'The Voice': Intense Battle Round Begins

The Voice Lionel Richie Voice Coach - H 2015
Courtesy of NBC

The Voice Lionel Richie Voice Coach - H 2015

Monday night on the The Voice, coaches Adam LevinePharrell Williams, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera filled the final spots on their teams as the blind auditions came to a close. It was then time for the battle round, where the coaches pit their artists against each other and have to make tough choices about whom to keep, cut and steal. The coaches brought in celebrity advisors to get their teams in shape. Aguilera invited Nick Jonas; Pharrell invited Lionel Richie. Levine asked Ellie Goulding, while Shelton invited Meghan Trainor. But first, as the blind auditions closed, artist Nathan Hermida impressed both Levine and Aguilera with his performance of “Sure Thing” by Miguel. “I want to make music with you and finally win this competition,” said Aguilera. But he picked Levine, making Team Adam the first completed team.

Next, Paul Pfau auditioned with “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra. Shelton turned first, followed by Pharrell, who ended up winning the contestant over. It was the right choice of coach, considering Pfau similarly likes to blend genres.

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Gaia Golden sang “Red” by Taylor Swift, but her pitchy performance didn’t turn any chairs.

The audition went better for Vance Smith, who sang “Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops. Pharrell and Aguilera turned their chairs on the very last note, captivated by his final run. He chose Aguilera as his coach, completing Team Christina.

Caitlin Caporale took on Aguilera’s own song “Impossible” and got Pharrell and Shelton to fight for her. She became the final artist on Pharrell’s team. Aguilera, bummed that her team was already full before Caporale’s audition, gave Caporale the chance to sing the song's chorus with her.

Only one spot remained on the season eight teams, and it was up to Shelton to find the artist to fill it. After a slew of singers didn’t quite make the cut, Hannah Kirby took the stage with “The Letter” by Joe Cocker. She capped off Team Blake.

With the blind auditions finally over, it was time for the battle round to begin. The first matchup was Team Pharrell’s Ashley Morgan versus Mia Z. Pharrell chose ZZ Ward’s “Put the Gun Down” for them to sing, hoping it would bring out their bluesy sides. In their initial meeting with Pharrell and Lionel Richie, Pharrell told Mia Z she needed to work more on the technical side, while Morgan got the opposite note. Having done a lot of studio work, her technique was there, but she needed to work on being more vulnerable onstage. “Throw away your training,” Richie told her.

In their final rehearsal, both girls incorporated every note they were given, showing huge improvement. Morgan has more years of experience than Mia Z, but when it came time for the battle, they performed on a pretty equal playing field, with Morgan finally showing her personality in her singing. It’s a close battle. Aguilera nudged Pharrell toward Morgan, who she thought was the stronger vocalist. But Pharrell chose Mia Z to put through to the next round. But it’s wasn't the end of the line for Morgan, as Aguilera, Levine and Shelton all wanted to steal her. Morgan picked Aguilera as her new coach.

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Team Adam’s first battle pairing was James McNeiece versus Tonya Boyd-Cannon. He asked them to sing Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” Ellie Goulding advised McNeiece to smile so he could open up his voice for the bigger notes. In their final rehearsal, Levine told Boyd-Cannon to sing a little more rhythmically. Levine even hopped on the drums for one last run-through. In their battle, McNeiece and Boyd-Cannon had really strong chemistry, with McNeiece showing off his falsetto and Boyd-Cannon completing some really powerful runs. Levine had trouble choosing the winner, but he ultimately went with Boyd-Cannon, who shared a celebratory dance with her family.

Shelton’s first battle pit country singers Joshua Davis and Brian Johnson against each other. Davis and Johnson struggled a little bit with the harmonies, but Meghan Trainor helped them get back on track. In their rehearsal, they actually moved her to tears. “If they do what they did in there on the stage, they ain’t going home,” said Trainor. Their battle was one of the more emotional performances of the evening, with both guys really connecting to the music. Shelton chose Johnson as the winner, but Levine went in for the steal on Davis.

Tomorrow, the competition heats up as the battle round continues. Do you think the coaches made good choices?