‘The Voice’ Recap: Chris Martin, Usher’s Raccoon Hat Make Their Debuts
If you thought there was too much fake camaraderie in the first round of Battles on The Voice, get ready for fake hug overload in Battle Round Part 2! As a second round of intra-team battles kicke off Monday (March 31), the camera-conscious contestants overly praise their competitors, all the while planning to crush them on stage.
“The reason for the second battle round is to have the best of the best enter the Knockout Round” says coach Blake Shelton, though there is some suspicion that it’s also to take advantage of Coldplay front man Chris Martin’s availability in order to add one more superstar name to the roster of mentors. Martin, who recently de-GOOPed, advises not just Blake’s contestants, but also teams Shakira, Adam Levine and Usher.
In this new round, the performers each get to pick their own songs… sort of. Each pairing has to duke it out between a list of three pre-chosen songs for their duet. What’s more is that Usher has added a new mascot to his team in the form of a raccoon hat. Say goodbye to being the most bizarre hat in the music biz, Pharrell’s Arby’s hat! It’s a brave new world in this Battle Round redux; here’s how night one played out.
Team Blake: Audra McLaughlin vs. Megan Rüger Noting that there’s only room for one young powerful female singer on his team, Blake pairs country artist Audra McLaughlin against Megan Rüger in the first battle of the evening. The two have no problem deciding to perform “The Climb,” a Miley Cyrus song that manages to make an appearance every season.
“You need to bring out your Mick Jaggers a bit,” Chris Martin says, advising them to work the stage throughout the performance. The two heed his advice, and Audra has corrects the timing issues she struggled with during rehearsals. Both have crystal clear, pitch perfect performances, creating a tough choice for Blake.
“I felt like this was a bit of a challenge in starting, but once you got to the bigger notes you made yourself comfortable,” Usher tells Megan. “You just continued to carry it off,” he says to Audra, giving the battle to the country singer.
“Even though you were more technically accurate, I connected more with Audra’s delivery,” Shakira tells Megan.
“The way you navigate your way through the vocal, I just have so much respect for,“ Blake tells Audra. “I probably relate more to you as a vocalist because you approach a song more like I do, singing the crap out of it the best you can,” he tells Megan.
When forced to decide, Blake advances Audra.
Team Blake: Tess Boyer vs. Jake Worthington It’s a battle of second chances when Team Blake’s second-season veteran Jake Worthington goes up against Battle Round steal Tess Boyer, formerly of Team Usher. The duo sings “Have A Little Faith In Me” by John Hiatt. The duet showcases Jake’s ever-improving stage presence, which rises to meet Tess’s natural onstage charisma. The two strong singers give a passionate performance that has all four coaches out of their chairs in a standing ovation.
“To see what Blake has been able to do about you, I’m proud,” says Tess’s former coach, Usher.
“Jake I’m a huge fan of your voice, but Tess, you’re a revelation,” says Shakira. “You blew me away, girl.”
“That was an A-level performance that felt like I was watching one of Blake’s CMT Awards,” says Adam. “Both of you have shown so many signs of improvement.”
“If this is any indication what we’re in for with this second round of Battles, my liver’s not going to make it,” jokes Blake, praising the two. Declaring it a tie, Blake advances Jake based on loyalty. Luckily, all of the other coaches immediately buzz in to steal.
“Come on home,” Usher says to his former contestant, singing a little bit of “Reunited.”
“You are hands down the best female voice right now in the competition,” says Shakira.
“I have become a believer in you and what you do to a very, very, very large degree,” says Adam.
Excited to stay in the competition, Tess moves to Team Shakira, hoping this third coach is a charm.
Team Usher Cierra Mickens vs. T.J. Wilkins Usher puts two soul singers up against each other in his first battle of the evening. New team member Cierra Mickens, a steal from Shakira, battles T.J. Wilkins, singing Oleta Adams’ “Get Here.” Audra has a little trouble in the pocket to start, but she eventually gets there, so to say. The coaches rave about the strong battle.
