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The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – Blinds End and Battles Begin (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “Blinds End and Battles Begin”! The blind auditions come to an end as Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera complete their teams! Then, the Battle Round begins, as the remaining singers are paired off in duels that will determine which artists will advance to the Knockouts. But don’t forget, the Steal is in play!

Ellie Goulding, Meghan Trainor, Nick Jonas and Lionel Richie are the mentors for the Battle Round, as the coaches go all-out to build a winning team.

To recap, here is where the teams currently stand:

Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis, Brooke Adee, Kelsie May, Jacob Rummell, Matt Snook, Bay Brooks, Brenna Yaeger, Brian Johnson, Corey Kent White

Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo, Sonic, Clinton Washington, India Carney, Koryn Hawthorne, Katelyn Read, Ameera Delandro, Jeremy Gaynor

Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Travis Ewing, Noelle Bybee, Ashley Morgan, Briar Jonnee

Team Adam Levine: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson, Michael Leier, Bren’Nae DeBarge, James McNeice, Nicolette Mare, Barry Minniefield, Lexi Davila, Josh Batstone, Jack Gregori

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.

The Voice 8 - Live Blog and Recap - Blinds End and Battles Begin (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-In building up each of the singers brought in as mentors, Carson Daly refers to Nick Jonas as a “former Jonas Brother”. I mean, did he stop being related to Kevin, Joe and the Bonus Jonas at some point? I know “Jealous” was a huge song, but not huge enough to knock him out of his own family, right?

NATHAN HERMIDA, 17, is up first!

-Nathan is a Filipino whose family came to America to give their children a better life. He grew up in a very musical household, and was raised with a love of R&B. He even spent his childhood trying to sing Justin Timberlake songs (which makes me feel super old, at this point). His mother describes him as a nerdy guy, and Nathan agrees with the assessment. He’s into biology, and his mother wants him to go to college to pursue that so he’ll have a fallback if music doesn’t work out. After all, she doesn’t want Nathan to become a “boomerang child”.

-Nathan sings “Sure Thing” by Miguel, and it’s a really rich, layered vocal for a 17-year-old kid. Seriously, I was impressed with the amount of control and depth that was on display here. Adam is the first to push his button, and Christina quickly follows, sending his family into a big cheer backstage.

ADAM LEVINE and CHRISTINA AGUILERA turn their chairs!

-Adam thought Nathan had the voice of a seasoned professional, offering up some of the smoothest runs he’s heard so far this season. Blake thanks Nathan for bringing his talents to their stage. Christina, meanwhile, thinks Nathan has a really sexy, seductive voice. Pharrell feels silly for not turning around, and asks Nathan to sing a few bars of the song again. He tries hitting his button but it’s too late. Adam, however, predicts Nathan is going to be in the finals. And that appears to be enough to convince Nathan…

NATHAN HERMIDA CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!

TEAM ADAM ADAM IS COMPLETE!

-Adam is stoked, and he should be, considering what a rough start he had in the Blind Auditions. His team consists of: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson, Michael Leier, Bren’Nae DeBarge, James McNeice, Nicolette Mare, Barry Minniefield, Lexi Davila, Josh Batstone, Jack Gregori and Nathan Hermida

I want to say this is a good team, but far too many people on his team were montaged, so I have no idea how strong this team actually is. I really don’t think he has the winner.

PAUL PFAU is up next!

-Paul has been playing guitar since he was 14, although his mother admits he didn’t always have the greatest voice. However, he decided in high school that he would play the Senior Showcase, so he did. Although he screwed up his second verse, his classmates were super enthusiastic about his performance. We see a clip of him doing a pretty sweet moonwalk in the background, and we follow it up with Paul recounting how he got to meet Adam at a Maroon 5 concert. He had a demo in his pocket to give Adam, but he ultimately didn’t give it to him because he was too nervous. Adam is apparently a pretty big influence to him. It’s a shame now that he can’t actually make his way onto Team Adam.

-He sings a terrific version of “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra, and Adam hits his button really enthusiastically. But alas, it’s too late. His team is full, and his button does nothing. But Blake and Pharrell pick up the slack by hitting their buttons. This is pretty close to a flawless performance. This dude could be something special.

BLAKE SHELTON and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!

