NBC is not messing around when it comes to The Voice schedule this year. A pause between the Blind Auditions and the Battle Round? What is this: Season 7? No: This is very much Season 8, and in Season 8 there is no time to mess around with things like gradual transitions between competition stages or any sort of Madden brother. During Monday night’s episode, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell closed out the Blind Auditions, and were then joined by mentors Meghan Trainor, Ellie Goulding, Nick Jonas and Lionel Richie, respectively. No sooner had the red buttons stopped turning chairs than they started working for Battle Round steals.
As Carson Daly so hyperbolically put it: “The greatest night of the season starts right now.”
The Blinds ended with…
Nathan Hermida, 17 — Massachusetts
You just can’t take parents anywhere. R&B singer Nathan Hermida’s mom describes him as a “geeky boy,” which is sadly something that airs on national television. Nathan overcomes the parental insult, though, and delivers an impressive performance of Miguel’s “Sure Thing.” Both Adam and Christina push their buttons.
“I want to make you the centerpiece of my team,” says Adam. “I think you are ridiculous. I think you are going to be in the finals.”
“Why do you have such a sexy voice?” says Christina with more than a hint of flirtation. “I want to make music with you and finally win this competition.”
In an unlikely turn, the teenage boy sees past a flirty pop star and joins Team Adam.
Paul Pfau, 26 — Washington, D.C.
“Paul didn’t always have a good voice,” says Paul Pfau’s mom, making #ParentBurn a trending topic for the evening. Paul doesn’t let her assessment daunt him, however, when he sings Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” He has a classic and effortless voice that gets both Blake and Pharrell to turn around.
It’s a shame, though, that Adam’s team is full, because Paul went into the audition with a clear affinity for the Maroon 5 front man. Paul had missed his chance to give Adam his demo CD while backstage at his concert years ago, and gives it to him after his audition. With Adam out of the running, Blake and Pharrell give it their best shots.
“I heard a flawless performance,” says Pharrell. “You can do that and you’re saying rock and pop as well? That’s scary, and I like scary.”
“I have waited for eight seasons to have the opportunity to work with somebody like you. There’s nobody on my team like you,” Blake offers.
There will continue to be no one like Paul on Blake’s team, because the pop rocker joins Team Pharrell.
Vance Smith, 22 – Michigan
Vance Smith injects some soul into the evening with a performance of “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” by The Four Tops. He has pitch issues throughout, yet both Pharrell and Christina push their buttons at the bitter end.
“I felt that you were having a good time, and that’s why we’re all here to enjoy music together,” says Christina. “I have one slot left and I would love to work with you.”
“There’s some intention in the way you were singing,” says Pharrell.
Vance and his intention choose Christina, closing out the diva’s team.
Caitlin Caporale, 23 – New York
Much like Paul Pfau missed his shot to join his idol’s team, Caitlin Caporale’s audition comes right after her idol, Christina Aguilera, fills her team. Caitlin performs Alicia Keys and Xtina’s “Impossible,” and gets both Blake and Pharrell to fight for her.
“You have like a 700 pound voice, and it’s coming out of 80 pounds,” says Blake. “I truly believe I’m looking at somebody that can win The Voice this year.”
“If I had a shot with your voice, we could do a lot of warming up on this show to get you ready for where you want to go after this show,” says Pharrell.
Caitlin, who has R&B and pop aspirations, chooses Pharrell. Before exiting the stage, she sings a few verses of “Impossible” with Christina, which seems to excite her more than the team she just joined.
Hannah Kirby, 20 – Texas
Closing out the Blind Audition section of the evening is Hannah Kirby. The grunge rocker sings “The Letter” by The Box Tops, and while her stage presence is still a little awkward, her voice impresses all of the coaches. As the only coach with a slot left, Blake has first (and only) dibs.
“The absolute raw power of your voice is amazing. You are the last person on Team Blake, but you very well could have been the first person on Team Blake,” he says.
The teams then stay in tact for a commercial break before The Battle Round begins to cut them down.
Team Pharrell: Ashley Morgan vs. Mia Z
Pharrell pits two of his strongest female singers against each other in his first Battle. Session singer Ashley Morgan and high school sophomore Mia Z go head to head in a performance of ZZ Ward’s “Put The Gun Down.” Ashley has the controlled voice of a pro, but both Pharrell and mentor Lionel Richie advise her to put a little more personality into it.
During the big performance, Mia has a more confident stage presence, but Ashley’s vocals reign supreme.
“That was pretty amazing,” says Adam. “It probably boils down to who you prefer.”
“Ashley, you have such great control over your instrument,” says Christina, calling her the “hands down” winner of the Battle.
“I think you both are winners,” says Pharrell. While this is usually just a consolation, there actually are two winners in this Battle. Pharrell chooses Mia, and the three other coaches try to steal Ashley.
Christina comes at her with the strongest argument. “I didn’t hear anybody up here saying outright that they thought you were a better vocalist than Mia,” says Christina. “I said, ‘hands down, Ashley is the winner of this battle.’”
Ashley can’t argue with that logic, and joins Team Christina.
Team Adam: James McNeice vs. Tonya Boyd-Cannon
Previously untelevised James McNeice goes up against prison choir director Tonya Boyd-Cannon in Adam’s first battle. The pair sing Michael Jackson’s “PYT,” receiving the advice from mentor Ellie Goulding to smile as they project.
The start of their Battle is a bit rocky, but both James and Tonya eventually settle into it. Though James comes out swinging with some impressive notes, Tonya is the undeniable powerhouse.
“Tonya, your voice is so big it’s literally unbelievable,” says Blake.
“You guys brought the energy and a lot of fun,” says Christina. “My vote would personally be for Tonya, but James you put in a valiant effort.”
“You did exactly what I asked of you,” says Adam. “I don’t think there’s anything I’d say was wrong with that performance.”
Even though nothing was wrong with James’s performance, there was more right with Tonya’s performance. Tonya advances to the next round.
Team Blake – Brian Johnson vs. Joshua Davis
The final Battle of the night puts the soulful Brian Johnson against raspy rocker Joshua Davis. Mentor Meghan Trainor helps the Team Blake pairing work on their harmonies in a stripped down rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” The performance is so moving that Miss Trainor cries during rehearsals.
“Both of you guys have an incredible voice, and he has an incredible decision to make,” says Pharrell.
“They’re not saying who they would pick because they both know, like myself, that one of you will be stolen,” says Adam.
“When you enter into a performance, vocally, it just grabs you. It’s no wonder you made Meghan cry,” Blake tells Brian. “Joshua has what we all wish we had and it’s that raspy sound that has some range.”
Blake makes the tough decision to choose Brian, and Adam comes in immediately to steal Joshua. He then literally rushes Joshua off the stage in an effort to prevent another coach from challenging his steal. Pretty sly move.
The fast-paced season continues tonight with another episode of The Battle Round!