“The Voice” brought us the final night of the battle rounds on Tuesday. That means next week the singers will move on to the, uh, next set of battle rounds.
Yes, this year the show has replaced the “Knockout Rounds” with "Battles: Round Two,” in which vocalists will again be paired off with fellow team members. Under the supervision of their coach and a celebrity adviser, Coldplay frontman (and soon-to-be former Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow) Chris Martin, the singers must agree upon and perform a song together. Each coach will then decide which of their team members they’ll take to the Playoff Rounds, the last stop ahead of the live shows, and each also has one steal to pick up a singer discarded by another coach.
Got that? Good. So here’s how the battles broke down Tuesday:
Cary Laine vs. Sam Behymer
Adam Levine assigned Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love” to Laine, a Wyoming country singer whose blind audition had turned four chairs, and Behymer, a nanny and aspiring musician who’d turned two. It was a battle of power (Laine) against quirk (Behymer) – and a compelling one at that. Shelton detected “some pitch issues” in both singers but felt both had done a good job capturing the song’s mood, concluding that picking a winner was a “matter of taste.” Usher and Shakira were similarly evenhanded. You may have expected Laine, having turned more chairs back in the blinds, to be a shoo-in, but Levine, who noted a “striking similarity” in the singers’ tones and felt each had done equally well, picked Behymer, crediting the “trouble,” “power” and “emotion” in her voice.
Winner: Sam Behymer
Steal? No. Usher, the only coach left with a steal, said he’d “thought about it for a second” but was “looking for something very specific” for his team.
Kaleigh Glanton vs. Noah Lis
In one of this season’s most unequal matchups, Kaleigh Glanton, a classical guitarist and four-chair turn, was paired with Noah Lis, a classic crooner whom Shelton had claimed over Levine during the blinds. During blinds, Lis’ smooth style seemed sort of smarmy. During rehearsals (that wink!) and the battle itself, in which the singers tackled “Everything” by Michael Buble and Lis, at one point, did a theatrical spin across the stage, he left no doubt: cheesy loungerama. Usher called him on it, saying it was “too lounge,” very “show guy,” “a little bit much” and lacked Buble’s “sexiness.” Strangely – or perhaps strategically, angling to pick up Glanton himself -- Usher nevertheless gave the round to Lis. Levine gave it to Glanton. Shelton picked Glanton, too, saying she had “star potential” and could “go deep into this competition.”
Winner: Kaleigh Glanton
Fast forward battles: Shelton picked sanitation worker-turned-rocker Ryan Whyte Malony over Tanya Tucker’s niece, Cali Tucker. Levine chose YouTube famous Christina Grimmie over singer-songwriter Joshua Howard. Shakira chose Kristen Merlin over Lindsay Bruce because, she said, Merlin’s “attitude … won me over.”
Cierra Mickens vs. Emily B.
Shakira teamed Alaska military kid Mickens and brain surgery survivor Emily B., both three-chair turns, on Sara Bareilles’s “Brave,” in what turned out to be a rousing battle. Levine said, though the singers had trouble staying in the “pocket” rhythmically, both had finished strong, especially Mickens, whose final note, he believed, won her the match. Shelton countered that Emily B.'s big note, just before Mickens had hit hers, was “the power moment of the song,” earning her the win. Usher split the difference. Shakira seemed genuinely torn but, citing Emily B.'s determination, declared her the winner.
Winner: Emily B.
Usher pushed his button for Mickens at the last possible minute, though he had apparently been hoping to steal her all along. “God blessed you with an incredible talent,” he told her, later declaring that she had “star quality.”
What did you think of the battles?