Episode Recap: Season 6 Battle Rounds, Part 1

The Voice - Season 4

Now that The Voice has picked its Top 48, it’s time to see what they’re made of. We’re set for 24 head-to-head battles, with each coach having two steals to use in this phase of competition, ultimately leaving only eight artists standing on each team. Got that? Good, let’s get started.

1. Team Usher: Biff Gore (4 chairs in blind auditions) vs. T.J. Wilkins (3 chairs), “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”

Usher matches two R&B artists on a classic R&B hit. Advisor Jill Scott calls their initial approaches “a complete contrast,” unsurprising because there’s a 20-year age – and therefore experience – difference between the two artists. Usher uses Jill as the woman that the guys must try to win over, which seems to produce the desperation that he’s looking for. In the ring, T.J. and Biff turn their attention toward Shakira, while sounding like they should just get together and form a duo (listen to those moments of harmony!). Both gentlemen have the performance aspect down, leaving this battle down to a matter of vocal preference. Although Biff’s karate kicks get distracting at times.

Shakira says she has nothing technically to add, and doesn’t pick one artist or the other. Adam calls the energy “infectious” and likewise doesn’t choose. Blake doesn’t offer Usher any help either, leaving it to the coach, who says his artists did “everything perfect.” He ultimately chooses T.J. as the victor “because of the fight that was there. T.J. was relentless, and that’s what I want. I want a fighter on my team.” Just as Biff is being let go by Carson, Blake swipes him in the first steal of Season 6.

Winner: T.J. Wilkins and Steal: Biff Gore to Team Blake (1 steal remaining for Blake)

2. Team Blake: Jake Worthington (3 chairs) vs. Lexi Luca (1 chair), “It Goes Like This”

We finally get to hear from Lexi Luca, who got montaged out of blind auditions. She’s paired up with fellow country singer and returning artist Jake Worthington. Lexi feels like she has “a lot to prove” since she only turned one chair, and calls the first rehearsal “overwhelming,” leading Blake and advisors The Band Perry to have to reassure her. Blake initially believes that Jake has the “clear advantage” because he’s comfortable, but by second rehearsal, the tables have turned.  In the ring, things start out awkward but gain steam; Lexi has more stage presence but Jake has vocal ability on his side. If you didn’t see him and just heard him, you wouldn’t believe he’s still a teenager.

Usher calls the matchup “pretty incredible” and says he sensed Lexi’s nerves, so he declares Jake his pick. Shakira compliments both artists and doesn’t explicitly pick one. Adam sides with Jake, calling the pairing of him with Blake a “dangerous combination” that could win the whole competition. After giving positive feedback to both singers, Blake points out that Jake fumbled lyrics at the beginning of the song “and that stuff doesn’t slide” with him. That doesn’t stop him from selecting Jake, though. And Jake goes to give eliminated Lexi a sympathetic hug after the fact. Awww.

Winner: Jake Worthington

3. Team Shakira: Dani Moz (1 chair) vs. Deshawn Washington (1 chair), “My Kind of Love”

Another montaged artist, Dani Moz, gets to be heard for the first time in battle. Her pop sound will be clashing with Deshawn’s retro one on this Emeli Sande track, which was previously covered by Season 5 champ Tessanne Chin in the Top 12 round. Advisor Miranda Lambert is impressed by the big notes Dani can hit, and Shakira thinks that the pair meshes particularly well, if they can avoid stepping on each other. Deshawn seems like he’s playing more to Dani while Dani is more focused on the audience and coaches, making this not quite a true pair, but they both sound great. Not Tessanne great, but great.

Adam thinks the artists “won the audience” and refuses to give a selection, even after Carson point-blank asks him for one. Blake is more surprised by Deshawn and sides with him because of the “shock value.” Usher believes Dani connected more emotionally with the song but says “big things come in small packages” like Deshawn, and takes him as well. So that’s two votes for Deshawn as we circle back to Shakira, who goes the other way and picks Dani, believing she can do more with her. Though he seems like he thought about it, Usher doesn’t push his button for Deshawn – saying he has someone on his team that’s “so similar” – and neither does anyone else. That’s going to go down as a mistake in Voice history.

