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S9 E10
October 21, 2015 at 06:28 PM EDT

The Battles concluded tonight, and while it should have been a time for The Voice to ramp up this season’s energy, I couldn’t muster a celebratory mood (and not just because Morgan Frazier was absolutely robbed — more on that to come). Something has been weighing on my mind, dear readers, but I’ve waited until after the Battles were over to share my suspicions with you. Here they are: Team Gwen is being dealt a bad hand this year. After 10 episodes, it’s become obvious something’s up.

Here’s my beef: 18 Battles were aired over the last two weeks — the other six were montaged. Of those 18 to make it to TV, six belonged to Team Adam. How many featured performances from Team Gwen? Three. Adam’s team ended up with literally twice the airtime as Gwen’s. Each hour-long episode consisted of three Battles, so that’s an entire extra episode of just Team Adam. And it gets worse. Team Adam didn’t have a single Battle montaged this entire season, while Team Gwen had three — that’s fully half of her Team that didn’t get to show America its talent. 

Shafting Team Gwen is nothing new this season. During the Blind Auditions, the pattern was the same: Team Adam had just a single audition montaged, while Team Gwen had three. (For the record, none of Team Blake’s singers were montaged during auditions. During the Battles, Team Blake got five aired performances, and Team Pharrell had four. Those are the amounts they still would have gotten were the Battles divided evenly between the four coaches.) When we add it all up, it’s impossible to ignore that Team Gwen just isn’t getting a fair deal. And on a show where contestants’ fates are eventually determined by popular vote, being seen matters. A lot.

I’ll leave the statistics alone for now, but I promise to keep an eye on this situation as the season progresses. Now, on to the final three Battle performances!

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First to share the stage are Amanda Ayala and Shelby Brown of Team Adam. When Amanda arrives in rehearsal and spots John Fogerty, she tells us her mom is a big fan. No further proof is needed that The Voice could stand to get a little hipper. Thank God for Rihanna next week. Actually, just thank God for Rihanna, in general. Adam gives Amanda and Shelby “Edge of Seventeen” by former Voice advisor Stevie Nicks. Both these girls are 17, so it’s a cute enough gimmick, but I always wish the coaches would err more on the side of what’s current in music today, considering today is when these girls could potentially get a record deal, not 1981.

Shelby’s wheelhouse is country, so she knows she’ll have to step up her game to defeat aspiring rock star Amanda. During their Battle, it doesn’t take long to see that determination paying off. Amanda has a grungy tone that’s a good fit for ’80s rock, but it becomes monotonous as the song progresses. Shelby’s voice, sweet and commanding by turn, dominates the performance. Shelby herself seems ready to dominate as well. She has one of the most combative stage presences of the season. Her coach feels that spark, and chooses to let Amanda go.

NEXT: Just one steal left 

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