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MAR
24
5 MOS

'The Voice' Recap: Three's Always a Crowd in the Battle Round

Two coaches throw their duos into the ring, but not every solo act can keep up -- and outsing -- a perfectly pitched pair.

The Voice Battles Duo H 2014
NBC
Team Blake's Alaska & Madi vs. Audra McLaughlin on "The Voice"

Who says battles on The Voice have to be vicious? At one point on Monday night's episode, Carson Daly called a match "The Notebook, Part Two," while Adam Levine added, "That was like watching two golden retriever puppies frolic through fields of wheat during the sunset. Cute overload -- so romantic and sweet."

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Still, the sudden-death duets sent singers home, especially when they couldn't tempt another coach to steal them away from elimination (both of Levine's steals have already been used). And it's especially harder when battling against one of the season's three duos -- inside the ring, three is always a crowd,

For the battles, Shakira recruited Miranda Lambert in as her guest mentor; Levine called on Aloe Blacc; Usher had Jill Scott; and Blake Shelton pulled The Band Perry -- the first band to ever stop by The Voice as a guest mentor.

Meet the latest to move on to the next round of The Voice (and soon receive advice from Coldplay's Chris Martin):

Team Adam's Austin Ellis vs. Josh Kaufman
Song: "Happy"
Both soul singers, the working musician and the crooning tutor exercised their retro muscles on the Pharrell chart-topper, but at first, Kaufman struggled with eye contact while Ellis had a tendency to sing all over the map. They each put their own spin on the hit, but Ellis occasionally lost the rhythm while Kaufman kept spotlighting his different vocal tricks. Usher and Shelton opted for Kaufman – as did Levine, sending Ellis home.

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Team Blake's Alaska & Madi vs. Audra McLaughlin
Song: "When Will I Be Loved"
The Oklahoma Kids duo and the medical assistant with a learning disability were assigned the Linda Ronstadt classic, leaving the pair to decide during rehearsals when to harmonize and when to go for solos, while the powerful soloist kept scooping into the note too often. Onstage, the three-part harmonizes felt full when they all sang together, but Shakira said they each oversang their solos, yet stayed neutral. Levine was the only one who picked a side -- Alaska & Madi, only because their sound fit the song a bit more -- but Shelton deviated from his bromance partner and picked MacLaughlin.

Team Shakira's Deja Hall and Music Box
Song: "Eternal Flame"
The timid teenage army brat and the vocally aggressive single mom (who conquers stage fright with her stage name) were challenged to meet each other in the middle on the Bangles song. Hall had trouble emotionally connecting to the song and finding her note in the harmony, while Music Box struggled to stay on pitch. But Hall held her own in the ring and earned Levine's vote, while Shelton opted for Music Box. Usher stayed silent ("You'll find out in a minute," he told Shakira of his pick) so that when Shakira picked Hall, he stole Music Box.

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Team Usher's Madilyn Paige vs. Tanner James
Song: "Everything Has Changed"
Usher had the two Utah teenagers sing the Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran duet from different sides of the room, since both of them had problems projecting and creating a convincing emotional connection. Guest mentor Scott had the idea to have them at first sing back to back, which added to the story of the performance. The pairing onstage felt authentically sweet, with only Shelton making his choice known -- Paige. Usher called James a heartthrob, but deemed Paige a breakout -- and the winner.

Team Adam's Dawn & Hawkes vs. Josh Murley
Song: "Stuck in the Middle With You"
The couple and the single father had to join forces on the Stealers Wheel track, and had the same vocal challenges that Shelton's three-person performance had -- plus the added pressure on Murley to find a spot between the dating duo. With all three singers equipped with guitars, they managed to merge as a single unit onstage -- but Usher noted that he couldn't see each of their own talents properly, but commended Murley nonetheless. Still, Levine moved the duo forward, leaving Murley up for Shakira's steal.

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Team Usher's Bria Kelly vs. Tess Boyer
Song: "Piece of My Heart"
The raspy blues rocker and the former NFL cheerleader had to tackle the Janice Joplin ballad, but while Kelly's voice is inherently more textured than Boyer's, she pushed herself throughout rehearsals and brought as much grit as she could to the battle. Still, a wailing Kelly owned the ring, pushing Levine to tell her, "I'm terrified of Team Usher because of you." Shelton still preferred Boyer for meeting the challenge, so that when Usher picked Kelly, Shelton stole her for himself.

The battles wrap up on Tuesday at 8 p.m. -- and Usher's the only coach left with a steal.

What did you think of the latest battle rounds? Were the right singers sent home tonight? Sound off in the comments below!

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee