7:44pm PT by Ashley Lee
'The Voice' Recap: The Battles Get Spicy With a Last-Second Steal
The battle rounds wrap up this week on NBC’s The Voice, where coaches challenge their contestants to simultaneously support and outshine the other while singing a duet. Adam Levine, Shakira, Blake Shelton and Usher called on guest mentors Hillary Scott, Joel Madden, Sheryl Crow and Pharrell for advice on the sudden-death round, and also have the option to “steal” an eliminated contestant just before they’re sent home (for the first time in Voice history, one coach took that literally).
See who conquered the battle round on Monday night, and whom Shakira described as “the perfect amount of Tabasco” after performing:
Team Usher’s Jessica Childress vs. Vedo: “Locked Out of Heaven”
During rehearsals of the Bruno Mars hit with Pharrell, the former PR girl couldn’t break out of her lower blues register, so the R&B singer -- whose mother just passed away from lung cancer -- believed he had the advantage. Between tight harmonies, Childress showcased her powerhouse vocals on higher notes, while Vedo stayed strong and brought immense stage presence, despite his personal situation. Usher opted to move forward with Vedo.
Team Shakira’s Luke Edgemon vs. Monique Abbadie: “You and I”
Shakira and Madden coached the pastor’s son into excitedly embracing the breaks of his voice, but had trouble helping the Latina child performer, who kept over-thinking her notes. Plus, they kept trying to top each other, “desperate to show off,” as Shakira said. During the battle of the Lady Gaga ballad, they both showcased their dynamic voices, but the other judges were pleasantly surprised by Edgemon’s abilities and unofficially called him the winner. Because of their overwhelming enthusiasm, Shakira selected Abbadie so one of the boys could steal Edgemon away (but not after calling his performance “the perfect amount of Tabasco, not to spoil the recipe”). Shelton and Usher both pressed their buttons, but Edgemon went with Shelton.
Team Blake’s Jacqui Sandell vs. Savannah Berry: “Little White Church”
Shelton and Crow noticed that the former ballerina and band lead often hid behind growls because she was insecure about hitting high notes. And Sugarland’s YouTube discovery kept falling behind the groove of Little Big Town’s up-tempo song, since she’s much more comfortable with ballads. Both brought the fun to the battle, but Shelton declared Berry the winner, sending Sandell home.
Team Shakira’s C. Perkins vs. Kris Thomas: “It Will Rain”
At first, the grocery clerk kept trying to imitate the trills championed by his competitor, who surprised the judges during the blind auditions with his feminine timbre but struggled to evoke emotion during the Bruno Mars ballad. The two R&B singers sang a messy but tender duet, ending in Shakira choosing Thomas to move forward. As Perkins gave a goodbye hug to Usher, the coach pushed his button for the steal just before the contestant was about to walk away. It wasn’t spontaneous, but strategic: “He’s reminded what it’s like to not have it, so he’ll never take it for granted,” Usher explained.
Team Adam’s Midas Whale vs. Patrick Dodd: “Burning Love”
Together, the charismatic duo and the commanding blues singer composed impressive three-part harmonies, even when Levine suggested that they play the Elvis hit with an aggressive bluegrass twist. Dodd’s raspy tone was so strong -- “it’s like he gargles with broken glass,” said Shelton -- and Shakira commented that the Memphis singer might not be able to learn anything from the show’s coaches. Though the battle was Levine’s most difficult decision yet, “I’m gonna do what I can to help both of you,” the coach said to the acts onstage, just before choosing Midas Whale and confidently sending Dodd on his way.
Team Usher’s Orlando Dixon vs. Ryan Innes: “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Both the classically trained vocalist and the soulful lounge singer were pushed to draw from their past pains to emote for the Bill Withers hit, and both creatively championed their unique sounds while battling onstage. Though the other judges were split on who won, Usher opted for Innes to move forward to the knockouts, leaving Levine to go for the steal. “I couldn’t allow you to walk off the stage and go home right now,” the Maroon 5 frontman said. “You need to be here.”
With only a couple spots left on each team, the battles wrap up Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on NBC.
What did you think of the first night of the battle rounds? Were the right singers sent home tonight? Sound off in the comments section below.