There was a lot of ’80s love in the air last night! I had noticed that three out of the six songs were ’80s staples: we had a little Billy Ocean, a little Tina, and a little Pat Benatar. So the songs of the ’80s definitely helped narrow the fields down in the third battle round.
Pip and Nathan Parrett are really close friends, and Adam, of all of our coaches, specifically tells the producers of the show that he doesn’t want to know any personal information about his artists before he pairs them up. He likes to decide his battle pairings based only on the vocals of the blind auditions, so that’s definitely an interesting tactic for him. But even though he didn’t know any of the personal details about the artists, he ended up picking Nathan and Pip to go up against each other. I remember Pip killing it in the blind auditions, coming out with his bow tie and suspenders, yet wanting to be taken really seriously, so he can be something of a silent threat. But he surprised a lot of us, and now look how far he’s gone. He’s going to the live shows, which is great for him.
Erin Martin and the Shields Brothers. Oh, how can I word this? It was definitely the weirdest and most polarizing battle of the night. Very weird, very polarizing, and very Cee Lo. I mean, Cee Lo loves a show, and loves a spectacle, and he definitely gave us one. Erin is a very eclectic person, very strong-willed and strong-minded, and obviously very different in her voice. Meanwhile, the Shields Brothers are trying to punch America in the face with rock & roll. So I think he just looked at these two like there can only be room for one wild card, so in some regards, it was actually a very smart pairing. The Shields Brothers were a lot of fun, and they had the best attitude, even when they left the show. I didn’t know the level of seriousness that these guys really had about music, but they really taught us a lot about how music can just be a lot of fun. They were a really nice addition to The Voice, they brought a lot of character and levity to the show, and they were really a joy to have around.
I really liked the pairing of Ashley de la Rosa and Jonathas. I really bought the two of them together. I remember watching the rehearsals when we shot that; they had great chemistry, and they did a really nice job with “No Air.” I haven’t really had a chance to talk about the mentors too much in this blog yet, but Ashley and Jonathas are a great example how the mentors this season have really helped the artists get better. From when I’ve seen them, from the executive callbacks to the blind auditions until now, I’m really starting to see these young singers evolve. Imagine being in a room in a private lesson with a legend like Lionel Richie. You really do get better. I’m an avid golfer, so for me it’d be like getting a private lesson from Tiger Woods. If I had a few hours with the guy, I’m sure my game would greatly improve, just in the little time I could spend with him. You see that especially with Ashley, who really started to shine after being mentored, as we saw last night.
NEXT PAGE: Erin’s angel
Another example of the mentors really helping the artists is with ALyX, who went up against Jermaine Paul in that Billy Ocean song. Blake with the ’80s again. This is a good example of Blake’s iPod shining through. One of the things I can’t help but notice about Blake is that he likes to have teaching moments for his pairings in the battle rounds. He always wants them to be a better performer, whether it’s learning to connect emotionally or helping them break out of their shell. Or in this case, the marching orders were to simply go out and have fun, and you could see that with Jermaine and ALyX. An odd pairing, but it looked like they really were having fun, and I thought they went out there and killed that song — and that’s a song I didn’t even know you could kill! The story here is that you’ve got Jermaine, who’s getting wishes from Alicia Keys, who has a lot of stage time logged, going from backing somebody up to taking center stage. But he’s got the strong voice and demanding presence to do it. And here’s ALyX, who is a fearless performer who, I’ll never forget, started her blind audition lying on the floor! Think about that. She really was fearless. And meanwhile, we’ve yet to really see Jermaine’s potential, but he moves on to the live shows to be, I think, a real weapon for Blake.
Katrina Parker and Angel Taylor. Watching that, I kept wondering what Katrina Parker’s co-workers think about her now. When I first surprised her in her cubicle, nobody in her office knew she could sing, and I think that speaks volumes about her character. She’s such a humble girl. Honestly, I have a close connection to all the people that I got to give envelopes to that have made it this far. But that was a tough battle, and a tough pairing for Adam, I know. Angel has overcome so much from her childhood, as she mentioned, and she really wanted to leave it all out there on the floor, and I think she did. I still remember Angel from executive callbacks; she made such an impression with her voice, her style, and her story. I was really sad to see her go last night, but I hope she continues to sing, because she really is an incredible person and a really great talent.
Obviously, Gwen Sebastian and Erin Willett were hands down the toughest battle for everybody behind the scenes. We all got really close with Erin and her family. When there’s a family that comes into our house, we take great pride in welcoming them, and we were close to the Willett family. I was very close with Chuck, actually. I spent a full day with him when I was making my early rounds of interviews with everybody before the blind auditions, not knowing who was going to make it, and I made an extra point of spending some time with Chuck. I can’t tell you how proud he was of his daughter. Without question my greatest moment this season, no matter what happens in the live shows, will be standing next to Chuck watching his daughter in the blind auditions when a chair turned around. It took Chuck a hot second to realize that Erin was moving on, when Blake turned around, and I glanced at him and squeezed his arm and said, “Erin made it, Chuck, she made it.” And I saw it register with him, and his joy, and it’ll be a great memory that I take with me for a long time. I know what it meant for him to witness that. And the fact that Erin’s going on to the live show, I know that she’s got a great angel in her corner.
But Erin was adamant that she did not want the situation with her father to affect anybody’s decision on how she was treated. She wanted to go into that battle round being treated like anybody else, and fight for her spot in the live shows fair and square. That was very important to her.
Meanwhile, Gwen Sebastian is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, really an amazing person and a beautiful vocalist. I don’t know if anybody knows this, but Blake called Gwen after she lost the battle round, and Gwen now sings backup for Blake on his tour. It’s so telling of Blake, and that’s why I love to tell it, because sometimes you witness these things and they’re just amazing. He’s such a great guy. It was a tough battle to watch, with everything going on with Erin, but what a sweet ending, thanks to Blake, that Erin gets to move on to the live show, her father in heaven gets to be her spirit moving forward, and even Gwen gets a good gig out of it, too.
There are some really, really great battles next week, and the one thing I can tease is that it’s Cee Lo’s most emotional episode by far. I’ve never seen Cee Lo break out Kleenex, but it happens next week. And you can imagine that the very last battle in next week’s battle finale is a must-see. There’s a moment next week when the dust settles and you look at the 24 artists that are moving on to the live shows, and you realize that the cream has risen to the top. It got me really psyched for April, and I hope it gets you psyched, too. The personalities and storylines and voices of these artists are really something to get excited for. It’s like getting to look at all the gifts wrapped under the Christmas tree, and now, finally, we get to open them!
(As told to Marc Snetiker)