While the five Democratic presidential hopefuls squared off against each other on CNN Tuesday night, another contest was afoot channels away. You might even call it…a round of Battles. Battles not for our votes, but for our hearts. (Okay, and also our iTunes downloads.)
The second evening of The Voice’s Battle Rounds was condensed to just one hour, and featured only three performances (plus three of the montages). Although tonight’s episode was short, every Battle packed a punch: We saw two early favorites wipe out sooner than expected, and a third singer given a second chance.
The night starts off with Team Adam’s Keith Semple and Manny Cabo, who are given the arena rocker “Baba O’Riley” by The Who to chow down on. Adam explains that the song choice is very theatrical, which fits both singers’ roof-shaking, wide-ranging sounds. Manny shows up to the first day of rehearsal sporting the kind of headscarf I thought only Steven Van Zandt had permission to wear. Maybe he’s sending a message: “I’m the true rock star here.”
During the performance, however, Manny and Keith are very closely matched. Their stage strutting and air guitars are completely cheesy, but these two are both clear professionals who provide a nice contrast to their untested teenage competitors (singers under 20 make up more than a quarter of the remaining hopefuls). Manny’s voice is thick and resonant, and he clobbers his final, piercing note. He can sound generic, though, and Keith has a more singular, memorable voice and offers more variety. In the end, Pharrell calls Manny “stratospheric,” but Adam keeps Keith. Manny’s sudden departure from The Voice, after his four-chair turn audition, is just the first surprise of the episode.
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Next to enter the thunderdome is another pair of audition all-stars: Chris Crump and Krista Hughes of Team Blake, both of whom also got all four coaches to press their buttons. Blake assigns them “When I Get Where I’m Going,” as performed by Dolly Parton and his advisor, Brad Paisley. It’s smart to choose a song with built-in male and female parts, and having Paisley in the room ends up being a boon for Krista: Brad re-writes a portion of the song to better highlight her voice.
His tinkering isn’t not enough to save her, though. Throughout the pair’s Battle, Chris stays in charge of the song and builds from a soft opening that pulls in the audience through to a strong, dramatic finish. Krista can barely be heard over his vocals, and when she gets a few lines to herself, she isn’t consistent. Krista has more character and uniqueness to her voice, but she just doesn’t perform as well as Chris. Adam tells her he thought she “lost the reins,” and Gwen and Pharrell both advise Blake to keep Chris. Blake lets Krista go, and just like that, one of the most promising singers of the season is out of the running.
NEXT: Ivonne keeps hangin’ on