April 01, 2014 6:41pm PT by Ashley Lee
'The Voice' Recap: Battles Round 2 Continues With Soulful Showdown
The new battles round may have new rules and a new guest mentor, but Tuesday night's episode of The Voice proved that song choice is still everything.
Similar to the now-defunct knockout round, the coaches still pick who performs in each sudden-death duet, and the contenders must agree on a song from their coach's shortlist that not only showcases each of their strengths, but also gives them the opportunity to potentially outshine the other. Rehearsals for this round are held in the ring itself, and the singers are shown meeting with their families before they begin their battles. All of the coaches have one steal each, plus the mentorship of Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin.
Meet the latest winners of the second round of Voice battles:
Team Blake's Biff Gore vs. Sisaundra Lewis
Song: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
The worship leader and Celine Dion's former vocal director chose to turn the James Brown growler into a duel of the verses, with Lewis putting a mimicking spin on the lyrics while Gore sang them assertively. In rehearsals, Martin said Lewis might be too good and should stay relatable by maintaining eye contact with the audience, and Shelton warned Gore to stay true to his style. Both carrying the narrative and the notes, their battle was definitely one of the best battles of the series -- not the season, the series. "That high note -- where did you find that?!" said Usher (who still commended Gore) to Lewis, but Shelton picked Lewis.
Team Shakira's Ddendyl vs. Deja Hall
Song: "Say Something"
The lounge singer and the military brat harmonized on the Great Big World/Christina Aguilera duet (which first premiered on The Voice, Levine reminded everyone). Though both exercised impressive restraint on the tender verses, Ddendyl felt uncomfortable championing a ballad without a piano, and Hall's youth worked against her in rehearsals, when she didn't know how to connect with the vulnerable material. Martin suggested they perform with mic stands, and though they never looked at each other in the performance, they each stuck with their unique and approach. Shelton and Usher opted for Hall solely with taste, but all the coaches commended Ddendyl's artistic style. Shakira rewarded Hall for making the most progress thus far, and while we see her potential, we were simultaneously sad to see to Ddendyl go.
Team Usher's Morgan Wallen vs. Stevie Jo
Song: "Story of My Life"
The former child singer and the R&B hopeful opted for the One Direction hit, and though Martin and Usher helped them with breath control, especially when trying to hit their lower notes, they both still struggled with presence onstage. During the performance, the song probably wasn't the best choice for them as they were still awkward in the ring (as we loyal Voice fans all recall, it wasn't a promising option for Matthew Schuler either), Wallen showcased a newly raspy tone (and falsetto!), but Jo leaned on his expert curls that first won Usher over. And it was a solid technique -- Usher went with Jo. As Wallen walked away, Levine called him over to pound fists and simultaneously hit his button to steal him away.
The episode also showcased the result of one unaired battle:
Team Shakira's Emily B. vs. Kristen Merlin: Merlin.
The new battles round wraps on Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC.
What do you think of the new battle round? Were the right singers sent home tonight? Sound off in the comments below!