So many duets, so much angst.

By Maggie Fremont
March 23, 2020 at 10:55 PM EDT

The Battles have arrived, my babies. Don’t we need some gorgeous harmonies and artists pushing each other to compete at their very best right now? I know I do. But before we get into the performances, there is some housekeeping to take care of: We have new Battle Round rules this season. First, each coach still gets one “save" in the Battles, but the four artists saved will have to go on to compete in a four-way Knockout in the next round. Second, a coach can only use that “save” if the other coaches don’t use their “steal.” But — tricky, tricky — the other coaches have to use their “steal” before the artist walks off the stage. Once they’re down the steps, the "steal" is off the table and the original coach can then use their “save.” Does it sound a little convoluted? It sort of is. But we’ll all get the hang of it. Change is a good thing. I think?

To help our teams with the singing part of this whole shebang, each coach has brought on an advisor: Kelly Clarkson enlists Dua Lipa, Blake Shelton tags Bebe Rexha, John Legend gets an assist from Ella Mai, and yes, bless the heavens, Nick Jonas has brought his brothers Joe and Kevin along for the Battles ride. Shall we get to it?

Trae Patton/NBC

Team Blake: Todd Michael Hall vs. Joei Fulco

“The Best” by Tina Turner

It’s Blake’s classic rock artists and we are heading back to the early '90s for this wail off. Tina Turner’s “The Best” is a great song to showcase the strengths of both of their voices — Joei’s rasp and command of her lower register and Todd’s insane range. In rehearsal, Bebe Rexha, Blake’s team advisor, tells them to work on their blending. Whatever they do works. Joei is perfect on this song and both Nick and Blake describe her voice using words like “intriguing” and “magical” and I think that just means they want to hear more. Todd hits truly insane notes that reminds John Legend why he wanted him on his team in the first place.

Winner: Blake picks Joei Fulco!

Steals and Saves: The rule changes are messing with Kelly Clarkson, who waits too long to hit her steal button for Todd Michael Hall (remember, they have to hit it before they get off the stage), and so Blake hits his “save” button. Todd says he’s happy to stay on Blake’s team, but that means he’ll have to fight it out in a four-way knockout later. In short, Todd Michael Hall remains on Team Blake and rules are hard.

Team Kelly: Chelle vs. Anaya Cheyenne

“Scared To Be Lonely” by Dua Lipa and Martin Garrix

These two youngsters — Chelle is 19, Anaya just 16 — get to perform a Dua Lipa song for Dua Lipa, the Team Kelly season 18 advisor. How intimidating! Kelly loves how confident Anaya is. She does not sound like a 16-year-old. She also thinks Chelle, with her jazz and soul background, could be a dark horse. In the actual performance, it’s clear this is a song much better suited for Anaya — and you can tell that even before she hits that insane high note. Even the other coaches can tell that this wasn’t Chelle’s best performance. John tells Anaya that she was a star as soon as she walked out on stage. It’s an easy choice.

Winner: Anaya Cheyenne!

Steals and Saves: n/a

Team Nick: Joanna Serenko vs. Roderick Chambers

“when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish

It’s a four-chair turn versus a one chair turn, as Nick pairs up two of his R&B singers, Joanna and Roderick. In rehearsal, Roderick sounds even better than I remember, especially in his head voice. After hearing these two sing together, Nick does some real-time producing and builds in some moments for great harmonies. Kevin and Joe concur. All the JoBros instruct them to really build a story out of this performance. Um, guys, The Jonas Brothers are very good at their jobs. Joanna and Roderick don’t seem like an obvious pair, but they blend so well on stage. Roderick has truly never sounded better — he would’ve never been a one-chair turn with this performance. Joanna is obviously great and makes everything from her subtle, restrained low notes to big soaring moments at the end seem effortless. They get a standing ovation from the coaches. “I feel bad for you,” Kelly says, because this is an impossible choice.

Winner: Roderick Chambers!! Can you even believe?

Steals and Saves: Joanna Serenko lands on Team Legend! 

