The Voice recap: Chrissy Teigen cheers on Team Legend on final night of Battles
It's the final night of The Voice season 20 Battles. Blake Shelton still has his steal left, John Legend still has his save. One Battle performance earns a full-out standing ovation from the coaches (there haven't been many this round, have there?). Shall we just get right on into the proceedings?
Team Legend: Deion Warren and Victor Solomon, "U Got It Bad" by Usher
John comes through with an excellent song choice for these two R&B and gospel singers. It's actually surprising how well this song works for Deion and Victor, especially because, as Victor notes, this is his first time singing a secular song on such a big stage. In rehearsals with team advisor Brandy (the guys are unbelievably excited to meet her, it is adorable), both Deion and Victor impress. Brandy notes how similar their voices are: They both have a raspiness, are masters of runs, and are very clean singers. It'll be hard to choose between the two. During their final stage rehearsal, John is pleased to see the performance level getting upgraded — they're doing synchronized choreo, friends! — and Deion and Victor even get a little video visit from Chrissy Teigen, there to cheer on Team Legend sure, but mostly making sure her love for this Usher song is known. Don't fail Chrissy, boys! And they don't. It's a great Battle performance that John says "went beyond exceeding [his] expectations." He thinks Victor, especially, was a surprise.
Winner: Victor Solomon!
Team Kelly: Ainae and Anna Grace, "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse
This song is one of Ainae's favorites, and even in the initial, stripped-down rehearsals, you can tell that she knows this song. Team Kelly advisor Luis Fonsi says Ainae "owned it" and is "a little star." But it turns out both of these young singers are a bit on the reserved, introverted side. Bringing confidence on stage will be their biggest challenge. Kelly and Luis want Anna Grace, who you may recall was a four-chair turn in the Blinds, to get a little angry and bring some attitude and ache to this song. Luis says that both their "vocals are there, but visually we need to see them get into it." Both need to let go a little more. In the performance, Blake thought Ainae was holding back, and Anna Grace won the round. Nick and John disagree and would select Ainae, whose styling felt fresh and more of the moment (not to mention Ainae's runs on this song were a true gift). Kelsea Ballerini, who is filling in for an under-the-weather Kelly Clarkson, is torn because of how different Ainae and Anna are as vocalists. It feels like Ainae took this Battle from where I'm sitting, but perhaps it's tough to cut a four-chair turn so early.
Winner: Anna Grace!
Team Nick: Raine Stern and Andrew Marshall, "Adore You" by Harry Styles
Speaking of who wins the Battle versus who moves on, this Team Nick matchup has an interesting turn of events. Raine Stern wowed the coaches in the Blinds — John says losing her to Nick might be one of his biggest heartbreaks from the season — but this song doesn't fit her voice as well as it does Andrew's, a one-chair turn whose warm, poppy sound really works here. In rehearsals, Nick and team advisor Darren Criss think Raine needs to work on strengthening her falsetto moments and Andrew needs to deal with breath control that's causing pitch problems. On stage, Andrew sounds even better than he did in his audition. All of the coaches, including Nick Jonas, say that Andrew won that performance. John thought Andrew sounded "natural" and "in [his] pocket," Kelsea, although a fan of Raine's performance skills, was more drawn to Andrew's vocals, and Blake notes that although Raine was a stunner in the Blinds, "Andrew had the stronger performance." Coach Nick finds himself in a tough spot: He agrees with the coaches about Andrew, but can't stop talking about the magic that Raine brought in the Blinds. He knows she can be better, but he also knows this is supposed to be about which singer excels in each round.
Winner: Raine Stern!
Steals/Saves: Hey, good on Blake Shelton who uses his one steal to give Andrew Marshall the chance he deserves after really bringing it in this round. Blake says that Andrew "won the battle" and he comes to Team Blake with "great pitch and a ton of energy." That's a nice ending to this story.
Team Blake: Pete Mroz and Savanna Chestnut, "Have A Little Faith in Me" by John Hiatt
Pete Mroz, who used to sing with Blake decades ago in Nashville, comes into rehearsals every bit the professional he is and nails this song, with more vulnerability in his voice than he was able to show in the Blinds. Savanna, who was battling some confidence issues when we first met her, is feeling that even more here. Blake and team advisors Dan + Shay try to bolster her up a bit by making sure she knows how good she is — the "shred" in her voice especially excites Blake — but on performance day, those nerves are still there. John wishes Savanna had "a sense of urgency" in her voice; she needs more passion and attack. Pete, however, has a "soothing" voice and clearly knows himself as an artist. He sounds great on this song.
