Reality TV

The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – The Battles Premiere (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “The Battles Premiere”! Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams begin whittling down their teams of finalists with some of the most dramatic battles this competition has ever seen!

But what will happen after the battles? Will there be a steal? Could the potential winner pull a Craig Wayne Boyd and end up switching teams?

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!

The Voice 9 - Live Blog and Recap - The Battles Premiere (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-We open with Blake ripping on Adam’s bald head, which he’s SO not pulling off. Like, at all. And I say that as someone who will go into the ground being a fan of Adam. We see Adam playing a private set with one of his idols, John Fogerty, who will be serving as the guest advisor for Team Adam. It’s fitting that Adam is the subject of the opening, since his team is up first.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JORDAN SMITH VS. REGINA LOVE

-This should be a good match-up. Regina, for her part, is starstruck to meet John Fogerty, noting that he’s the man who wrote the Tina Turner version of “Proud Mary”. Jordan is a bit intimidated, however, since Regina has more experience. They’ll be singing “Like I Can” by Sam Smith, and while they do blend well, Adam wants the harmonies tighter. He also wants Jordan’s notes to be “fuller”. That said, John Fogerty is quite impressed, saying that these two together are “magic”. Regina feels her experience will be her advantage, since she’s one of the oldest people in this competition. Meanwhile, Jordan feels he’s different, and his uniqueness is his strength. Both Jordan and Regina are amused to meet the now-bald Adam backstage before the battle, although I’m not sure I’d have recognized him at first, honestly.

-This is a surprisingly close battle. Jordan has a great voice, but I expected Regina to steamroll him, vocally. I came into this, however, with the expectation that Jordan would win, no matter what he did. Regardless, this ended up being far closer than I expected.

-Blake says he felt like he was at the Grammys, praising Regina’s vocal power, and then saying Jordan’s voice was out of this world. Pharrell compared it to a joust on Game of Thrones, while Gwen calls Regina “effortless” and Jordan “unexpected”. She then says that unexpected quality is what really turns her on about him, prompting Adam to tell Jordan to really take that in. Adam has kind words for both his contestants, saying they both deserve to be in this competition, and he feels dumb for putting them together. Ultimately, he feels he needs to go with his gut…

JORDAN SMITH WINS THE BATTLE!

-Adam feels Jordan’s voice is a unicorn, in its specialness. Meanwhile, Jordan is thrilled to be on Team Adam still, embracing his family backstage. Back in the studio, Regina begins to say her goodbyes, with Adam interjecting to note how much he’s loved every moment with her. In the middle of his sentence, however…

GWEN STEFANI STEALS REGINA LOVE!

-The coaches give Regina a standing ovation, as Gwen and Regina tearfully embrace one another. Regina fights back tears when talking about what this means to her, and declaring she’s ready for the knockouts. Gwen admits she wasn’t planning on stealing Regina, but felt a calling to do so. I think this could be a good match, honestly, as Gwen could really shape Regina into a more contemporary artist. I’m glad she’s still around.

-Back from break, as we check in with Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley, who are jamming out to “Dueling Banjos”. Blake, however, gets furious with Brad when he ad-libs, jokingly roaring, “You don’t ad-lib on ‘Dueling Banjos’!”

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: TYLER DICKERSON VS. ZACH SEABAUGH

-Zach thinks it’s “crazy” and “wild” to have the opportunity to be mentored by two country superstars like Blake and Brad. They’ll be singing “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by Travis Tritt, which is a very clever song choice for these two. Brad is impressed at their contrast, noting that Tyler has a bit of the bad boy side to him, whereas Zach has a more traditional, pure voice. In the studio rehearsal, Blake praises Zach on the improvement on his overall performance, while noting that Tyler is now having pitch problems here that he wasn’t having the day before. The edit seems to be setting up a Tyler victory by making him out to be the underdog, but regardless of the outcome, this should be a good battle.

