It’s time for The Voice to go to battle. We’re now into the second of four phases of competition, where the Top 48 go head-to-head to remain on their respective teams – while eight lucky folks who lose their respective vocal skirmishes will be “stolen” by another coach and continue in the competition. Let’s get fighting…musically, of course.
Grey vs. Nic Hawk (Team Adam)
The Song: “Domino,” Jessie J
The Training: Adam wants to see “the two most opposite people I can imagine come together.” Grey says she sings the song “like every weekend” with her wedding band, which slightly scares Nic. But Grey doesn’t think she has a big advantage when she hears the notes that Nic can hit. Advisor Ryan Tedder is impressed by the both of them. Adam reminds them to have fun when they’re on stage. And oh hai Kia product placement as they arrive for their matchup.
The Battle: Grey perhaps has the bigger burden of proof, because she should already be able to knock this song out of the park. As mentioned in training, the fact that Nic can hit some of these notes is the big surprise. The two of them seem to have taken Adam’s note about enjoying themselves, because they have a great chemistry together (and share a big hug afterward). It’s a case of the powerful voice against the more unique one, so the choice here is really down to Adam’s personal preference.
The Verdict: “Guys, what are you laughing at me for?” Adam asks the panel. Blake thinks Nic “has his own little disco going” and votes for him. Christina thinks Grey effectively balanced out Nic’s energy, and sides with her. Cee Lo compliments Grey’s looks and wardrobe but picks Nic to advance. Adam admits the song played to Grey’s strengths more, but says that Nic overcame some of that disadvantage. Still, he goes against the popular opinion and selects Grey as the winner. Thankfully, Blake swoops in to save a tearful Nic, saying, “Oh, Adam, you screwed up so bad.”
Our Thoughts: We would’ve sided with Nic in this battle, but really there’s no wrong choice here. Grey is a talented artist herself, and Blake should have fun coaching Nic’s infectiously awesome personality.
Amber Nicole vs. Timyra-Joi (Team Christina)
The Song: “Listen,” Beyonce
The Training: Christina believes that “they both had a lot of similarities” and wants them to “dig a little bit deeper” in this battle. She thinks the girls remind her of “a younger version of me.” Timyra-Joi has a little bit of a tremor in her voice that draws the attention of both Christina and advisor Ed Sheeran. Conversely, Amber’s impressed Christina already, and admits to feeling a personal connection to the song. In second rehearsal, Ed thinks Timyra-Joi’s opened up more, but Christina feels like she’s “only giving me fifty percent.” Basically, there’s work to be done for both these ladies. Also, apparently The Voice is doing a new thing this season where they’re showing us the coaches giving the battling artists one last backstage pep talk. It’s kind of nice.
The Battle: Amber impresses Blake early on with a note that she hits, and amps the power up from then on out. Timyra-Joi responds with some pretty stunning notes of her own. When the two of them are singing together, it gets pretty ridiculous, albeit also a little bit similar. As opposed to the earlier battle, this one feels more like two very good singers performing separates parts of one song, rather than a cohesive duet. However, it still moves Christina to tears, as Carson notes.
The Verdict: Cee Lo first says that he leans toward Amber, then gives the victory to Timyra-Joi. Adam calls Timyra “adorable” and thinks that she caught up to Amber’s power. Blake points out that he’s never seen Christina cry before and can’t help her at all. Christina frets before eventually awarding the spot on her team to Amber, and then Amber starts crying too, but like we can blame her. No one steals Timyra-Joi, knocking out the youngest artist in the competition, much to Christina’s disappointment and Blake’s regret.
Our Thoughts: Both artists were fairly similar here, but this battle reminds us of a trend we’ve seen over the seasons, which is that younger artists have a lot of raw talent, but that year or two less of experience (in music and in life) can sometimes be the difference-maker. Amber showed a little bit more than Timyra-Joi did, so she deservedly gets the nod.
Justin Chain vs. Shelbie Z. (Team Blake)
The Song: “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
The Training: It’s a battle of Alabama natives and fellow country singers. Blake describes it as “the most obvious, easy pairing” before handing them this ballad, the first actual duet of Season 5 battle rounds. Advisor Cher catches both artists holding back a little bit and encourages them not to do so. Blake mentions that he’s sung the song with Kelly Clarkson before he tells them to give “the performance of your life.” He thinks that Adam might go in for the steal, and is amused when Cher says she loves Adam. In second rehearsal, he’s not quite pleased, saying that their harmonies are “all over the map” and that there are “pitch issues” to tackle.
The Battle: We’re not entirely sure this was a battle; these two do a remarkable job of following Blake’s instructions to mesh together, particularly Justin, who makes a point of engaging Shelbie when he opens the song. He has a little more natural stage presence than she does, but they both sing their hearts out on a perfectly chosen piece of material. We’d buy a ticket to watch these two sing together anytime.
The Verdict: Christina agrees with us that these two would be a great duet pairing, and votes for Shelbie. Cee Lo agrees with Christina. Adam’s biggest complaint is that he couldn’t focus on the separation of voices because they were a great unit. When Blake presses him to pick somebody, he goes with Justin. Blake says Justin “would’ve kicked the hell out of me, compared to what i did” on the song, and then says Shelbie “delivered what Kelly did,” so in other words, he has no idea. Eventually, he anoints Shelbie as the winner. Justin makes an undeserved early exit.
Our Thoughts: This being pretty much a dead heat, we would’ve sided with Justin, just because he had a little more stage presence than Shelbie did. Not stealing him might just go down as a regret in somebody’s book. Having said that, these two both gave it everything they had, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking Shelbie, who should grow more comfortable with more performances in the competition.