“Cierra, I’m so proud of you. You were unbelievable,” says Shakira. “T.J. you are just a phenomenal singer,” she adds, bowing down to both.
“T.J., I loved you all along and I’m a fan,” says Adam. “Cierra, I’m now a fan of yours.”
“It was greatness. It was perfect,” Blake tells Cierra. “T.J. your voice is so good, it cuts through, it’s powerful,” he adds.
Usher praises both, but is particularly impressed that T.J. is able to take the female song and make it his own. T.J. continues on to the next round.
Team Adam: Christina Grimme vs. Sam Behymer YouTuber Christina Grimme is disappointed with her performance in her first (untelevised) battle, and is determined to improve in this second battle against quirky Sam Behymer. She completely geeks out when she meets Chris Martin, telling him that “Violet Hill” changed the way she listens to music. (Girl, with Adam in the decision seat, you might want to go with “Sunday Morning” instead. Just a friendly tip.)
The duo selects One Republic’s “Counting Stars,” which is a very odd choice for their voices. They struggle with rhythm during rehearsals, and even when they correct it, the final performance comes out forced.
“Christina’s like a little ball of fire up there,” says Blake. “Sam has a lot of finesse and a very dramatic vocal approach,” he adds.
“You seem like you’ve been here before. You’re comfortable,” Usher tells Christina. “They both were really amazing.”
“I still feel like at times you’re still searching, and you haven’t completely found your style,” Shakira tells Sam. “Christina you displayed more maturity, more confidence.”
“I’m equally proud of both of you guys, there’s no way for me to make a right decision here,” Adam tells his team members. After some struggle, he advances Christina, noting her performances are more consistent.
Team Shakira: Patrick Thomson vs. Josh Murley Little did former Team Adam singers Patrick Thomson and Josh Murley know that Shakira would have her two steals duke it out for the slot on her team in round 2. Mentor Chris Martin coaches them to use the mic stands as props to take away from the semi-awkward duet of Bryan Adams’ “Run To You,” and it helps. A bit. There are moments where Patrick just sort of pops up behind Josh on camera looking like a deer in headlights, but it’s all about the voice, right?
While their raspy voices are almost indistinguishable in parts, Patrick struggles with some high notes, whereas Josh struggles in the lower register.
“You have this whole range I didn’t even know about,” Adam tells Josh. “There were some moments that were a little bit shaky, but I’m really impressed.”
“I really liked the way you open up when you sing,” Blake says to Patrick.
“You really came out with a great deal of confidence,” Usher tells Josh.
“I asked you for a big rockstar moment, and you gave me that,” Shakira says of her team. She calls the battle evenly matched, but selects Patrick to move on.
Team Adam: Delvin Choice vs. Josh Kaufman Singing barista Delvin Choice goes up against fellow soul singer Josh Kaufman in the final battle of the evening. The duo selects Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” and both are forces to be reckoned with on the classic number. Very little guidance is needed from Coach Adam or Mentor Chris going into the biggest performance of the night.
The coaches are floored with the energetic duet, and all give standing ovations before their feedback. This is a duo just primed for a steal.
“Your vibrato didn’t dominate the performance, it was more tasteful,” Blake tells Delvin.
“Vocally, this was the performance of the day,” says Usher. “Delvin, you are such a powerful vocalist, and the same for you too Josh.”
“Today, Delvin, I feel like you surprised us all,” says Shakira. “You stepped up to the plate and showed us what you’re made of.”
“I thought it was flawless,” says Adam. “Congratulations, guys, because you made it impossible for me.”
Adam makes the impossible happen, however, when he picks Delvin. Predictably, Josh doesn’t go home, though, as Usher buzzes in for the steal. “That was one of the most incredible vocal performances of the competition,” he says.
That wrapped up this quick round of The Battles, and tonight’s continuation is set to include what Carson Daly has promised to be an “INSTANT CLASSIC!” If you don’t believe him, at least trust in the NBC graphics department, who have created a shiny graphic for the occasion. It doesn’t get more official than that.
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