One song. Two artists. And, during Tuesday night’s Battle Rounds, three really tough choices for Pharrell, Adam Levine, and Gwen Stefani.
During the second night of season 7’s Battle Rounds, we said goodbye to Alabama boy Jordy Searcy and little brother with a big voice Joe Kirk, while reggae singer Menlik Zergabachew nearly got the axe, before Pharrell saved him. Here are the most (and least) memorable moments from the night:
Rihanna’s “Stay” was an excellent Battle Round choice on Adam Levine’s part, as it’s a tough track to tackle. It’s not that “Stay” requires any sort of vocal gymnastics like more sonically ambitious songs—it, like many Rihanna tracks, doesn’t venture into the higher octaves—but it does have a hell of a lot of emotion in it. (Can anyone else still remember the chills her inaugural performance on Saturday Night Live gave them?) Joe Kirk and Alessandra Castronovo had problems channeling their inner Rihannas during rehearsals, with both Adam and adviser/queen of emotion Stevie Nicks urging them to instill their own heartbreak into it. But when they got to the stage, the emotion was palpable. I could just imagine both of them in a bathtub, on the verge of complete meltdown. (Creepy? Yes, probably.) Which brought us to…
Adam knew he had a tough choice, and his fellow coaches weren’t being all that helpful in helping him decide between Joe and Alessandra. In fact, Blake was the only one who had the guts to pick between them, calling Joe’s performance “one of the most perfect vocals I have ever heard.” After an American Idol finale-sized mulling-over period, Adam went with Alessandra… seemingly in a last-second decision. It wasn’t the choice I would have made; while Alessandra’s performance was perfectly on point, Joe undoubtedly brought more character and, well, Rihanna to it. Blake thought about stealing Joe, but in his words, he’s “waiting for someone who will win the show.” (So you didn’t think Maiya Sykes was worthy of a steal? Yes, I’m still bitter about that.)
Creepiest coach comment
“I wish I could put you guys in a blender and make one person.” —Gwen, on reggae singer Menlik Zergabachew and Troy Ritchie. Hey, at least Adam didn’t say it. Because that’d be downright terrifying.
Let’s be honest: Reggae is not a genre you can just, in Gwen’s words, throw in a blender. So when Troy and Menlik first started rehearsing Hall & Oates’ “Maneater,” they didn’t quite mesh. In adviser Gavin Rossdale’s terms, “cool guy” Menlik and “fun guy” Troy were working in different wavelengths, at different tempos. But surprisingly, when it came time for the two to perform, it just kind of clicked.
Most viewers might not have remembered California college boy Troy from the blind auditions. Perhaps in part because of his song choice in Fitz and the Tantrum’s “Out of My League,” he barely made it through, with only Gwen turning her chair. But on Tuesday night, he proved his status as a One to Watch with nearly flawless vocals, managing to outshine blind audition standout Menlik.
Most forgettable performance
Guys, I forgot this one even happened. But yes, our resident white guys with guitars Taylor Phelan and Jordy Searcy did, in fact, face off with the Script’s “Breakeven.” (And, to be honest, Pharrell’s song choice wasn’t doing them any favors.) Pharrell and adviser Alicia Keys encouraged them to not overthink but “overfeel” and to “get lost in it.” Neither of those things happened onstage. Their performance was not only at times off-key (particularly for Jordy), but it was painfully stoic, with every word almost spoken rather than sung, and thought rather than felt. (And guys, it’s the Script after all, does it really need that much thought?)