-Christina is kicking herself for not turning. However, Paul recalls his story about meeting Adam ten years ago, and although Adam wasn’t able to turn his chair, he does accept Paul’s demo CD. Pharrell loves that Paul is into blues, and thinks he could be a perfect coach for him. Paul is compared to Adam, to which Blake agrees, except that Paul is actually talented. Blake says he has absolutely no one on his team like Paul, and Paul seems receptive to Blake’s pitch, noting that he was born in Tulsa, OK himself. But ultimately, Paul goes with his gut…

PAUL PFAU CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL!

-I like this choice. He’s a perfect contestant for Pharrell’s team, since he’s an old soul with a very modern vibe.

GAIA GOLDEN, 26, is up next!

-All Gaia did as a kid was play outdoors. She’s been an outdoors-type girl ever since, owing to her upbringing in Hawaii. She writes pop songs about falling in love, but says that when people come to Hawaii, everyone wants to see fire-dancing and hula skirts. Gaia understands why people are interested in seeing that, but really, she just wants to wear a sparkly outfit, you know? I mean, I don’t know, but I’m sure she’s being super sincere.

-Gaia sings “Red” by Taylor Swift, and it’s vocally proficient, but strangely lifeless, to me. She certainly has a great look and style, but I just didn’t feel any of this.

-Adam compliments her on her hair. Pharrell thinks Gaia does have a really nice tone, and felt if she’d have shown more range, they all likely would have turned around. Christina agrees, and Gaia’s big takeaway from this is that she needs to show more dynamics. Blake thinks she’s sweet and wishes she could be his neighbor, but ultimately says he needed to feel more from her. Gaia is clearly upset, but she understands why they didn’t turn around. She thinks the advice she got was fantastic. And hey, the bonus is that at least now she can come back and audition on a season that is perhaps less stacked than this one.

VANCE SMITH, 22 is up next!

-Vance recalls experiencing a drive-by shooting. His mother, Vanito, made sure he always knew about the difficulties of the streets, so that he knew not to go down that path. Vanito says that Vance is a person who wakes up to music, goes to sleep to music, takes a shower to music, and basically lives music 24/7. He looks up to his mother because she worked three jobs to get his family out of the hood and give them a chance at a better life, so he’s doing this as much for her as he’s doing it for himself.

-Vance sings “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and my heart just breaks for this dude, because this is not good. It’s not necessarily awful either, but there’s a blandness to this that I simply can’t handle. I think it was merely the song choice, since he could probably do more with the right song. I figured he’d fail to get any turn-arounds, but Pharrell and Christina both hit their buttons on pretty much the last note. Vance is so overjoyed, he falls over in exhaustion, feigning passing out.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS and CHRISTINA AGUILERA turn their chairs!

-Adam says that was “some eleventh hour stuff” right there. Pharrell was impressed with his big run towards the end, and Christina adds that she was just as taken aback by his vocal ability, and his positive energy. She has only one spot left, and she wants to give it to him. That seems to be the argument that seals it for Vance…

VANCE SMITH CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!

CHRISTINA COMPLETES HER TEAM!

Christina has a far stronger team than Adam, the other coach whose team is filled so far. She has Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo, Sonic, Clinton Washington, India Carney, Koryn Hawthorne, Katelyn Read, Ameera Delandro, Jeremy Gaynor and Vance Smith. I’m not sure if the winner is on her team, but I do think she has a major powerhouse on her side with India Carney.

CAITLIN CAPORALE, 23, is up next!

-Caitlin has wanted to be on The Voice since first watching Season 1. She makes this sound like a long time, but really, the show has only been around for, what, four years? Anyway, Caitlin says she wanted to audition for this season once she heard Christina would be returning, since she loves her. She even got to sing on that EXTRA competition that Joe Tolo competed on, showing that it just might be a better farm system for talent than the American Idol Experience. Caitlin is going to be singing Christina’s “Impossible,” since she’s always sang Christina’s songs in developing her voice.

-Christina is absolutely heartbroken at being unable to turn her chair for Caitlin, repeatedly hitting her button throughout the performance and singing along in places. Pharrell and Blake turn their chairs, and her family goes crazy backstage. I thought this was a really strong vocal, and I kind of feel bad for Caitlin that she won’t get to be on Team Christina. Well, unless she gets cut and then stolen by Christina, which I wouldn’t rule out.