Winner: Pete Mroz!
Team Kelly: JD Casper and Kenzie Wheeler, "Fishin' in the Dark" by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Let's be honest: There was no way Kelly was going to give up her big country male vocalist Kenzie Wheeler at this stage in the game. Case in point: She gives them this '80s country song that is very much in Kenzie's wheelhouse and less so in one-man-band Americana singer JD Casper's. Both vocalists sound good here and it does the job Kelly was hoping it would in bringing out their personalities a bit more, but Kenzie seems much more comfortable during the performance (we don't get to see any rehearsal footage for this one). Blake thinks JD's drum set may have taken him out of really diving into the performance like Kenzie did and Nick praises Kenzie for his authenticity. John applauds both guys for knowing who they are as vocalists and Nick thought this song gave JD a chance to show what he can do with his upper register. Of course, it's up to Kelsea here. She acknowledges that "the song choice favored Kenzie" but still thinks that Kenzie is "undeniable" as a country artist.
Winner: Kenzie Wheeler!
Team Nick: Bradley Sinclair and Rachel Mac, "Your Song" by Elton John
I bet a whole bunch of coaches wish they still had their steals after this performance. Both artists realize this is a tall order to take on such a well-known song, but no nerves exist here. Not even in rehearsals. Nick and Darren love Rachel's skills in vocal control, especially when it comes to her vibrato, but they want her to create dynamics in the song instead of being so linear. They also love Bradley's "rich baritone" and that "rasp that comes out when he's belting." They want him to loosen up and be less technical. It ends up being a great performance. So great that all four coaches are up on their feet by the end. When Nick tells Bradley and Rachel that this was "the best performance we've had in the Battle round," John Legend chimes in with "no question." Bradley's rasp is chill-inducing, and Rachel's power and vocal control are insane. John calls both of them "perfect" in this performance. That's a big deal! The coaches don't know how to decide between them, but the fact that Rachel is that in control at just 16 is a big thing to consider.
Winner: Rachel Mac!
Team Legend: Carolina Rial and Rio Doyle, "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra
Carolina Rial and Rio Doyle are the two youngest members of Team Legend (at 17 and 16, respectively), but dang, these teens have some power. Carolina has some big, powerful high notes in her bag of tricks, and Rio has a "huskier, full voice." So, they sound completely different, but they are both really going for it here. They're so passionate, in fact, that Brandy starts to tear up in rehearsal because she knows they "have it" and she so badly wants them to keep pursuing music. Bring Brandy back next season! After their performance, Kelsea praises their breath control and stamina on stage but notes that it seems like Carolina has more experience. Nick is impressed with Rio's power, but finds Carolina's voice "refreshing" and compares her to Christina Aguilera. John still has his save, so we know both of these ladies will be moving forward into the Knockouts, but he still needs to make a decision. He's in awe of Carolina's range but is drawn to Rio's unique tone and the risks she took.
Winner: Rio Doyle!
Steals/Saves: John uses his save and Carolina Rial will be representing Team Legend in the Four-Way Knockout.
Next week: The Knockouts begin! And with them brings this season's mega-mentor, Snoop Dogg. Yep, Snoop Dogg.
TEAM KELLY: Ryleigh Modig, Avery Roberson (steal), Gihanna Zoë, Corey Ward, Savanna Woods (save), Anna Grace, Kenzie Wheeler
TEAM LEGEND: Gean Garcia (steal), Pia Renee, Zania Alaké, Ciana Pelekai, Victor Solomon, Rio Doyle, Carolina Rial (save)
TEAM NICK: Dana Monique, Devan Blake Jones (save), Jose Figueroa Jr., Zae Romeo, Keegan Ferrell (steal), Raine Stern, Rachel Mac
TEAM BLAKE: Connor Christian, Ethan Lively, Cam Anthony, Emma Caroline (save), Jordan Matthew Young, Andrew Marshall (steal), Pete Mroz