance Rudi kissed Matt (and managed not to slap him first). Rachel Lindsay noticed their obvious passion for each other and pointed it out. 

Jamie and Trevor performed “Like I’m Going To Lose You.” Toni Braxton asked Bryan if Jamie is nervous and Bryan said she was. I wonder if Bryan the 37-year-old Miami chiropractor auditioning for the Bachelor ever imagined he’d be whispering stuff to Toni Braxton on television? What a life. I believe Bryan’s whispered line to Toni Braxton may have been his only line of the entire episode – which sounds about right. Instead of paying attention to performances, he was probably too busy thinking of new pyramid schemes to sell. The judges noted that nerves were a problem for this duo at first, but that they finished strong. Rachel told Trevor that he lacked Jamie’s passion, but possibly that was Trevor realizing he was on a singing show with a partner who isn’t as good at singing as most of the other singers. Immediately afterward Jamie started swearing and crying because she thought she was terrible. I don’t think I’d say “terrible,” but I think she is unlikely to win a singing contest with the other cast members.

Chris and Bri performed “Lover” and the crowd kinda reacted the way people-who-understand-music-better-than-me seem to react when good singers are singing. Bri brought the crowd into it, and Chris killed it just as he did last week. Toni Braxton loved it and everyone else did too. For some reason, the episode kept cutting away from this powerful rendition of the TSwift song to shots of Jamie sobbing. Guys, this show has got a blank space as far as a genuine love story other than Chris-Bri. So producers, you need to calm down on these cutaways. Can’t believe I got on a rant about Bachelor editing – producers, look what you made me do. I see what you did there, and I like your style. And if we’re being honest, that James Dean daydream look in your eye.

Chris and Bri could be more interesting in the house, but on stage they crush it. Rachel Lindsay’s quote-of-the-night was “I’m not even a Swiftie, but now I might be.” Immediately afterward Bri said “I hugged him and said ‘I love you’ but you didn’t hear it” on stage. Chris didn’t miss a beat, responding “I didn’t hear it, if I had I’d have said ‘I love you too.’” The crowd strongly supported this, and we finally get a little background on Chris (he recently lost his father, struggled with depression, and really likes Bri). I could have used more Chris in any of the preceding 3.5 episodes, but even if things don’t work out for them in this contest, he and Bri seem to have made a real connection and also to be good performers.

As both a Swiftie and a KatyCat, 2014 through 2019 was a very trying time for me. Thank goodness for 2020, then? Is that what you’re saying? Exactly – 2020 brought us LTYH. 

Julia and Brandon then took on “We Belong” and it didn’t go great. I mean, if they performed it at karaoke night at a bar you were at, you’d say “that lady has some pipes, and that guy can almost keep up” but on stage at a 2000-plus-capacity theater after Chris and Bri just blew Toni Braxton’s socks off? Not so much. Afterward Julia kept talking about how Natascha sabotaged her performance by dropping (semi)truth bombs on her before the performance. Julia – it’s one song. You should go watch “Part of Me” and see how Katy Perry killed an entire concert performance right after finding out her marriage to Russell Brand had ended. I’m glad that the show confirmed for me that Julia Rae is no Katy Perry.

While Trevor and Julia were murdering a wonderful song, Rachel Lindsay leaned over to Bryan and asked “do you think they have any chemistry?” The answer of course…

Afterward the judges suggested that maybe the two of them were in a fight, and they were sort of right because one started right after they left the stage. Julia said she was abandoned by Brandon onstage, “much like I abandoned Sheridan” she did not add. And Rachel Lindsay said it sounded like karaoke. Hey! I said that too. 

Ryan and Natascha performed “You Are The Best Thing” and got a standing ovation. I think somehow Ryan managed to catch up with Natascha in the vocals department. No one suggested that this was karaoke, though if it was, you would go back to that karaoke bar every weekend. With nothing to complain about in the musical performance, Julia just went after Natascha for undermining her by telling her about Brandon wanting to be with Savannah. Another possibility–and just hear me out here–is that Julia was on a show about relationships and singing and she dumped a good singer who loved her for a bad singer who slightly preferred Savannah. Brandon, for his part, told the camera it was the most difficult 72 hours he has had “since combat.” 

Rose Ceremony

Chris Harrison is back to awkwardly give out the roses to the couples that will be back next week. The first roses go to Bri and Chris. And they are well-deserved. They should get all of the roses, but I guess it is a pandemic and we need any content we can get, so let’s air the last two episodes of the show.

The next couple to get roses is Matt and Rudi.

Third are Natascha and Ryan, and if any of these three couples went home this week we would demand a recount (or at least some explanation of how the selections are being made).

This left Jamie/Trevor and Julia/Brandon, and realistically Jamie and Brandon should probably go home. But the final roses go to Jamie and Trevor, much to the relief of Natascha who would have had a very awkward couple of days with Julia and Brandon otherwise.

As the survivors celebrate the camera lingers on Natascha, our newly-minted villain. But the last word goes to Julia, who throws Brandon under the bus to the cameras, saying “I wish I could go back and choose Sheridan.” I hope Sheridan is watching this in a Subaru somewhere (and not calling Julia).

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