The Voice recap: And just like that, the Battles come to a close
Here’s where we’re at on season 19 of The Voice: Kelly Clarkson, in her pirate eye patch, starts singing “River” with her team advisor Leon Bridges and now it’s the only duet I want in my life. Oh, and here’s where we’re at in regards to information that might be more useful to you: It’s the last night of the Battles. Both Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani still have their saves, and Blake Shelton is the only coach with a steal to use. All of those could come in handy, since we have some contestants who gave us great audition performances in the Blinds.
Since we only have one night of Battles left, we’ll have to speed through a few of these: Kelly puts Emmalee and Kelsie Watts together for a duet on Demi Lovato’s “I Love Me” and wants her pure pop singer, Kelsie Watts, to remain on Team Kelly. Team Blake has a showdown between Ben Allen and Sam Stacy on Zac Brown Band’s “Free” and Blake chooses his “twangy” country singer, Ben Allen, as the winner. Team Gwen’s Tori Miller and Van Andrew tackle Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s duet “exile” and Gwen picks the versatile Van Andrew to continue. And now we’re down to the last six Battles. Let’s get into it.
Team Gwen: Carter Rubin vs. Larriah Jackson
“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor ft. John Legend
It’s our two babies battling it out for Gwen Stefani’s love and affection — I’m sorry — for a spot in the Knockouts. They are so young! Carter is 14 and Larriah is 15 and both sound much more mature, professional, and precise than those ages should allow. Even in rehearsals, Gwen and her team advisor Julia Michaels don’t have much by the way of notes. “The beginning is too sad” and “work on body language” as critiques sound like you’ve done a pretty good job here. The other coaches are really impressed by this performance — even John Legend, who is notoriously harsh on people performing his songs. He loved that they “found new places musically to go with the song.” Both Blake and John would go with Larriah because of how strong her vocals were and how natural she was on stage throughout, but Gwen is torn. She agrees that it's clear Larriah is singing from the heart and brings an emotional punch, but Carter’s voice is not one you hear every day.
Winner: Carter Rubin
Steals and Saves: You think Mama Gwen’s going to let Larriah go like that? She’ll be representing Team Gwen in the Four-Way Knockout.
Team Blake: Aaron Scott vs. Ian Flanigan
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
No offense to Aaron, who has a crystal clear voice and some real range, but unless Ian Flanigan — remember, the guy who sounds like he gargled glass as a child? — falls on his face or misses every single note, there’s no way Blake isn’t choosing him to win this Battle. Ian’s voice is completely different from anyone else on this show...maybe ever? After the performance, Kelly’s right to point out that this song selection did Aaron no favors: “This song tamed you,” she says, echoing John Legend who says it didn’t allow Aaron to show off who he was as an artist. Ian, on the other hand, gave us the grit and gravel, showed us more range than in his Blind Audition, and gave off a big “storyteller vibe.”
Winner: Ian Flanigan
Steals and Saves: n/a
Team Legend: Casmè vs Rio Souma
“You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Casmè and Rio Souma both went the soul and/or Motown route in their Blinds (Casmè sang Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You” and Rio tackled Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin'”) so this is a great song choice for the Battle duet. They sound great together in rehearsals, but Casmè’s energy and passion are just undeniable, even with plexiglass in front of her. They’re so good that team advisor Miguel actually starts tearing up from all the joy they’re bringing. They do the same thing in the actual performance. The reviews from the coaches are all basically the same: Rio is extremely talented and can handle some runs, but Casmè is impossible to turn away from. Kelly says that Casmè’s “one everyone should be worried about,” and her coach John tells her that on top of her great performance, she brought “flawless” vocals today, too.
Steals and Saves: n/a
Team Kelly: Ryan Gallagher vs. Marisa Corvo
“I Surrender” by Céline Dion
Sorry not sorry, but any time anyone takes on “I Surrender” on a singing competition I will not hesitate to bring up Kelly Clarkson singing the hell out of it on American Idol season 1 even with a hoarse voice. It is a marvel. It’s especially fun reminiscing about it this time since Kelly is the one now making her contestants attempt this huge ballad. Like the Aaron Scott/Ian Flanigan Battle, this one seems pretty skewed in favor of one singer. Obviously, Ryan Gallagher, our resident opera singer, has a set of pipes and lots of power, but this song was made for singers like Marisa Corvo. Ryan is very controlled and can hit big power notes with ease, but Marisa brings the power and the passion “I Surrender” calls for. Gwen calls her “hard to ignore” and John says “this moment was built for [her] to shine.” Coach Kelly was beyond impressed with Marisa’s take on Céline but doesn’t want to discount the skill Ryan showed. You know exactly what she’s going to do here, folks.
Winner: Marisa Corvo
Steals and Saves: We have an opera singer in our Four-Way Knockout — Ryan Gallagher will be representing Team Kelly.
Team Gwen: Liam St. John vs. Ryan Berg
“I Need A Dollar” by Aloe Blacc
Liam and Ryan are very different performers. Liam loves wearing headbands and moving around the stage and doing big rock-n-roll screams. Ryan is... much chiller. So, their first job in this Battle is to find a way to meet in the middle. Their second is to take a song that’s pretty repetitive and make it dynamic and interesting to listen to throughout. They mostly accomplish both things. Ryan has two major things going for him though: First, his mic pack comes loose and he completely ignores it and focuses on performing, which impresses all of the coaches; they can’t stop praising his professionalism. Second, he has a great texture and tone to his voice that most of the coaches admit their personal preference leans toward. Coach Gwen loves Liam’s passion and energy, but admits that Ryan really surprised her in this Battle and showed her “such showmanship” she hadn’t seen in rehearsal. She’s impressed.
Winner: Ryan Berg
Steals and Saves: n/a
Team Legend: Cami Clune vs. James Pyle
“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak
Cami and James had two of my favorite Blind Auditions this season (Cami did “Skinny Love” and James was the last person to audition, singing “Watermelon Sugar”), so I’m into this pairing. Of course, we know Blake Shelton still has his steal and this is the final Battle, so there’s not too much worry about losing one of these artists just yet. Cami and James actually come up with the arrangement for this song and Coach John Legend and team advisor Miguel are pleasantly surprised. John didn’t realize Cami had such a strong lower register and he’s happy to see James’s artistry is still in full display here. The coaches are torn after the performance. Kelly says that James has “the perfect amount of purity and rasp,” Gwen calls his voice “insane,” and Blake tells James that he was “the big discovery” for him in this Battle. Cami, however, has the kind of stylized voice that Gwen loves and Kelly says is extremely moving. John thinks the Battle was pretty equal, but can’t ignore some of Cami’s stylistic choices.
Winner: Cami Clune
Steals and Saves: The Cowboy liked what he saw — James Pyle moves over to Team Blake.
Team Kelly: Madeline Consoer, Sid Kingsley (steal), Desz, Tanner Gomes, Marisa Corvo, Ryan Gallagher (save), Kelsie Watts
Team Gwen: Payge Turner, Joseph Soul (steal), Chloé Hogan, Carter Rubin, Larriah Jackson (save), Van Andrew, Ryan Berg
Team Legend: Tamara Jade, Lauren Frihauf (steal), Bailey Rae, John Holiday, Julia Cooper (save), Casmè, Cami Clune
Team Blake: Worth the Wait, Taryn Papa (save), Jus Jon, Jim Ranger, Ian Flanigan, Ben Allen, James Pyle (steal)
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.