The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Battles, Part 3 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Battles, Part 3”! Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera pair off their singers in duels that will determine which artists will advance to the Knockouts. But don’t forget, the Steal is still 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.
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with a preview of tonight’s show, and I swear these things get longer and longer with each episode. Seriously, why are they giving away so damn much? This is hot madness. Just get to the show already!
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: BRIAR JONNEE VS. CAITLIN CAPORALE
-Caitlin is thrilled to work with two legends, in the form of Lionel and Pharrell. They’ll be singing “Fallin” by Alicia Keys (Caitlin: “I grew up on this song!” / Lionel: “I did too. That’s not believable, is it?”), and they both seem to fit well with the song. However, Pharrell calls Caitlin out on “cheating” a bit by dipping into her falsetto to avoid going with her full voice, which Pharrell thinks she’s completely capable of delivering. He also encourages Briar, saying that she needs to let go of her nerves because she undoubtedly deserves to be here. Lionel reinforces this by saying that she should use her fear to drive her performance, turning it into a positive. Both Briar and Caitlin implement the advice they’re given, and the performance improves exponentially.
-In rehearsals, Caitlin is a bit pitchy, so Pharrell tells her to work on the opening line that she’s struggling on, since she’s capable of hitting it clearly. Meanwhile, he and Lionel tell Briar not to fall out of character. She needs to maintain that confidence and fierceness throughout the performance. Lionel says he was shy himself when he first hit the stage with The Commodores, but music and performing are about telling a story on that stage. Before the battle, both girls are nervous, recognizing that this could be the difference between starting a music career and going back home to their normal lives (Briar is a student while Caitlin is a customer service rep. It’s easy to see why they might not want to go back to that after the heights of The Voice stage).
-The girls start out impressively, particularly Briar, who just comes to life onstage with a killer run. She also gets into the story of the song. However, Caitlin is there with her every step of the way. That said, neither girl is perfect here, as both have their moments of pitch moments, with Briar getting shaky in the middle of the second verse while Caitlin appears to struggle a bit at the start of her big note at the start of the second verse. That said, I’m having a hard time deciding who’s winning this thing, since both girls look and sound great up there overall.
-Blake says he’d buy a ticket to his show every day of the week, if it’s these two performing. He’s impressed with both girls, and can’t decide who’d win this battle. Adam feels both girls are fantastic, and tells Caitlin that he feels she can actually win this show. However, he says this doesn’t mean that Briar wasn’t great as well. Meanwhile, Christina calls that her favorite battle so far. Pharrell notes that Caitlin went for that note at the top of the second verse, but it didn’t come naturally to her. Briar faced difficulties as well, but both girls worked it out, so this is super difficult for him.
CAITLIN CAPORALE WINS THE BATTLE!
-Pharrell ultimately picked Caitlin because he felt she was further along as an artist. But he does approach Briar onstage and thanks her for trusting him, and noting what a pleasure it was to work with her. Briar notes that she was proud of what she accomplished onstage, since this was outside her comfort zone. Unfortunately, nobody steals Briar, so this is the end of the road for her. I actually thought she had a lot of potential, but I guess since each of the coaches only has one steal remaining (except for Blake, who used both of his already), they’re getting stingy. I can’t blame them though.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: BARRY MINNIEFIELD VS. JACK GREGORI
-Jack thinks it’s going to be interesting to work with Ellie Goulding, since she’s an international star with a lot of versatility. Adam reveals they’ll be singing “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker, and Barry is instantly impressed by the deep tone of Jack’s voice. Similarly, Jack is intimidated by the smoothness of Barry’s voice. Adam compares this to a boxing match, since the song suits both guys. Jack, however, asks Adam if they can change the key. Adam politely denies the request by saying that he likes his voice in this key, so he’d like him to stick with it. But he offers solid criticism that helps assure Jack that he can hit these notes, saying that this is a song that calls for a certain messy quality, with shouting and hooting and hollering.
