'The Voice' Recap: Bring on the Battle Rounds

Guest mentors Cher, Ed Sheeran, Ryan Tedder and Miguel help guide the contestants in the dueling duets, as coaches step in to steal eliminated singers.
Briana Cuoco on "The Voice"

Just as the coaches of NBC’s The Voice have finished filling their teams during the blind auditions, they’re forced to send half their singers home during the battle rounds. They pair their contestants up for sudden-death duets, and can “steal” any performers cast off from other teams.

Guest mentors check in to help the coaches for the battles: Adam Levine recruited OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, Christina Aguilera was helped by Ed Sheeran, Blake Shelton teamed up with Cher and Cee Lo Green mentored alongside Miguel.

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See who emerged victorious from the first night of the battle rounds:

Adam Levine’s Grey vs. Nic Hawk: “Domino”

The wedding singer thought her familiarity with the Jessie J song would give her an advantage, but she initially had trouble breaking out of her usual “lounge act” vocal tendencies, said guest mentor Tedder. Shelton and Green preferred Hawk’s “disco” energy, but Levine opted for Grey’s steady vocals. As Hawk began to tear, Shelton pressed his button for the steal. “Why is Adam such an idiot?” he joked. “You delivered an excellent singing performance, along with all that other crap that you do!”

Christina Aguilera’s Amber Nicole vs. Timyra-Joi: “Listen”

The young female powerhouses were excited to soar on the Beyonce ballad, but both of them struggled with emoting beyond their nerves throughout rehearsals. And after gaining their footing after the first few phrases, the two truly dueled to top the other, bringing their coach Aguilera to shed a tear. Green preferred Joi, but Aguilera followed her instincts and saved Nicole.

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Blake Shelton’s Justin Chain vs. Shelbie Z.: “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Throughout rehearsals, neither the motorcycle accident survivor nor the pageant coach could lock in their harmonies during the choruses, which are arguably the best parts of the Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson duet. They ended up blending well onstage, and while Chain brought an ounce more stage presence (which Levine preferred), Green and Aguilera loved Shelbie, even though she sang a little sharp. Shelton agreed, saving Shelbie Z.

Cee Lo Green’s Anthony Paul vs. Caroline Pannell: “As Long As You Love Me”

The two teens were excited to put a twist on the Justin Bieber hit, but while Paul’s voice naturally lends itself to the genre, he kept wanting to oversing it as a show choir cover. Pannell’s sweet timbre put new intrigue into the song, especially since they sang the song as a ballad. While Levine loved Pannell’s unexpected indie phrasing, Shelton praised Paul’s emotional connection. “Let me just make a point: I want to win the show this season,” said Green, before choosing Pannell. Thankfully, Aguilera saved Paul, saluting his vocal restraint.

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Adam Levine’s Donna Allen vs. Tessanne Chin: “Next to Me”
The Miami Sound Machine alum kept steamrolling the Jamaican rock singer with her showstopping vibrato throughout rehearsals, pushing Chin to strategically seize any spare silent moments of the Emeli Sande song. “Are you Tina Turner? What’s in there?” said Aguilera to Allen, while Green praised Chin’s effortless restraint. Ultimately, Levine chose to continue with Chin.

Christina Aguilera’s Briana Cuoco vs. Jacquie Lee: “House of the Rising Sun”
The female rockers were assigned to put a signature stamp on the Animals classic. “This is a song that anyone who owns a guitar has covered,” said Sheeran, as Aguilera pushed them to take stylistic risks. The high school student struggled with her first few lines, letting Kaley Cuoco’s sister stand out, but only at first. “Jacquie put a youthful spin on a classic record,” said Green, but Shelton praised Cuoco’s power and precision. Aguilera opted for Lee, and Green and Shelton immediately pushed their buttons for the steal. Cuoco happily joined Team Blake.

The Voice battles continue Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Twitter: @cashleelee