-Despite really liking the song choice, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this battle. It actually felt like a real back-and-forth competition. Honestly, I’d give it to Tyler, but I think Zach deserves a steal. He has a very smooth voice, and the dude just looks like a star. Then again, he could be the next Ryan Sill, a heartthrob who lasts way too long on his heartthrob appeal. But I like both guys.

-The coaches have a bit of a mixed critique, with Pharrell pointing out the crack in Zach’s voice, and Gwen noting Tyler’s pitch issues. Adam feels there’s still work to be done, but he likes both guys. Blake then jokes about how all “the dirty old women” in the audience have been screaming for Zach, calling his voice “badass”. Meanwhile, he praises Tyler for being an incredible talent, despite some of his faults. Blake hates having to choose between the two, but he’s making his choice based on the performance…

ZACH SEABAUGH WINS THE BATTLE!

-WOW! I’m shocked. I seriously thought Tyler would be a lock for the live shows, considering how pimped his audition was. Blake hugs Zach and lets him know he’s proud of him, and then he hugs Tyler as he leaves the stage, in a show of support. Tyler is proud to have made it this far, feeling his confidence has been restored. Blake feels this battle was ultimately about who was willing to work harder, which is why Zach won. Backstage, Zach hugs his family. For what it’s worth, I like this choice, even though I picked Tyler to advance. Zach could be a real dark horse in this competition.

-Back from break with Gwen and Selena Gomez geeking out over each other: Gwen can’t believe Selena actually came, while Selena can’t believe she’s actually working with Gwen, whom she grew up listening to.

TEAM GWEN STEFANI: ELLIE LAWRENCE VS. TIM ATLAS

-Ellie says that meeting Selena Gomez makes her feel like her heart is about to explode. Gwen gives them “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood, and Gwen is instantly enamored with Tim’s performance. She feels Tim has a better hold of the harmony, and tells Ellie she needs to let it out more. Selena, however, praises Ellie for her impressive vocal control. In the rehearsal, Gwen asks Tim if it would be too awkward for him to ditch the guitar. Tim says yes, but Gwen feels it’d be better for him to lose it, since he looks like the guitar guy backing Ellie up. They feel Tim opened up as a performer after losing the guitar, although he does mess up a lyric. Gwen gives him tips on how to be a more comfortable onstage performer, and then advises Ellie against closing her eyes too much during the song. This feels like a fairly even battle. Tim is intimidated by the fact that Ellie turned three chairs, but feels this is an opportunity to show what he’s about. Ellie, meanwhile, doesn’t want to lose this battle, and the tremendous platform it represents. I’m excited to see how they work this out, since this is a far more mellow arrangement than the original. It’s a delightfully uncommon arrangement for a battle.

-Okay, so here’s the problem with this battle: they blend so well and so consistently that it’s hard to actually tell who’s winning this thing. They’re both very good, but neither stands out any more than the other, so it’ll ultimately come down to what Gwen is looking for in her team. I think Tim is a little bit more raw, and he’s interesting, in that regard. But Ellie is more polished, so I’d go with her.

-Adam felt it was interesting how they were “feeling each other’s vibes” (before catching himself and apologizing for almost making it weird). But Blake jumps on the opportunity to make Adam uncomfortable by playing up the joke. He then praises them both for having awesome hair. However, he says if he were Gwen, he’d go with Tim because he hasn’t heard a voice like his. Pharrell feels Ellie is like a snake charmer with her voice, whereas Tim is a shark with the rawness of his. Gwen tells Tim he was unbelievable, and that if she were listening to an album, she’d love to listen to his. She then tells Ellie that the only reason Adam and Blake want her to pick Tim is so they can steal her. Gwen makes her choice…

ELLIE LAWRENCE WINS THE BATTLE!

-Ellie is positively stunned to have won, fighting back tears and covering her mouth in shock. Gwen states that she relates to Ellie in so many ways, which is why she picked her. Ellie breaks down backstage when saying she feels lucky to remain in her idol’s presence for just a bit longer. Back in the studio, Tim begins to say his goodbyes when…

PHARRELL WILLIAMS STEALS TIM ATLAS!

