It’s a big night here on The Voice: Each coach has just one spot left to fill and then we’ll be moving right on into the Battle Rounds. As much as I enjoy the Blinds, I’m ready to see the artists a second time around, if only to remember who everyone is. But, before we get to the Battles, we have four spots remaining and each coach is looking for something a little different. Let’s see who earns seat No. 12 on Blake, John, Gwen, and Kelly’s teams.
Zoe Upkins, Nashville, Tenn.
Song: “Angel of Mine” by Monica
Sorry, I’m busy having flashbacks to slow dancing in a smelly gymnasium full of sweaty 13-year-olds to this Monica ballad. Based on song choice alone, 16-year-old Zoe is my favorite contestant. People should be singing Monica and Brandy ‘90s bops at every turn. ANYWAY, for such a young vocalist, Zoe’s extremely poised and professional in her performance, and this completely wins over John Legend. What wins over Zoe is John Legend rewriting the lyrics to “The Boy Is Mine” to be “Zoe Is Mine.” I told you, all the Monica-Brandy bops there are!
Chair Turns: John, Blake, and Kelly
Coach: He knows “The Boy Is Mine,” he is John Legend.
Matthew McQueen, Georgetown, Tex.
Song: “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi
Before Matthew — WHO SELLS BARS OF GOLD TO INVESTORS — even told his family he was auditioning, both his grandmother and sister had a dream on the same night that he went on The Voice and joined Team Blake. And now here he is demonstrating a very cool rasp on The Voice and joining Team Blake. I’m freaking out, man! That is some weird and wild stuff. Matthew’s not country — he has more of a pop-rock sound — but Blake seems like a good fit here. Plus, it was written in a dream. Like he even has a choice.
Chair Turns: Kelly and Blake
Coach: The dream team! Team Blake!
Gracie Shriver, Owasso, Okla.
Song: “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves
The only thing Kelly’s stoked about after losing Matthew to Blake is that any country artist who comes along might be easier to get on her team. And teenager Gracie Shriver is country, y’all. The twang, the vibrato, the Kacey Musgraves of it all! Kelly doesn’t expect Gwen to put up a fight, but she does! Gwen is an Okie by proxy and uses Blake as a selling point. It almost works! I’m glad to see Gracie and her power country voice stick with Kelly — but Gracie admits she’s only been to one high school party before and she spent the entire time cleaning up, so, we already know she makes smart decisions.
Chair Turns: Kelly and Gwen!
Coach: Team Kelly Clarkson closes with a country crooner!
Ty Mauro, Los Angeles, Calif.
Song: “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
A HOT EMT WHO ALSO SINGS? Is this heaven? I mean, obviously not, since Ty tells us that he decided this is going to be his last shot at going after his musical dreams (sad for just 26!) and then Gwen doesn’t turn for him. There are some pitch problems, but Ty has a very cool vibe about him and a tone that Kelly can’t stop talking about, alas, Gwen is waiting for a young girl to mentor. Ty is a lot of things, but he is not that.
Chair Turns: Gwen, the only coach left with an open spot, doesn’t budge.
Caroline Reilly, Cumming, Ga.
Song: “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Starship
Well, isn’t this meant to be? Gwen wants a teenage girl to mold in her likeness and here is Caroline Reilly, a teenage girl who idolizes Gwen Stefani. Gwen takes her time before turning because she’s unsure if Caroline is a 35-year-old woman or a teen, and yes, her voice does sound much, much older — in tone, grit, and polish — than her 16 years. Caroline is a rocker through and through (she also names Joan Jett as an inspiration), so even if Gwen wasn’t the only judge able to turn around, I think she’d be going with No Doubt’s frontwoman.
Chair Turns: There is only Gwen…
Coach: …and that’s the way it should be. Team Gwen is full and the blinds are OVER!
The Battle Rounds
You guys, we did it! All four teams are locked and loaded and it’s time to pair everyone up to sing together (the harmonies are coming! The harmonies are coming!) to see who really has the chops and who just had a great audition. For the first time ever, each coach has one “save” in the Battle Rounds as well as one “steal,” so all of those agonizing “I shouldn’t have put you two together” moments will be a little less agonizing…at least for a little while. Let’s battle!
Team Legend: Khalea Lynee vs. Zoe Upkins
Song: “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Monica
Remember earlier in this recap when I said we should just be doing Brandy and Monica hits? The Secret is real, people! You want something? Put it out into the world. John’s going to cherish having a “save” for this one: Khalea was a four-chair turn (the pink power blazer rules them all!) and she’s so polished it’s ridiculous she doesn’t have an album yet. Zoe is a 16-year-old R&B princess who infuses personality into her performances. Team Legend adviser Usher is impressed with both women but reminds them to really tell the story through their vocals. They do not disappoint! There’s so much attitude in this song, I’m flashing back to the Brandy-Monica video (okay, also, I’m watching it). More than that, both Khalea and Zoe kill the vocals. Khalea, especially in the back half of the song, is so good — John would be crazy to let her go to another team.
Battle Winner: Khalea Lynee!
Saves & Steals: John wants to use his one save on Zoe, admitting that this match-up was a horrible decision. Gwen and Kelly want to use that mistake to their advantage. In the end, Zoe sticks with Team Legend.
Team Blake: Josie Jones vs. Kat Hammock
Song: “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
Well, isn’t this precious? Very few things give me greater joy on this show than watching Blake Shelton, giant person, have to hug two, very short, giggling teens. Aside from being teenagers, Josie and Kat have very little in common. Josie is as country as you get, while Kat is breathy and ethereal. Surprisingly, with two distinctly different voices, they sound great together on this song. All of the coaches knew Josie had the power, but are surprised by how interesting and unique Kat’s vocals are — she gets compared to Alison Krauss more than once. Kat’s different from the rest, and for someone like Blake, who will assuredly be stacked with country artists, that’s too tempting to let go.
Winner: Kat Hammock!
Saves & Steals: None! We bid farewell to Miss Josie Jones.
Team Kelly: Melinda Rodriguez vs Shane Q
Song: “Too Good at Goodbyes” by Sam Smith
Uh, friends, I did not realize how insanely good Melinda Rodriguez is. She was great with her Eva Cassidy rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but hearing her let go on a more contemporary track completely changes the game. She’s all about technique and precision and that, paired with advice from Normani (like Kelly, she’s famous for being on a singing competition — Fifth Harmony formed before our very eyes on The X Factor) to let go and not drown the song in runs, makes her someone to watch out for. Not that she has things easy in this battle: Melinda is going up against Shane Q, who earned a four-chair turn for “Tennessee Whiskey” in the Blinds. His range is insane, and the emotion he puts into lyrics will gut you. Before she even goes into the performance, Kelly knows this is an impossible decision. She’s right! Both Melinda and Shane deliver. Most of the coaches call the battle for Shane, but just barely.
Winner: Shane Q!
Saves & Steals: Kelly was constantly surprised by what Shane Q can do, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want Melinda, too! She’s not the only one impressed: John Legend wants to steal Melinda for himself. Melinda decides to stay on Team Kelly. These saves are really coming in handy, huh?
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