In week two of the battle rounds, the coaches use their steals to save some surprising talent
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The Voice - Season 14
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It’s week two of the battle rounds and as Shakira so elegantly put it, “It’s go time.”

For those of you who are new to the game, here’s what the formula for the battle rounds looks like: The coach pairs two people together and brings them in for the first rehearsal, in which one singer is obviously superior. The coach and his or her handy sidekick then spend their time giving pointers to the underdog, so that by the time the second rehearsal rolls around, suddenly the roles have changed — the underdog now sounds better. The coach compliments the former underdog on all of the “homework” they must’ve done, and then the former leader is the one in need of some advice. That way, when the players actually head to the battle, we have no idea who will win. Is it predictable? Yes. Does it work? Definitely.

Now that you’re prepped for battle, it’s time to get off the ropes! Let’s get into the ring, shall we?

TEAM USHER: JESSICA CHILDRESS VS. VEDO

The song: “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars

The battle: Usher pairs the show’s cutest personality with the young R&B hopeful whose mom just passed away. In the first rehearsal with Pharrell and Usher — or as Jessica calls them, “two of the baddest guys in the game” — Jessica is feeling apprehensive about the song choice when she hears the desperation Vedo puts into the track. She thinks it’s out of her range, but Pharrell disagrees. He thinks the song challenges her and makes her “shine.” Sidenote: Did Pharrell seem oddly hippie-like in this episode? There’s no way anyone is that chill. I don’t care how rich you are.

After the first rehearsal, Jessica steps up her game and outshines Vedo when it comes to personality. But when they step in the ring, Vedo brings the shine in honor of his mother. And after a lot of jumping around, a few slick dance moves, and one very moving moment in which Vedo gets down on one knee and holds Jessica’s hand — P.S. she’s married — it’s time for the judges’ reactions.

The verdict: Basically, everyone wants to be Jessica’s friend. But despite winning Miss Congeniality for this season, Jessica is sent home when Usher picks Vedo. Bonus sweet moment! Usher goes backstage to love on Vedo, because he knows that he misses his mom. Thanks a lot, Usher. Now I’m crying.

*Christina Milian rocks leather pants.

TEAM SHAKIRA: LUKE EDGEMON VS. MONIQUE ABBADIE

The song: “You and I” by Lady Gaga

The battle: This “eclectic” pairing is one I wasn’t so sure about at first. But after drinking a couple cups of coffee (through a straw), Shakira is able to get these two on the same page. At first, Monique has to fight her Broadway-ness while Luke is encouraged to embrace his yodeling. But at the second rehearsal, it all comes down to the two of them being able to work together. Remember: It’s a competition, y’all, and it’s not always easy to avoid the other contestant’s toes.

But when the time comes, the preacher’s kid goes up against the former child star in an all-smiles performance that ends with a sweet face-to-face moment between the singers. I thought both gave a solid performance, but I’m drawn to Luke’s inflections. Also, his hair looks great.

The verdict: When Blake asks, “Where in the hell did Luke come from?” Adam responds with the obvious answer: “From heaven.” And when it comes time for Shakira to pick, she uses her impressive IQ and decides to pick Monique, hoping that someone will steal Luke. And it works! Both Blake and Usher push their buttons. But after Usher doesn’t say much of anything to sway Luke’s choice, Blake steals Luke. The lesson here for Usher: Playing it cool doesn’t always work. As Luke put it, “Blake is a winner.”

NEXT: Usher gives Blake a dance lesson

TEAM BLAKE: JACQUI SANDELL VS. SAVANNAH BERRY

The song: “Little White Church” by Little Big Town

The battle: Here, Blake takes a rocker and a country darling and gives them a good ol’ country tune. In the first rehearsal, Blake warns Jacqui to watch her “growl,” to which Jacqui makes some excuse about how her age and touring experience have made her lose her voice. It doesn’t fly with me. Regardless, Savannah has her struggles as well when she tries to keep up with the song’s tempo. A self-proclaimed ballad singer, Savannah is out of her wheelhouse. And based on Jacqui’s tattoos and piercings, I think it’s safe to say both girls are facing a challenge.

When show time rolls around, the “singing ballerina” and “young country hopeful” (Thanks for those titles, Carson) take the stage in a “fun” performance of the fast-paced tune. Despite Jacqui’s touring experience, I think Savannah does a better job of really getting into the song. And Adam agrees with me when he calls her victory jump “the cutest thing ever.” The coaches all agree that they had fun, but Savannah appears to be the favorite.

