The Voice recap: 'Battles Premiere, Part 2'
In the latest battle round, the coaches use the steal button to right each other's wrongs
Tonight, another handful of The Voice hopefuls are sent packing before the knockouts, and it’s becoming pretty clear that the steal button is kind of a Band-Aid for bad coaching decisions this year because another would-be winner is almost sent home far too soon.
Here’s who our coaching quartet — Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, and Blake Shelton — did and did not advance from the second leg of the battle round.
Team Gwen: Johnny Gates vs. Sammie Zonana
“I Drove All Night” by Celine Dion
It’s a special kind of pressure when a contestant dares to perform a superstar’s big hit in front of them, but to alter it to the point of absolute unrecognizability? That takes guts. Johnny Gates and Sammie Zonana didn’t know they’d be mentored by Celine Dion before they decided to turn her ballad (which was borrowed from Roy Orbison and Cyndi Lauper before her) into a folk rock rodeo rhythm. Luckily for them, though, Ms. Dion’s digging the new arrangement.
Unfortunately for Sammie, though, the tuned-up rendition does zero favors for the wedding songstress because the performance puts Johnny front and center of the vocal action, with her pitching in with a second belt here and there that can’t measure up to the first. Sure, her sweet sound could easily fit right in to any alternative group now, but the standout soloist of the night is unanimously Johnny.
Winner: Johnny Gates
Team Alicia: Chris Blue vs. R.J. Collins
“Adorn” by Miguel
This has gotta be the most legitimately contentious battle round of the season — maybe even of the past few seasons — because both of these guys occupy a certain space in music, and they know there’s only room for one soulful R&B artist on this team (although maybe they can just form the next Boyz II Men when the show’s over. Just sayin’). They’re both soulful and serious and willing to work to make their runs last the longest.
And although R.J. Collins is completely gifted and pleasant to listen to, there’s just no denying Chris Blue is the more exciting artist of the two. Gwen Stefani’s practically falling out of her chair to compliment the man on his move groove, but it’s his voice that strikes as the most sensational. It’s not that R.J. doesn’t have an impressive falsetto reach, too; it’s just that when Chris does it, there’s a natural cascade upward and unspoken energy that just transcends everything else that happens around him. The kid’s a star, and Blake’s right — he very well might be in the finale.
Winner: Chris Blue
NEXT: Blake blows it…
Team Blake: Aliyah Moulden vs. Dawson Coyle
“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves
Isn’t this ironic? Last night, Alicia Keys sent home the worthier battler — that is, Felicia Temple, who was just plain better than Quizz Swanigan — and Blake came in with the steal to save this from being an injustice. Tonight, though, the roles are completely reversed.
Whether Aliyah Moulden’s blind audition had everyone walkin’ on sunshine or not, she’s far and away the less compelling performer in this battle round. Dawson Coyle’s not perfect either, but at least he’s not monotone and boring and leaning on giant scream-singing to conquer the stage. Frankly, this should be an easy decision for Blake to make, but somehow he sticks with his starlet and leaves Dawson up for grabs. Alicia, who senses that Dawson will earn some significant fanfare thanks to his stage theatrics and vocal purity, is all too happy to right Blake’s wrong tonight. So, now they’re even. Could they have planned this? They were discussing how they’re each better than the rest in the beginning of this battle session, no? Hmmm. I’d respect the decision more if there were a purpose here built in to keep both, but as it stands, [in Simon Cowell’s American Idol voice] it’s a no for me.
Winner: Aliyah Moulden
Steal: Dawson Coyle
Montages: We spent a whopping seven episodes on the blind auditions, so we had to expect that there’d be some montaged battle rounds. Indeed, Team Adam sent home Nala Price after she was beaten by Josh West on their duet of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Then, the other Aaliyah — Aaliyah Rose from Team Gwen — earned her ticket to the knockouts by besting Savannah Leighton with her vibrato skills a la Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better.” And Team Blake bid adieu to Micah Tryba after Andrea Thomas proved she was the truer country artist in their rendition of “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts.
- Team Adam: Johnny Hayes, Mark Isaiah, Jesse Larson, Julien Martinez, Kawan DeBose, Taylor Alexander, Josh West, Malik Davage, Hanna Eyre, Sheena Brook
- Team Gwen: Joshua “JChosen” Hunter, Stephanie Rice, Brandon Royal, Troy Ramey, Aaliyah Rose, Johnny Gates, Caroline Sky, Davina Leone, Jozy Bernadette, Brennley Brown
- Team Alicia: Anatalia Villaranda, Autumn Turner, Lilli Passero, Quizz Swanigan, Jack Cassidy, Lauryn Judd, Hunter Plake, Vanessa Ferguson, Chris Blue, Ashley Levin, Dawson Coyle
- Team Blake: Lauren Duski, Aliyah Moulden, Casi Joy, Josh Hoyer, Enid Ortiz, TSoul, Valerie Ponzio, Andrea Thomas, Felicia Temple