The Voice recap: 'The Battles, Part 3'
Tonight, the season's first true tie emerges
We’re nearing the end of the battles for The Voice‘s 13th season, but fatigue is not setting in on the performers’ end of things. While there are still a few ho-hum showcases that are obviously stacked in one singer’s favor over the other, there are also a couple of high-intensity showdowns that truly make good on the name of this leg of the competition.
Let’s take a look at who emerges victorious this round, who gets sent home, and who manages to earn a steal to make second place look a little better.
Team Adam: Brandon Brown vs. Jon Mero
“I Wish It Would Rain” by The Temptations
A lot of performers put on a good face when they get let go from this stage of the show, but Brandon Brown has a very hard time concealing his disappointment when Jon Mero walks away with the pass to the knockouts from this round. And frankly, it’s understandable why he’s bummed out — you know, beyond that just being a normal reaction to not winning something.
In rehearsals, he’s challenged to stretch out the upper reaches of his range — to knock on the “attic” door, to borrow his metaphor — and he does so. In fact, he sneaks in a surprise high note that’s both appropriate for the mood of the melody and seems like a moment of defiance against his apparent restrictions. However, Jon’s able to throw out a little falsetto fun, too, with a lot less trouble, and he’s got some boogieing skills to boot. Even so, they’re actually pretty similar in their vocal deliveries, for better and for worse: they each boast a few dud notes; they’ve both got that smooth R&B presence that’s easy listening; and they each also throw in some (perhaps a tad excessive) riffs in near equal measure. So, it’s really all about who approaches the stage with the most convincing demeanor because judging strictly by this battle performance, it’s a pretty dead heat. With his rhythmic dancing and easy smile, though, Jon wins the day, so it’s understandable why Brandon Brown can’t turn his frown upside down when he doesn’t get a W or a steal.
Winner: Joe Mero
Team Blake: Red Marlow vs. Ryan Scripps
“Fishin’ In the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
In yet another instance of a song being very obviously custom picked for one contestant, this twangy tune fits Red Marlow’s vocals like a glove. It’s no trouble for him to align his swampy southern style with this back-home radio favorite. For Ryan Scripps, however, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Blake claims to have paired them together because he wants to concentrate on one era — old school bluegrass-style country or modern pop-style southern singing — but if that were true, he might have found something a little more neutral than this.
As expected, Red runs away with it from the start. Sure, Ryan’s a little more audible during the chorus here and there, but it’s the Red show all day in this battle, thanks to his sheer fit for the number and Ryan’s timidity with the inevitability of this arrangement. Ryan’s still got a nice, quaint singing voice in the vein of Brad Paisley and/or Kenny Chesney, and he might’ve even been able to outshine Red’s with a more modern number and a little more confidence … but he didn’t even have a chance coming into this battle round, and he knew it just as well as anyone.
Winner: Red Marlow
Team Miley: Addison Agen vs. Karli Webster
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
We hear a lot of talk about contestants being evenly matched in this competition, but that’s rarely as true as it is tonight with these two ladies. One’s an apple, one’s an orange, but they’re both satisfying and sweet to listen to. Karli Webster’s got a supple soprano voice that’s so very strong in her octave that it’s consistently surprising and almost intoxicating, while Addison Agen’s got a rich, deep voice that, Miley’s right, does sound like Adele in some moments.
Blake puts it best when he compares their verrrrrrrrrry subdued version of this melody to “two sad girls who really wished they were having fun,” but they both sell it so well. It’s probably pretty rare for someone to announce their intent to steal the remainder, no matter who it is, before a winner is chosen, but that’s exactly what happens here tonight. And it’s well deserved. Compared to some of the other contestants who get to go past this stage, both have earned themselves a shot at the knockouts — and, frankly, let’s hope they get a chance to sing together again because that was really something. To me, Karli’s a little more unique (although she does bring some strong Civil Wars vibes to the harmony), but Addison’s a keeper, too.
Winner: Karli Webster
Steal: Addison Agen to Team Adam
Team Jennifer: Shi’Ann Jones vs. Stephan Marcellus
“Oh! Darling” by The Beatles
Here we have two singers who both pack a punch with strong vocals but don’t exactly know what to do with them. Despite some line-by-line coaching by Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Rowland, they both come to the stage raw and disjointed. Shi’Ann Jones has power beyond her years, but a lot of it’s forced and hollow in the delivery, while Stephan Marcellus has a problem with inconsistency in his note acuity and messy timing.
