Having battle rounds early on The Voice each season forces the judges to carefully consider their teams. Do they put up the best against the best, and send one home? Or do they put very different artists together and call the result based on how they want to present their final field?
1. Adam pairs two of his singers from the same genre: Kelli Douglas vs. Damian (no last name), both black R&B vocalists. He assigns them “Knock on Wood,” and they appear fairly evenly matched. Adam picks Damian, keeping one of his male R&B vocalists, and nobody steals Kelli.
2. Gwen pairs two of her mainstream pop vocalists, Jewel soundalike Jessie Pitts against aspiring teen idol Ryan Sill. She assigns them a contemporary song, “I Need Your Love.” Gwen picks Ryan, but Blake pushes his button and steals Jessie. Let’s hope he assigns her a Jewel song.
3. Blessing Offor, who invites comparisons to Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, has to be one of the top contenders of this season. While looking at Team Pharrell, I wondered who could be paired against the power-voiced blind R&B vocalist. I guessed Griffin (who sounds like Michael Buble) was the best choice (or possibly Beyoncé-influenced Elijah Rene). Does the judge want an heir apparent to Charles and Wonder, or does he want an heir apparent to Buble? However, Griffin and Rene were matched against others, and Pharrell matches Offor against 15-year-old Kariz Trinidad. When she auditioned, Pharrell declared he wanted her on his record label, so she appears to be one of his favorites. Offor is old-school, while Trinidad is more of a contemporary teen-idol type. Pharrell gives them a Stevie Wonder song, “Do I Do.” Although Offor’s plainly the better singer, Pharrell picks Trinidad, wanting to keep his teen. Adam wants to steal Offor–so does Gwen–but Offor goes to Team Adam. Which judge will work out better with which singer should keep fans watching.
4. Adam pairs his remaining black R&B vocalist, Ethan Butler, against David Cook soundalike Matt McAndrews. He gives them Coldplay’s “Yellow,” which they do as an unplugged version, playing acoustic guitars. Adam admits, “Putting you two together was never a good idea.” Butler has the more powerful voice, but Adam picks McAndrews, citing “something intangible.” What McAndrews needs is a David Cook song–will he get a chance to do one?
5. Blake matches one of his country female vocalists, Taylor Brashears, against a genre-defying singer, Bree Fondacaro. He assigns them Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” a song that can be performed as country, R&B, or rock. The choice is between Fondacaro’s quirky, smoky voice and Brashears’ pure tones. During judges’ comments afterwards, Gwen doesn’t like the way either of them did the song. Pharrell and Adam both say they’d choose Brashears. Blakc does keep his hard country singer Brashears, and nobody steals Fondacaro
6. Final pairing of the night–Pharrell puts Toya Jones up against Danica Shirey. Both are soulful-voiced women, and their song is Beyoncé’s “Halo.” This turns into one of those duets where the singers try to out-sing each other’s high notes, and it just sounds like screaming. Pharrell surprisingly picks Danica. Adam must have been surprised by the choice, too, because he immediately pushes his “steal” button. Gwen joins in but Toya Jones goes to Team Adam.
Tonight brings the final battle rounds for this season (unless there’s some twist coming) and Gwen’s the only judge left who can steal a singer. Some of this season’s more promising singers have yet to appear.