‘The Voice’ Battle Round Recap: Billy Gilman And Aaron Gibson Are The Best Of The Bunch
After the blur of praise and promises that is The Voice Blind Auditions came the glorious blood bath that is the Battle Round. Sixteen of the 48 contestants packed up their mics and left over the past two weeks, another eight got a second chance in the form of a steal, and 24 can sit smugly for the moment, knowing that Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton chose them for greatness. Or at least to survive another day.
Here’s who made it through the Battles, and how their chances look for next week’s Knockout:
Christian Cuevas defeats Jason Warrior: Not messing around, Alicia assigns her first battle Adele’s “Hello.” Sacred ground be damned: It’s a flawless duet between the two guys. In a close match-up, Christian defeats Jason. Top praise: “I just hurt my hand because I banged on [the chair] so hard,” Alicia raved. The Steal! Adam steals Jason, saying, “It’s very, very rare to be able to have a second chance like this.” Knockout Round Prospects: You do not want to be up against either of these guys in the Knockout Round.
Wé McDonald defeats Lauren Diaz: Wé – the high school senior with the soulful singing voice that’s incompatible with her squeaky talking voice – defeats Lauren. The pair’s duet of Janis Joplin’s “Maybe” is beautiful, soulful and emotional all around. Top Praise: “It forces something out of us that is hard to explain,” Adam says of Wé’s voice. The Steal! Miley beats Adam out to steal Lauren. “I could not leave someone up there that is so talented,” she says. Knockout Round Prospects: Vocally, there is nothing Wé can’t do. She’s got Top 10 written all over her.
Michael Sanchez defeats Dan Moisan: Michael and Dave give a sweet performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” during which they take turns on the keyboard. Though Alicia gives Michael the win, Dan’s falsettos and beautiful tone stand out in this performance. Top Praise: “You have a rich, soulful, incredible tone, and I was really blown away by just how you carried yourself,” Adam tells Michael. The Steal! Adam loves Dave, too! “I remember you so specifically as someone that I was dying over missing.” Knockout Round Prospects: Though the coaches are sold on Michael, he’s yet to really connect with the audience.
Kylie Rothfield defeats Josh Halverson: It was only a matter of time before “House Of The Rising Sun” by the Animals came out, as it does every season. Kylie’s vibrato and growl stand out over Josh’s straightforward performance. Josh’s utterly insane facial expressions, though, will haunt dreams forever. Top Praise: “I really wanted you to bust through that ceiling, and you did,” Alicia tells Kylie. The Steal! Miley steals Josh. “I’m about uniqueness and diversity, and there’s no one like you in the world,” she says. Knockout Round Prospects: As the constant steals indicate, Team Alicia is so strong that even talented contestants like Kylie could be eliminated next round.
Whitney & Shannon defeat Gabriel Violett: It’s two against onesie model when Whitney & Shannon take on Gabriel. It’s hard to beat the perfectly-harmonized sisters, and Gabriel caves under the pressure. When the three manage to sync up, though, their trio of Extreme’s “More Than Words” is beautiful. Top Praise: “Such a love that emanates from the two of you and I really appreciate how you’re able to show the world what music can be like.” Knockout Round Prospects: Duos can be hit or miss, but Whitney & Shannon are so perfectly harmonized they might join The Swon Brothers in The Voice duo hall of fame.
Alicia’s untelevised Battle results in a win for Belle Jewel over Halle Tomlinson.
Riley Elmore defeats Natasha Bure: As though pre-selecting Riley to win, Adam assigns Michael Buble’s “Cry Me A River” to the crooner and indie singer Natasha. Though they are equally matched in terms of awkward stage presence, Riley handily defeats Natasha crooning in his wheelhouse. Top Praise: “If we all closed our eyes and listened to people sing that are left on this show, yours would be the one voice that we would all recognize immediately,” says Adam. Knockout Round Prospects: The Buble-adjacent thing might wear thin after awhile, so hopefully Adam finds a way to shake it up without giving Riley an ill-advised Britney Spears cover.
Billy Gillman defeats Andrew DeMuro: The Grammy nominee defeats Andrew by singing Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” Andrew struggles with the high notes in the chorus, and, again, Billy already has a Grammy nom. Top Praise: “You will do your homework, and you will refine your craft as well as anybody out there,” Adam tells Billy. Knockout Round Prospects: Experienced, vocally trained and, again, already Grammy-nominated, Billy Gillman has his path to the Top 10 paved in platinum…like that double-Platinum album he released that one time.
Nolan Neal defeats Johnny Rez: Returning contestant Nolan continues the success after his four-chair turn Blind Audition when he defeats Johnny. The two sing Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” and although it’s a yawner of a performance, Nolan’s rich voice triumphs over Johnny’s thin one. Top Praise: “I got a good sense of a very special voice there,” Alicia tells Nolan. Knockout Round Prospects: Wake me up if Nolan ventures out of his classic rock wheelhouse.
Brendan Fletcher defeats Bindi Liebowitz: Brendan and Bindi stick to the script in their straightforward cover of Marc Broussard’s “Home.” It’s definition “meh,” yet both make it through. Top Praise: “There is something otherworldly about what you do,” Adam tells Brendan. The Steal! Blake turned for Bindi in the Blind Auditions, and goes for the save. “I just don’t feel like we heard what you’re capable of in that performance, and I want to hear more,” he tells Bindi. Knockout Round Prospects: This was one of the least exciting Battles, but Bindi might have a chance if Blake gives her a song more fitting to her voice.
