“The Voice” battles reached their not super-dramatic but perfectly pleasant end Tuesday night. Next week, it’ll be on to the knockouts, when Nate Ruess, of Fun. fame, will help mentor the teams.
With Pharrell Williams the sole coach still in possession of a steal, the one-hour batch of battles lacked a certain sense of suspense, but compensated with businesslike briskness. Here’s how it all went down:
Team Christina: Jeremy Gaynor vs. Rob Taylor: Christina Aguilera pitted West Point Band leader, expectant father and four-chair turn Gaynor against dedicated son Taylor, who had turned all the coaches except Blake Shelton during the blinds. She assigned them Maroon 5’s “Animals,” and then urged them to “soul up” the song and make it their own. As they took the stage, Aguilera asked her fellow coaches for help deciding between the two “solid performers.” Williams didn’t take a clear stand, but Adam Levine thought the “grace” and “sobering presence” Gaynor showed during the blinds made him the better choice. Shelton told Aguilera she couldn’t go wrong. Aguilera seemed ultimately fairly resolute, choosing Taylor, who promptly sunk into a crouch and was comforted by the man he’d just beaten, Gaynor. Later, Gaynor, who went home unstolen, said he was looking forward not just to pursuing his own musical career, but also to seeing Taylor at the top. Gotta salute this soldier for his big heart, right?
Team Pharrell: Noelle Bybee vs. Sawyer Fredericks: The winner of this matchup between two teens – on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” -- was probably a foregone conclusion: Seventeen-year-old Bybee had turned only one chair and barely seen airtime during the blinds; Fredericks, 15, was a much-gushed-over four-chair turn. In fact, their duet may have been the sweetest battle of the season. Their entwined voices seemed to float over the coaches and coat them with good feeling. “All the things that you did were done with so much care for the other person,” Levine told them, noting that there was “a lot of artistry in that.” Still, he said, in terms of picking a winner, he’d “have to go with Sawyer because it boggles the mind when you listen to Sawyer sing.” The other coaches mostly seemed to agree. After Williams had named Fredericks as the winner, with little display of difficulty in making his decision, Levine told him he thought Fredericks was a potential winner.
Team Blake: Corey Kent White vs. Jacob Rummell: Actually, the winner of this matchup may have been somewhat predetermined, too, even though Shelton said he planned to reward whichever singer worked the hardest. Kent White is not only a young country singer, but from Oklahoma to boot, giving him a special connection to his coach. Rummell, meanwhile, is a pop singer from Ohio, who nevertheless rose to the challenge of singing Hunter Hayes’ “I Want Crazy,” a boot-shuffler Shelton kept insisting was not a country song. The country coach also insisted he was struggling over his decision, asking Aguilera what she would do. “If I were you, Corey, because I feel like you have some connection,” she told Shelton, having earlier told Kent White, “You scream Blake’s team to me.” But it all worked out well for both singers. After Shelton picked Kent White, Williams used his remaining steal to snap up Rummell, whose voice he had called “unique.”
We also learned, via fast-forward montage, that Aguilera had advanced Koryn Hawthorne over Vance Smith, Shelton had chosen Brooke Adee over Bay Brooks, and Levine had picked Lexi Davila over Bren’nae Debarge.
On to the knockouts!