The verdict: It’s no surprise that Blake goes with Savannah, but what is surprising is the fact that Jacqui then calls him “Blakey.” Honey, you might have a nose piercing, but Miranda Lambert has a rifle. Just sayin’.

*Usher gives Blake a dance lesson. Best performance of the night? I think so.

TEAM SHAKIRA: C. PERKINS VS. KRIS THOMAS

The song: “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars

The battle: Shakira pairs this C. Perkins fellow we’ve never met with the man who sounds like a woman (and knows how to kill a Whitney Houston song). The duo are handed the night’s second Bruno Mars song, which immediately presents a challenge for C. Is that his first name? I’m confused.

When the guys start rehearsing, Joel Madden is quick to point out the obvious: “Everybody loves a guy that can sing like a girl, amirite?” You are right, Joel. And that doesn’t help C.’s (this name is killing me) confidence. And it also doesn’t help that C. is sounding a little pitchy. Luckily, by the time the battle rolls around, C. has stopped trying to out-sing Kris. Instead, he takes a smooth approach that is refreshing. But overall, the battle falls a little flat for me. Let me put it this way: If I were mapping the battle out like a seventh-grade paper, there wouldn’t be a climax. What can I say? I’m a writer.

The verdict: The coaches agree that while the battle was good, both singers were definitely holding back. So when Shakira chooses Kris, Usher decides to take C. under his wing… but not until he lets him sweat it out first. As C. heads around to hug all the coaches, Usher waits until C. is standing in front of him to hit his button. Apparently, Usher wants C. to remember that feeling. And we thought Christina had a flair for the dramatic.

NEXT: Adam’s rockers take on a folksy rendition of an Elvis Presley song

TEAM ADAM: MIDAS WHALE VS. PATRICK DODD

The song: “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley

The battle: One verse into this song and my jaw is on the floor. These three can harmonize like nobody’s business, and I’m loving every minute of this rehearsal. The only big change that Adam makes is to the song’s actual arrangement, taking away some of the Elvis elements and instead adding a real bluegrass feel. The result is a very fast knee-slapping good time.

And now, it’s time for the battle of the suits and the leather jacket. *insert shameless Kia promotion here* All three guys enter the ring swinging. The vocals sound great as Patrick blends in with the harmonies of Midas Whale. By the end of the performance, the coaches are clapping along, and Shakira’s getting her mini groove on (shoulders only). Adam and Usher reward the performance with a standing ovation, which only makes Adam’s decision that much harder.

The verdict: After the coaches debate the charisma of Midas Whale and the crazy-cool rasp of Patrick, Adam makes what he claims is the hardest decision he’s had to make in four seasons. Adam saves Midas Whale and despite the crowd chanting “steal,” Patrick heads off the stage to see his family. But Adam follows him backstage to reiterate to Patrick that he thinks he’s “going to be fine.” Memphis ain’t too shabby after all, right?

TEAM USHER: ORLANDO DIXON VS. RYAN INNES

The song: “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

The battle: Pairing Blues Brothers with swag, Usher brings these two singers in for their first rehearsal. Ryan has the emotion down from the start, but Pharrell has to bring it out in Orlando, which results in the second set of tears from Team Usher tonight. Like I said, Pharrell is oddly hippie-esque for me right now, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s not making me cry, that’s for sure.

To the battle! Ryan and Orlando share an adorable secret handshake before they start their soulful, run-filled rendition of the classic song. Orlando holds his own, but Ryan’s sound is something that can’t be mimicked. Regardless, Ryan and Orlando’s chemistry is electric, and the passion these two have for music radiates through their performance. Plus, it helps that Ryan’s beard is so ah-mazing.

The verdict: After Adam picks Orlando, Blake picks Ryan, and Shakira confesses that “sometimes a girl can’t” pick, Usher is left with his hardest decision yet. Shakira teaches the pop star some quick Lamaze breathing techniques before Usher finally picks Ryan. But don’t worry: Adam can’t let Orlando walk away, so he steals him for himself! Yay! Everyone is happy again!

Best moment of the night? Carson claiming that he didn’t tell Usher to shut up: “You’re Usher. I would never say that.” Good save, C.

So what did you guys think of tonight’s battles? Was anyone else devastated to see Jessica go, just from a personality standpoint? And did you think C. deserved to be saved? Did Adam make the right decision in saving Orlando after he claimed that he had someone in mind for his final save? Who were your favorites tonight? And who are you most looking forward to seeing tomorrow night? Sarah Simmons? Me too!

Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill

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The Voice - Season 14
The Voice

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

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