A few of the most promising artists from the Blind auditions headed into the final Battle round tonight and not all of them made it out to sing “outside of their comfort zone” another day. Hell, some of them got montaged! But there’s just a really wide, eclectic range of singers heading into the Knockouts next week, and this season could still go any which way. That made for kind of a slow crawl to the finish in this last hour of Battles, but with a few glimpses of greatness (and great hair) that made it worth it.
Carson opened the hour saying that the Steals have been giving “the deserving few new life.” And that’s true of both the deserving artists who are saved and the show itself…The Voice has made no greater decision than incorporating Steals into its strange and confusing elimination system. The Steals means that I can appreciate that Blake will always—always—choose and cultivate country artists, without getting annoyed that he still lures non-country artists to his team with the promise of keeping them around. Because Pharrell can just wrap those strays up in his be-cardiganed arms and offer them a new home when Blake cuts them loose.
Pharell was the only coach left with a Steal tonight, and patience was a virtue for the man of oh so many virtues as Adam, Christina, Blake, and Pharrell headed into the final three duets…
Jeremy Gaynor vs. Rob Taylor (winner), TEAM CHRISTINA; “Animals”
Jeremy, the lead singer of the West Point band, was one of the standouts of the Blind auditions and I kind of can’t believe he’s out this early. But when paired up against equally charming, equally soulful, much-improved Rob Taylor, it became a matter of taste while the two tried out something new on Maroon 5’s pop-rock groove. Christina wanted Jeremy and Rob to be physically explosive, and they took full advantage of the stage while trying to stay on top of a pretty tricky vocal. All of the coaches agreed that Jeremy has a certain steadiness and grace about him, but Christina couldn’t resist the unpredictability of Rob’s range.
Sidenote: I probably could have listened to Christina adlib variations of “Animal” in the rehearsal room for tonight’s full hour.
Noelle Bybee vs. Sawyer Fredericks (winner), TEAM PHARRELL; “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”
Sweet, sweet Noelle, you would have had to have been a freight train with three former record deals and a close personal relationship with Miranda Lambert to have taken down this wunderkind. As it was, Noelle had a lovely voice that improved exponentially over the course of her rehearsals, but Sawyer is 15 years old with a raw, soulful tone that simply can’t be learned. And he was given the opportunity with this CCR tune, and by being partnered with the more low-key Noelle, to show that his softer, more straight-forward register can be just as strong as the moments when he really goes for it with full fire. Noelle comes out with confidence and range, but it’s Sawyer’s humbleness on top of his talent that ultimately sways Pharrell.
And just for your confusing pleasure, there were a few montaged artists moving on to the Knockout rounds tonight: Koryn Hawthorne beat out Vance Smith on Team Christina; Brooke Adee took out Bay Brooks in a vocal battle for Team Blake that sounded like it deserved the full-airtime treatment; and Lexie Davila didn’t let nerves get the best of her, keeping her spot on Team Adam against Bre’nae DeBarge. Now back to the chosen battles…
Corey Kent White (winner) vs. Jacob Rummell, TEAM BLAKE; “I Want Crazy”
Corey and Jacob both had memorable auditions, but whereas Corey is exactly the hard-working country heartthrob you’d think he is from looking at him, Jacob is full of surprises. Blake’s choice of Hunter Hayes’ song is a little baffling not only because it’s really difficult to sing both in the super high chorus and breathy verses, but because it seems a little on the nose for Corey who looks, uh, a lot like Hunter Hayes. It does at least show that both singers know how to study and focus on their strengths as they pull out a charming performance with two extremely different approaches (and the perfect amount of bro-hugs)—Jacob is all high-energy charisma, while Corey goes for the steamy audience stares flirty guest coach Meghan Trainor suggested. And they work! Blake goes with Corey because Blake was always going to go with Corey, but things are still looking good for the equally talented Jeremy who gets Team Pharrell’s last STEAL!
We’re two-thirds of the way there, with just eight artists on each coach’s team heading into Knockouts. Have any of the coaches shot themselves in the foot so far? Who stands to have the strongest team by the time we get to the Lives and who can count on being a glorified audience member by mid-April?