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The Voice Review: First Night of the Battle Rounds Heat Up

THE VOICE -- "Team Adam Battle Reality" Episode 507 -- Pictured: (l-r) Grey Paluszynski, Nic Hawk, Paul Mirkovich, Adam Levine, Ryan Tedder -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Two weeks ago, The Voice lit up the stage with forty-eight talented artists that fought for a spot after their blind auditions: last night was just a fierce, as the first night of the Battle Rounds kicked things off.  Each coach with the help of their advisors would not only have the difficult decision of song selection but also the decision on who would win out.  Let’s however, not forget the almighty power of The Steal, because that is what the battle rounds is all about.

Those who may be new viewers of the Emmy Award winning reality competition are able to instantly pick up on what the Battle Rounds are about.   Two artists from the same team go up against one another to sing their best of a song that is selected by their coach and their on hand advisor.  After several days of rehearsal time together, those two contestants take to the stage, which is designed in a boxing ring format, and showcase their very best in vocals and the ability to captivate the audience watching.

Last night’s episode kicked off some of the best performances of the evening.  There are four performances that stood out to me, while two others were not very much to my liking.  Let’s start off with what was great with the performances that I enjoyed, and then go into what could have been done with the others that just didn’t stand out to me.  In the end, I’ll ask the question on what you, the viewer thought of the performances of Monday night’s The Voice.

The start of the show started out with a bang with the performance from Team Adam, which is headed up by Maroon 5 lead singer, Adam Levine.  Partnered with advisor Ryan Tedder, the lead from the band One Republic, they worked with twenty-five year old wedding singer, Grey, from Jacksonville, Florida and Nic Hawk, the twenty-six year old music theater performer from  Dallas, Texas. Adam chose the song “Domino” by Jessie J.  I think it was a wise move putting Grey and Nic together because they are very different when it comes to their stylization with the song.  Grey is the stronger singer but I agreed with Ryan that she needed to be wise in how she sings certain portions of the song. Nic however has the stage presence and with his experience in Music Theater he has an advantage to show his energetic side.   They just lit up the stage the minute they started singing and they really bounced well off of one another when they sang together.  Neither of them sang the song bad; they did it justice, however, even though I loved Grey, I felt that the battle should have gone to Nic.  He just has the presence to carry the audience.  Even though Grey won, I was thrilled that Nic got the garnered “Steal” from three-time winner Blake Shelton.

The second battle that got me on their side was that of Christina Aguilera’s team, AKA, Team Xtina.  Backed by advisor Ed Sheeran, the twenty-two year old songwriter/producer, they worked with seventeen year old Amber Nicole Scott from Houston, Texas and Timyra-Joi, the fifteen year old from San Diego, California.  Christina chose the song, “Listen” the song from the Dream Girls soundtrack, which was sung by Beyoncé. Timyra-Joi is such a young girl but has a voice that sounds so mature and adult; I keep forgetting that she is just fifteen.  Both of these women may have had some nerves during the rehearsal, but after some fine tuning, made it very difficult on Christina to choose.  Is it wrong of me to say that Amber is on the same caliber as the original artist who has made this song popular?  I loved them both, but Amber owned that song.  Timyra-Joi, I felt should have received a “Steal” to give her a chance to develop some growth and the ability to get over some of those nerves she has when taking on songs.

The third performance that worked so well was the battle between Briana Cuoco, the twenty-four pop singer and personal assistant to sister, The Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco and sixteen year old Jacquie Lee.  Coach Christina chose the song “House of the Rising Son” by the Animals.  I can say right now, she was clearly watching last season’s show when Adam chose the song for team members Amy Whitcomb and Caroline Glaser.  Jacquie may have a bit nervous when she started the song in rehearsals, and at sixteen, it was expected.  She, like Timyra-Joi, is a teen with an adult powerhouse voice.  Briana is a great performer as well, and she really knows how to own the stage a bit better, which was a surprise for me, because I wasn’t fully convinced about her during her blind audition.  She truly surprised me last night.  Both women deserved to remain in the competition.  I just don’t know how Briana will fare in the hands of Blake.  I just hope he doesn’t try to spin her into country music, because with the voice she has, she’s much more than that.

The last performance that I was blown away by was from Team Adam.  Tessanne Chin, the  twenty-eight year old from Kingston, Jamaica and Donna Allen, the fifty-five year old singer, who did back-up vocal for the group Miami Sound Machine.  Adam chose the song “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande for the two of them.  In the rehearsals, Donna was pretty much dominating Tessanne; and as Ryan pointed out, it was as if the song were Donna’s and Tessanne was taking a back seat.   I was glad that they were on equal footing though in their second rehearsal.  The battle was mind-blowing, because both of these women have such a way of taking ownership of the stage.  It was wonderful seeing how they both harmonized together and I was torn by who should stay in it.  Although Tessanne won the battle, I was very disappointed that none of the other coaches hit the “Steal” to keep Donna around for the Knock-out Rounds.  She was too good to see go home.

I wasn’t keen on the battle between Shelbie Z, the twenty-one year old from Jasper, Alabama and Justin Chain, the twenty-three year old from Fort Payne, Alabama.  Separately in the blind auditions, I enjoyed them, but together, I didn’t make a commitment to be connected or drawn in.  Blake, who was partnered up with the iconic Cher as his advisor, chose the song, “Don’t You Wanna to Stay” by Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldeen.   The rehearsal was rocky.  Shelbie was holding back on certain notes, while as a whole both Justin and Shelbie just couldn’t find their place together with the song.  Do not get me wrong, the song is beautiful; I love the song.  I, in my very own opinion, didn’t like the selection for the two of them. During the actual battle, I did see that Shelbie stood out more; her passion to sing was noticeable.  The choice of keeping Shelbie, by Blake, was a wise one.

Cee Lo, like Christina, was taking pointers from the previous season, when he had his team members, Anthony Paul, the eighteen year old from Twinsburg, Ohio, and Caroline Pennell, the seventeen year old who resides in Saddle River, New Jersey sing from the Justin Bieber songbook.  Joining Cee Lo as his advisor was Grammy winning songwriter, Miguel.  The song that was selected for the two of them was “As Long as You Love Me”.   I was on the fence with this performance because Caroline’s voice reminds me so much like season three contestant Melanie Martinez, who reminds me of songstress Ellie Goulding.   The two of them did a good job, and I could be very wrong, but I just didn’t focus or stay tuned in to this performance.  Caroline may have won the battle, but Anthony will have another shot in the soon-to-come Knock-out Rounds.

What are your thoughts on last night’s battle round performances?  . Did the coaches get it right with the choice of who to keep?  Did the songs that were picked a perfect fit?  I am curious to see what other fans of The Voice have to say.  Don’t forget that the show will air at a new time, which is 9/8 C this Tuesday.

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