-In rehearsals, Adam advises Barry to use the cymbals and snares as his rock. As long as you’re on rhythm, nothing can offset you. Meanwhile, Jack is encouraged to get deeper into the song, since he seems a bit awkward up there. But this isn’t to say that he sounds bad, just unconvincing. It’s clear that Barry is the better storyteller, in my opinion. But Jack definitely has the potential to flower into a solid onstage performer, if he believes in what he’s singing. Before the battle, Adam tells the guys to have fun and to make it hard on him.
-Jack sounds great, but man, he doesn’t really have much stage presence while singing. When he’s not singing, he’s very bright and expressive. But while he’s singing, his eyes are closed shut, and not in a way that suggests he’s lost in the song, but rather in a way that suggests he’s trying desperately to get through the song. And it’s a shame, because his voice actually sounds better than Barry’s here. That isn’t to say that Barry sounds bad, since his voice sounds really gritty and soulful here. But I just feel this is a bad song for Barry, since his smooth tone is nowhere in evidence underneath all the grit and gravel. However, the man is a HELL of a performer, and pretty much blew Jack out of the water from an entertainment perspective.
-Blake says it just doesn’t feel right to see a country artist like Jack who’s not on his team. But he felt Jack was comfortable singing the song, and sounded great doing it. He praised Barry for showing restraint, since it would have been very easy for him to just go over-the-top with it. He’d go with Barry. Meanwhile, Christina loved the chatter between the two during the song, and said this felt like two friends hanging out. Both men did a great job, in her opinion. As for Pharrell, he says Barry takes him back to the days where soul singers brought out the desire to “cut the rug.” Adam felt both men were like brothers up there, praising both. He doesn’t feel we’re talking “better or worse,” he’s just going with his gut on this decision…
BARRY MINNIEFIELD WINS THE BATTLE!
-Adam calls it a tough decision, but says Barry was a cool vibe, and we’re going to see some awesome things from him in the coming rounds. Barry cheers backstage (“I’m going to the Knockouts! AHHHHHH!!!!”), while Jack says his goodbyes onstage. He’s not bitter in the least, considering what an awesome singer Barry is. Honestly, Jack probably could have won this if he’d been a more expressive performer. But he just lacked the stage presence Barry did. As much as this show is about finding a great voice, none of that matters if you’re not compelling to watch too. I liked Jack, but I agree with Adam’s decision.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: KATELYN READ VS. TREEVA GIBSON
-Since Katelyn was montaged before, we get her backstory here: Katelyn is the mother to a little girl, but she and her daughter are living with her mom and dad right now. So it’ll mean a lot for her to make a living with music, to give them both a better life. Katelyn is excited to meet Nick Jonas, since it’s huge to have someone so high up on the charts mentoring them. Christina has given them Florence + The Machine’s version of “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer. Treeva feels she’s at a bit of a disadvantage because she hasn’t had a lot of experience performing due to her age. That said, Katelyn is a bit intimidated by Treeva, noting that she isn’t a powerhouse singer like Treeva is. Nick offers his advice, but all I can notice is that this song is doing absolutely nothing for me. I don’t get it. Normally I like Christina’s song choices better than this.
-In rehearsals, Christina tells the girls that she needs to see more intensity. Nick notes that it can be a struggle to get them to an emotional place since they’re so young. He says he was fortunate himself to have received acting and performing training. In an attempt to get them out of first gear, Christina tries an exercise in which she has them scream as loud as they can. Of course, this results in both girls delivering what Nick calls “the sweetest anger ever.” Christina needs both girls to lash out more, so she tells them both to scream again. This time, it’s better (although it still sounds like they’re both holding back), and you can see the results in their performance, as both girls come across as more expressive.
-I wish I could figure out why shows like these have such an aversion to letting an interesting arrangement stay that way. This sounded pretty cool during the ethereal, harp-driven opening. But once the tempo picks up, taking it closer to Robert Palmer’s original, it just falls apart for me. That said, this show isn’t called The Arrangement, so it doesn’t matter nearly as much when set against just how good these two girls sounded. I was particularly impressed with Treeva, who not only delivered a great vocal, but also an expressive, intriguing onstage performance.
