When there were breaks in the lifelong learning and perpetual verbal sparring, actual contestants went to battle for the limited team spots. Here’s the good, the bad and the Shrek/Blake Shelton battles that advanced some to next week’s Knockout Round, and sent others home to vote during the live shows with the rest of America.
Team Usher: Jessica Childress vs. Vedo
Up first for Team Usher is former PR girl Jessica Childress and soul singer Vedo. The latter, who dedicated his Blind Audition performance to his ailing mother, continues to perform in her memory. Sadly, in between the Blind Auditions and the Battle Round, Vedo’s mother lost her battle with Stage 4 lung cancer. “She’s right here with me like when she was alive,” Vedo says.
Usher selects Bruno Mars‘ “Locked Out Of Heaven,” a challenging number for both. Despite Jessica’s apprehension over the high range of the song, however, mentor Pharrell Williams tells her, “I think the key is perfect for you. It makes you shine.” Indeed, Jessica defies her own preconceived notions of her range and hits all of the high notes beautifully by the end of rehearsals. Vedo, however, has the emotional edge and a flawless range to give Jessica a run for her money.
Their performance makes it seem as though “Locked out of Heaven” was always meant to be performed as a duet. In addition to the perfect harmonies, the two have genuine chemistry and very sexy performance results. The only place there is any faltering is in Jessica’s lower range, contrary to her earlier assessment.
Shakira notes that Jessica must have a ton of friends because of her personality, and tells them both, “It was a feel-good performance.”
“You guys were so connected,” Adam tells them, before concurring on Jessica’s personality and vowing to “bro down” with the contestant.
Despite the best friend potential in Jessica, Usher selects Vedo.
Team Usher: Orlando Dixon vs. Ryan Innes
Emotions run high in Usher’s second battle. Former medical student Ryan Innes is still pretty bummed about his fiancé leaving him (fair), and Berklee College of Music grad Orlando Dixon is still pretty stressed about wanting to buy his mother a house
(real estate can be very emotional). Can you guess which trigger will bring a grown man to tears?
Despite the fact that “Ain’t No Sunshine” was pretty much written for this stage in Ryan’s life, it’s actually Orlando who can’t see through the clouds until he’s in escrow. After an emotional day of rehearsing the classic, Pharrell pulls on a loose thread in Orlando’s fragile soul, telling him, “Your voice is incredible, but it is your shield. You hide behind your voice. All that pain. All the stuff that you feel you’ve gone through. Right when you think we see it, you cut us off and you hide behind a run.”
Pharrell’s dime store psychology is perhaps the deepest moment The Voice has ever aired, and causes Orlando to sob. Really, truly sob. “It was a life-changing moment,” says Orlando, before shedding even more tears.
Ryan, who the coaches call “a man’s man,” chooses sweat over tears, and sheds no tears to lubricate his meaningful sad faces throughout the “Ain’t No Sunshine” battle performance. Orlando embellishes some key notes, and accesses the highest peak of his falsetto. While Orlando is technically stronger, it’s a very evenly matched battle.
“Your both exceptional talents. But Orlando, you’ve been a revelation today,” Adam says.
“That was awesome. It was so interesting to see Orlando take this R&B approach. He has amazing control of his instrument,” says Shakira.
“Ryan, when you sing with that type of conviction I believe you, and the women believe you and the guys are okay with being vulnerable just in that moment,” Usher says, while struggling with which team member to select. He ultimately picks the man’s man, and sends Ryan to the Knockouts.
Adam keeps Orlando’s real estate dreams alive, however, stealing the soul singer from Usher.
Team Shakira: Luke Edgemon vs. Monique Abbadie
Shakira puts former American Idol contestant and Glee Warbler Luke Edgemon against former child star Monique Abbadie. As each of them once had — and lost — a taste of success, it’s no wonder they have such fierce and thinly-veiled animosity toward one another.
The selection of Lady Gaga‘s “You And I” only highlights the profound lack of chemistry between the Monique and Luke. Monique, who says of mentor Joel Madden, “He was on my binder in middle school” (almost as high of an honor as all
of the other mentors’ Grammys), over emotes the song to the point of parody. Luke tries to claw his way to the top by matching every one of her excessive runs. Thankfully, Shakira nips the one-upping in the bud before it goes to the real performance. “Don’t be desperate to show off,” she tells them.
Monique’s performance on the battle night still feels like Andrew Lloyd Webber Presents: Phantom Of The Gaga (the shimmying certainly doesn’t help), but Luke kills it. He hits notes that aren’t possible for most men, women or children, and despite his lack of chemistry with Monique, connects with the audience.
The coaches are all praise for Luke after the battle.”The big revelation for me right now is Luke,” Adam says.
