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The Voice recap: The Battles, Part 3

As the Battles continue, the coaches reward the unexpected.

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The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson
Current Status:
In Season

The second week of Battles kicks the competition into higher gear with a bevy of unexpected steals. This time around, the coaches reward the singers whose talent surprises them the most.

Team Blake is up first this episode, and the coach wastes no time delivering us right to the honky-tonk: He gives Blaine Mitchell and Blind Joe “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Joe is all about classic country, but Blaine has more of a rock vibe — so Blake assures both performers that the Bob Seger classic can skew in either direction. He and Brad Paisley put a country spin on it, but give Blaine the room to rock out.

On the night of the Battle, Blaine takes their permission and runs with it. He tosses himself all over the stage, building up the song’s energy. Paradoxically, Joe’s immobility actually works to his advantage. He makes the audience come to him, and the combination of power and precision in his voice doesn’t disappoint. Adam says he’s excited by Blaine’s rock star spirit and compares him to George Michael, but Blake stays true to his country brand and announces Blind Joe is the winner. That leaves Blaine a free agent, and Adam swoops in and steals him.

Then, Adam’s own singers Cassandra Robertson and Viktor Király square off. Cassandra’s audition wasn’t aired, and Viktor got all four coaches to buzz in. But Adam assures us that that the coaches’ initial reactions no longer matter. Cassandra and Viktor get “Nobody Knows,” by the Tony Rich Project, a soulful song that offers plenty of moments for both of their dramatic voices to impress.

Cassandra says she needs to balance her passion (which comes across as belting) with precision. During the Battle, she does just that. She hops up and down the scales with ease, and she has the most vibrato of anyone left in the competition. But Viktor is ready for her. His runs sound complex and creative, and his voice is silky smooth. Gwen and Blake both comment on how impressed they are that Viktor could keep up with a powerhouse like Cassandra. Adam goes with the more surprising singer and keeps Viktor on his team.

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Following those two come Team Gwen’s Chase Kerby and Korin Bukowski, in the most original, different-sounding Battle yet this season. A winning strategy on The Voice is often to ramp up those big notes, but there’s so much more to singing than just a powerful set of lungs. Korin and Chase both have character voices and exceptionally high ranges, and Gwen chooses a wonderful song that highlights both: “Samson” by Regina Spektor. Her pick makes me wonder why more contestants don’t tackle Spektor songs on this show.

In practice, “Samson” works better for Korin than Chase. Her voice sounds nearly identical to the original, and she’s able to infuse a bittersweet quality into her gripping vocals. It’s a huge improvement over her audition. Chase has the right delicate sound as well. But the song is pitched too high for him, and he has trouble transitioning between his head and chest voice. Pharrell points out that this Battle was more in Korin’s wheelhouse, and Gwen seems truly torn. But it was clearly Korin’s win, so she moves on, and Chase heads home.

NEXT: You get a steal! And you get a steal!