The battles are finally over, but let’s not go throwing any gloves away just yet — up next are the knockouts. With tonight’s trio of bouts out of the way, it’s now time to find out what these kids are made of when choosing their own songs and going it alone onstage. Based on what we’ve seen so far, there are some clear frontrunners in play already, and we can probably predict a few who aren’t going to make it much further.
Here’s what happened in the final three battles, followed by a few predictions about what’s to come with the knockouts and beyond.
Team Blake: Austin Allsup vs. Preston James
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
When industry legacies like these are on the line, the coaches do tend to tread lightly with their evaluations. Preston James’ mother is a country music publicist, so he’s in tight with a lot of Nashville artists already (his godmother is Naomi Judd, for crying out loud). Meanwhile, Austin Allsup’s dad is a guitarist who’s toured with Buddy Holly, Blake Shelton himself, and you name it. So, they could both go up there and belch the alphabet and earn praises from all four chairs — no one’s gonna slam ’em, whatever they do. Luckily for us at home, though, their performance isn’t half bad tonight. They can’t seem to harmonize for the first two minutes of the song, but that’s not really what this show’s about anyway, right?
Austin looks like a Billy Bob Thornton impersonator, but he sounds a lot like John Fogerty…which probably had a little something to do with why Blake chose a CCR song in the first place. Preston’s got an admirable sense of ferocity and tries to add some (to borrow Alicia’s word) swag to the mix. But Austin was built with the exact set of scratchy pipes to perform this jam, and he does what he needs to do to secure Blake’s unsurprising nod and win this battle. It’s yet another installment of the desired winner being made obvious by the battle song selection, but it’s also the right call to put him through instead of Preston, who needs a lot more refining before he’s truly ready for this thing.
Winner: Austin Allsup
Team Alicia: Gabriel Violett vs. Whitney and Shannon
“More than Words” by Extreme
If The Voice were a popularity contest, Whitney and Shannon would probably win the whole thing. What’s not to like about them? They’re gorgeous, sweet, and fashionable, and they carry themselves with a sense of elegance and self-possession. Singing individually, something’s off with each of these girls — there’s a shakiness and lack of ease that comes through in those moments — but when they’re together, it’s just magnetic. They can predict each other’s every breath and complement one another like they’re the other’s missing limb.
Gabriel does his best to stand out among the crowded stage, and, frankly, he’s the best individual sound of the night. But the girls have something unique that Voice voters are going to just love. It was an easy call by Alicia, who’s got big plans for these two — possibly including a Team Alicia/Team Miley tour schedule.
Winner: Whitney and Shannon
NEXT: Adam thinks he’s saved the best for last…
Team Adam: Bindi Liebowitz vs. Brendan Fletcher
“Home” by Marc Broussard
The final battle round features a pair of singers who both have something all their own to offer. Brendan is basically what would happen if Bryan Adams and Scott Stapp had a vocal love child (just picture shipping THAT for a second), and Bindi’s got an intangible quality no one quite understands yet. This song doesn’t exactly do her any favors, because its drop-beat weirdness is literally built for the brusque bayou sound Brendan’s working with (and here we thought Gabe Broussard was supposed to be the Marc Broussard protégé of the season).
Blake intuits there’s something left unheard by what Bindi’s been given to work with here. It probably doesn’t hurt that she’s totally channeling Gwen Stefani with those face jewels and purple pigtails, of course, but it is true she’s too good to go home just yet. Maybe if she were given something from Heart or Sheryl Crow — or even No Doubt, which might be pushing things into a weird direction, but hey — it’d give her a little more room to blare us. We’ll see. For now, though, Brendan’s still got Adam puttying himself over how special and explosive he is, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon if his coach has anything to do with it. Calling it now: Adam Levine groveling harder than he did for season 10’s Owen Danoff in the live rounds if this guy’s ever on the chopping block.
Winner: Brendan Fletcher
Steal: Bindi Liebowitz to Team Blake
Team Adam — Riley Elmore, Billy Gilman, Brendan Fletcher, Simone Gundy, Nolan Neal, Ponciano Seoane III, Jason Warrior, Dave Moisan
Team Alicia — Wé McDonald, Christian Cuevas, Michael Sanchez, Shannon and Whitney, Belle Jewel, Kylie Rothfield, Courtnie Ramirez, Sa’Rayah
Team Blake — Sundance Head, Dana Harper, Gabe Broussard, Josh Gallagher, Austin Allsup, Courtney Harrell, Karlee Metzger, Bindi Liebowitz
- Wé McDonald is going to be in the Top 12. She’s easily the most intriguing performer of the season so far. She’s going to have everyone peeling themselves off the floor before the live sessions, guaranteed.
- Count on Ponciano Seoane III, Belle Jewel, Maye Thomas, Josette Diaz, and Gabe Broussard to get the early oust. They’re just not that memorable or impressive when stacked against the rest.
- Billy Gilman’s going to be the storied singer of the season, much like Alisan Porter was in season 10. Everybody likes a good child-star comeback kid, and this guy’s it for this year. It doesn’t matter if he blows it in the knockouts, he’ll get waved through.
- Josh Gallagher is going to pick a George Strait song for obvious reasons, and Riley Elmore’s going to do some Michael Bublé-style snoozer.
- Christian Cuevas and Sundance Head are going to be pitted against each other to see who can blow the most eardrums in the studio.
- Jason Warrior’s going to be the dark horse of the season, much like Bryan Bautista was last year.