-Pharrell liked the uniqueness of both girls, but felt Treeva broke through in the final third of the song. Adam talks about how influences can shape a singer’s artistry. Not everyone as young as they are have settled on a style, as the influences are still acting on an artist and helping them form. Eventually, they’ll stop sounding like the people they’re influenced by, and start sounding more like themselves, and he can’t wait for that day. Blake is impressed that Treeva is so good for being only 17, but he’d give it to Katelyn since he feels she’s more developed. Christina faces the same conundrum, in that she’s impressed with Treeva but nervous about her inability to rein in her talent, whereas Katelyn has more experience but less of that ineffable quality that makes a star. Christina goes with the person she feels she can work with most…
TREEVA GIBSON WINS THE BATTLE!
-Backstage, Katelyn meets with her daughter, who tells her she loves her. Katelyn is actually a bit excited to go home to get to spend more time with her daughter. Treeva’s family embraces her as Christina comes backstage to let them know how awesome their daughter is. Honestly, I think Christina made the right choice here, although Katelyn did a fine job in her own right. But again, I can’t remember the last time (if ever) that a montaged singer has beaten a singer who received a fully-aired audition.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KIMBERLY NICHOLE VS. LOWELL OAKLEY
-Both Kimberly and Lowell are eager to get to work with these two music “masters”. However, I’m a bit befuddled by Pharrell’s decision to give them “Hound Dog,” since it’s not exactly capable of sounding contemporary, in my opinion. It somehow becomes even less contemporary when Lionel notes that Elvis didn’t have the original version, it was actually a Big Mama Thornton song from 1953. Look, I’m not saying that classic songs can’t work on a show like this, but man alive, I just don’t get this song choice at all. It just sounds so painfully old fashioned, and it gives me no sense of who either these people would be in the current music industry. I’m beginning to think this might be one of the biggest reasons the show hasn’t produced a major star yet. It gives us no sense for who these people are, and even then, the narrative doesn’t seem to focus on the contestants anyway. Not nearly as much as the coaches.
-In rehearsals, Pharrell notes that Kimberly is masterful in the range she offers in a performance. But Lowell is discovering a bluesy side to his performance style that could really work for him. It’s so good and he gets so deep into the groove that Lionel towels off his forehead for him after the performance, in an amusing little moment. Before the battle, Lowell is nervous about what could happen in the battle, while Kimberly states she simply can’t go back to her old life after being on that stage. Pharrell meets with both artists backstage for one last chat, as I’m not entirely sure it was the best idea to pair these two together. I feel like they both deserve to be here. I’m thinking a steal is coming, and not just because the show has spent the past hour hammering it into my head at each commercial break.
-Of course, for all my nagging about song choice, this actually fits both their voices really well. It also works as a performance piece, offering both Kimberly and Lowell an opportunity to act out the song onstage. I love the way they sort of stalk around each other, and adopt these scowling glances at one another as they dig into the song. Lowell even backs it up on Kimberly! I kind of love this. It feels like a competition-turned-collaboration that doesn’t lose any of its competitive aspects in the transition. These two are fighting tooth-and-nail, and it’s AWESOME. Sue me, but I’d actually give it to Lowell. Kimberly outsang him, but I just felt more from Lowell’s performance. But I really enjoyed what both singers delivered. The coaches apparently did too, as they give the pair a standing ovation.
-Adam calls it a “real Voice moment,” and says that while his heart is still broken over losing Lowell to Pharrell, he thinks Kimberly might have actually taken that one. Blake falls all over Kimberly, and tells her to take out a restraining order on him before he compliments her any harder. Meanwhile, he really likes Lowell’s “tail-wagging” and showmanship. Blake and Adam talk about how happy they are that they don’t have to make this decision. Pharrell turns to them for help, and Blake says he can actually have both singers back on his team if the loser becomes available to steal in the Knockouts, citing the Craig Wayne Boyd principle. Pharrell thinks it over, stalling for time over and over again. He delivers a speech about both singers being winners, and saying it’s all about trying to figure out which singer needs him more. Pharrell doesn’t want to decide, prompting Carson to say, “Don’t make me go to a commercial break!” Blake says Kimberly probably has to pee, she’s been up there for so long.
