The battles have begun, and man, are they intense. Some rounds are more intense than others as the competitors duke it out to earn a TKO, but others are split decisions that have to go to the proverbial cards of coaching steals. Here’s a blow by blow review of how the first round of The Voice‘s season 11 battles shook out.
Team Alicia: Christian Cuevas vs. Jason Warrior
“Hello” by Adele
The first battle of the night is a power punch to raise all the goosebumps. Not only is it an emotional wallop — Christian’s got his late father backstory to induce all the sobs, and Jason’s overcome incredible odds in his life as well — but they’re both also pretty phenomenal to listen to. Talk about starting things out on a strong note.
When they’re training with Charlie Puth, it looks like Christian might be having some trouble finding the right key for Adele’s big ballad, but by the time the pair takes the battle stage, it’s a gentlemanly game of one-upsmanship on display. Alicia paired the two together and with this song because they both know how to belt, and what’s more impressive is that they each show some individuality in what’s become such a ubiquitous tune. She smartly divided their notes and song segments so that they could each stand out and not blend in to a point of being indecipherable. She has a hard time deciding, but ultimately Alicia decides to stick with Christian because of his uniqueness and sense of vulnerability. Jason’s a quick steal for Team Adam, though, because the coach is delighted at this “second chance” to wrangle Jason onto his team, especially since he was the first person Adam turned his chair for back in the blinds. It was a great steal, really, because Adam’s team just got a major boost with this addition.
Winner: Christian Cuevas
Steal: Jason Warrior to Team Adam
Team Adam: Natasha Bure vs. Riley Elmore
“Cry Me a River” by Michael Bublé
This song selection and pairing was almost unfair to Natasha Bure, daughter of TV star Candace Cameron Bure. As we know, Riley Elmore basically boasts the looper version of Frank Sinatra’s old school crooner voice, so Michael Bublé’s music fits directly within his wheelhouse. During their practice rounds with Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar, the coach and his mentor of choice are both completely blown away at the inevitable Bond singer’s perfection with the pitch of the tune, but Natasha does her best to adjust with her “dynamic” portion of the song.
She also keeps a sunny attitude about the letdown when Adam predictably selects her sparring partner here and doesn’t seem to begrudge him a stacked song choice, but let’s be real here. That song was cherry-picked for Riley to thrive — Adam and Sammy Hagar even advise him not to step outside of his comfort zone because they know it’s already an easy win for him without using any imagination. We’ll have to see how far this particular genre can keep him on this show, though, because there are only so many old school jazz artists to mimic with such precision.
Winner: Riley Elmore
NEXT: Blake’s form of flattery is hit or miss…
Team Miley: Ali Caldwell vs. Courtnie Ramirez
“Hit or Miss” by Odetta
If girl power is your flavor, then this battle served up a double scoop of deliciousness because while Ali’s already famous in Russia and earned four turns with her arena-filling “Dangerous Woman” routine in the blinds, Courtnie’s got some serious rocker chic mojo on tap tonight as well. Even Carson’s so impressed with the match that he calls it “a clinic for our new coach on the perfect battle round.”
Ali is clearly the more technically astute performer of their busy duet, but Courtnie manages to work up some sight and sound pizzazz that earns her two steal bids from Blake and Alicia. Blake tries to convince her to join the farm — that is, his team — with some line about her being plucky like a rooster (and trying to salvage his joke by adding that she’s no chicken, as if comparing women to barnyard animals is ever a complimentary metaphor), she slides over to Team Alicia because Alicia has believed in her since the blinds and wants to cultivate her joy.
Winner: Ali Caldwell
Steal: Courtnie Ramirez to Team Alicia
Team Blake: Dan Shafer vs. Sundance Head
“Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company
This round might have seemed like a gimme for Sundance at the outset, but Dan came packing a punch… and a notebook. Of all the things he’s coached to do in tonight’s battle by Blake and Bette Midler — open his eyes more while singing, show a little “spunk” in his performance element, and experiment with some unexpected runs — he hits every single mark with gusto. All this goes to show is that there’s probably nothing he could do that would change the outcome of this thing leaning in Sundance’s favor. Sundance’s ability to scream-sing without sounding angry or annoying is just working for Blake, who searches the depths of his weird bouquet of flattery to say that Sundance’s voice “literally blows the brains out of my head into the toilet and the toilet flushes itself.” Blake’s two for two, then — and yes, that poop pun is intentional. (It is completely coincidental, though, that the guy’s last name is Head.)
Winner: Sundance Head
NEXT: Another former child star shines again…
Team Adam: Andrew DeMuro vs. Billy Gilman
“The Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
The prize for most improved performer of the night goes to Andrew DeMuro by a landslide. He struggled during practice to reach his high notes (a quality Sammy Hagar found to be charming and all, but even he knew it wouldn’t fly toward a W), but once he hit the battles stage his note capture was nearly perfect. As Alicia points out, he brings a lot of life and spirit to the performance and definitely manages to keep pace with Billy Gilman, who’s been in this business almost his whole life. That said, Billy’s pure skill and crazy note reach wins the day, as Adam believes he’s got the golden-haired ticket to the finale here with this former child music star whose angelic tones are sweet, but also completely savory.
Winner: Billy Gilman
Team Alicia: Lauren Diaz vs. Wé MacDonald
“Maybe” by Janis Joplin
Miley saved a steal for this diva duet because Alicia gave her the wink-nudge notice that it was gonna be a doozy. It’s a good thing she did, too, because the reason Alicia paired these two together was that they have similar strands of soul flowing throughout the deliveries, and while Wé boasts a more complex sound — especially compared to her miniscule talking voice — Lauren’s run game is not too shabby either. Is she all-the-way material? That remains to be seen, but Miley thinks a few key song selections could capitalize on her promise. Meanwhile, everyone’s universally flummoxed over Wé’s commitment and confidence in her unique sound, so Alicia’s clinging to her little champ for dear life.
Winner: Wé MacDonald
Steal: Lauren Diaz to Team Miley
- Team Adam — Riley Elmore, Billy Gilman, Brendan Fletcher, Bindi Liebowitz, Elia Esparza, Simone Gundy, Nolan Neal, Johnny Rez, Jsoul, Ponciano Seoane III, Jason Warrior
- Team Alicia — Wé McDonald, Dave Moisan, Christian Cuevas, Josh Halverson, Gabriel Violett, Michael Sanchez, Halle Tomlinson, Shannon and Whitney, Belle Jewel, Kylie Rothfield, Courtnie Ramirez
- Team Blake — Sundance Head, Dana Harper, Gabe Broussard, Ethan Tucker, Josh Gallagher, Austin Allsup, Christian Fermin, Preston James, Courtney Harrell, Tarah Layne, Blaine Long
- Team Miley — Darby Walker, Ali Caldwell, Sa’Rayah, Sophia Urista, Lane Mack, Karlee Metzger, Aaron Gibson, Khaliya Kimberlie, Maye Thomas, Charity Bowden, Josette Diaz, Lauren Diaz
Tastiest coaching ribs of the night:
Alicia: Don’t make me whip you.
Miley: Don’t threaten me with a good time, honey.
Miley (to Blake): “I don’t know where you’re from, but ‘rooster’ isn’t a thing that girls like to hear they look like.”
Miley (about Adam): “He’s late to the party. I am the party.”
Carson Daly (about Adam and Miley): “Who’s it gonna be the dad or the cat lady?”