-Pharrell loves Tim’s passion, and feels he really knows how to “Turn it on”. He tells Tim that bravery should be the only crutch he leans on. Tim admits that Gwen helped build his confidence, but adds that he’s now ready to work with Pharrell.

-Speaking of Pharrell, we return from break with Pharrell expressing his appreciation to Missy Elliott for choosing to serve as his guest advisor. For her part, she’s humbled to be a part of this experience.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: CELESTE BETTON VS. MARK HOOD

-Mark is honored to meet Missy, saying she’s “the epitome of an artist with longevity.” Pharrell has chosen to give the duo “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” with the coach declaring that he’s looking for the singer who will move them the most. Missy loves their vocal, so much so that she ends up crying in the studio, saying that she hasn’t been moved by music like that in a long time. Pharrell admits that they didn’t even have any critiques for the two, they were so skilled. In the final rehearsals, Pharrell says it’s a gift to work with these two singers, while Missy declares them both “anointed”. I can’t remember a time where two singers made it through the entire rehearsal without a single serious critique. Awesome stuff.

-For a song as overdone as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” this was an outstanding performance from both Mark and Celeste. It was a collaborative effort like many of the battles before this, but it also had that spirit of competition that made this feel like a true battle. It was the wild game of one-upmanship, with runs on top of runs, and some killer belting and sustained notes. I was crazy about this battle!

-Gwen calls it the best battle she’s ever seen, noting how incredible Mark is, and how infectious Celeste’s personality is. Adam compares Mark to a spark plug, while also praising Celeste’s terrific vocal. Blake says both performers could be stars. Pharrell declares it was like hearing a vocal Cirque du Soleil, and then adds that he may have made a mistake in putting them together. Adam says he doesn’t feel it was a mistake, since it resulted in one of the best battle rounds they’ve ever seen. Pharrell has no idea whom to choose, so he’s just going to go with his gut…

MARK HOOD WINS THE BATTLE!

-Mark is overwhelmed, but he embraces Celeste and lets her know he loves her before leaving. He then embraces Pharrell, who says (in a confessional) that he feels Mark could go all the way, and that he could do any genre of music. In the studio, Celeste sings her farewell, in what is an absolutely gorgeous little vocal. I think it’s slightly horrifying that she didn’t get stolen, honestly. Letting Celeste go could end up being one of the biggest mistakes the other coaches allow. (EDIT: According to spoilers, this was apparently the last battle to be filmed, and the steals had all been used up by then. Strange that the show still tried to play it off as though there were still steals remaining, as the voiceover featured Adam talking about how he had to conserve his steals and use them wisely. What an unfortunate break for Celeste, either way).

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Celeste Betton vs. Mark Hood Just Might Be The Voice Battle of the Year (VIDEO)

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: DUSTIN MONK VS. JAMES DUPRE

-James cannot believe he’s meeting John Fogerty, and that pressure is amplified when he learns he’ll be singing John’s own song, “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. John feels Dustin has a great rock and roll voice, while James brings a bit more of Americana to the performance. John explains the thought process behind the song, particularly the anger over the Vietnam War, and how it sprung from his anger over being drafted into a war that was never explained. Interestingly, he notes that he wrote the song in just 20 minutes, after grabbing onto the lyric “It ain’t me!” John even rearranges the song to suit the contestants, blowing Dustin’s mind. In the rehearsal, Adam feels there are timing issues, so he works to make certain they’re both in time with one another. Dustin realizes that this battle means “the dream isn’t going to come to me,” he has to work for it. James, meanwhile, worries he sounds shrill. Adam insists he sounds fantastic, but there’s a lot of worry between the two of them.

-I really like Dustin’s voice, and I think he shows a lot of potential here. However, I think James is a safer bet for Adam, since he ticks all the boxes for a classic Team Adam contestant. He reminds me of a smokier Joshua Davis, actually, and I think he could finally be the country-type singer Adam uses to best Blake. Regardless, I think both men should hold their heads high after this one.

