The Voice recap: The battles continue with some major mismatches
The first round of The Voice battles might’ve been a bit tough to call, but coaches Adam Levine, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton are making things a bit easier on themselves tonight by pairing their strongest singers with some competitors that’d really have to work it to win. There are a few exceptions, of course, but most of these battle pairings are almost unfair.
Here’s a look at how round two of the battles shook out.
Team Adam: Karly Moreno vs. Celia Babini
It took Adam a moment to turn for Karly Moreno in the blinds, but he had to fight quite hard to recruit four-chair turner Celia Babini to his team, so the latter has a leg up from the get-go tonight even if he comes in calling it a “dead even” heat. During the rehearsals, Celia’s voice even cracks during a key moment, but Adam quickly reassures her that it doesn’t change his confidence in her.
Their duet of “Friends” by Marshmello requires both women to slide through a similar note scale in the intro, but they otherwise stick to their very distinct lanes throughout the number. While Karly has a small, but smoky bubblegum tone, Celia’s is a denser and fuller sound. Neither of them are perfect here, so it’s really a matter of preference, but Blake Shelton is taken by the surprising way that Karly has stepped up to the plate in this battle. when Adam inevitably decides to give Celia the go ahead for her “special” presence and tenor, Blake decides to give Karly a second chance on his squad by offering her a steal. Win-win.
Winner: Celia Babini
Steal: Karly Moreno to Team Blake.
Team John: Julian King vs. Denton Arnell
Considering Denton Arnell was the guy who proposed to his girlfriend during the blind auditions, he’s already made a lot of headlines associated with his stint on The Voice. That won’t help him much in this leg of the competition, though, since the battles were probably taped before his bit of internet fame ever happened. More importantly, it’s Julian King who has the mightier range display during their duet of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.”
Where Denton can’t seem to find his comfort zone in either the upper or lower register and clumsily slips up his notes throughout the number, Julian King only gets stronger and more confident with his rhythm and falsetto marks as the song goes along. The coaches are kind enough to call it a “really even” match, but Julian King has clearly done enough here to easily walk away with the W.
Winner: Julian King
Team Kelly: Rizzi Myers vs. Presley Tennant
Both Rizzi Myers and Presley Tennant had impressive auditions — Rizzi’s even inspired one of the many blocks against John Legend — so this is a rare case of it being anyone’s game. The rehearsals betray no obvious path to victory for one or the other, either, as they both struggle to reach the right notes in Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me” and are reduced to dueling screechers in that footage.
Fortunately, they are both able to clean things up before the full performance, and it’s Pressley Tennant who arrives with a clearer command of the song and stage, with low-pop tones that might remind fans of Christina Aguilera in the earlier days. Even when Rizzi Myers throws in a Hail Mary power note or two, Presley is able to meet and slightly exceed it. Kelly Clarkson’s co-coaches side-eye her choice to pair the two together and make things so hard on herself, since doing the exact opposite is clearly the strategy of the evening here, but she’s eventually able to make a decision and picks Presley to move on.
Winner: Presley Tennant
Team Blake: Dexter Roberts vs. Dalton Dover
Dexter Roberts comes into the night with the upper hand, since he was a four-chair contender in the blinds, while Dalton Dover barely even got Blake’s attention amid an uneven and nerve-addled start. During their rehearsals of “Hurricane” by Luke Combs, Dexter does get a bit of constructive criticism from Blake Shelton and team adviser Brooks & Dunn to back away from the mic a bit, but it’s mainly because he’s overshadowing Dalton, and it’s unfair to relegate the guy to a back-up in a competition like this.
The battle gives Dalton a lot more room to shine, and he’s able to bring that same contemporary country charm that got him to this point, but Dexter still has a lot more dynamism to show for himself. As John puts it, Dalton has a more pleasant aesthetic, while Dexter has more technical savvy to show for himself, and it’s the latter that wins the day.
Winner: Dexter Roberts
Team Adam: L.B. Crew vs. Ciera Dumas
L.B. Crew was also a four-chair turn to Ciera Dumas’ two, but this isn’t quite as severe a mismatch as others we’ve seen in this leg of the battles. His voice has an R&B classicism and smoothness, while Ciera’s is more of a raspy Americana style. So, the choice for them to sing “Done for Me” by Charlie Puth here makes it clear who the preferred victor may be, especially as Adam Levine and team adviser Charlie Puth coach them both to flex their falsettos.
However, even though L.B. Crew’s honey tones are better suited for this battle, Ciera approaches it with her own sandpaper style. The coaches are impressed by how well Ciera has held her own in this fight, but Adam Levine still chooses L.B. to stick around a little while longer. Bebe Rexha, however, decides to recruit Ciera for Comeback Stage.
Winner: L.B. Crew
Team Blake: Kim Cherry vs. Kendra Checketts
Kim Cherry’s advantage coming into the battles is slim at best, since she defied expectations in the blinds by slinging a few key rap lyrics, but Kendra Checkett put some soul and power on display in the auditions as well, so this battle is also less lopsided than some of the others.
Blake Shelton chooses “Here” by Alessia Cara for the ladies to sing because he thinks it fits their shared “pocket” and flavor of music, and, indeed, they both bring a similar sense of sass and edge to the showcase. Kim’s energy and self-confidence impresses her coach enough to earn her staying power in his team, but Kendra becomes the subject of a double steal battle between Adam and John, the former of whom insists she’ll be a stand-out on his team, since it has so few females.
Winner: Kim Cherry
Steal: Kendra Checketts to Team Adam.
Adam Levine: Jimmy Mowery, Domenic Haynes,, Patrick McAloon, L.B. Crew, Mari Jones, Anthony Ortiz, Celia Babini, Kalvin Jarvis, Andrew Jannakos, Rod Stokes, Kendra Checketts.
Kelly Clarkson: Karen Galera, The Bundys, Alena D’Amico, Jej Vincent, Rebecca Howell, Abby Kasch, David Owens, Ashley Tennant, Jackson Marlow, Matthew Johnson.
John Legend: Maelyn Jarmon, Lisa Ramey, Julian King, Talon Cardon, Betsy Ade, Oliv Blu, Shawn Sounds, Kaslin Victoria, Beth Griffith-Marley.
Blake Shelton: Gyth Rigdon, Kim Cherry, Lili Joy, Hannah Kay, Carter Lloyd Horne, Dexter Roberts, Selkii, Andrew Sevener, Cecily Hennigan, Karly Moreno.