BLAKE SHELTON and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!

-Christina makes certain Caitlin knows how much she loved her, and how hard she was pressing her button. But she’s been deactivated because her team is full. Pharrell says he loves Caitlin’s runs, and even mimics one of them…and pretty badly, to boot. (Adam: “Please never do that again.”). Blake basically tells Pharrell to lay off, since he always seems to win all of the face-offs they have. But Blake lays it on thick by saying he feels he’s looking at someone who can win The Voice. Pharrell asks Caitlin what kind of music she wants to do after the show, and she says R&B. (Adam: “Uh oh!”) Blake admits he isn’t an R&B coach, but says he wants to do the best he can to help Caitlin develop as an artist. But it’s pretty obvious whom she’s going to choose…

CAITLIN CAPORALE CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!

-After the performance, Caitlin gets to perform “Impossible” with Christina, who lets Caitlin sit in her chair. It’s a wonderful duet, and a pretty damn great moment. But Pharrell is the one who’s really stoked, since…

PHARRELL COMPLETES HIS TEAM!

-Pharrell compares his team to the X-Men, saying he’s got a group of superheroes. And I don’t blame him, since I think he easily has the best team this season. Or at least the most varied. His team consists of Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Travis Ewing, Noelle Bybee, Ashley Morgan, Briar Jonnee, Paul Pfau and Caitlin Caporale. Some really awesome singers in that lineup, man. Seriously.

-And now begins the hunt for Blake to continue his search for the final contestant to fill out his team. We see a montage of people who didn’t quite make the cut: Athena sings “Am I Wrong,” while Jennifer Chung sings “Don’t Speak,” and Ashley Prince sings “Hey Bartender,” but Blake isn’t feeling any of the performances.

HANNAH KIRBY closes the Blind Auditions!

-By virtue of being the last artist auditioning for the show, it’s kind of obvious that she’s getting the last spot on Blake’s team. Hopefully, she’s good. If nothing else, she’s really likable. She’s a college student who’s addicted to video games, so much so that her mother calls her a video game freak (but only after asking her daughter if it’s okay for her to say “freak,” in a cute moment). There aren’t a whole lot of places in Sulfur Springs, Texas where Hannah can perform, so she just plays wherever she can, regardless of the size of the audience.

-Hannah sings a stellar rendition of “The Letter” by The Box Tops (although this sounds more like the Joe Cocker version than anything else). The other coaches are losing their minds hitting their buttons, and Blake toys with them by refusing to push his until the very last moment. He teases, but it’s clear he’s enthusiastic about Hannah, and is not just turning his button out of desperation for one last singer.

BLAKE SHELTON turns his chair!

-The coaches all talk about how Blake was toying with them, and how they would have hit their own buttons if their teams weren’t full. Blake asks where Hannah is from, and when she says Sulfur Springs, Texas, Blake is stoked, since it’s pretty close to where Miranda Lambert grew up. Blake says Hannah may be the last singer on Team Blake, but she’s so good that she could have easily been the first.

HANNAH KIRBY IS THE FINAL ARTIST ON TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!

BLAKE COMPLETES HIS TEAM!

-While Pharrell has my favorite team of all four coaches, Blake probably has the winner somewhere on his team. In fact, he probably has the best team overall, at least when it comes to hitting all the necessary categories to win votes. He has Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis, Brooke Adee, Kelsie May, Jacob Rummell, Matt Snook, Bay Brooks, Brenna Yaeger, Brian Johnson, Corey Kent White and Hannah Kirby. There are a LOT of sentimental favorites in that lineup, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Team Blake dominated this competition.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: ASHLEY MORGAN VS. MIA Z

-Mia is floored to be working with Pharrell and Lionel, since they’re both such huge legends. Pharrell is giving them “Put the Gun Down” by ZZ Ward, and there’s an interesting contrast between these two singers: Mia reveals that she doesn’t actually train every day, and Pharrell tells her that it shows; meanwhile, Ashley trains far too much, and has trouble being more loose and less professional. Ashley tears up when recounting how she’s struggled to be more in the moment, and Pharrell encourages her, reminding her that the talent is there.

