‘The Voice’: Gwen Stefani, Tori Kelly & Patti LaBelle Mentor Contestants In Battle Rounds
It will be hard for The Voice to top the sheer amount of cluster calamity that it featured on Monday night (March 14). It was a real mash-up of concepts, ranging from a Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton “super- group” performance (that, for whatever reason, was not in the season premiere), a touch of Blind Auditions in finalizing the teams, the introduction of mentors Patti LaBelle, Gwen Stefani and Tori Kelly (with Sean Combs to come later), and the first few performances of the Battle Round.
Oh — and the return of Adam Levine’s bleached hair. Yikes. It may not have been “The biggest, most exciting night of the season,” as Carson Daly would want you to believe, but it was certainly the most all over the place. Try to follow along as the teams are completed, then quickly cut down.
Before any contestants hit the stage, the coaches perform Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” It is one of the better coach performances, and it looks like someone got the memo that trying to combine all of their songs is just too much. Christina steals the show, obviously.
Jared Harder, 22 – Joplin, MO
Country singer Jared Harder has Team Blake written all over him. He hails from rural Missouri and manages an ice cream shop when he’s not singing in church. Blake turns around for his performance of Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round,” in which he shows an impressive upper register during an otherwise bland performance. None of the other coaches even have it in them to put up a fight against Blake.
“I love your voice. That was a cool song choice,” Blake says. “The big note that you hit at the end was just icing on the cake.”
Moushumi, 22 – Edison, NJ
She only has one name, but Moushumi has two incredibly impressive skills: singing and medicine. On a break from med school, the soulful pop singer wows the remaining three judges when she sings Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Christina, Adam and Pharrell all fight for her.
“I’ve definitely waited to push my button for something truly special, and I have nothing like you on my team,” says Christina.
“You just sort of navigated around the song and made it your own thing,” says Pharrell. “I don’t think I’ve ever met an Indian girl that signs that way that you do.” Okay, then.
“Your voice is so unique. I’ve never heard something so glassy,” says Adam, who adds, “I want to help you succeed on the show.”
Moushumi picks Pharrell, taking one of his last spots.
Katie Basden, 23 – Durham, NC
Before moving home to be with her father, who was recovering from heart surgery, Katie Basden was pursing a music career in Nashville. Katie attends her Blind Audition accompanied by her parents — now both in good health — and sings the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider.” Her mix of powerful high notes and sweet, soft moments gets Adam, Pharrell and Christina to press their buttons, and all are delighted that they don’t have to compete against Blake for Katie.
“I liked your voice from the instant that you started singing,” says Pharrell.
“I’ve got one spot left, and if I need to fight and claw and scream and shout I will continue to do so,” says Adam, who doesn’t do any of these things.
“Your voice is very powerful,” says Christina. “I would love to be your teammate and support you on the journey on The Voice.”
Katie picks Adam, completing his team.
Jonathan Hutcherson, 16 – Wilmore, KY
Though pop singer Jonathan Hutcherson is only 16, he has a vocal maturity that comes through in his steady, consistent voice. His performance of One Direction’s “You & I” is filled with interesting tones, and earns a button push from Pharrell.
“As the performance just went on, you just held the bar,” says Pharrell.
With the addition of Jonathan, Pharrell completes his team.
Ayanna Jahneé, 20 – Nashville, TN
The last Blind Audition is Ayanna Jahneé, who comes from a musical theatre background. She sings Adele’s “Skyfall,” and gives a real powerhouse performance that surely would have been four-chair turn material earlier in the Blinds. As it is, she gets 100 percent of the remaining contestants to turn (so…Christina).
“You are my dream come true,” says Christina. “I love theatrics, and I love drama, and I love all of that, and you embody that.”
Then Christina makes it about Christina by giving an over the top performance that just consists of belting the line “My team is full” over and over again. What a fitting end to the Blinds.
Without so much as a commercial break, the show transitions to the Battle Round. The coaches come at it with coordinated styling, as every single one is now sporting blond hair.
Team Adam: Katie Basden vs. Ryan Quinn
Katie Basden barely has a moment to enjoy being on Adam’s team before she has to compete to keep her spot. Katie sings Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” with music teacher Ryan Quinn, and both receive mentoring from Tori Kelly. Katie and Ryan each have strong performances that have the coaches on their feet, but Ryan is the clear standout.
“When Ryan goes up for those huge big notes, his voice gets a little thinner,” says Blake. “For my taste, I would pick Katie.”
“When I thought his range was high, your range went even higher,” Christina tells Katie.
“Even when you were sick, I still knew how amazing you were,” Adam tells Katie. He commends Ryan’s heart and soul, adding, “Ryan’s potential is kind of limitless.”
Adam picks Ryan, but Christina and Blake quickly go in to steal Katie.
“This is the second time I pushed my button for you,” says Christina. “The way you put your heart into what you do makes you that much more amazing.”
“I clearly think that you won that particular battle,” says Blake. “I love the fullness of your voice.”
With minimal hesitation, the country singer joins Team Blake.
Team Blake: Brittney Lawrence vs. Paxton Ingram
Pop singers Brittney Lawrence and Paxton Ingram face off for Blake’s first battle. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is so far out of Blake’s wheelhouse, but fortunately Gwen Stefani is there to give her take. Brittney and Paxton complement one another nicely in an evenly matched performance.
“You guys have different voices, but it worked for this,” says Christina. “I might have enjoyed hearing you a little more in your falsetto,” she tells Brittney.
“You were not playing around. There was a note thrown at you, you would definitely return it,” Pharrell tells Brittney. “That was definitely your battle,” he tells Paxton.
“Brittney, your voice is so powerful and this big strong instrument,” says Blake. “Paxton, you’re seriously like a vocal ninja.”
Blake picks Paxton, and Britney is the first contestant to be sent home during the Battles. Godspeed, Brittney: we hardly knew thee.
Team Christina: Bryan Bautista vs. Malik Heard
Voice returner Bryan Bautista, of singing-the-National-Anthem-at-Barclays fame, goes against recent high school graduate Malik Heard to sing James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Mentor Patti LaBelle encourages both men to enunciate, saying of James Brown, “I never understood most of the things he was saying.”
Enunciate, they do, and they also knock it out of the park with in-your-face powerful notes.
“That performance had the crowd standing up, we stood up,” says Pharrell. “You guys are getting stolen, so this is a good thing.”
“I’m going to probably be one of y’all’s coach,” says Adam, competing for the steal before he even knows who he’s competing for. “I won The Voice last season too.”
“Bryan with your insane falsetto notes! Malik, you’re a skillful singer,” says Christina. “This is just toe-to-toe greatness.”
Christina selects Bryan, and Adam, Blake and Pharrell all go in for the steal.
“If I can coach you, we can get to the point where I think you can be a front runner in this entire competition,” says Adam.
“What I would love to do would be empower you and make this moment yours,” says Pharrell.
“You have the potential to win this thing,” says Blake, who adds, “I’ve won this thing four times!”
Malik joins Team Pharrell.
Tonight’s show might not have a combo of multiple rounds (thankfully), but it does have the introduction of new mentor, Diddy! Let’s see if the mogul can mentor some of Pharrell’s contestants as well as he mentored Pharrell.