Image Courtesy Trae Patton/NBCAfter weeks of the Blind Auditions, The Voice entered the Battle Round phase on Monday night.
In the Battle Rounds, two teammates at a time perform a song together. Their coach then decides which artist won the battle. The winner advances to the Knockout Round, while the loser is eliminated…unless he is stolen by a rival coach.
The four coaches — Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams — each have two steals to use.
Monday’s two-hour episode also marked the introduction of this season’s mentors. Team Pharrell received help from Alicia Keys during rehearsals; Adam and his artists were joined by Stevie Nicks; Gwen brought in her hubby, Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale; and Blake welcomed fellow country act Little Big Town.
The first battle of season seven pit two artists from Team Pharrell against one another: Elyjuh Rene and Maiya Sykes. The duo performed “If I Ain’t Got You,” by their mentor, Alicia Keys, who’d advised them to not forget the joy behind the lyrics.
Gwen said the two contestants connected as if they were a pair of LEGOs. Blake called Elyjuh and Maiya “world-class singers,” but said he would lean toward Elyjuh because of his potential. Calling it a tough decision, Pharrell selected Elyjuh as the victor. Maiya was not saved by one of the other coaches.
Team Adam members Chris Jamison and Jonathan Wyndham faced off with a duet of Bruno Mars‘ “Young Girls.” Stevie Nicks relished the role of mentoring both men, saying she loves to teach.
After hearing the artists’ duet, Blake suggested that Chris may have been singing loudly, to which Adam replied, “I think you guys both broke the P.A., which is the first time in Voice history that anyone has broken the P.A.” He subsequently complimented Chris for opening up so much. Adam said he had to go with the artist he felt can be a superstar, and that person was Chris. It was the end of the road for Jonathan.
Jean Kelley and Sugar Joans were the first two artists from Team Gwen to take the stage during the Battle Rounds. Their mentor, Gavin Rossdale, said during rehearsals that as much as he liked Sugar’s voice, Jean was “in the running” as the teammates worked on the Destiny’s Child hit “Survivor.”
Following the battle, Adam said Jean and Sugar have so much potential that it was difficult to determine who should move on. Gwen decided on Sugar. Adam and Pharrell both made a bid to steal Jean; she went with Pharrell.
Craig Wayne Boyd and James David Carter were assigned Pat Green‘s “Wave on Wave” by their coach, Blake. Blake was excited to have Little Big Town by his side, calling the group “the best we have” in the country music genre.
Pharrell said the battle between the two artists felt like a boxing match involving fighters with different styles. Adam added that they were “dead equal” in terms of talent. Blake praised Craig’s projection, while James had great “runs.” James won the battle, but Craig was stolen by Gwen and remains in the competition.
Gwen gave Amanda Lee Peers and Taylor John Williams the Dolly Parton song “Jolene.” Blake thought Amanda came across as more invested in the performance. Adam favored Taylor, though he also believed Amanda showed more passion. Taylor was declared the winner, and Amanda was dismissed.
In the final battle of the night, Team Pharrell’s Griffin and Luke Wade took on a classic: Paul McCartney‘s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Alicia deemed their rehearsal performance to be “flawless,” yet she also said it was lacking something. So she suggested they put a blues-y twist on the song.
Gwen gushed that the battle was “amazing.” It’s unclear whether the pun was intended. Blake added that it was one of the great battles in series history. Adam was impressed with Griffin’s vocal range; he joked, “When I say, ‘Damn that’s high,’ like, that’s high.” Nevertheless, Pharrell named Luke the winner, while Blake and Gwen both tried to steal Griffin. Griffin opted to join Team Blake.
The Battle Rounds continue Tuesday night with a one-hour episode. It airs on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
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