-Blake felt James was the most consistent singer overall for this battle, although Dustin took a lot more risks. Pharrell is leaning towards James as well, while Gwen thinks Dustin’s stage performance was superior while James’s vocal was better. Adam was so taken by Dustin’s skill, while he noted how impressive James’s composure was. He feels both men rose to the occasion, and expresses how proud he is of both of them. Adam makes his decision…

JAMES DUPRE WINS THE BATTLE!

-Adam says he went with his gut, while James hugs his happy children backstage. Dustin tearfully thanks Adam for the experience, and hugs Adam, who tells Dustin he should be proud.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BARRETT BABER VS. DUSTIN CHRISTENSEN

-Barrett admires Brad Paisley as an artist, a songwriter and a performer, and he thinks Blake made a great pick for his guest mentor. Blake has given the guys “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn, and Barrett feels an instant connection to the song from his upbringing. But Blake feels Dustin connects better to the song with his vocal, although he feels Barrett has the greater energy, so Dustin will have to step up his performance game. In the rehearsal, Blake is enamored with Dustin’s low pitch, and with how Barrett has conquered his problems with diction. Brad tells Barrett he could win this battle if he nails the big line (“Ma’am, I am tonight!”), which only adds to the pressure. Both men feel as though this is their last chance at making it in the music industry.

-Dustin has a great voice, but I think Barrett had this one from the start. Of course, I say this, but the only part of Barrett’s performance I didn’t like was his delivery on “Ma’am, I am tonight!”, his big line of the song. You could see he was thinking about it, and I feel as though Brad inadvertently put too much pressure on him to nail that line, since Barrett did it so much better in rehearsals. Still, I think it would be crazy of Blake to let Barrett go.

-Pharrell is torn, but ultimately goes with Barrett. Gwen thinks Barrett is incredible, and then tells Dustin his voice is crazy. Adam says it blows his mind that one of these two men will be available to steal in a few moments, calling Blake an idiot for putting them together in the first place. Blake rips on Adam by calling him Dr. Evil (prompting Adam to give a pretty spot-on Dr. Evil impression!), before admitting that he IS an idiot for having put them together (Adam: “Hear, hear!”). Blake feels it’s a draw, but he has to make a decision…

BARRETT BABER WINS THE BATTLE!

-Blake says he chose Barrett because “he has a great voice that cuts through,” and adds that he’s a very special guy to be around. Barrett says his family is why he attacks every performance. Back in the studio, Dustin doesn’t even get to speak a single farewell word before…

ADAM LEVINE AND GWEN STEFANI BOTH HIT THEIR BUTTON!

-Adam makes his pitch, saying he can’t get his heart broken twice. “I love you! I want to make beautiful music with you,” Adam declares. Meanwhile, Gwen is in love with Dustin’s voice, and she’s already thinking about what duet they’re going to do. Blake says the choice should be easy, since it’s between Superwoman and Lex Luthor. Ultimately, Dustin makes his choice…

DUSTIN CHRISTENSEN CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!

-Dustin is still super-excited to be here, and feels Adam will be a great mentor, since he thinks Adam knows who he wants to be as an artist. Adam congratulates Dustin backstage, and says he’s finally on the right team. Back in the studio, Adam calls Blake a “dumbass” over that Lex Luthor comment. Good times.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Barrett Baber vs. Dustin Christensen Is the Battle of the Four-Chair Turns on The Voice (VIDEO)

-And that’s a wrap on tonight’s show! To recap, here are the results…

Team Adam Levine:
Jordan Smith def. Regina Love (Gwen Stefani steals Regina!)
James Dupre def. Dustin Monk

Team Blake Shelton
Zach Seabaugh def. Tyler Dickerson
Barrett Baber def. Dustin Christensen (Adam steals Dustin Christensen!)

Team Pharrell Williams
Mark Hood def. Celeste Betton

Team Gwen Stefani
Ellie Lawrence def. Tim Atlas (Pharrell steals Tim Atlas!)

What did you think? Did the coaches make the right choices? Sound off in the comments!

Until tomorrow night, thank you for hanging out and reading!

GOODNIGHT!

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