When it came to advancing but not televising for Team Adam, Ponciano Seoane defeats Elia Esparza, and Simone Gundy defeats JSOUL.
Ali Cauldwell defeats Courtnie Ramirez: Four-chair turn Ali defeats high school senior Courtnie singing Odetta’s “Hit Or Miss.” Ali shows a more dynamic range, while Courtnie gets shrill in her high notes. Top Praise: “It would be hard to believe that you won’t be around until the end,” Blake tells Ali. The Steal! Alicia and Blake both try to steal Courtnie, with Alicia winning out. “Your voice was so beautiful and raw and special and deliberate and powerful,” she says. Knockout Round Prospects: Ali’s got a clear path ahead of her to the Live Round.
Sophia Urista defeats Lane Mack: Burlesque host Sophia, who Miley once described as a “rock and roll Dolly Parton,” defeats Lane by singing Pink Floyd’s “Money.” It’s hard to tell if Sophia is great or just sounds great compared to Lane’s screechy performance. Top Praise: “You’ve always had a very powerful, special, unique energy, and can bring us into your world,” says Alicia. Knockout Round Prospects: Sophia had an easy Battle against the pitchy Lane, but the competition promises to be much tougher in the Knockout Round.
Darby Walker defeats Karlee Metzger: It is the indie-est of all indie performances when Darby and Karlee sing Melanie’s “Brand New Key.” Miraculously, both women avoid quirkiness overdose and show off their rich vocals. Top Praise: “You have a very infectious energy, a beautiful style about you,” Alicia tells Darby. The Steal! Blake, who had tried to win Karlee during the Blind Auditions, gives her a second chance with his steal. “Now we’ve heard two different styles of music that you’re capable of doing,” he says. Knockout Round Prospects: Give Darby something with a little more depth next time or she’ll be back to YouTube covers.
Aaron Gibson defeats Sa’Rayah: In one of the top Battles of the season, Aaron narrowly defeats Sa’Rayah. The two sing Bobby Bland’s “I’ll Take Care Of You,” and Aaron’s raspy vocals win over Miley. Top Praise: “This is the hardest decision I’ll make in probably all of my Battles,” says Miley. The Steal! Alicia, who turned for Sa’Rayah during the Blind Auditions, gives her a second chance. “You completely created a beautiful moment,” she says, beating Blake for the steal. Knockout Round Prospects: It wouldn’t be surprising if both Aaron and Sa’Rayah made it past the Knockouts.
Miley’s untelevised Battles landed a win for Josette Diaz over Charity Bowden, and a win for Maye Thomas over Khaliya Kimberlie.
Sundance Head defeats Dan Shafer: The oldest performer in the competition loses to the guy with the braided beard in a lackluster performance of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love.” The most exciting part of the whole thing is when Sundance proclaims to advisor Bette Midler, “I just watched Beaches!” Top Praise: “That voice comes out of there and it literally blows the brains out of my head, into the toilet, and the toilet flushes itself,” Blake tells Sundance, really abusing Merriam-Webster’s concession that we can now use literally to mean figuratively. Knockout Round Prospects: Sundance beat Dan, but just barely. His vocals are on point, but he is going to need to step up the stage presence to make it to the live round.
Courtney Harrell defeats Ethan Tucker: Turning John Mayer’s “Gravity” into a vocally interesting song sure is a challenge, but Courtney delivers by taking the melody as a light suggestion. Her artistry and interpretation stands out. Top Praise: “Courtney your voice is so big – not to mention you have so much personality and style,” says Miley. Knockout Round Prospects: Give Courtney a better song and she can wail her way to the top.
Josh Gallagher defeats Blaine Long: It is a rough Battle for Blaine, who advisor Bette Midler describes as looking like “an unmade bed.” He goes on to be out-sung by country singer Josh in a relatively low energy version of Tamia’s “Stranger In My House.” Top Praise: “You pushed yourself way more than I expected vocally, you have a lot of energy too,” Blake tells Josh. Knockout Round Prospects: We’ve yet to see too much personality from Josh, and this performance was totally forgettable. Step it up or step on out.
Gabe Broussard defeats Christian Fermin: No one expected Blake to break out the Hoobastank, but he dug into the early aughts to assign Gabe and Christian “The Reason.” They both fall out of the pocket pretty early on, and then spiral into mediocrity. Top Praise: “I was able to hear a big richness in your voice. You went for it,” Alicia tells Gabe. Knockout Round Prospects: Gabe is only 15, and his voice is still developing. With the right coaching, maybe he can make it past the Knockouts. Maybe.
Austin Allsup defeats Preston James: Though his voice is mature beyond his 16 years, Preston is defeated by Austin’s experience. Austin is clear and controlled during their duet of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.” Top Praise: “That first note that you hit was spot on. You have a really strong sense of yourself,” Alicia tells Austin. Knockout Round Prospects: Austin has a Craig Wayne Boyd vibe about him (Note: winner of Season 7, not a serial killer), and contestants have been known to ride that country wave into the finals.
Blake’s un-televised Battle results in a win for the powerful Dana Harper over Tarra Layne.
And there you have it: Your cheat sheet to the who’s who of the Knockout Round. Twelve of these hopefuls will get sent home with the Live Round so close they can taste it, but at least they get to meet advisors Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in the Knockout Round next week!
Did you have a Battle Round favorite? Let us know below!