The Voice recap: Blinds End and Battles Begin
The teams are full, and the battles are already fierce
After four rounds of blind auditions, there are still a handful of slots open on the coaching squads headed up by Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Pharrell Williams on the tenth, talent-filled season of The Voice. So before the coaches can see where their chosen recruits stack up in an intrasquad battle series, they have to tack on a few new members with another mini-round of auditions.
But before they can get to that, there’s the matter of a raging group performance of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” (with Pharrell on the drums!) followed by some playfully competitive antics between them — this time, involving the mysterious disappearance of Blake’s cell phone throughout the duration of the auditions, har har.
After that, though, it’s go time, and once the teams take shape, the door’s wide open for the advisers (Patti LaBelle for Team Christina, Tori Kelly for Team Adam, Sean “Diddy” Combs for Team Pharrell, Gwen Stefani for Team Blake) to help guide these superstars in the making them as ready as they can be for battle.
Let’s see where the teams landed.
The Last Auditions
TEAM BLAKE: Blake’s World Team Blake is the first to round out — with a triumphant statement from him that “it almost isn’t fair that I have more than one winner in my 12.” Jared Harder, a 22-year-old native of Joplin, Mo., who has spent the past five years helping his hometown recover from one of the most devastating tornadoes in recorded history, catches the crooner’s attention right off the bat with his rendition of “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves. The newlywed, who slings ice cream and coffee by day not only has a voice, but he’s also got skills with the guitar, drums, and keyboard. No one else turns for Jared, but then again, Blake had just warned them not to go up against him, teasing, “Ya’ll better hope that ya’ll don’t want an artist that I want because I am on fire right now.”
TEAM PHARRELL: Pharrell’s first add-on (the second of the night overall) comes by way of Moushumi, a 22-year-old cardiology student-turned-singer whose “Wicked Game” performance earns some button action by every eligible coach. “It’s crazy the way you just sort of navigated around the song and made it your own thing,” Pharrell says in praise of her. Christina and Adam each try to dazzle the “unique” and “glassy” sounding artist, but it’s Pharrell’s excitement about all their future possibilities together that makes her happy.
Pharrell also picks up 16-year-old Jonathan Hutcherson, a young man raised on a farm who was born with half of his hearing impaired but who “held the bar” with his performance of One Direction’s “You & I.” Even Adam compliments the kid’s “connect[ion] with the vocal.”
TEAM ADAM: 23-year-old Katie Basden of Durham, N.C., is clearly cut for the Team Blake cloth, but since his team is already full — and despite Blake’s best efforts to steer her away from the far left — she leaves Adam Levine saying “Booyah!” when she chooses him over Pharrell and Christina. Her performance of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider” has Pharrell and Christina going toe-to-toe over who’s more familiar and actually interested in the country music scene, but Adam’s promises that her Southern rock roots are going to work most strongly at his side. Team Adam is into the fact that he’s “got the most musicians” ever now — including a rockabilly artist and a shredding guitarist.
TEAM CHRISTINA: Finding her very last team member is no easy feat because Xtina’s corner is already stacked. “I have pop, I have country, I have soul, I have R&B,” she gloats, earning Blake’s admission that “she’s definitely the team to beat this year.” But when Ayanna Jahneé comes into the fold with her even more low-noted version of Adele’s “Skyfall,” Christina’s smitten. “I love theatrics, and I love drama, and you embodied that in what you did,” she says as a note of warm welcome before singing (of course) about rounding out her crew.
NEXT: Time to do battle…
The Battles Begin
Battle No. 1 (Team Adam): Katie Basden vs. Ryan Quinn
“Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
Katie was originally thought to be a shoo-in for Team Blake (had his roster not already been full when her blind audition happened), but when she goes toe-to-toe with Ryan Quinn her range is on full display. Katie’s been grappling with a respiratory bug, but as team adviser Tori Kelly notes, you couldn’t tell it the way she’s hitting the lowest of the lows and keeping it consistent when she sails up to the highest, too. Ryan, on the other hand, has a handle on those crescendos. And, as you might recall, he’s the music teacher who wowed all four coaches in round three with his voice and heart of gold. Blake thinks Ryan’s high notes leave a little to be desired, and even Christina’s got a shine for Katie’s portion, but Adam thinks America’s going to fall in love with Ryan’s innate goodness and “limitless” potential, so he leaves Katie out for the claiming.
