The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Battles Premiere, Part 2 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Battles Premiere, Part 2”! 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 after last night’s show:
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)
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!
-Carson Daly previews the night, and the first words out of my 7-year-old nephew’s mouth: “Why are they so excited?” And you know, Carson probably could stand to turn it down a bit on the “WE HAVE A STEAL! OMGZ YOU GUYS!” Still, I think that’s also part of his charm. Carson really is one of the most underappreciated elements of The Voice. This show wouldn’t work nearly as well without him, I think.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: ANTHONY RILEY VS. TRAVIS EWING
-Anthony is excited to meet Lionel Richie, since he’s sung many of his songs on the streets of Philadelphia. Pharrell says he paired Anthony and Travis together because they both have similar tones to their voices and they both have soul. He’s given them “Get Ready” by The Temptations, and it’s pretty damn good in rehearsals. Travis says he’s bringing everything he’s got because it’s life or death to him. But he seems to hold back a bit on the high notes. Pharrell tells Travis he can hit the notes he goes through, and tells Anthony he has crazy range, enough that he wonders if there’s any song he can’t sing. Anthony assures Pharrell that there’s not a song in this world he can’t sing, to which Lionel scolds him, saying, “If you’re great, let [the audience] tell you. Never tell them.” Anthony accepts that he needs to show more humility, and appreciates Lionel for giving that advice.
-At rehearsals, the coaches encourage more collaboration. Lionel notes that Travis clearly didn’t get here by accident. “What you have is great,” Pharrell tells him. He thinks it’ll be an interesting pairing, since Anthony is in his comfort zone while Travis is still finding his voice in this genre. Before the battle, Travis and Anthony agree that they’re both fighting for Christina’s heart (it’s great to have a focal point on a love song like this. And hey, Christina is a more gorgeous focal point than a lot of singers get). Pharrell jokingly muses, “So that’s where my Steal is going!”
-I liked this battle quite a bit, although Christina seemed to be kind of weirded out by the guys singing to her. I thought Anthony won this pretty handily, but man, Travis has a really good voice. I hope he manages to get stolen if he’s cut, because I’m getting serious Ricky Manning vibes from him, and I thought Ricky Manning was criminally underrated last season.
-Adam thought Travis did a great job challenging Anthony. Blake praises both men, saying that Anthony really brought it, although it would be hard not to reward Travis for how much he brought. Christina thought Anthony brought a great street performance vibe, but notes that Travis would not be denied, and went tooth-and-nail. However, she would ultimately give the battle to Anthony. Pharrell praises both men for their performance before making his decision…
ANTHONY RILEY WINS THE BATTLE!
-Backstage, Anthony wanted to show Pharrell that his advice meant a lot to him, and that he has humility. Back in the studio, Travis begins saying his farewells when…
BLAKE SHELTON STEALS TRAVIS EWING!
-I love how Anthony celebrates backstage, pumping his fists and shouting in victory when he sees his friend get another shot. Blake thought it was a sink-or-swim battle, but thought Travis deserved another chance. Pharrell says this is what happens with hard work. I’m just so happy for Travis. The dude really did deserve to go forward.
TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: AMEERA DELANDRO VS. SONIC
-Ameera thinks Nick Jonas is rather cute in person, but it’s not long before both girls are all-business. Christina gives them “Masterpiece” by Jessie J, and Sonic has some troubles right away. She’s not used to singing with another person, and since she’s deaf in one ear, she has a bit of trouble doing harmonies. But Ameera isn’t without her own problems, as Christina tells her to watch out for her nerves.
-In rehearsals, Sonic is still having trouble nailing the harmonies, so Christina suggests she turn the TV all the way up when she gets home, and sings along with that. Meanwhile, she tells Ameera to sing out more instead of going all breathy with her performance. Nick notes that both girls have to focus on the performance aspect now, since they can both obviously sing. My only issue there is that neither woman seems to have really gotten the vocals down just yet, so it might be a bit early to start focusing on making it more lively.
-This is probably the most even battle of the entire Battle Round so far. If I close my eyes, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell their voices apart. They both sound great, and have no trouble injecting attitude into their vocal. In fact, they work pretty well together, nailing the harmonies that Sonic had such trouble with in rehearsals. I think Sonic has the edge in potential, but really, they sounded virtually identical to me, so this is less a matter of who delivered the better vocal and more about which artist has the most potential going forward.
-Pharrell felt there were a couple of moments where Ameera was pitchy, but he can’t fault her for it since she went straight for the jugular. Adam agrees, comparing it to a battle from The Matrix. He feels the song choice was perfect, and notes that it was pretty even throughout. He’d probably go with Sonic, but he felt Ameera was right there with her. Blake loves the hair on both women, and Christina would love to put those hairstyles on Blake’s head. As for his thoughts on the battle, Blake would go with Sonic (see? You can say who you think should win without being rude! I don’t know why Blake thought it was such a rude thing for Christina to do last night). Christina thought both girls were great, but she’s going with the person whose tone she preferred…
SONIC WINS THE BATTLE!