Christina: “I have to pee.”
Adam: “I already peed, just now.”
Carson: “You know what? America, go pee, and we’ll be right back.”
That was kind of the best commercial break transition in reality TV history. But when we return from break, Pharrell still hasn’t made a decision. He confirms again with Blake and Christina that it’s possible to steal back one of your own artists. Dude, you were on the show last season when Blake did it! Blake once again reiterates that he stole back his own artist last season when he beat Adam. So Pharrell makes his decision on the premise that he’ll be able to steal back the loser, essentially guaranteeing that someone will steal Kimberly.
LOWELL OAKLEY WINS THE BATTLE!
-Lowell can hardly believe it, but there’s hardly time for Lowell’s win to sink in before…
CHRISTINA AGUILERA STEALS KIMBERLY NICHOLE!
-Backstage, Pharrell is disappointed to lose Kimberly, but he’s also super stoked for her as well. Christina, meanwhile, is over-the-moon to have Kimberly on her team, singing a little of “Happy” in celebration. Here’s hoping she doesn’t have to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye for that one.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BRENNA YAEGER VS. KELSIE MAY
-Both girls deliver the most excited reaction I’ve seen to artists meeting a mentor, as Brenna and Kelsie lose it when they see Meghan Trainor. On a scale of 1-10, it’s Elyjuh Rene meeting Alicia Keys. Blake gives them “Fancy” Reba McEntire, and both girls recognize just how difficult this song is. Blake warns that this is the kind of song you need to know backwards and forwards to avoid disaster, since it’s hard enough for Reba to sing it. Brenna is nervous since Kelsie clearly is more familiar with the song than she is. But Meghan encourages both, revealing that she was advised to audition for The Voice, but she was too scared to do what these girls are doing right now, singing in front of mentors and the like. It’s a shame, the show could have had its first massive star with Meghan.
-In rehearsals, Meghan tries to direct the girls to remain in time and on pitch with each other. Kelsie is built up as the total frontrunner for this song, largely because it seems far more natural to her than it does to Brenna. But I do think, from a purely vocal perspective, both Brenna and Kelsie are fairly even. It’s just going to be a matter of performance, and who’s got the more potential as an entertainer. Blake would do well to pick the more complete artist, and part of me wonders if that might not be Brenna before it’s all said and done.
-Yup, I’d give this to Brenna. Kelsie does a fine job, but it’s not even close, to me. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this battle, particularly Brenna’s acting out the song like a weary, neglected housewife who’s finally had enough of her cheating man. I know that’s not really what this song is about, but that’s the vibe I get, and it’s kind of compelling to watch, honestly, far more so than Kelsie’s (admittedly impressive) attempt to show attitude. Again, I liked Kelsie quite a bit, but I think Brenna took this one in a walk.
-Christina likes both girls but feels Blake should work on dynamics with them, since both girls were on 10 the entire time. Pharrell thinks Kelsie has a really strong tone that just cuts through, but notes that both girls are incredible. Adam feels both girls are evenly paired, as Brenna managed to keep from crumbling under her nervous energy, whereas Kelsie had no hint of nervousness at all. He feels Kelsie is the furthest along right now, not to take anything away from what Brenna accomplished up there. Blake says he hates making battle decisions between young people, since he doesn’t want anyone to ever feel discouraged. He felt nervous energy from both girls, but felt Kelsie had a bit of an advantage since her voice cuts through the nerves a bit. He feels this is pretty even though, so it’s a tough choice for him.
KELSIE MAY WINS THE BATTLE!
-Seriously? I don’t get it. I mean, I get why Blake would want to keep Kelsie on his team, but not over Brenna. Backstage, Kelsie holds back tears expressing how happy she is to advance. Meanwhile, Brenna lets Blake know how much she looks up to him, and says she still feels like a winner even though she didn’t win this battle. Blake embraces her while the other coaches offer Brenna a well-deserved standing ovation. No one steals her, because this world is devoid of justice. (Okay, I’m being hyperbolic. With Adam and Pharrell having only one steal left, I can see why they’re being stingy. But I just really liked what Brenna did here. Of course, I liked what Kelsie accomplished too, just not as much. I didn’t hear the confidence they claimed to have heard in Kelsie. If anything, I heard way more confidence and a far less wavering tone in Brenna. But it’s over now, and hey, it’s not like Kelsie is a bad choice or anything. So I guess Team Blake is going to roll along regardless).
