by Lyn Jensen
Season 8 of The Voice completed its battle rounds last night, the flaws in its bracket-type format showing, but at least a dozen great singers are still on the board. We saw three featured battles, while three more were squeezed into a montage:
1. Christina pairs two of her remaining R&B singers, Jeremy Gaynor and Rob Taylor. Both are former church singers. Gaynor’s the military man who sings in the West Point band, while Taylor was accepted at the prestigious Berklee College of Music but didn’t attend because of family concerns. Christina tells them how she considered assigning them old-school soul but decided on something more contemporary and radio-friendly: Maroon 5’s “Animals.” For this battle, there’s more at stake than just the singing voices. Gaynor probably shows more experience, but he also has an alternative–he can simply return to his life at West Point. Taylor’s inexperienced and hits notes that sound like a teapot left to boil for too long–but he could probably benefit from more time with a superstar coach. Adam (besides commenting how “Animals” uses every bit of his range, so he knows how difficult it is) says he’d pick Jeremy. Pharrell, on the other hand, singles out Rob as “soulful” and “eclectic.” Christina picks Rob Taylor and lets Gaynor return to his life at West Point.
2. Now for one battle that reveals the flaws in The Voice format. Pharrell pairs two of his teen phenomena, and one is going to be out because nobody else can steal now. Half of this battle is folksy 15-year-old Sawyer Fredericks, the farm boy that all four judges practically begged for, and the other half is 17-year-old Noelle Bybee, whose audition we didn’t see–but who turns out to have a pretty, twangy vibrato worthy of Dolly Parton. (She must be one of this season’s country singers Blake let get away.) In coaching mode, Pharrell assigns his country-flavored teens “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Fredericks’ favorite classic rockers Creedeence Clearwater. After the performance, Adam says Sawyer’s voice “boggles the mind,” while Blake prefers Noelle’s country sound. Pharrell makes the difficult choice to keep the well-liked Sawyer Fredericks and lose his country girl. If a judge has a steal available for Sawyer in the next round, Pharrell may find himself in the same bind he was in over Lowell Oakley and Kimberly Nichole two nights ago.
Montage time! We knew this was coming when this episode was only an hr. long.
Christina pairs her remaining R&B singers, Koryn Hawthone and Vance Smith, and she must’ve cut Smith, although I couldn’t tell from the editing. I had to look at the Web site.
Blake pairs two of his country-flavored girls, Bev Brooks and Brooke Adee, and picks Adee.
Adam pairs Latina singer Lexi Davila against African-American singer Brennae De Barge and picks Davila.
3. Time for the last battle of season 8, and we know it’s going to be the last steal. Blake pairs two of his teens, country singer Corey Kent White (from Oklahoma) and R&B singer Jacob Rummell (with the super-high voice). He then appears to favor the country singer by assigning them “I Want Crazy” by Hunter Hayes. When Christina hears it, she calls it a hoedown. Blake argues it leans pop. (Maybe to a country superstar, it does, but not to the pop crowd.) Adam argues it proved Jacob can sing anything, so that means he won the battle. Blake keeps Corey and Jacob goes to Team Pharrell. How long Jacob can stay in the competition is questionable. His voice (somewhere between Michael Jackson and Wayne Newton) isn’t the kind to get many votes. We heard at least five singers who should, and could, have stayed around longer if Pharrell had been thinking ahead.
Here’s the final team tally, until the knockout round. What’s the show teasing about three-way knockout(s)? We’ll have to see!
Blake: country singers Corey Kent White, Cody Wickline, Kelsie May, Brook Adee, country rocker Meghan Linsey, metal shouter Sara Potenza, bluesy white soulman Travis Ewing, and Maroon 5 fan Brian Johnson (not to be confused with Paul Pfau of Team Pharrell)
Adam: heavy on the R&B with Barry Minnefield, Blaze Johnson, and Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Latin-flavored Lexi Davila, folksinger Joshua Davis, crooners Nathan Hermida and Clinton Washington, and country singer Deanna Johnson
Christina: also heavy on the R&B with Rob Taylor, Koryn Hawthone, Kimberly Nichole, and India Carney, along with mainstream pop singers Ashley Morgan, Joe Tolo, Sonic, and Treeva Gibson
Pharrell: rocker Hannah Kirby, R&B singers Anthony Riley and Jacob Rummell, folksinger Sawyer Fredericks, cocktail jazz crooner Lowell Oakley, Maroon 5 fan Paul Pfau (not to be confused with Brian Johnson of Team Blake), and pop princesses Caitlyn Corporale and Mia Z