The Voice recap: The Battles Premiere, Part 2
It may be the contestants who are officially duking it out in this second round of battles for The Voice, but the coaches are consistently squaring off with one another as well. It seems to be a running theme of the season that Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton are really trying to push each other’s buttons in both the metaphorical and actual senses, but tonight it’s Adam Levine and Blake — lovingly named “the dumbest of all [his] friends” — who really go for the guts.
The two carry over their conversation about each other’s fashion senses (or lack thereof) before Blake sets in on Adam’s newly bleached hairdo. Among the comparisons he offers about the bright blond look are Miley Cyrus (who’ll undoubtedly have some thoughts about this when she arrives as season 10’s key adviser), Guy Fieri, and Lance Bass. Yikes. Big ups to Pharrell Williams for pulling a Switzerland in all of these mini-wars going on around him.
But enough about those four; tonight was really all about the superstar hopefuls bringing their A-games to the stage to stay another day on the show, and not only were the singers ready and willing to stun everyone, but there were a whopping three steal slams thrown down along the way.
Battle No 1 (Team Christina): Shalyah Fearing vs. Támar Davis
“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle
When Shalyah and Támar first walk in and find out their team adviser is the one and only Patti LaBelle, they’re both teeming with emotion and gratitude for the opportunity. Not only do the two get to meet and learn from the woman Shalyah dubs “the icon of all icons,” but they also wind up sharing the small studio stage with her and Christina to belt out the racy number that had everyone in the world slinging provocative French slang once upon a time (oooh la la!). They’ve got a little downtime to kill as a quartet since even in rehearsals both girls have already got “it” going on. Naturally, Christina’s hoping whoever doesn’t win the night is saved by one of the other judges because she’s just a major fan of both. Too bad she can’t steal from herself.
As expected, their battle is extra epic, with Shalyah using all of her family’s financial struggles to harness an extra push to hit the strongest notes. Meanwhile, Támar is still pretty fired up (but not bitter?) about being taken out of Girl Tyme right before it became Destiny’s Child and skyrocketed its four three members to international acclaim. “This team is no joke,” Christina brags of the pair after they slay the stage. She chooses Támar because “she’s been waiting a long time for this, and she deserves it,” but Pharrell quickly swoops in to scoop up the 15-year-old Shalyah. “I just felt like you deserve to be on the show. You’ve got the talent,” he tells her, which makes her room-without-a-roof happy.
Winner: Támar Davis
Steal: Shalyah Fearing to Team Pharrell
NEXT: Adam’s feeling the steal …
Battle No. 2 (Team Blake): Justin Whisnant vs. Mary Sarah
“Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty
When you put one vintage-ish country artist against another, it’s only natural to take it back a few decades with the song choice — both for the sake of finding out who owns the genre more and for sheer entertainment value. So, Blake puts his pair to the super old school-style test by asking them to tackle two of the genre’s greatest (and twangiest) alums. That’s music to Mary Sarah’s ears, though, because, as you might recall, she’s already got a duet record with her favorite classic artists on shelves, so this is the very definition of her wheelhouse.
When they hit the stage together, Justin’s smooth and steady throughout, and he does his best with Gwen Stefani’s notes to modernize the tune, but it’s pretty clear that he’s taking a supporting role in the number while Mary Sarah earns all the star power of the song. That rings true with the coaches, as well, and although Blake’s thankful for what they’ve accomplished, as a fan of country music, he ultimately picks Mary Sarah to go on through to the next round for Team Blake based on his “gut” and “the context of this show and what it requires of people to do in these live situations.” Mary Sarah’s got the skill set already ingrained in her, and all she’s really waiting for is that bigger stage at this point.
Winner: Mary Sarah
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Battle No. 3 (Team Pharrell): Jessica Crosbie and Nick Hagelin
“Electric Feel” by MGMT
The only thing Jessica and Nick have in common is the fact that they both call Atlanta, Ga., home right now. Otherwise, they’re total opposites, both in personality and in style. Nick, the family man whose kiddo is earning ugly cries from everyone watching by defeating all the odds, is especially excited to find out the team adviser for this season is The Mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs. He even considers bopping him during their first meeting but mercifully pulls it back just in time to save face.
