A lot of The Voice‘s round three battles are a collective exercise in plucking away the low-hanging fruit of each coach’s team trees, and they’re not exactly subtle about it, either. By doling out lopsided song assignments that virtually ensure the early favorites will advance over the so-so blinds selectees, the coaches’ apparent plan goes off without a hitch … well mostly. There are a couple of stragglers who manage to beat all expectations and earn a steal, but overall, tonight’s leg of the pre-live shows felt rife with outcome predetermination.
Here’s who’s headed to the knockouts from tonight’s batch of battles and why.
Team Adam: Johnny Rez vs. Nolan Neal
“Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel
If it weren’t for the fact that it does some small service to the rich rasp Nolan Neal displayed in his audition, this song would be absolutely inexcusable for this kind of duet play. For starters, it’s probably only ringing bells of familiarity with the extreme ’80s junkies of the crowd all — two of them. Plus, it’s really, really quirky and way too chaotic for these guys to attach any real inflection or personality in their performances without ramping up that inevitable oversell factor. Without Peter Gabriel’s signature sound and the synthetic accompaniment of the recording studio, this thing’s a mess with two distinct voices trading it back and forth between them with zero harmony to speak of between them.
Johnny Rez and Nolan Neal each do their best with this lemon, but there was just no saving it for either fella. Nolan deserves the win, based on his microscopic edge tonight, but this tune was kind of like the busy work you’d get on a substitute teacher day in middle school — slight on substance, heavy in time-killer filler, and thrown right in the garbage after it’s done.
Winner: Nolan Neal
Team Miley: Darby Walker vs. Karlee Metzger
“Brand New Key” by Melanie
Miley Cyrus also gave her first battlers of the day a downright doozy when she stuck them with this bonkers number that really has no business being covered anywhere outside of some hipster commercial or the hold music of a low-rent cable company. Darby does try to carry over her little Florence Welch impersonation bit into the hectic number, and it’s good enough for Miley to land on keeping her, but Karlee at least tried to turn this song into something better than it was. Blake heard what he needed to wisely tap his steal button and give her a well-deserved shot at the country genre instead of whatever just happened to her with this song (as Adam puts it, “that was the Miley-est thing ever”), and chances are, she’ll fare a lot better with him in the knockouts round than here with whatever Miley’s trying to do here — so much for her acquisition pitch of being the epic song selector of the season. Hook this woman up with a Sara Evans jam and let the girl live, Blake!
Winner: Darby Walker
Steal: Karlee Metzger to Team Blake
NEXT: That feeling when they both deserve to win …