-At the rehearsal, Ashley comes alive, so much so that it’s almost like they ignore Mia Z. Pharrell muses to himself: On the one hand, Ashley took his advice and improved in spades, showing she has a LOT to offer in this competition. On the other hand, Mia Z has a lot of natural talent and potential. He feels both girls are making his job really hard, and I believe him.

-I think from a pure vocal standpoint, Ashley won this battle. But Mia was there with her neck-and-neck, particularly from a performance standpoint. Mia just seemed like a total star up there. However, what I like about Ashley is the maturity of her artistry. She feels like a fully-formed artist, and I think that can be valuable, even if she might not have the X Factor that Mia Z has.

-Adam thought both women did a terrific job, singling out Ashley. Blake is floored by the insane falsetto Mia displayed, while also praising Ashley’s powerhouse vocals. He doesn’t know what in the world Pharrell is going to do. Christina helps out by saying that Mia has great technique, but felt that, as a vocalist, it’s Ashley all the way. Pharrell says the women are both winners, in his mind, but Christina tells Pharrell it’s a case of pancakes or waffles. He has to choose. So Pharrell makes his choice after much deliberation.

MIA Z WINS THE BATTLE!

-Pharrell just feels there’s something there with Mia. Backstage, Mia says this is a moment she’ll never forget. However, back in the studio, it’s time for Ashley to say goodbye. Carson asks Ashley if there’s anything she wants to say. And no sooner does Carson put the mic in front of her…

ADAM HITS HIS BUTTON!

-Carson can barely even finish announcing the steal before…

BLAKE SHELTON and CHRISTINA AGUILERA hit their buttons!

-Ashley can hardly believe it. Adam can’t believe that Ashley is even available. He wants her on his team, since he has absolutely no one like her. Blake has wanted Ashley since the Blind Auditions though. Christina, meanwhile, states that, unlike Blake or Adam, she openly stated her feeling that Ashley won that battle. Blake felt it would have been rude to say one person outsang the other, but wait, haven’t you been offering your opinion on other teams’ battles for seven seasons now? Anyway, after the break, Ashley makes her choice…

ASHLEY MORGAN CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!

-Blake and Adam get into a war of words, but they end up hugging it out…

-Backstage, Ashley gets a proud embrace from her parents, and a cheerful hug from her new coach, Christina Aguilera, who looks strangely like Ellie Goulding. Speaking of which…

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JAMES MCNEICE VS. TONYA BOYD-CANNON

-Adam has brought in Ellie Goulding as guest mentor, and Tonya is floored to meet her. “To me, she’s amazing!” Tonya exclaims, after noting that Ellie is someone who’s on iTunes right now. Technically, so are you, Tonya. As for the battle, Adam has given them “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson, and Tonya is a bit intimidated by James, who has an insane falsetto and a great “head voice”. But James is every bit as uneasy about Tonya’s “amazing” and powerful voice. Adam feels the vocal is very even between the two, noting that James doesn’t try to outdo Tonya on the runs, since Justin Timberlake wouldn’t try to outsing Beyonce. I guess that’s a compliment?

-In the rehearsal, Adam notes that Tonya is doing a bit too much with her vocal. I love the point Adam makes about how Michael Jackson used his voice as a percussion instrument with short, stabbing vocals. Tonya notes that it can be difficult for her at times since she has a lisp (although I don’t hear it, personally. As a dude with a lisp himself, I’d think I’d know. Adam plays drums to accompany the vocalists, and he seems super jazzed about this battle, noting the wonderful chemistry James and Tonya have. The editing is leaning heavily in favor of James, which is why I think he doesn’t have a prayer, for what that’s worth. I guess it’s back to Fed Ex for James? I’d kind of like to be wrong though.

-Believe it or not, I actually prefer James’s vocal here. But he seems really awkward and slightly lifeless up there. Tonya, however, is cool, confident, and collected up there. She really gets into it, and I left this battle being far more impressed by Tonya than I was by James. If it were up to me, I’d give it to Tonya.

