It’s back to The Voice Battle Rounds. You know, that time in the season when we’re reminded of everyone’s touching story and about how much they want this and then watch as almost half of them are booted off. The good news is that we get another episode with the team advisors, who are excellent this season: Normani’s on Team Kelly, Will.i.am’s Team Gwen, Team Legend has Usher on board, and Team Blake’s got Darius Rucker. That’s a real lineup there, people. To the Battles!
Team Legend: Jared Herzog vs. Will Breman
Song: “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes
It’s a soul-pop off! John pairs up very handsome singers Jared, who only auditioned to please his girlfriend, and Will, who brought joy to us all when he did an acoustic version of a Spice Girls song. How that doesn’t give him a buy into the live rounds, I do not know. Acoustic Spice Girls! John’s advisor, Usher, is into both of the guys’ voices, but there are lots of notes. So many notes that Jared feels a little beaten up at the end and Will has to remind him that Usher and John are just trying to make them better. Will is already a professional, you see? On stage, the performance is worlds better than in rehearsal and when the mentors advised Will to show his personality, he took that to heart. Gwen calls it “crazy energy” but it exudes confidence. And also karate moves. Basically: he owns the stage. This is an easy call.
Winner: Will Breman!
Steals & Saves: Nada. Sorry, Jared. Sorry, Jared’s girlfriend.
Team Blake: Marina Chello vs. Ricky Duran
Song: “Valerie” by The Zutons
Coach Blake Shelton puts it best when he notes that both of these artists are “long overdue for a break” in the music industry. Marina moved to the United States from Uzbekistan when she was 11 and many moons ago signed a record deal with Bad Boy that went nowhere. Ricky is a professional singer from Austin doing this for his late parents. This is one of those matchups where sending either home seems cruel. Good on Blake for noting that his strategy is just to keep as many of his artists around, even if they have to end up on someone else’s team. That’s nice in theory, right? Both Marina and Ricky deliver as they’re supposed to, but it’s Ricky who has the charisma and confidence that screams winner. Plus, he’s like really, really good at singing, a skill that comes in handy during a singing competition.
Winner: Ricky Duran!
Steals & Saves: Blake deploys step one of his plan when he pushes his ‘Save’ button for Marina. Kelly gives us déjà vu when she hits her “steal” button and once again goes to bat against Blake for Marina. Marina cannot be swayed! She remains Team Blake.
Team Kelly: Jake Hoot vs Steve Knill
Song: “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
It’s a true delight when two one chair turns show up in the battle rounds and prove all the other coaches wrong. Jake and Steve’s battle performance certainly isn’t the most memorable we’ve seen, but both men certainly proved they deserved multiple chair turns. Steve — a true Kelly Clarkson stan — is a vocal gymnast who can probably sing any genre. Jake, a giant person whom I want to carry me around, is country through and through. Kelly’s song choice is perfect for this sort of pairing, but there’s just something about Jake’s clear country vocals that make it hard to pay attention to anything else. He doesn’t have to do much and there’s tons of power behind it. Did I mention he’s also very tall?
Winner: Jake Hoot!
Steals & Saves: Kelly already used her save and none of the other coaches make moves to steal Steve. Bye!
Kelly’s really weaning down her team this evening, as two more Team Kelly Battles get the fast forward treatment: In the country princess showdown, Gracee Shriver outdoes Brennan Lassiter on “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and Damali beats out Brooke Stephenson on “Set Fire to the Rain.” The unceremonious booting from this show stings the hardest, apologies.
Team Gwen: Royce Lovett vs. Kiara Brown
Song: “Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
Kids, please know that being polite is actually really important, no matter what Gwen Stefani and her advisor Will.i.am might tell you. Yeah, yeah I get it, they want Kiara to stop being so hesitant in her choices, to really fight for her spot on this show — something she definitely needs to do since she’s going up against Royce on a classic reggae song. This song choice seems made for Royce and he, as expected, completely nails it. There’s so much joy when he’s singing, it’s hard not to get swept up. Also, that rasp. That rasp could cure diseases. I mean, I’m not a doctor, but it’s pretty good. Kiara, though, takes the whole “politeness” chat to heart and she brings it. You might remember her for her “Free Fallin’” performance in the Blinds (I am still thinking about those runs), and while it was great, it did not show off the power she clearly has. She reveals a range no one really knew existed.
Winner: Royce Lovett!
Steals & Saves: Kelly wastes no time trying to right a wrong — had she only known Kiara’s range, Kiara would’ve been an easy turn for Kelly in the Blinds. But Gwen is unsure if she really wants to say goodbye to Kiara, and hits her “save.” Both coaches really just want Kiara on the show, so no harm, no foul here. Kiara decides to make a change and heads over to Team Kelly.
Team Blake: Joana Martinez vs Matthew McQueen
Song: “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco
For all those missing the Blake-Adam bromance this season, does the Blake-Darius bromance fill that void? They are adorable. And they don’t fight the entire time. That has to be refreshing, right? This song choice is a tough one — all power and belting and hitting some truly high notes, but even in rehearsal Joana and Matthew seem like they have a good grasp on it, regardless of what their body language is saying. On stage, it’s surprising how natural their chemistry is. I was having fun? That question mark is not a typo! Joana has an incredible voice and the girl is only 15. Blake knows she’s only going to grow as a singer and that is definitely tempting to take on as a coach. Still, Matthew’s rasp and tone cannot be denied. His technical prowess and confidence on stage are skills that could take him far. Is Blake torn? Lol, no. A 15-year-old power singer? You can’t cut someone like that.
Winner: Joana Martinez!
Steals & Saves: Kelly definitely would’ve taken Matthew, alas, only one steal per coach!
Team Gwen: Kyndal Inskeep vs James Violet
Song: “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris
Here come James and his hair to woo America once again! Guess what guys, it works. Luscious hair will always work! You know what doesn’t work, at least for Will.i.am? These two kids showing up to rehearsal not knowing their lyrics. He wasn’t mad, he was just disappointed, and we all know that’s worse. Can Will.i.am be a coach stateside soon? He’s great. Kyndal and James take their notes and whip themselves into shape. It’s clear that this was Kyndal and her unique tone’s battle to lose from the beginning. Gwen is basically like “I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT KYNDAL. And also James is here.” But James doesn’t let Kyndal run away with it. In fact, if I were coaching from somewhere that’s not my sofa, James would easily win this, what with that amazing upper register and believable connection to the song. I was moved! Gwen, only a little.
Winner: Kyndal Inskeep!
Steals & Saves: Apparently, this was the artist Gwen was holding on to her “save” for (which means she always knew she was going to pick Kyndal regardless?), but she doesn’t get to keep James without a fight: John Legend hits his “steal” almost immediately. He loves the new depth he heard in James’s voice and he is dying to work with him. James chooses Team…
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out if James ditches Team Gwen for Team Legend, which is absolutely the correct decision for this man. Go to John, James! GO TO HIM.
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