Winner: Dani Moz

4. Team Adam: Kat Perkins (3 chairs) vs. Patrick Thomson (2 chairs), “Whenever I Call You Friend”

It’s our first true duet of Season 6, as Adam heard a “classic quality” in both Kat and Patrick’s voices that made him want to match them on this Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks song. Advisor Aloe Blacc compares Patrick to “a bear” that’s “tentative,” creating an interesting mental image, while Adam doesn’t want Kat to “overwhelm” and she has to be able to open her eyes when she sings. The commercial bumper spoils that the loser of this battle gets stolen, so that takes a little air out of the matchup. But Kat and Patrick know how to perform with each other, and seem to be greatly enjoying themselves with this catchy tune.

Blake calls this “an interesting pairing…and it really works,” endorsing Kat for the win. Usher is less familiar with the work of Kenny Loggins. Shakira enjoys the dynamic between the artists, and selects Patrick. It’s back to Adam, who thanks both artists for taking his notes and improving their performances, before choosing between two artists he considers “Top 5” caliber and selecting Kat.

Winner: Kat Perkins and Steal: Patrick Thomson to Team Shakira (1 steal remaining for Shakira)

5. Team Blake: Paula Deanda (2 chairs) vs. Sisaundra Lewis (4 chairs), “Do What U Want”

For this battle of female pop artists with previous experience in the business, Blake hands them a song previously performed by Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera last season. We don’t think Paula and Sisaundra will be getting erm, too close to each other, though. The Band Perry advises both artists to find their moments, but not too many moments. Blake thinks the battle will come down to Paula playing up, and Sisaundra playing down. There’s no doubt that Sisaundra has more power than Paula, but she perhaps uses a little too much of it, while Paula has to find space to get her own runs in around her.

Usher is impressed by Sisaundra and says he’d choose her as the winner, and Shakira agrees with him. Carson doesn’t bother to ask Adam what he thinks, although Adam does chime in that having these two ladies on Blake’s team seems “so bizarre.” Blake gives some constructive criticism to Paula about her staying in pocket, and then unsurprisingly gives the nod to Sisaundra.

Winner: Sisaundra Lewis

6. Team Usher: Stevie Jo (1 chair) vs. Jake Barker (3 chairs), “Higher Love”

Look at Usher, bringing a little Steve Winwood to the party to try and stretch these R&B-loving artists beyond that genre. Stevie is “impressed” by Jake’s runs and wants to raise his game to match his battle partner. On the flip side, Jill Scott admires Stevie’s “passion.” But in the second rehearsal, Stevie and Jake frustrate Usher, who isn’t afraid to get tough with his artists and doesn’t necessarily seem convinced by either one. The guys don’t exactly seem that confident in themselves either, once they’re actually fighting it out. We know this isn’t the most powerful song in the world, but there’s still some pop missing somewhere.

Shakira calls the battle “so well executed” and once again praises Jake’s falsetto, as she did in the blind auditions. Prompted by Carson, she picks Jake to win, then quickly adds ‘maybe Stevie’. Adam publicly declares that “I literally don’t care” who wins because he plans to steal the loser. Blake praises Jake’s rapidly improving stage presence and takes him as well. Ignoring his fellow coaches, Usher selects Stevie Jo, who’s just happy that Jake is about to be stolen. Again, yay good sportsmanship. Everyone else wants Jake’s services, but Adam wins despite a pitch that is worthy of the “crash and burn” sound coming from Blake.

Winner: Stevie Jo and Steal: Jake Barker to Team Adam (1 steal remaining for Adam)

The Voice continues its battle rounds tomorrow night at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.