Pitting the young'uns against the vets, guest mentors Sheryl Crow, Hillary Scott, Pharrell Williams and Joel Madden kick off the first week of battle rounds

By Melissa Maerz
Updated April 14, 2015 at 10:34 PM EDT
NBC

The Voice

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Do you know what time it is?

Hint: the contestants are starting to suck up to the mentors. (“She’s like an angel!” gushes one bearded guy about Sheryl Crow.) Carson Daly is getting impatient with the coaches. (“Adam, I know it’s hard, but I need your decision!” he sighs.) And the rest of us are busy playing our new favorite drinking game: take a shot every time one singer says that the other is “more experienced than I am.” (You get bonus points if you play this game with a bottle of Blake Shelton’s special “adult sarsaparilla.”)

That’s right—it’s Battle Rounds hour at The Voice. Time for classically-trained singers to duke it out in an actual boxing ring, just like Pavarotti intended. The competition is intense! But don’t worry. If you get too stressed out about picking your favorite, just remember that these coaches are “more experienced” than you. And please ignore the gulping sound that’s coming from my flask.

TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON VS. SASHA ALLEN

The song: “Try” by Pink

The story: “Wherever you are in your life, put yourself in that song,” suggests Adam’s mentor, Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum. Suddenly, sweet, young country-singing Amber gets choked up. “When my mom passed away, it was very hard, but I didn’t want to be one of those people who fell into a depression,” she admits. Then she cries. Then a certain Voice recapper cries. (Sniff.) Okay, people. Nothing to see here. Moving on!

The battle: I love that Amber sounds like a young Kelly Clarkson, and the emotion in her performance feels very real. Yes, Sasha’s more experienced (drink!), with a powerhouse voice that could pick Amber up by her pompadour and throw her at Adam’s feet as an gift offering. But maybe she’s overdoing it a little?

The feedback: “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now, Adam,” says Shakira. “I wouldn’t either,” agrees Adam. Wait, he wouldn’t want to be in his own shoes? Suddenly, I’m imagining him wearing Shakira’s stilettos under that chair.

The verdict: Adam picks Amber. But wait—Shakira and Usher both want to steal Sasha! Usher promises that he’ll reveal “the best information and secrets” if Sasha goes with him. (What secrets? Is he guzzling lizards’ blood to make his voice sound that good?) But Sasha picks Shakira, and Usher pretends to cry. “Just think what I could’ve done with you!” he sighs. What a shame. All that lizard blood, wasted.

TEAM SHAKIRA: GARRETT GARDNER VS. J’SUN

The song: “How You Like Me Now?” by the Heavy

The story: Garrett worries that R&B vet J’Sun is “more experienced.” (Drink!) And Shakira worries that high school kid Garrett will overdo his raspy tone. “It’s like when I shake my hips…” she says. “I like that!” insists her mentor, Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden, a.k.a. Mr. Nicole Richie. Shakira laughs. “But I can’t just shake them every verse!” she insists. “Well, we could debate that…” he replies. Guys! Stop flirting before Nicole stabs you both.

The battle: J’Sun has a great falsetto, a lot of swagger, and a cool leather jacket. Garrett has a smooth, soulful voice, some adorable curls… and a cool leather jacket. Win-win?

The feedback: “This is torture for me to have to pick between the two of you… Oh god, I should’ve never taken his job,” frets Shakira. But Blake has some solid advice for calming her nerves: “Just drink like I do.”

The verdict: Shakira picks Garrett. “I’m about to cry,” he confesses. “I can’t even express how happy I am!” Total tears shed tonight so far? At least 2,517.

NEXT: Proud is not the word. Sick is the word.”

TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY TUCKER VS. MICHELLE RAITZIM

The song: “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood

The story: Newly anointed mentorSheryl Crow claims that country singer Holly “could probably sing a phone book and make it sound gorgeous.” But Blake says she’s a little too sweet. “Holly, you could get a little bit madder!” he tells her. “Okay, fine!” Holly shouts back. “You asked for it!” If Blake wakes up tomorrow with his trailer windows smashed, we’ll know who to blame.

The battle: Both of these ladies are trying SO HARD. Holly’s doing hand gestures to illustrate the storm clouds gathering in her eyes. Michelle is breaking down the words “blown away” into a billion trillion tinier notes. Everyone’s emoting with such force, it looks like they’re literally trying to blow a house down.