Usher tells the Luke, “You’ve got a career ahead of you. I’ve not heard a voice like that. I was blown away.”
Between the unanimous coaches’ praise of Luke and the actual performance, what Shakira does next is shocking. Knowing that Luke will draw a steal, she selects Monique so both of her team members will advance. “Monique, you sound like a pro
to me. You’re learning to use the perfect amount of Tabasco, not to spoil the recipe,” Shakira says, adding to the “tangerine ice cream” filled arsenal of pregnancy craving compliments.
Blake and Usher compete for the steal, and Luke chooses Blake as his new coach. Although she may have called this move “strategic,” Shakira may come to regret it when her contestants are up against Team Blake’s newest all star.
Team Shakira: C. Perkins vs. Kris Thomas
Brace yourself, Voice coaches, Kris Thomas is back! Best known for the shock he caused when the judges realized that his high voice belonged to a man, goes up against formerly untelevised R&B singer C. Perkins.
Kris and C. perform the second Bruno Mars song of the evening, “It Will Rain.” Kris dominates almost immediately. The range gives him a lot of room to play around, and as Joel Madden puts it, “Everybody likes a guy that can sing like a girl, am I right?” Keep earning your paychecks with those clever soundbites, Joel!
C. has some initial trouble when he focuses on added trills and loses his pitch accuracy, but improves significantly by the time he hits the stage. The two balance well off of each other in the battle performance, but Kris ultimately hits the impressively high stingers.
“If I were your coach, I’d really be able to help both of you,” Usher says, poising himself perfectly for a steal.
Shakira is a bit disappointed, telling her team members, “I’ve seen you guys better in rehearsals.” After a bit of hemming and hawing, she selects Kris.
As he’s walking off stage — literally mid-hug — Usher jumps in to steal C. Perkins. “I let him sit in it for a little so it reminds him of what it feels like to not have it so that he’ll never take it for granted,” says the notoriously tough coach.
Team Blake: Jacqui Sandell vs. Savannah Berry
Blake pairs former ballerina/current tattooed rocker Jacqui Sandell against almost too-sweet country singing teen Savannah Berry. His song choice, Little Big Town‘s “Little White Church,” plays more to Savannah’s strengths than Jacqui’s.
The pair claim they are very close and have nothing but respect for the other, but Jacqui, who’s got a solid foot on Savannah, seems like she’s about to beat her up the second the cameras stop rolling. “When I was 18 I sounded like that,” she says, pointing to her younger competition with a bit of an eye roll.
Savannah’s got the stronger voice, but needs to work on her timing. Jacqui needs to cut a bit of her growl for this country song choice, according to Blake and mentor Sheryl Crow. “I’m going to win this battle if it kills me,” says Jacqui. And by “me” she means “Savannah.”
It’s quite literally a battle of leather vs. lace on the stage. Jacqui drops her growl, but what remains sounds a little nasal. Savannah fixes her timing issues, and her clear voice works better with the country song. The total performance is a bit lackluster, except at the end, where Savannah jumps for joy (because she clearly won) and Jacqui follows suit (because she hasn’t been told she lost yet).
“Savannah, I was expecting greatness from you and you were great. Jacqui you were great and also really different,” says Adam, who has run out of adjectives to describe contestants.
“You both did everything I asked of you. Kudos,” says Blake, before choosing Savannah. Jacqui drops the “we’re BFF” act, and sulks her way offstage.
Team Adam: Midas Whale vs. Patrick Dodd
He doesn’t say it outright, but Adam’s only got room on his team for one oddball contestant, so either duo Midas Whale or dreadlocks growing Patrick Dodd has gotta go. It’s a battle of the talented misfits when Adam pairs the two acts together.
Elvis Presley‘s “Burning Love” is the soundtrack to this battle, and the three men blend so well together with so little coaching needed. Patrick, who mentions that he plays 300 days each year about 300 times each episode, sounds like he could be the third member of Midas Whale. “It’s like a little Patrick Sandwich,” says the duo.
Adam makes a last minute decision to give the song a bluegrass twist, and it’s at this point that Midas Whale gains an advantage. They practically speak in bluegrass, and their stage presence reflects this confidence during the battle. Patrick’s voice is unwavering, but he lacks the oddball charisma needed to pull off non-ironic bluegrass. Nonetheless, the overall performance is incredibly fun to watch.
“That’s what you call a kick ass job,” Usher tells them.
Adam struggles with who to keep, calling it his hardest choice in his four years coaching. Ultimately, he picks Midas Whale for their unique factor. The group’s hipster hypeman in the audience goes absolutely wild.
The Battle Round wraps up tomorrow night, with the much buzzed about (by NBC, anyway) controversial steal. Do you think it will be a true game changer, or just a clever bend of the rules?