7:03pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': Former Coach Gwen Stefani Returns as Mentor for Battle Round
The Blind Auditions came to a close on The Voice, and the Battle Round began.
Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera brought in their celebrity advisers for the season: returning coach Gwen Stefani, Tori Kelly, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Patti LaBelle, respectively.
But before the first battle could begin, more artists fought for the final spots on season 10’s teams. Shelton, Levine and Aguilera started the night with only one spot on each of their teams, and Pharrell had two. The first artist up was Jared Harder, who sang “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves. Shelton was the only coach to turn for the country singer, so Harder automatically joined Team Blake. “I think you surprised us all when you hit that upper register,” Aguilera said.
Moushumi auditioned next, singing “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. She immediately had such a beautiful voice that Shelton started screaming at the other coaches to press their buttons. Levine turned first, followed by Aguilera and Pharrell. It would have been a four-chair turn if Shelton’s team wasn’t full already. Pharrell said she made the song her own and that she feels very fresh. “Your voice is so unique. I’ve never heard something so glassy,” Levine said. Moushumi joined Team Pharrell.
Katie Basden from Nashville sang “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band. She had a powerful voice and a country-rock vibe that caught Levine and Pharrell’s ears right away. Aguilera joined them at the last second. “Your voice is really powerful, and it needs the right vehicles and the right song choices,” Aguilera said. All of the coaches stressed their country credentials. Basden joined Team Adam, completing Levine’s team for the season.
Jonathan Hutcherson, who has overcome impaired hearing to pursue a life of music, sang “You & I” by One Direction. Levine encouraged Pharrell to push his button, and he listened. “There’s something about how you sing. You really do connect with the vocal,” Levine said. Hutcherson took the last spot on Team Pharrell.
Aguilera was the only coach with a spot left. Hoping to fill it, Ayanna Jahnee sang “Skyfall,” and the performance really built, with Jahnee showing off the kind of pipes worthy of Team Christina’s final spot. Aguilera turned and gave Jahnee a standing ovation. “I love theatrics, and I love drama ... and you embodied that in your song,” Aguilera said. Jahnee and Aguilera then did an improvised duet about Team Christina being full.
With the Blind Auditions finally over, it was time for the Battle Round to begin. First up were Katie Basden and Ryan Quinn from Team Adam. Tori Kelly joined their rehearsals to offer her advice. Basden was feeling sick, but Kelly encouraged her to use the rasp in her singing. They sang “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and it was a very strong start to the Battle Round. In their rehearsals, Quinn seemed like the clear winner, but Basden brought her all to the final performance, and it ended up being a close match, leaving Levine with a tough decision to make. Levine picked Quinn as the winner, and both Aguilera and Shelton went for the steal. Basden picked Team Blake, even though Team Christina would have been the better fit.
The next battle pairing was Brittney Lawrence and Paxton Ingram from Team Blake. They rehearsed with Shelton and Stefani and sang “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Lawrence struggled a bit with the melody, and Stefani also pushed her to connect more with the emotions of the song. They both came to life in their final performance, and it was another exciting battle. Their voices blended really well, and they both put on a show. Pharrell praised Ingram’s runs, and Levine praised Lawrence’s tone. Shelton declared Ingram the winner.
Aguilera and Patti LaBelle teamed up next to prepare Team Christina’s Bryan Bautista and Malik Heard for their battle. Aguilera had them sing “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” LaBelle told them both to make sure they enunciate while singing. In their performance, Heard and Bautista hit all their runs and ad libs. It was the best performance of the night and set the bar very high for the rest of the Battle Round. All four coaches gave them a standing ovation. Pharrell and Levine immediately made it clear that whoever lost the battle would be stolen. “There’s nothing like either one of them on the show,” Pharrell said. “I’m literally the loser in this battle,” Aguilera said. She chose Bautista as the winner, and all three coaches went in to steal Heard, who picked Team Pharrell.
The Battle Round continues tomorrow night on The Voice. What did you think of tonight’s battles?