On night two of "The Voice" Season 4 battle rounds, six more sets of singers squared off in the ring, and the coaches listened closely, waiting for the right time -- the right person -- to steal.
Usher again proved himself to be a different sort of coach than we've seen on the show before: more exacting, less nurturing, willing to try a few tricks to elicit the best performances from his singers, a serious combatant, uninterested in joking around.
"This is funny to you?" he asked a team member who made the mistake of laughing nervously after a rehearsal mess-up. "This is a battle. You've got to take this seriously, man."
Does Usher take this sort of drill-sergeant approach with his most-famous mentee, Justin Bieber? One wonders.
Usher ultimately sent home the recipient of his coolly delivered slice-and-dice, Jeff Lewis, the erstwhile Interscope records hopeful. Perhaps Lewis can get his old golf-course job back? Lewis' ouster (no save) meant his opponent, model Josiah Hawley, advanced, though most of the judges -- Blake Shelton excepted -- weren't terribly impressed with either of them in their evenly matched battle round rendition of the Police's "Roxanne." I guess, all things being equal, you may as well give the win to the male model.
An earlier matchup between Team Adam's sheriff Michael Austin and firefighter and single father Warren Stone, who traded a few first-responder barbs, also seemed to tip in favor of the prettier contestant. Coach Adam Levine, who assigned them Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party," seemed alarmed by Austin's confession that he'd just had a tumor removed from his sinus. That kind of surgery "affects everything," Levine said, revealing vague distaste.
It mostly came down to gruff (Austin) versus smooth (Stone), and Levine picked smooth, saying he felt there was more diversity in Stone's voice. If you expected Shelton to steal Levine's discarded country-rock artist, though, you were disappointed. "I didn't hear anything I would want to use my last steal for," the country coach said.
In the night's best battle, the "prettier singer wins" theme couldn't possible have continued because it pitted two teen knockouts -- Danielle Bradbery and Caroline Glaser -- against each other. Both showed off their attractive vocals too on "Put Your Records On." Bradbery's lilting tone was rounder and clearer, definitely admirable, but there was something about Glaser's vaguely Norah Jones-esque voice that pulled me in like a whisper. Happily, both singers ultimately advanced. Shelton handed the win to Bradbery, but both Usher and Levine hit their buttons to try to steal Glaser.
Usher praised her potential. Levine declared himself to have been "astonished" by her performance. "You lost the battle but you've definitely not lost the war," Levine assured her.
Team Adam it was. Guess Usher's not the only one taking this seriously, man.
Also advancing were Team Blake's Grace Askew (beating Trevor Davis), Team Usher's Audrey Karrasch (trouncing Jamila Thompson), and Team Shakira's Tawnya Reynolds (beating Mark Andrew).
What did you think of the battles?