-Blake tells Tonya her voice is so big that it’s literally unbelievable. However, he says that James stepped up to the plate and made this a tough decision for Adam. Christina felt both singers brought the energy and a lot of fun. Christina’s vote would be for Tonya, but she felt James put in a valiant effort. Pharrell felt James had tone issues stemming from his tendency to think about the vocal too much. That said, he notes when James felt he was getting beaten, he let loose and really gave it his all. Adam thought James’s falsetto was perfect, and believes Tonya did an excellent job as well. He always says to make it tough on him, and they both did just that.

TONYA BOYD-CANNON WINS THE BATTLE!

-Tonya says her husband may be missing work and her children may be missing school, but she felt it’s all worth it to get to advance. They embrace her backstage, and Tonya breaks down in tears. Back in the studio, James thanks Adam for his mentoring, but no one pushes the button for the steal, unfortunately. But to keep from ending on a sour note, we cut backstage where Tonya’s son is doing “the dance,” and dude’s got RHYTHM.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BRIAN JOHNSON VS. JOSHUA DAVIS

-Brian wasn’t expecting Meghan Trainor, and he’s really thrilled to be working with someone who’s in the music scene right now. It adds even more to the pleasure of getting to work with Blake. Speaking of Blake, he’s given them “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” and they’re both really good in this brief run-through at the piano. Meghan feels they both have tons of soul, and Blake adds that the stripped down acoustic version is the way to go. Brian feels he can learn a lot from Blake, but Blake notes that both contestants will need to work a lot harder if they’re doing an acoustic version, since every flaw is now far more noticeable.

-In rehearsals, Blake thinks it’s great, but feels they’re a bit off in the harmony. Meghan helps them straighten it out by having one singer take the higher note, and one the lower. Joshua feels that, in order to win this battle, he needs to tap into the song emotionally, since it’s a song about death. Everyone’s lost someone, so he needs to tap into that universality. Brian, meanwhile, feels he needs to bring out his vulnerability more. Meghan listens to their song and can’t hold back tears. She cries openly, noting that she recently lost a friend, and the performance really spoke to her. “Somebody hug me!” Meghan shouts, in a downright adorable moment. Brian heads on over and embraces her as Meghan states, in a confessional, that if they do onstage what they did in rehearsal, it’ll be the best battle of the night.

-Before the battle, the guys meet with Blake one last time. Paraphrasing, but he basically tells them they need to repeat what they did in rehearsals, block out the audience and just focus on delivering an emotionally resonant performance. I’m excited for this battle.

-I love this battle. It’s subtle and emotional, owing to the stripped back arrangement. Joshua is playing the guitar while Brian goes without, but I don’t think it makes a difference to either vocal. Both guys connect emotionally, resulting in a stellar battle. Hell, Joshua’s infant son is asleep in the audience, and he doesn’t even wake up, since this has such a beautiful, lullaby tone. That is, he doesn’t wake up until the music stops. That response speaks volumes of just how gorgeous this was. The coaches seem split, as this is a really tough decision. But Blake seems relatively firm in his decision….

BRIAN JOHNSON WINS THE BATTLE!

-Joshua prepares to say goodbye but…

ADAM LEVINE STEALS JOSHUA DAVIS!

-Adam is so stoked to have Joshua on his team, and is so concerned that someone else might hit their button, he rushes Joshua through his farewell. I love it! Honestly, both guys deserved to move forward after that.

-And that’s a wrap! Here are the updated team standings…

Team Adam Levine: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson, Michael Leier, Bren’Nae DeBarge, Nicolette Mare, Barry Minniefield, Lexi Davila, Josh Batstone, Jack Gregori and Nathan Hermida (James McNeice eliminated)

Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo, Sonic, Clinton Washington, India Carney, Koryn Hawthorne, Katelyn Read, Ameera Delandro, Jeremy Gaynor, Vance Smith and Ashley Morgan

Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Travis Ewing, Noelle Bybee, Briar Jonnee, Paul Pfau and Caitlin Caporale (Ashley Morgan eliminated, stolen by Christina Aguilera)

Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Brooke Adee, Kelsie May, Jacob Rummell, Matt Snook, Bay Brooks, Brenna Yaeger, Brian Johnson, Corey Kent White and Hannah Kirby (Joshua Davis eliminated, stolen by Adam Levine)

-What did you think of tonight’s show? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night’s show, thanks for reading!

GOODNIGHT!

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