'The Voice' Recap: Battles Begin With a Bang (Video)
Aloe Blacc, Jill Scott, Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry are guest mentors, while coaches beg for a steal by touting tattoos and Rihanna meet-and-greets.
It's out with the blind auditions and in with the battle rounds on The Voice, where coaches pair off their contestants and challenge them to out-sing the other in a sudden-death duet. Each coach invites a fellow musician for help as guest mentor, and also has the option to "steal" whatever performer is cast off by another team.
Shakira made good on her promise to her country contestants and called Miranda Lambert in as her guest mentor, while Adam Levine was aided by Aloe Blacc, Usher by Jill Scott, and Blake Shelton by The Band Perry -- the first band to ever stop by The Voice as a guest mentor.
See who came out victorious during Monday night’s battles:
Team Usher's Biff Gore vs. T.J. Wilkins
Song: "Aint' Too Proud to Beg"
Usher had who Scott describes as "the rough and the smooth" family men duel on the Temptations hit, but both, in their own ways, struggled with confidence and commitment to the performance during rehearsals. While Gore's vocals leaned old school (complete with sweet dance moves) and Wilkins' went new, the judges unanimously agreed that Levine was right in saying "no one was better than the other, and Usher said they pushed each other to be better and keep the battle entertaining. Still, Usher opted to move forward with Wilkins "because of the fight that was there -- T.J. was relentless," leaving Gore to be seized by Shelton, triggering a few more well-deserved high kicks.
Team Blake's Jake Worthington vs. Lexi Luca
Song: "It Goes Like This"
Both seventeen years old, the returning auditionee and the high school singer (who won Shelton over with a Cassadee Pope track) had to duet on the song by Thomas Rhett song, a current country chart-topper that they can immediately look up to. Though Luca tearfully struggled with nerves during rehearsals, she managed to get her voice to shake a bit less in the battle, but brought more emotion to the ring than Worthington did -- possibly because he flubbed the lyrics at first, though he was vocally stellar. "You have to develop fearlessness as an artist," said Usher, who supported Worthington -- as did Shelton.
Team Shakira's Dani Moz vs. DeShawn Washington
Song: "My Kind of Love"
The public relations lady struggled with her lower register while the Louisiana church singer learned to hit the high notes during the Emeli Sande hit in rehearsals. Once in the ring, Moz growled like a pro at the top of the song, but Washington's texture made his parts unique, rather than imitating the original. "You guys had a lot of great movement and natural chemistry, so it won the audience," said Levine, who wouldn't pick a winner, while Shelton and Usher opted for Washington. Shakira went with Moz, and surprisingly, no one stole Washington, making Washington the first "one that got away" of the season.
Team Adam's Kat Perkins vs. Patrick Thomson
Song: "Whenever I Call You Friend"
During rehearsals, the former Scarlet Haze rocker learned to tame her dynamics (and open her eyes while singing), while the gritty singer struggled to deviate from the original Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks rendition. Though the battle took a while to get going, Thomson's gravelly voice was just out-shined by an animated Perkins, who Shelton said sang so effortlessly -- and Levine agreed. Just as Thomson was saying his goodbyes, Shakira pressed her button. "I'm just a sucker for voices like yours," said his new coach, saying she stole him because he was "so good" three times.
Team Blake's Paula DeAnda vs. Sisaundra Lewis
Song: "Do What U Want"
The singer of the 2006 hit "Walk Away" and the seasoned Celine Dion concert director were assigned the Lady Gaga/R. Kelly duet that she sang with Christina Aguilera last season, but both the powerhouse singers had trouble nailing down distinct moments for them to shine. But in the battle, they vied hard for the spotlight, with Lewis' major high note flooring DeAnda's occasional pitch issues. While Shelton was also proud of DeAnda, he moved Lewis forward, forcing DeAnda to walk away from the competition.
Team Usher's Jake Barker vs. Stevie Jo
Song: "Higher Love"
The athlete with stage fright and the heavy metal convert paired for a trill-filled R&B version of Steve Winwood's hit, and worked to conquer their breath control and tone in rehearsals. Onstage, the battle was evenly matched, with plenty of falsetto moments for both of them. While Shelton and Shakira voted for Usher to pick Barker, Levine claimed, "I have to help Usher with nothing! I will not pick either one of you right now because I want both of you." Usher chose Jo, which left Barker to chose between the three other coaches for the steal. Levine touted their commonalities (tattoos, woohoo!) and Shakira said she'd introduce him to Rihanna, Barker chose Levine.
Watch Barker and Jo's battle below:
What did you think of the first night of the battle rounds? Were the right singers sent home tonight? Sound off in the comments below!