‘The Voice’: Alisan Porter And Lacy Mandigo Battle With An Epic “California Dreamin’”
Last night’s episode of The Voice should be used as a cautionary tale for future generations of coaches: Don’t waste your Battle Round steals too early! After jumping in on early steals last week, coaches Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams were forced to be much more stingy with what they had left.
It’s too bad, too, because there were some solid castoffs to choose from, especially on Team Christina. Prospects continue to look mighty good for her crew, which is a positive thing for the world (specifically Carson Daly), because the look in Xtina’s eyes indicate that heads will roll if she doesn’t get a victory this year.
In order to get Christina closer to the time she can finally add a prestigious Voice trophy to her pile of Grammys, the field has to be narrowed. Here’s who got sent home and who made it through Monday night’s Battle Round cuts.
Team Blake: Adam Wakefield vs. Jared Harder
According to Blake, it’s a duel of “two big-voiced dudes” when country singers Adam Wakefield and Jared Harder face off in the night’s first Battle. The two sing Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” in a country jam session that would be a real hit at any honky tonk karaoke night. However, only Adam elevates it beyond karaoke level.
“You surprised me so many times with your singing,” Pharrell tells Jared. To Adam, he says, “I’ve been really blown away by you.”
“The commitment to what you’re doing is just pretty authentic,” Adam says to Adam. “I could see him going out with the Allman brothers tomorrow.”
“You’re range is incredible,” Blake tells Jared. “There’s a character in your voice, and you look like a character,” he says to Adam.
Blake makes the right choice and advances Adam.
Team Pharrell: Emily Keener vs. Jonathan Bach
It’s not really a nail biter when Pharrell puts four-chair turner Emily Keener against previously un-televised Jonathan Bach. The pair sing Ellie Goulding’s “Explosions,” which nicely showcases Emily’s voice. Jonathan gives it his all, though, and breaks through as almost steal-worthy..almost.
“Together was not as harmonious as I wanted it to be,” says Adam, which is just about as harsh as it gets on The Voice.
“You enjoyed giving yourself to the performance value and connecting with the audience in that way,” Christina tells Jonathan.
“You continued to push, and I thought it was beautiful,” Pharrell tells Emily. To Jonathan, he says, “You made the song your own. I’m super proud of you because you did what you needed to do.”
After praising both of his contestants, Pharrell advances Emily.
Team Christina: Daniel Passino vs. Kristen Marie
It’s hard to say if it was bad coaching, or just good coaching misinterpreted, but Christina’s advice to add embellishment to Adele’s “Turning Tables” really went awry for Kristen Marie. The singer – whose natural voice actually resembles Adele’s – adds just too many distracting runs when she faces off against pop singer Daniel Passino. Between his range and the fact that he doesn’t sound like a grab bag of random of vocal tricks, Daniel clearly takes it.
“There were some things in your vocal that kind of prevented me from hearing you a little bit” Adam tells Kristen. “Daniel, you sang really beautifully.”
“Hearing you two sing with each other I was gravitating toward Daniel,” says Blake. “To me, it was enunciation.”
Christina praises both, but ultimately gives it to Daniel. “He attacked all of his high notes with perfection,” she explains, perhaps unwilling to acknowledge how badly her advice to Kristen backfired.
Team Pharrell: Abby Celso vs. Brian Nhira
Pop singer Brian Nhira started the Blind Auditions singing one coach’s song (Pharrell’s “Happy”) and takes on another’s during this next Battle Round. He goes up against pop singer Abby Celso to sing Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” Brian wows everyone – including “Sugar” singer Adam – by hitting the song’s soaring notes in his full voice.
“The fact that you sang in your full voice, I’m impressed by that,” Adam tells Brian.
“Just fun to watch, full of energy, and the full voice thing, just incredible,” Blake says to Brian. ‘There’s so many tones you have with your voice,” Blake then tells Abby.
“I love listening to Brian sing. I’m like, wow this is silky and smooth,” says Christina.
“Abby you definitely showed different parts of your voice. Those high notes were crazy,” says Pharrell. “No one can deny your ambition when you’re performing. You definitely want this, and your voice is very impressive,” he tells Brian.
In a surprise twist, Pharrell picks Abby and encourages the others to pick up the steal. Whether it’s a selfless move to give up such a strong singer, or just a long game strategy that has yet to reveal itself, he does manage to keep both contestants in play. Adam and Christina jump in to steal Brian.
“I thought you were really phenomenal. The charisma that you perform with is infectious,” says Adam, who warns Brian that he’ll just be one of many great singers on Christina’s team. “You’d be on a pedestal on my team.”
“I know what to do with you on my team,” Christina counters. “I’m determined to break the girl curse and win this with somebody that really deserves this.”
Choosing the pedestal, Brian joins Team Adam.
Team Adam: Caroline Burns vs. Mike Schiavo
It takes a turn toward snoozetown when returning contestant Caroline Burns and four-chair turner Mike Schiavo perform Meghan Trainor and John Legend’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” It’s a lovely duet, but it feels less like a competition and more like a lullaby.
“You were treating Caroline like this was all about her,” Blake tells Mike, who then condescendingly talks to Caroline like she’s a kitten. “She is adorable. Yes you are,” he says in a voice that makes you want to smack him.
“I thought you had a powerful voice, and it’s just something that I think is a part of you,” Christina tells Caroline.
“Mike, in you I see a workhorse,” says Blake, “Caroline, you’re no different.”
Well she’s different enough to win, anyway. Blake advances Caroline.
Team Christina: Alisan Porter vs. Lacy Mandigo
Closing out the night is Curly Sue herself, Alisan Porter. The seasoned singer goes up against 18-year-old Lacy Mandigo – a previously un-televised contestant (if you think you know where this is going, you’re absolutely right). The pair sing Sia’s version of The Mamas And the Papas’ song “California Dreamin’” and it’s the best Battle Round performance of the season. Alisan is the clear victor, but Lacy has more vocal chops than you would expect from the un-televised set.
“Alisan is ready. It’s imbalanced only because of experience and age,” says Adam.
“Lacy does need just a little bit more time,” Blake agrees.
“You are so ahead of the game. I don’t even have a critical thing to say,” Christina tells Lacy. “Your talent is undeniably great,” she says to Alisan.
It’s no surprise that Christina picks Alisan. Slightly more surprising is that Blake uses his last steal to save Lacy.
“I see so much potential. As a coach, I want to work with someone that I’m interested in,” he explains.
We’ve got a schedule to keep, people! Sadly, this means a few of you won’t make the televised cut. From the unseen performances, Pharrell advances Moushumi over Jonathan Hutcherson, Adam advances Katherine Ho over Lily Green and Blake advances Angie Keilhauer over Teresa Guidry. So now you know.
Tonight is the last night of the Battle Rounds, and Christina has kept her last steal for the occasion. It will be hard to improve too much on the team that she already has…so maybe she should find a way to steal from herself. Carson Daly has never specifically said that a coach couldn’t use a steal on her own team and The Voice has been lacking twists this season, so why not introduce some rule bending?
Go for it, girl. Like anyone who values his well-being is really going to challenge you.