Team Legend: Mike Jerel vs. Zach Day

“Adorn” by Miguel

Ella Mai says it perfectly: After seeing the Blinds, she would’ve never thought to put Mike and Zach together, but she bows down to John Legend because their voices end up blending really well. In fact, in rehearsal, the harmonies are the only thing working at first. John wants both of these singers to show the confidence and control over their big ranges like they did in their auditions. Mike’s audition especially (he did “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”) was electrifying. They need to make sure they really bring it during their individual moments in this Battle. They need to think sexy and swaggy if they want to impress. Guess what? They deliver. Any hesitancy is completely gone. I mean, Mike basically serenades Kelly Clarkson the whole time. This is better than anyone imagined and none of the other coaches offer much help, except for Blake, who does note that technically Mike is much more precise and holy hell his runs were incredible.

Winner: John says this is pretty much a tie but goes with the artist whose tone appeals to him more — Mike Jerel and his somehow sexy black turtleneck take this one.

Steals and Saves: n/a

Team Blake: Jamal Corrie vs. Levi Watkins

“Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

Aw, I love a cute story like this: In the Executive Auditions (before an artist makes the Blinds), Jamal and Levi ended up singing together in the waiting room and Jamal told Levi that if they made it past the Blinds, they’d be singing together again. Here they are! Also cute? Jamal thinks of Levi — WHO IS ONLY 14 — as his little brother. After their rehearsal with Blake and Bebe Rexha, Jamal tells Levi he’s proud of him. This is the content I need. In rehearsal, both artists are pushed out of their comfort zone: Jamal needs to work on making his big notes sound less forced and Bebe Rexha has Levi go up an octave to give him a fighting chance against Jamal’s power vocals. On stage, these two are a lot of fun — you can tell they really enjoy being up there together. But maybe Jamal’s having too much fun? Blake tells him that maybe his high energy, running around schtick is what caused him to have so many pitch issues. Because of that, Levi really shines. John Legend is especially impressed that Levi perfectly executes in both his low register and when he goes for those big high notes.

Winner: Levi Watkins, boy wonder moves on to the Knockouts!

Steals and Saves: n/a

Team Nick: Allegra Miles vs. Michael Williams

“How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston

Look at these cuties! Allegra wowed Nick with a cool spin on a Kings of Leon song in her audition and Michael, you may remember, is the artist who Nick wanted to help master his falsetto. Nick is putting together some great Battles as a rookie coach, and during this rehearsal, both of his brothers are super into the pairing. The JoBros give Michael a master class on falsetto, and they work with Allegra on dynamics and enunciation. Immediately, they are blown away by how great their voices blend — they sound like they’ve been singing together for years. This Battle gives me chills. Nick has given them Sam Smith’s version of this Whitney classic, but Allegra and Michael put their own spin on it. I mean, they’re basically having a falsetto-off. This is a tough call, but all of Nick’s fellow coaches note just how special Allegra’s tone is. “Allegra’s tone is a finale tone,” Kelly tells Nick. You can’t let that go.

Winner: Allegra Miles!

Steals and Saves: Nick can’t let Michael Williams go either — he’s back on Team Nick and headed to the four-way Knockout. 

TEAM STANDINGS

Team Blake: Joei Fulco, Todd Michael Hall (save), Levi Watkins

Still to Battle: Todd Tilghman, Toneisha Harris, Jon Mullins, Jacob Daniel Murphy, Cam Spinks, Kailey Abel

Team Legend: Joanna Serenko (stolen from Team Nick), Mike Jerel

Still to Battle: Nelson Cade III, Darious Lyles, Cammwess, Thunderstorm Artis, Zan Fiskum, Brittney Allen, Mandi Castillo, Cedrice

Team Nick: Roderick Chambers, Allegra Miles, Michael Williams (save)

Still to Battle: Tate Brusa, Arei Moon, Samuel Wilco, Jacob Miller, Anders Drerup, Kevin Farris

Team Kelly: Anaya Cheyenne

Still to Battle: Tayler Green, Megan Danielle, Sara Collins, Samantha Howell,, Mandi Thomas, Jules, Micah Iverson, Gigi Hess

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