Cee Lo’s head tattoo has vanished, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for The Battle Round to begin! Monday night marked the first night of Round 2 of The Voice (or, as the ratings wranglers hashtagged it: #BattlesPremiere), and beyond changing their clothes for the first time in weeks, it was time for the Cee Lo, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton to cut down about half of the contestants they swore they could take all the way a mere round ago.
Twelve of these contestants battled on night one to make it to the Knockout Round. Here’s who kept their spot, who got stolen and who’s begging for their day jobs back.
Team Adam: Nic Hawk vs. Grey
Up first in the Battles are Nic Hawk and Grey (no last name needed). Coach Adam views Grey, the former wedding singer, and Nic, obsessed with Adam’s bod (who’s not?), as “the two most opposite people I can imagine,” which is a bit of a stretch. In any case, he assigns them Jessie J’s “Domino.” Grey comes in with the clear advantage, as she sings the song weekly at weddings, but Nic’s energy is a force to be reckoned with.
Mentor Ryan Tedder tells them “that was like a 9.9” at their final practice, leading everyone to wonder, “Out of what?”
On stage, the vocal performance is a little lackluster, but Grey and Nic do their best to wave some arms and strut about to spice it up. It’s sassy, though not mind-blowing.
“The value of someone like Nic on this show is priceless,” says Blake. “He’s got his own little disco going, and it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in that.” Cee Lo also thinks Nic dominated, while Christina leans toward the vocal consistency of Grey.
Adam commends the energetic performance, and declares Grey the winner. Just as Nic is about to break into farewell tears, Blake jumps in as an unexpected hero and steals him!
Team Christina: Amber Nicole vs. Timyra-Joi
Up next is a battle of the teen powerhouses! Christina matches up two of Season 5‘s youngest artists, 17 year-old Amber Nicole and 15 year-old Timyra-Joi, because they both have “youthfulness and potential.” Beyonce’s “Listen” is a doozy of a choice for the teens, but they’re up for it. Neither require too much coaching from Christina or mentor Ed Sheeran, both of whom just advise the contestants to get through their nerves and demonstrate emotion. On performance night, both hit the notes perfectly, and have Xtina in tears by the end of the song.
“That’s a win right there, making her cry,” Blake says.
“You have this voice that’s a lot taller than you,” Adam tells Timyra-Joi.
“If I were up and coming on the scene, I would be scared of you guys right now,” Christina says, glowing with pride and a glaringly orange spray tan. Her fear extends more to Amber Nicole and her beautiful tone, though, so Amber advances to the next round. The fact that no one scoops up Timyra-Joi is a utterly insane.
Team Blake: Justin Chain vs. Shelbie Z
Blake pairs one country singer with another for his first Battle. Twenty-three-year-old country crooner Justin Chain and 21 year-old former pageant kid Shelbie Z. prepare to do battle on Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s duet, “Don’t You Wanna Stay?”
With the help of Cher and her amazing technicolor wig, Blake helps the Alabama natives fine-tune their harmonies, and pushes them to the extremes of their ranges. Cher helps Shelbie Z. gain confidence on her high notes by telling the singer to “think high.” Oddly enough, positive thinking actually works. The miracle that is Cher, right?
When the two perform, their efforts to create an onstage chemistry is borderline awkward, but they make up for it with flawless harmonies.
“You would be a great duet pairing, for real,” Christina says, adding, “It’s so hard to be so accurate and on point with harmony, and you guys blended so perfectly.”
“The best battles are the ones that don’t feel like that,” says Adam. “I couldn’t focus on the separation because you guys blended so perfectly.”
Blake compares their performance to his own experience singing with Kelly Clarkson. “Justin would have kicked the hell out of what I would have done,” he says. “Shelbie Z. delivered what Kelly would have done.”
Being on par with Kelly Clarkson beats outperforming Blake, so Blake chooses Shelbie Z.
Team Cee Lo: Anthony Paul vs. Caroline Pennell
Cee Lo chooses an unexpected pairing and gives them an unexpected song for his first battle. Ethereal singer Caroline Pennell teams up with show choir alum Anthony Paul to perform Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” Talk about songs that do not fit Caroline’s voice; the potential for disaster looms heavy.