Anthony Paul vs. Caroline Pennell (Team Cee Lo)
The Song: “As Long As You Love Me,” Justin Bieber
The Training: Cee Lo teams these two together hoping they can “signify themselves.” He and advisor Miguel compliment Caroline early on, which makes Anthony feel “a little bit of pressure.” He knows he needs to work on connecting emotionally with the material. By the time they’re into second rehearsal – during which Cee Lo and Miguel literally step back – Anthony has done his homework. The more introverted Caroline then has to rise to that.
The Battle: The haunting (dare we say Xenia-esque) quality of Caroline’s voice is apparent immediately. Anthony’s performance has more soul to it, and he does some really interesting things with his voice as well. If there’s one downfall here, it’s that the overall duet – possibly because of the arrangement of the song – is so particularly slow and quiet that it comes off as being low-energy. It doesn’t help that these two aren’t engaging each other that much either. While it’s not the most memorable pairing from a performance standpoint, it’s a beautiful battle in its subleties.
The Verdict: Adam thinks it’s more in line with Anthony, and votes for Caroline on the basis of her being more unique. Blake agrees with Adam. Christina refuses to answer. Cee Lo struggles before declaring that he wants to win this season (who doesn’t) and “with that being said,” the winner is Caroline. Christina steals Anthony in admiration of his vocal control.
Our Thoughts: This one was kind of a no-brainer, not because Anthony did anything wrong, but because people with unique-sounding voices tend to win battles, and Caroline definitely falls into that category. We’ll have to see what she picks for the knockouts and what he does with her in the live shows. Song selection could be a big factor in how far she goes.
Donna Allen vs. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam)
The Song: “Next To Me,” Emeli Sande
The Training: Adam calls these ladies “two of my favorites.” Tessanne admits that when she heard she was paired with Donna, she mentally started packing her bags. It’s not hard to understand why she feels that way. Ryan thinks Donna owns the first rehearsal because of the pure volume of her voice. Tessanne can’t outsing her, so she’s got to think of another way to win the battle. Conversely, Donna has to learn to control her power and not overdo it. Ryan says the outcome’s going to come down to who owns the song the most, because to him “there wasn’t a clear winner” in the practice sessions.
The Battle: Firstly, these two look like they’re having a ridiculous amount of fun together. The comparison between Donna and Tina Turner is pretty apt based on her performance. Wisely, Tessanne doesn’t try to go blow for blow with her, and instead tries to do a few little unique things of her own to differentiate herself from Donna’s speaker-exploding vocals. Again, you could probably put these two together on stage and have a concert.
The Verdict: Blake calls the battle “epic” before voting for Donna. Christina echoes the Tina Turner comparison and sides with Tessanne. Cee Lo also votes for Tessanne citing her greater control and range, as much as he admires Donna’s power. Adam realizes each lady has something the other doesn’t, so it’s a matter of preference. He looks like he’d rather stab himself in the eye with his pen than make this pick, but chooses Tessanne, who thanks Donna after her win. Shockingly, nobody steps up for Donna. Seriously?!? At least she gets a farewell hug from Tessanne on the way out.
Our Thoughts: Just because there’s no shortage of powerful vocalists on the show, we would’ve opted for the more versatile voice and picked Tessanne. Sasha Allen still owns the Voice monopoly on this song, though.
Briana Cuoco vs. Jacquie Lee (Team Christina)
The Song: “House of the Rising Sun,” The Animals
The Training: Ed thinks “everyone who owns a guitar” has covered this song at the some point and all those versions are the same, so he encourages the girls to take this their own way. Briana admits to being pushed out of her comfort zone, in a good way. Christina believes the pairing motivated both artists to raise their game. Kudos to Carson for introducing Briana without making mention of her famous sister, too.
The Battle: She might look adorable off-stage, but when she’s on it, Jacquie sings like she’s a lot older than she actually is. Briana, on the other hand, wrings the soul out of every word and proves she more than belongs in this competition on her own merits. These two ladies hit some crazy notes and their mutual respect for each other’s vocal ability is obvious when they interact with each other. If there were a “push” option on this show, this would’ve been the time to use it.
The Verdict: Cee Lo thinks he’ll go with Jacquie for her “clarity and consistency.” Adam does some waffling, admits that he doesn’t know, and then apologizes for not being helpful. Blake believes Briana captured the song better, so he votes for her. That makes it a split before we get to Christina, who thinks they’re both winners, but can only save one. That one is Jacquie. Cee Lo swoops in to try and steal before Carson can even say anything, but Blake wants to challenge him, meaning that Briana gets to choose her next coach. Continuing the “sabotage Blake” trend, Adam encourages her to pick Cee Lo, but she doesn’t listen. Did Cee Lo do something to folks to be unpopular this season? Sadness.
Our Thoughts: Pip’s (Season 2) version of this song still has a special place in our heart, but this is going to be a close second (too bad iTunes doesn’t sell them as duets anymore, huh?). Both these artists have something to offer the competition, and it’s great they’re both still here.
Stolen: Nic Hawk (Team Adam to Team Blake), Anthony Paul (Team Cee Lo to Team Christina), Briana Cuoco (Team Christina to Team Blake)
Eliminated: Timyra-Joi (Team Christina), Justin Chain (Team Blake), Donna Allen (Team Adam)
Steal Counter: Team Adam has 2 steals remaining, Team Blake has 0 steals remaining, Team Cee Lo has 2 steals remaining, and Team Christina has 1 steals remaining.
Battle rounds continue tomorrow night as The Voice moves to its new Tuesday time of 9 PM ET/PT – now a one-hour show on Tuesdays as opposed to the two-hour episodes during auditions. DVR’s, take note.