Luckily for her, though, she’s got two coaches jumping at the opportunity to steal her away: Christina and Blake. Christina makes a good pitch for her to buy a ticket to Team Xtina, and even Adam gives her his vote of confidence, but Katie thinks she’ll be most at home in Blakeville, which leaves the boastiest coach doing the moonwalk across the stage in celebration of his new team addition.
WINNER: Ryan Quinn
STEAL: Katie Basden to Team Blake
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Battle No. 2 (Team Blake): Brittney Lawrence vs. Paxton Ingram
“I Know What You Did Last Summer” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
Brittney Lawrence’s signature belt-work — and refusal to give up after seven prior auditions — impressed the heck out of Blake Shelton during the blind auditions, but it’s exactly what seems to hurt her in the battle round. As team adviser Gwen Stefani notes, her connection with the emotion of the song isn’t coming through as well as her competitor Paxton Ingram, who claimed the very first successful audition of the season (whom Blake called “true greatness”). Their shared performance leaves Blake calling Paxton a “vocal ninja,” and while he also has mad respect for Brittney’s “big, strong instrument” of a voice, it’s Paxton who stays to slay another day.
WINNER: Paxton Ingram
NEXT: Team Christina hosts the fiercest battle yet…
Battle No. 3 (Team Christina): Bryan Bautista vs. Malik Heard
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown
You might recall that Bryan Bautista was the one who produced “the greatest moment in the show’s history” when he psyched out Blake and chose Team Christina, while Malik Heard’s such a strong singer that even his opponent has to admit “he’s dope.” They are both delighted to take instruction from the great Patti LaBelle, and although Christina has a few stylistic suggestions to make during practice, she already knows it’s going to be a close call. “These two are both equally stellar,” she previews. Indeed, their performance does turn out to be “toe-to-toe greatness,” with Bryan’s falsetto at full ferocity and Malik working his unbreakable control. So before a winner is even announced, all three coaches are already pitching for the inevitable steal.
“I am literally the loser in this battle,” Christina (accurately) notes before choosing Bryan for his “calm, cool, collected” performance. Immediately, Malik gets all three possible bids for a replacement team, and while Adam and Blake engage in a tussle over whether Adam’s just dissed this kid by predicting Xtina’s choice (as well as who’s the worst-dressed between them, as if that’s going to make the big difference), Pharrell calmly swoops in and promises to “empower” Malik and make this moment his own, earning his allegiance for the Knockouts rounds.
WINNER: Bryan Bautista
STEAL: Malik Heard to Team Pharrell
- Team Pharrell: Caity Peters, Nick Hagelin, Abby Celso, Joe Vivona, Emily Keener, Jonathan Bach, Hannah Huston, Brian Nhira, Jessica Crosbie, Maya Smith, Moushumi, Jonathan Hutcherson, and Malik Heard
- Team Adam: Mike Schiavo, John Gilman, Caroline Burns, Laith Al-Saadi, Katherine Ho, Natalie Yacovazzi, Nate Butler, Ryan Quinn, Owen Danoff, Lily Green, and Matt Tedder
- Team Blake: Paxton Ingram, Mary Sarah, Adam Wakefield, Angie Keilhauer, Brittany Kennell, Peyton Parker, Gina Castanzo, Trey O’Dell, Justin Whisnant, Teresa Guidry, Jared Harder, and Katie Basden
- Team Christina: Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, Shalyah Fearing, Lacy Mandigo, Kata Hay, Malik Heard, Kristen Marie, Támar Davis, Daniel Passino, Chelsea Gann, Joe Maye, and Ayanna Jahneé