Wearing red onesie pajamas, Cee Lo coaches the two with the help of mentor Miguel. Their magic touch certainly works, and the potentially cringe-worthy performance is anything but.
Being that the performance is basically like Florence Welch partnering with Glee to cover Justin Bieber…it works shockingly well. The darker reduced-tempo rendition is lovely all around. With the exception of a few falsetto notes from Anthony, however, the song doesn’t give either a chance to really demonstrate their vocal range.
“Caroline, you turned it into something I could see being a very popular version of the song,” Adam says.
“You’re both really good at what you do, but I think Anthony showed versatility,” Blake says.
“That was my favorite battle of the whole day. I felt the heart in it,” Christina says, but declines to help Cee Lo chose a winner.
“Anthony, there’s something about your voice that’s just so efficient,” Cee Lo tells him. “Caroline, there’s something just so surreal about your voice. It encourages me to dream with my eyes open.”
Cee Lo goes with open-eyed dreaming and chooses Caroline. Anthony starts his farewell speech by telling Cee Lo, “It’s been a great ride,” when Christina swoops in to save him. Let the ride continue!
Team Adam: Donna Allen vs. Tessanne Chin
Veteran soul singer Donna Allen faces Jamaican powerhouse Tessanne Chin in Team Adam’s second battle. “I want Tessanne to have the soul that Donna has, and I want Donna to have the smooth quality that Tessanne has,” Adam explains of the cloned hybrid he is apparently planning.
The duo sings Emeli Sande’s “Next to Me,” and rehearsals are a battle of who can sing the loudest. The 54-year-old Donna has a fearless range, and seems at an early advantage over Tessanne. “If you take a backseat to Donna, she will steamroll you,” Ryan Tedder warns.
The performance takes the song to a new level, and even though Donna screams out many of her notes, it’s controlled and awe-inspiring. Tessanne, however, does not allow herself to get steamrolled.
“It was epic,” says Blake. “I really got into Donna on that.”
“My choice would be Tessanne, but wow Donna you’re amazing,” Christina says.
“I think that you’re both world class singers. I think that either one of you could win this thing,” Adam tells his teammates.
Unfortunately, only one team member can actually go on to try to win this thing, and that is Tessanne. Even though the coaches agree that Donna had the vocal ability of Tina Turner, no one turns around to steal her. And so continues the Battle Round trend of filtering out anyone outside the 16-34 age group.
Team Christina: Briana Cuoco vs. Jacquie Lee
Team Christina’s Briana “That Big Bang Girl’s Sister” Cuoco and Jacquie Lee close out the evening. Christina and Ed Sheeran work with the two to make The Animals’ “House Of The Rising Sun” different from the zillion other cover performances that have come before it. Christina tells Briana to use more blues inflections, and instructs Jacquie to step out of her sweet girl persona to give it a bit more attitude. Briana, in particular, did not deliver an overly impressive Blind Auditions performance, so she really needs to turn things around for this battle.
Turn it around she does, as both she and Jacquie power through the performance, bringing the crowd to its feet. Against all odds, it is the best battle of the night, and despite some unfortunate dance moves, the stage presence matches the talent.
“That was amazing on both of your parts,” Cee Lo says.
“Both you girls won this battle to be honest,” Christina tells them, momentarily forgetting the rules. After struggling with a decision, Christina chooses Jacquie. It looks like it’s back to running errands for her sister for Briana until…
Blake and Cee Lo jump in to save!
“There’s nothing I value more than that weathered and durable quality,” Cee Lo says, pointing out that he also tried to get Briana in the Blind Auditions. Blake makes the point that he can tell she’s a singer-songwriter from the way she performed (or the weeks he had to look it up since the Blind Auditions). Seeing his track record of success, Briana joins Team Blake, using up his second and final steal.
An exhilarating end to night one of the Battle Round, indeed. The Battles continue on Tuesday night!
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