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: INDIA CARNEY VS. CLINTON WASHINGTON
-India is excited to meet Nick because “Jealous” is one of her favorite songs at the moment (honestly? Mine too). Christina gave them “Stay” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko because of the juxtaposition between the male and female voices. Nick feels Clinton’s inflection and riffs are really solid, but worries that he’s swallowing his words a bit. Christina, meanwhile, advises India to project more. India is looking to find a balance between showing off and respecting the duet, and it’s an interesting way to look at the battle, since a lot of artists have to find that same balance in the Battle Round. It can be hard to know what you’re even supposed to do or what the coaches are even looking for. Do you deliver the best duet you can give? Or do you do what will make you look best?
-In rehearsals, Clinton fumbles with one of the lyrics. He attributes it to nerves, since he and India hit it perfectly every time before now. Christina understands, but Nick notes that in order to get rid of nerves, you have to ignore whatever your weakest part is, and focus only on the things that make you great. I see what he’s saying, but it’s worded strangely, since he’s making it sound like he’s advising Clinton not to focus so much on knowing the lyrics, when really, he’s simply telling Clinton not to let the little things get to him. He wants Clinton to remember why he’s here, and why he deserves to be here. And that’s quite good advice, actually. Particularly in an industry where you can be so easily discouraged.
-Well, India found that balance she was looking to achieve. This was a great showcase for her vocal talents that also didn’t detract from the duet experience. That said, Clinton really impressed me here. I expected India to steamroll him, but he stays with her almost all the way through. They both do a wonderful stage performance of the song, acting it out. In one awesome moment while harmonizing, Clinton reaches out his hand to touch India’s, and she focuses on the hand like she’s going to reach out and touch it, before stopping herself because it’s too painful. This is an absolutely outstanding battle, and easily the best of the season, to me. Both vocalists were impeccable. The coaches give them a standing ovation.
-Pharrell thought it was the battle of the season, while Adam feels they did a great job. He thinks India is incredible, but Clinton did a great job of making them all regret not turning their chairs for him. Meanwhile, Blake didn’t even feel like he was watching a Battle, he felt he was watching a music video. And that’s a great way of putting it. Ultimately, Blake says he’d go with India, since she’s the prettier of the two. Christina is torn on whom to pick, but she makes a decisive choice, and in far less time than it took Pharrell to choose between Kimberly and Lowell…
INDIA CARNEY WINS THE BATTLE!
-India cries backstage, since she just wasn’t sure she’d advanced. While she’s back there, Clinton gets stolen, and bless her heart, this makes India even more ecstatic.
ADAM LEVINE AND PHARRELL WILLIAMS PUSH THEIR BUTTONS!
-Both coaches make a play for Clinton, with Adam praising the confident tone of Clinton’s voice, and Pharrell making the case he could really work with him. Ultimately, Clinton makes his choice…
CLINTON WASHINGTON CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-And that’s the last of Adam’s steals, meaning Pharrell is the only coach left with a steal (the last steal of the battles, in fact). Who will be the lucky recipient? The battles come to an end tomorrow! But that’s a wrap for tonight!
-To recap, here’s how tonight’s battles panned out:
Team Adam Levine: Barry Minniefield defeats Jack Gregori
Team Pharrell Williams: Caitlin Caporale defeats Briar Jonnee, Lowell Oakley defeats Kimberly Nichole (Kimberly Nichole STOLEN by Christina Aguilera!)
Team Christina Aguilera: Treeva Gibson defeats Katelyn Read, India Carney defeats Clinton Washington (Clinton Washington STOLEN by Adam Levine!)
Team Blake Shelton: Kelsie May defeats Brenna Yaeger
But what did you think of tonight’s battles? Did the right singers win? Were the right choices made on the steals? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading and hanging out! We couldn’t do this without you.