-A teary-eyed Ameera cries through her farewell, saying Christina helped her get over her fears. She’d never even met a celebrity before this (Carson with the smooth line, “Why are you crying? Blake isn’t even a celebrity!”). Ameera, unfortunately, is not stolen by any of the judges.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE AND TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA MONTAGES
-We get montages of some battles I really, really would have liked to have seen in full…
Joe Tolo defeats Gabriel Wolfchild (“For the First Time” by The Script”)
Deanna Johnson defeats Nicolette Mare (“Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding)
Nathan Hermida defeats Josh Batstone (“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran)
JOE TOLO, DEANNA JOHNSON AND NATHAN HERMIDA WIN THEIR BATTLES!
-Unfortunately, none of the other singers get stolen. And double unfortunately, we once again don’t really get to see any of Josh Batstone or Nicolette Mare, both of whom got the Rebekah Samarin treatment. I would hate these montages far less if they uploaded the full battle online later. But alas, they don’t, making this all the more frustrating. I would have loved to watch that Nathan/Josh battle.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: HANNAH KIRBY VS. SARAH POTENZA
-Sarah is trying hard not to freak out upon meeting Meghan Trainor, saying she’s a huge fan and “all about that bass.” They’ll be singing “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, and while Sarah has a powerhouse voice, Blake warns her that she needs to pick her moments. Meghan notes that while Hannah might not have the power of Sarah, her voice still has a memorable quality to it. Blake tells Hannah that her voice just cuts through.
-Hannah starts dancing a bit in rehearsals, and Meghan asks why. Hannah tells her she likes to dance, but in a confessional, reveals that it’s because Sarah has more stage presence. In essence, she needs to dance in order to compete with the showmanship Sarah displays. Both girls seem pretty even in the vocal department, so I think it’ll ultimately come down to who the better performer ends up being. Meghan isn’t sure how Blake is going to be able to choose between the two.
-Both women do a great job, but I prefer Sarah’s voice to Hannah’s, despite her occasionally scratchy tone. I just think Sarah sounds more confident, whereas Hannah’s voice has this wavering, uncertain quality to it, like she isn’t sure how to use it. Still, she is pretty damn impressive here, and I think she has more of an X Factor than Sarah. So this is a toss-up for me. That final closing note was killer though, and earns the four coach standing ovation, which leads me to believe someone is getting Stolen here.
-Christina says that performance blew her socks off. She knew Sarah was a force to be reckoned with, but Hannah really surprised her here. “It was awesome!” Christina declares. Meanwhile, Pharrell says this was a straight-up duel, and notes that Hannah was fierce with a “You’re going to hear me too!” attitude. Adam, meanwhile, says “DAMN!” He thinks Sarah blew them away even more than they thought she could, but notes that Hannah really opened their eyes. Pharrell adds that Hannah came out “swinging her purse like a Southern church lady.” Adam said they all expected a murder, but Hannah really surprised them all. But it’s all up to Blake…
SARAH POTENZA WINS THE BATTLE!
-Sarah seems downright stunned, since all of the coaches were picking Hannah for the battle. Blake says that was the best battle he’s ever been a part of, while Sarah expresses shock backstage, since she’s heard “no” so many times. She tearfully kisses her husband and cheers, “I’m going to knockouts!” Back in the studio, Carson announces that Hannah is available to steal…
ADAM LEVINE AND PHARRELL WILLIAMS HIT THEIR BUTTONS!
-Adam and Pharrell make their pitches for what they can offer Hannah, but Christina simply feels Hannah should go with her heart…
HANNAH KIRBY CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Hannah says she felt a spiritual connection to Pharrell. He comes backstage and thanks her for giving him the chance to work with her, saying he’s going to work as hard as he can for her. I like this pairing, and I’m interested to see what they do together.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: BLAZE JOHNSON VS. MICHAEL LEIER
-Michael is thrilled to meet Ellie Goulding, saying that she’s one of those artists whose voice you immediately recognize on the radio. He hopes to be one of those artists one day. As for now, both men will be singing “Rude” by Magic!, which Blaze feels is a perfect song for him to show off his range. Adam warns Michael against power and straining, whereas he feels Blaze should tone down the island accents. He feels they’re great additions to his performance, but he doesn’t want to come across like Blaze is putting on a different face for each performance. Good point.
-In rehearsals, Ellie felt Michael looked a bit scared, while Adam felt he was rushing in places. Meanwhile, he warns Blaze against losing his breath as he continues in the pre-chorus. Both men are rushing (this “rushing vs. dragging” argument is starting to feel like Whiplash to me. Somebody call J.K. Simmons!), and Adam wants them both to be laid back. Before the battle, Blaze wants music to be his career, while Michael notes this is a David and Goliath battle. You know, he’s not that far off. This is a powerfully bad song choice if Adam wants Michael to have a shot at winning.
