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Entertainment Weekly


The Voice recap: 'The Battles Premiere, Part 1'

Trae Patton/NBC

Posted on

The Voice

S14 E7
Show Details
TV Show
S14 E7

The battles are here! This is Kelly Clarkson’s first time having to slice and dice her team in half, and she seems pretty sad to see someone go without a steal. For Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, it’s still hard but endurable, and even Alicia Keys has adjusted, but Kelly seems to be truly disheartened by the process of letting people down like this.

Team Alicia: Jamai vs. Sharane Calister
“Mercy” by Shawn Mendes

Yes, it’s an onerous assignment to have to sing an artist’s own song in front of them — especially when it’s their career-making breakout anthem — but these two are not afraid to go full throttle on this thing. Between Jamai’s energy and Sharane’s creative note choices, the two are bringing it to the battle stage.

Sharane has a touch more technicality on her side, but Jamai is able to bring out some serious surprises throughout the showcase. Her voice is like honey; his is like butter, and together, it’s pretty tasty. That said, there are still some pitch pratfalls and moments where the collaborative element of their performance falls apart (which is fine, since this is a competition and all), but overall it’s a very pleasant piece. Alicia’s decision to keep Sharane is the smart one, given her versatility and innate intrigue, but Jamai should rightly see an uptick in his telegram orders after this delivery.

Winner: Sharane Calister
Steal: N/A

Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli vs. Dylan Hartigan
“… Ready for It?” by Taylor Swift

As fun as Taylor Swift’s second Reputation single is to listen to, it’s not one that’s easy to replicate by anyone, let alone a duet of people who depend on soft, folksy tones to carry their vibe. Somehow, though, the two manage to pull it off without becoming caricatures of themselves…well, mostly.

Sure, Brynn sort of sounds like Ariana Grande, if she were scraping the floor with her voice, and there’s not a ton of variety within her performance, and Dylan is more obviously concerned about showmanship than keeping his voice steady. But given the clunky number they have to work with here, it’s a solid effort by both. There is obviously much more to come from Brynn, which makes Kelly’s decision to hang on to her smart, but Dylan’s vulnerable boy bander appeal justifies him getting to stay another day on Team Blake. Meanwhile, let’s hope Kelly Clarkson uses her signature cover repertoire from her tours to choose songs that are actually singable for Brynn next time.

Winner: Brynn Cartelli
Steal: Dylan Hartigan to Team Blake

Team Blake: JessLee vs. Kyla Jade
“One Last Time” by Ariana Grande

JessLee might be a former body builder who packs a lot of power in her voice, but she’s still a country singer, which means this soft-pop anthem is hardly in her wheelhouse; but the same can also be said for soul-R&B artist Kyla Jade, who’s spent most of her career dampening her voice to serve as a backup singer other women.

The problem here is that while Kyla is supposedly the shy one, she’s able to take the notes of her coach (and team advisor Trace Adkins) and stop holding herself back, and it leaves JessLee practically inaudible. Even though JessLee does a fine job migrating to this genre, she’s outshined tenfold by her competition this time, so it’s a no-brainer that Kyla Jade is the one to stay. Her voice is strong, she’s got that gospel magic going for her, and she’s adorable, to boot.

Winner: Kyla Jade
Steal: N/A
(Recap continues on page 2)

Team Adam: Rayshun Lamarr vs. Tish Haynes Keys
“Sweet Thing” by Rufus ft. Chaka Khan

It’s easy like Sunday morning here on The Voice tonight, with Rayshun Lamarr and Tish Haynes Keys tapping into that sunshine-and-sway aesthetic for their duet. I call it a duet instead of a battle because it’d be a misnomer to indicate that they were in any way at odds with one another here.

Like the singers who originated this number, there’s a certain simpatico that has to exist between them to pull it off, even if that does mean the vocal powerhouse that is Tish has to take the fore more often than not. In the end, they’re both good, but with Tish so closely tailing Kyla Jade, it’s clearer that Rayshun has a more open lane to move forward (plus, let’s not forget Adam’s predetermined hashtag #RayshunNation). But Adam sticks with his man knowing good and well that with the chorus of praise Tish received from his colleagues, she’ll be safe and sound. He’s right about that.

Winner: Rayshun Lamarr
Steal: Tish Haynes Keys to Team Kelly

Team Alicia: Shana Halligan vs. Christiana Danielle
“Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon

It might not have been obvious coming into tonight, but this battle is basically a case of apples vs. apples. Shana Halligan seemed like a “trip-hop” unicorn of sorts during her blind audition, but not only can Christiana Danielle play that same game, she’s even better at it. Her first appearance on this show made her a must-watch for me because of her dreamy, original vibe, and while Shana’s was pretty magnetic too, Christiana’s battle has all of the coaches losing their minds.

Shana’s a flower child through and through, but Christiana’s able to take her talent from style to style with ease, even with this operatic goth stuff tonight. So it’s hardly any surprise that Alicia wants her to stick around to see what more she can do, while it seems Shana could have shown us everything she has to offer by this point.

Winner: Christiana Danielle
Steal: N/A

Team Kelly: Jackie Foster vs. D.R. King
“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles

Hear, hear for the closers! Jackie Foster and D.R. King are two very different singers, and yet they harmonize so well. Jackie’s blind audition proved that she was well trained technically without being some kind of vocal robot, while D.R.’s proved he could handle pretty much any genre you throw at him. So, putting them together with a malleable song like this means that it’s anyone’s chance to shine.

D.R. brings back that powerhouse style that made him stand out in the blind auditions, but Jackie Foster gets the whole panel of coaches on their feet with the sublime range and accuracy of her big ballad voice. Blake Shelton is convinced she’s the next Chloe Kohanski (and I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s obviously a smart sales tactic on his part), while Adam Levine is just all-around impressed by her, calling her a “discovery.” Comfortable with the fact that Jackie will be scooped up by someone — although perhaps not anticipating a three-part steal bid — Kelly chooses to keep D.R. around for a little longer because, frankly, neither of them deserves to go home yet.

Winner: D.R. King
Steal: Jackie Foster to Team Adam


Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Levelle Davison, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Angel Bonilla, Stephanie Skipper, Miya Base, Gary Edwards, Genesis Diaz, Jackie Verna, Jackie Foster

Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Jaclyn Lovey, Christiana Danielle, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Jordyn Simone, Megan Lee, Livia Faith, Sharane Calister

Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Molly Stevens, Jorge Eduardo, Alexa Cappelli, Teana Boston, Hannah Goebel, Jamella, Justin Kilgore, Amber Sauer, Tish Haynes Keys

Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Kaleb Lee, Pryor Baird, Brett Hunter, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Jaron Strom, Bransen Ireland, Jordan Kirkdorffer, Dallas Caroline, Dylan Hartigan

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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