We’re in the heat of the battle rounds, which was on full display last night. There’s some fierce competition! It’s interesting to see how different battle pairings approach the battle round. Some people get super competitive, some people get inspired by each other and end up being really collaborative, and some people (like Sarah and Juliet) just seemed to have a great time. For the blog this week, I really wanted to try and focus on giving you guys more behind-the-scenes nuggets and a little more insight into what you don’t get to see on the show.
Right off the bat, Sera Hill and Geoff McBride came out swinging last night. One of the best parts of the show is giving people the experience and making things possible for them, and Geoff’s a good example of that. Geoff’s mother and brother had never seen him perform. Think about that for a second. They were never able to, and we gave them that opportunity. I know how much that meant to Geoff and them. Geoff also got to work with Lionel Richie, and when he left rehearsal, he couldn’t believe it. He was talking nonstop to our crew about it and he felt so blessed, and he was so thankful for everything. He just couldn’t believe that he was in the same room as him, that this whole show and experience was happening. One of the best parts of the show is just being around that. Geoff may have gone home, but America, his family, Lionel Richie – they all got to see how talented this guy is, and he appreciated that.
The battle between Charlotte Sometimes and Lex Land was probably the hardest for me personally. I gave Charlotte her envelope in New York City. I was there at the very, very beginning of her Voice journey, so I feel a personal connection in that regard. But I’ve been a fan of Lex Land’s music for a long time. I’m just glad that Lex had the Voice opportunity because I think she validated to a lot of people who know of her music that she’s great, and, in the blind auditions, Adam and Cee Lo and Blake all complimented her on her cool, sultry voice. I hope she took all of that to heart. Lex and Miranda Lambert had a really nice connection, too. I think Miranda really saw something special in Lex. In terms of song selection, I have to just defer to coach Blake’s strategy on wanting to tee up these two girls. Both choruses on Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” are good, down-the-middle plateaus for somebody to take a different approach, so that was a real battle. It was palpable.
I love Sarah Golden and Juliet Simms. These two girls, they’re just both such great singers and both great people. I remember meeting Sarah in our executive callbacks. She’s really funny and she’s one of those people that is always a pleasure to be around. Like I said, different battle pairings approach the battle rounds really differently, and it’s interesting that Sarah and Juliet seemed to be there to have a great time. There was a moment that I loved in that performance where they were walking next to each other and they sort of hip-check each other. It was this really cute, playful moment, and it’s clear that they made a pact to just go out there, have fun and let the chips fall where they may. You see that on TV, and I felt that during their performance. I was happy that America got the chance to see Sarah’s talent, because it’s not often you get to see folk musicians on prime-time television, and I’m thrilled that the show supports so many different genres of music. Sarah said she was grateful to NBC and us for giving her a chance, despite how she looked, but I was at her callback audition and I can tell you, we never saw anything other than a really funny, talented, beautiful singer. I’m really glad the world got to see Sarah.
NEXT: Thoughts on Kim’s victory over Whitney, Lindsey versus Lee, Jamar and Jamie’s battle, and hints about an “emotional episode” to come
Kim Yarbrough and Whitney Myer: What I can tell you that you didn’t see on the show is that Kim had laryngitis and she couldn’t even sing in most of the rehearsals. We didn’t know until the day of that battle whether or not she was going to be able to sing at all on stage. But she saved her voice, saved her energy, and as you saw, she went out there and killed it. First of all, there’s no such thing really as a fair matchup when it comes to Kim Yarbrough. She’s got such a strong, powerful voice; that last note she hit, the roof almost came off the building. You just can’t compete with that. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a great opportunity for Whitney — who, by the way, was great! Whitney was so into the song and into the battle. Kim went out there and owned it, but Whitney was fighting for it. In a fight, you can’t say what’s a fair matchup, because in the heat of battle, anything can happen. I thought it was close, to be honest! And Kim had a great quote, when she got back with her family, she said, “It’s my time!” You got that sense that it’s never too late, for somebody a little bit older, a little bit further down the path of life. It’s another great life lesson.
Here’s another great nugget for you EW readers: I think Christina probably spends the most time of all the coaches agonizing over her song choices. She is all in, and I think she does a really good job. I love when she picks songs like “Heart Shaped Box” because you wouldn’t expect her to. Lindsey Pavao and Lee Koch. Lindsey was one of the early blind auditions, one of the buzzy performances that charted on iTunes, and she had a look everyone was sort of talking about. Lee was a baker, and he got on Team Christina late in the blind auditions. It was definitely an interesting matchup. It was really one of the more creative battles of the night. But I can’t believe Blake’s never heard of “Heart Shaped Box.” Honestly, I’m going to make him a big fat ’90s CD mixtape. Honestly, I think he was out hunting from 1991 to 1995, during the whole grunge movement.
I loved the Jamar Rogers/Jamie Lono story. Knowing what I know, and the fact that those two got pitted against each other, I couldn’t believe it. What you have to know about that – a little behind the scenes stuff here – is that Jamie, from Chicago, has never even been away from home, and he’s never performed outside of that sandwich shop. So The Voice is a really big opportunity for him, not just professionally but personally, too. Jamar took Jamie completely under his wing. They had a lot of bittersweet moments. In one of the rehearsals that they did before the battle round, they both just broke down and cried. They’re really talented, good guys, and as far as Jamie’s concerned, I don’t think it’s the last we’ve heard of him. And Jamar Rogers, I think you’ve really got to start to look at as a real number-one seed going into the live shows. He already looks like he’s an emerging pop star, somewhere between B.o.B and Wiz Khalifa. When he opens up his voice on that Foreigner hook, he’s got the performance, he’s got the voice, he’s got the look. We’re all about the voice, but we’re beyond the blind auditions now. Now you’re starting to see where someone could take this whole show as an opportunity and run with it, and after watching Jamar last night, you have to put him high on your list. But what classy vocal gladiators, those two. It was such a great, strong battle to end the night.
Next week is an incredibly emotional episode, and it’s new territory for The Voice to deal with as a show. We really needed to hold one of our artists up through a really trying time, and it really transcends music on television. You’ll have to watch next week, but it’s really gut-wrenching, I can tell you that.
(As told to Marc Snetiker)