Despite all the kinks that still need to be worked out with both, though, the pro list is still much denser than the cons on either side. Shi’Ann has a lot of spirit and, much the way We McDonald always seemed to stun in season 11, Shi’Ann is full of surprises with her big belts; similarly, Stephan’s got some serious swagger that’s pretty soothing to listen to. He might’ve made a mistake in the blinds with those forgotten lyrics — and man, he shouldn’t have to hear about that anymore after tonight — but given his potential for mainstream appeal, it’s easy to see why Miley broke her “no boys allowed” rule to steal him for her team. But with Jennifer’s declaration that she gets most excited by pure talent in mind, it’s easy to see why she opts for Shi’Ann to stick around on her squad tonight.
Winner: Shi’Ann Jones
Steal: Stephan Marcellus to Team Miley
Team Adam: Anthony Alexander vs. Michael Kight
“I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk
Some say preparation is the key to success, but this bout proves otherwise. See, Michael Kight’s more than competent with his pitch and tonal decisions, and he does seem to kind of float across the stage without missing a beat (thanks to Joe Jonas’ toe-tapping timing tip). But sorry to say it, he’s also a little boring, especially compared to Anthony Alexander.
Not only is Anthony a total match for this particular song, but he manages to shed his Michael Jackson doppelgänger skin this time around and deliver something a little more his own, dropping just a hair out of the high zone to show us his full voice. There’s a lot of grooming to be done to make his notes more on-key before he can make it much further in this competition, but he’s far and away more interesting to listen to on all fronts than this particular competitor. Meanwhile, Michael’s the kinda guy who would be perfect in a band or singing group for his ability to carry the tempo while another guy, in this case Anthony, throws in all the exciting stuff. Since this show isn’t about teamwork, though, it’s easy to see why Adam chooses the fascinating unicorn over the stable workhorse here.
Winner: Anthony Alexander
Team Miley: Janice Freeman vs. Katrina Rose
“W.O.M.A.N.” by Etta James
We didn’t get to hear what Katrina Rose was really throwing down in the blinds to earn her spot on Team Miley because she was montaged, but we’re getting enough to last a lifetime tonight. As Jennifer Hudson describes the woman’s note reaches, she’s up there in the “ubbagubba” range by the time it’s done, and it’s a wonder anyone has eardrums after these two. So, many, many points for enthusiasm and sheer force of will to Katrina.
But — and this is a big but — Janice Freeman was packing the same amount of power without busting out all the windows in Studio 12. Like Katrina, she was obviously feeling herself and this song as she delivered run after run, but there was more music to her soulful approach, and, yes, this song choice was much more naturally suited to her than what she brought to the blinds because it allowed her to explore those decadent low notes and moments of sass with a lot more authenticity. It’ll be really interesting to see (and hear) where Katrina goes from here because if this was 70 percent of her energy on display tonight, maybe we need to halve that next time to actually hear her through the noise, fun as it might be on full blast. But now more than ever, I want to hear more from Janice.
Winner: Janice Freeman
Steal: Katrina Rose to Team Jennifer
As has become the norm, we’re getting quite a few montage battles tonight as well. On Team Blake, Anna Catherine DeHart manages to scoot through to round three by besting Kristi Hoopes on a rendition of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” — although judging from the snippet we listen to, the number may have been a bit ambitious for both, and this montage is just a mercy for us at home. It says something when the main compliment a coach doles out to the performers is that they both worked hard; just sayin’. Meanwhile, Team Jennifer sees the advancement of Jeremiah Miller over Alexandra Joyce after the two duet to Charlie Puth’s “Only One Call Away.” It’s difficult to discern much from the small sample we get of their song, but it seems run-of-the-mill at best. Lastly, there’s Team Adam’s Emily Luther, whose theatrical low notes win her a pass over Gary Carpentier’s ’80s-tastic vibes during a rendition of Adele’s “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” — which is yet another song that should probably be saved for someone who’s really ready for such a thing, and so we’ve probably been spared here again by them cutting this one for time.
- Team Adam: Dylan Gerard, Hannah Mrozak, Adam Pearce, Anthony Alexander, Emily Luther, Jon Mero, Dennis Drummond, Addison Agen
- Team Miley: Janice Freeman, Brooke Simpson, Ashland Craft, Moriah Formica, Karli Webster, Chloe Kohanski, Megan Rose, Whitney Fenimore, Stephan Marcellus
- Team Jennifer: Chris Weaver, Shi’Ann Jones, Lucas Holliday, Davon Fleming, Eric Lyn, Ignatius Carmouche, Jeremiah Miller, Noah Mac, Katrina Rose
- Team Blake: Mitchell Lee, Esera Tuaolo, Keisha Renee, Red Marlow, Adam Cunningham, Anna Catherine DeHart, Natalie Stovall, Kathrina Feigh