Turns out, Diddy can be credited with pulling Pharrell from behind the keyboard of the Neptunes and going it on his own, and, similarly, he has a lot of wise words for the competitors tonight. He schools them on living in the pockets of the song, putting some (sometimes literal) snap into their performances, and bringing forth the drama of the song, and they both follow his advice to the letter. In the end, Pharrell chooses Nick for his impossible falsetto reach, but Adam’s quick to tap in and recruit Jessica because he remembers her “so vividly” from the blind auditions. He’s just been gifted a second chance with her, so she’s worth investing one of his precious steal opportunities.
Winner: Nick Hagelin
Steal: Jessica Crosbie to Team Adam
Battle No. 4 (Team Christina): Chelsea Gann vs. Kata Hay
“I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge
Even though Kata “All Fire” Hay was coaxed onto Team Christina with an actual kiss [insert gaga eyes emoji guy here], Chelsea’s definitely still a force to be reckoned with. Katy might be a “pit bull,” per Patti LaBelle, but Chelsea’s got some serious control of her tone and range (not to mention, she is the audio doppelganger of Martina McBride, making her audition song as on-point as it gets).
After their powerful duet, which brings out Kata’s full ferocity, the coaches are torn between Kata’s “seductive” passion display and Chelsea’s solid range, but Christina ultimately picks Kata for her “energy and charisma.”
Winner: Kata Hay
NEXT: Tori Kelly teaches us the secrets of her song …
Battle No. 5 (Team Adam): Natalie Yacovazzi vs. Nate Butler
“Hollow” by Tori Kelly
Aside from the serious intimidation factor, it’s also gotta be pretty awkward for the battlers to have to go at it with one of the adviser’s most iconic songs right in front of her. And while they do their best, there are definitely notes aplenty after their first practice round.
You might recall Natalie as the single mom out of Chicago who braved a second round of blinds after not making it on season 9 while Nate was the bullied teen who found new life in musical theater. Translation: They’re both fighters at heart. But they also each have their own technical struggles during practice. Nate’s having some trouble with the highest notes at first, and Natalie’s mind is too busy to catch up to her mouth during the performance. Tori tries to help by explaining the deeper meaning of the song — a love note to God — and it helps to free them to let it go a little more onstage.
Nate’s able to outfit his performance with some stylish belts, and Natalie’s escalation is impressive in a few key moments of the song, so the coaches are left in agreement that the choice is difficult. They each have something to offer the team, but Adam thinks Nate’s ability to remain a “cool customer” even in the “discomfort zone” of this song won the night.
Winner: Nate Butler
Battle No. 6 (Team Pharrell): Hannah Huston vs. Maya Smith
“Elastic Heart” by Sia
It was Close Call City on tonight’s episode of The Voice, folks, and Hannah Huston and Maya Smith are definitely co-mayoring the place with their smash duet. The contestants, who have become close thanks to their shared room, are equally intimidated by the song selection, but even though they’re competing for a ticket to the knockouts, they’re each other’s most enthusiastic supporters all the while.
Diddy does his best to divide and conquer the girls’ weaknesses — by loosening up Maya’s nerves and bringing out Hannah’s hidden attitude — but they’re a team, which means this is gonna be a tough decision for Pharrell to make. Especially after they both lay it all on the stage and impress the coaches with their equally strong vibratos, presence, and, of course, talent.
Pharrell gives Hannah the green light for the next round, but Maya’s newfound availability for the steal creates another coaching battle — this time between Christina and Blake (again with the button grab, grrrr). Christina sells her steal spot, though, by pointing out that she wanted her during the blinds and insisting her heart “is invested” in Maya, despite Blake’s best effort to coin her “a star.” (To be fair, he eventually does admit Maya’s made the right call by putting her “X” on the Team Xtina sign-up line.)
Winner: Hannah Huston
Steal: Maya Smith to Team Christina
- Team Pharrell: Caity Peters, Nick Hagelin, Abby Celso, Joe Vivona, Emily Keener, Jonathan Bach, Hannah Huston, Brian Nhira, Moushumi, Jonathan Hutcherson, Shalyah Fearing, and Malik Heard
- Team Adam: Mike Schiavo, John Gilman, Caroline Burns, Laith Al-Saadi, Katherine Ho, Nate Butler, Jessica Crosbie, 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, Teresa Guidry, Jared Harder, and Katie Basden
- Team Christina: Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, Lacy Mandigo, Kata Hay, Kristen Marie, Támar Davis, Daniel Passino, Joe Maye, Maya Smith, and Ayanna Jahneé
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.