The feedback: “It was fierce,” Shakira raves. “You really brought it. And I’m sure you’re making your coach really proud.” “Proud is not the word,” Blake sighs. “Sick is the word.” Blame it on all that sarsaparilla?

The verdict: “Can I just keep ’em both?” Blake asks. Exasperated, Carson replies, “No that’s not an option.” Blake: “Well screw you!” Carson: “Blake, I know it’s not fun for you, but who is the winner of this battle?” Things continue like this for approximately ten thousand minutes until Blake finally crowns Holly the winner. Why? Because whenever it’s a tie, Blake sticks with the folks in cowboy boots. Country strong!

TEAM USHER: JESS KELLNER VS. TAYLOR BECKHAM

The song: “You’re No Good” by Amy Winehouse

The story: Why does everything Usher says sound like a come-on? “Ready to get back in the saddle?” he coos to these ladies, joining his mentor, Pharrell Williams. “I am going to stand over here and I want you to energetically attract me towards you.” The two young women sing like crazy.. but Usher’s not impressed. “I put my face right there for you,” he tells Taylor. “There’s no reason why you couldn’t just”—he literally reaches out and cups her chin in his hands—”make it personal. You can do that!” Careful, Taylor. Next thing you know, the only thing that’s right there will be his pants.

The battle: Wearing a little rocker-girl nose ring, Jess looks and sounds very confident, growling like a champ. Former gymnast Taylor is trying her hardest to show some personality, even clapping her hands above her head, but she’s clearly nervous. Both of them sound a little too pretty. This is an Amy Winehouse song, ladies. Give it some grit! Make it french-inhale some cigarettes or something.

The feedback: “Taylor has this tortured thing about her when she’s singing, but I enjoyed Jess more,” says Blake. “I like to see somebody who’s having a ball out there.”

The verdict: Usher picks Jess—but then Blake steals Taylor. Wait. What?I figured [Usher] would go with who I picked, so that I could get her,” Blake claims. Either he’s lying, or that is some Machiavellian scheming. Either way, nicely done.

NEXT: The biggest, best, most epic hyperboles of all time!

TEAM BLAKE: CHRISTIAN PORTER VS. THE SWON BROTHERS

The song: “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

The story: Bar singer Christian Porter is having trouble hitting the high notes. You can tell, because every time he wants to aim for the upper register, he inadvertently points to the sky. His finger goes where his voice has never gone before. Sad!

The battle: The brothers Swon play guitar well and harmonize even better. But poor Christian looks so awkward, doing a little heel-toe dance on stage, nodding his head to the beat. He hits the high note this time, but he just can’t stop pointing. There goes his finger again. Aim for the stars, little digit.

The feedback: Blake can’t decide, because all three of them were halfway decent. “It’s always easier if somebody craps the bed,” he says. “Blake knows all about crapping the bed,” Adam adds, helpfully. “He’s an authority on it.”

The verdict: “I think it’s better for me and whoever I’m working with to stick with what I know,” Blake says. “They’re Okies, I’m an Okie.” The Swon Brothers win. Or, as their mom puts it, “You’re the swinners!”

TEAM ADAM: JUDITH HILL VS. KARINA IGLESIAS

The song: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown

The story: Judith used to sing backup for Michael Jackson. Karina’s voice is so powerful, Michael Jackson can probably still hear her now. Together, they’re two of the best singers here. And just in case you didn’t notice, Carson keeps teasing this battle as the best, biggest, most epic craziness of all time! Or something like that.

The battle: Judith’s voice is smooth and slinky. Karina’s is so strong, her spiky hair shakes when she sings. I could watch these ladies make like human blowdryers and aim a hot stream of notes at each other all night long.

The hyperbole: “That was the best battle I’ve ever seen on the show!” says Adam. “You two just shook the entire room!” says Usher. “I was freakin’ out!” says Blake. “That was just so good!… The only negative thing I’ll say is that Adam’s really stupid for putting y’all together.”

The verdict: Adam picks Judith. “She oozes charisma and confidence,” he says. But, luckily, Shakira steals Karina. They hug. Karina punches the air. Her grandmother rolls out in a wheelchair. Fist-pumps all around.

TEAM YOU: YOU VS. THE COACHES

If Judith or Karina doesn’t win, I will be the most saddest craziest hyperbole lover in the history of earth. What about you? Who were your favorites tonight? Who got robbed? And who’s the most “experienced” singer here? (Oops. Looks like the flask is empty. Sigh.)

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The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

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