The coaches have to pit their own against one another in the first Battle Round.

By Esther Zuckerman
Updated July 30, 2020 at 12:03 PM EDT
Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC
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On the first night of the Battle Rounds the coaches had a kill-them-with-kindness attitude. Coaches who didn’t even have to pick a contestant to continue on in the competition wavered in suggesting winners to those who did. At one point, when attempting to choose between Amanda Lee Peers and Taylor John Williams, who performed a duet of “Jolene,” Gwen said, “I feel like maybe I made a mistake to be on this show, because this is just terrible.”

But alas Gwen had to choose—she gave it to Taylor—and so did the rest of the coaches. That meant some people went home—(some, unfairly, in my opinion)—and others got saved by steals that landed them on other teams.

Best performance, vocal theatrics division

It’s completely hard to argue that the closing performance of “Maybe I’m Amazed” from Luke Wade and Griffin simply killed. Luke and Griffin’s battle round was just a chance for them to show off what kind of vocal hoops they could jump through, and that seemed even more remarkable given that the footage of them working with Pharrell and Alicia Keys showed them initially struggling. Griffin especially was especially impressive here to me, hitting crazy high notes with ease and subtlety. (“When I say, damn that’s high, that’s high,” Adam said.) I, however, understand Pharrell’s choice of Luke, who seems more like a fully developed artist. And Griffin wasn’t ignored—Blake scooped him up. (But more on that later.)

Best performance, au naturel division

Whereas Luke and Griffin sang at each other, Craig Wayne Boyd and James David Carter, in all their three-name goodness, sang “Wave on Wave” fully in tandem with tight harmonies. How in sync were they? They even embraced during the performance. This perhaps was predictable given the fact that they started jamming with their advisers, the members of Little Big Town. Blake kept James, while Gwen stole Craig. Everyone acted like Gwen’s taking Craig was a huge surprise, but she said at the beginning of the night that she was hoping to snag a country artist for her team.

Biggest outrage

The evening started out with a personal outrage for me. I fell absolutely in love with Maiya Sykes’ voice the minute she landed herself on the show, and while I’ll admit that Elyjuh René has stage presence in spades, Maiya was the pro on that stage—she even was coaching Elyjuh herself when he was struggling to reach a high note during their sessions with Pharrell and Alicia Keys. Both did a wonderful job during their performance of “If I Ain’t Got You,” but it felt unfair that no coach swooped in to steal her. The biggest argument against Maiya seemed on some level to be that it came too easily for her. That seems like a pretty dumb argument against someone. Blake said that Pharrell should pick Elyjuh because of the “growth that is going to happen.” Why not pick the pro, though?

Most unfair song choice

Gwen has Jean Kelley and Sugar Joan sing “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. This was just grossly unfair. No one deserves to be compared to Beyoncé. (Insert Michelle Williams joke here. Sorry.) Now, Gwen admitted that she chose “the hardest song in the world,” for these women to sing, and everything worked out for them in the end. Gwen picked Sugar as the winner, and Jean joined team Pharrell after he and Adam fought over her. But still they both seemed to be straining in their performance. Probably because they aren’t Beyoncé.

Best adviser comment

“Fleetwood Mac calls me trumpet voice.” Look, if The Voice was a full two hours of Stevie Nicks telling behind-the-scenes stories about Fleetwood Mac, this lady would be happy. Stevie is a goddess. But which adviser gave the best advice? Most of the adviser’s comments were fairly vague, but I have to give props to Gavin Rossdale. Of course Rossdale is arguably the most connected to the show—after all he’s married to Gwen—but he had a lot of constructive criticism. For instance, he encouraged Sugar to rein it in, while wanted to “lift the lid” on Jean, and told Amanda Lee Peers, “The more you let yourself be who you are is when it becomes the most interesting.” Peers ultimately gave it her all on stage.

Best continuation of a coach rivalry

Blake and Gwen continue to have the most unlikely, yet, delightful rivalry. In the first night of the Battle Rounds this manifested in a fight over Griffin, who got booted from Pharrell’s team. “Oh no you didn’t,” Blake said to Gwen, and came out swinging, touting that he and Griffin share a uniqueness. “All three of those coaches right there could be played on the same radio station,” he said. After Griffin made his choice, Blake pointed and laughed, and Gwen said, “You can’t hurt me.”

Best sweater

Pharrell wins for his sartorial choice. Where can I purchase that sweater?

Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on The Voice.

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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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