-To be fair, Michael does a really good job keeping up with Blaze, and even overtakes him at certain points of the song. But Blaze’s vocal is far more impressive and layered. That said, I do think Michael deserves to be stolen. Then again, each coach only has one steal left, so they might be saving it for some of the frontrunners later.
-Blake thought they did a good job stepping outside their comfort zone, since this isn’t a song either guy would have chosen for themselves. Christina liked it, but wishes both guys would have relaxed a little more. Pharrell agrees, saying it got a bit too intense at points. He felt Blaze did the better job, but notes that Michael did sing well. Adam felt Blaze really stayed on course with making the song his own, while Michael did a beautiful job keeping with the rock and roll style of his voice. Adam makes the choice that he feels makes the most sense for him moving forward…
BLAZE JOHNSON WINS THE BATTLE!
-Backstage, Blaze can hardly believe it. In the studio, Michael says his farewells and thanks Adam, since this is more than he could have expected coming from Fargo, where there isn’t a whole lot to see. Unfortunately, no one steals Michael, but I can kind of see why they didn’t. There are going to be some crazy singers available in the next few battles.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: CODY WICKLINE VS. MATT SNOOK
-Meghan Trainor does a pretty cute country accent when the boys enter, noting that she knows a thing or two about country since, after all, she performed with Blake’s wifey at the CMA Awards. Blake gives the guys “How Country Feels” by Randy Houser, and the run-through goes swimmingly. Blake says Matt sounds better here than he did in his blind audition, while Cody is effortless in his ability. The only thing Blake is worried about is getting both guys an equal amount of time to sing lead.
-In rehearsals, Cody keeps looking off to the side, prompting Meghan to ask if he’s afraid of her. It looks like Cody isn’t having a good time, and Blake feels it’s crucial that he sing to Meghan, since he should be trying to get her to make out with him. Cody’s performance improves tenfold when he starts focusing on Meghan. It’s also a smart idea for the guys to ditch the guitars for this one, since it allows them to focus on their vocals and showmanship, without having to think too hard about musicianship. Before the battle, Blake wants Cody to smile more, and Matt to smile less. Blake seems to be all about the balance in these battles, wanting to keep things even between his artists. I don’t blame him. If you can even the playing field, then the choice becomes a bit easier because you can see what each guy does better than the other, as opposed to those overkill battles like Anthony vs. Travis, where one guy is fighting from underneath from the word go.
-Matt does a damn good job here, but I just don’t think he stood a chance against that X Factor Cody has going on. He just has something subtle onstage that I find compelling, and I’m not even sure what it is. It’s a mixture of stage presence and subtle swagger that adds to the whole package. His voice is great and he’s got a good look too. And he’s young, which should only add to his appeal. I could easily see him going really deep into this competition.
-Christina “liked how country feels,” and both Blake and Adam note how both men seemed to have been hitting on Christina during the song. Christina liked Matt’s vocal, and also felt Cody reminded her why she hit her button for him in the first place. She adds that Cody is a real cutie. Pharrell tells Cody he didn’t just hear his voice, he felt his presence. But Adam feels Matt won this battle. It all comes down to Blake, who congratulates both guys on the rave reviews they received. He praises Cody for coming out of his shell and singing perfectly, while singling out Matt for his positive energy, saying he comes across like he’s having the time of his life up there. But only one can advance, and I think we all know who it’s going to be, since montaged guys very rarely (if ever?) beat non-montaged guys…
CODY WICKLINE WINS THE BATTLE!
-Blake felt Cody had an edge, and that’s important in country music right now. Backstage, Cody embraces his dad, while Matt says goodbye in the studio, saying that his goal ever since childhood was for people to hear him. We close with a segment in which Adam does a silly Blake impression, because the editing team is making it their mission to hit the bromance hard this season.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MEGHAN LINSEY VS. PAUL PFAU
-Paul calls Lionel Richie a “legend,” making this something like the 20th time someone has called him that in these battle rounds alone. Pharrell gives them “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles, and Paul has a personal connection to the song, since it’s the track that made him want to learn guitar in the first place. Pharrell says this is a classic song a lot of people know, but they need to make it their own. Lionel tells both singers to focus on the story and less on the different ways they could sing the song. “You gotta sell it,” he tells them, even acting out parts of the song for them (mostly by suggesting that Paul sing to Meghan before walking away from her).
-In rehearsals, Pharrell recommends that Paul dip into his lower register. Paul, meanwhile, worries against pushing himself too hard, since he fears Pharrell won’t view him as capable. Pharrell, in a confessional, says that Paul shouldn’t be doubting himself so much. As Paul goes into his lower register, Pharrell grows more impressed, but he wants more out of Meghan’s eyes, suggesting she sell the song to Paul. Lionel Richie tells her she needs to stop looking down, but she just met Paul, so she’s a bit scared about singing such an intimate song with him. Pharrell asks how fear has worked out for her, and she admits it never has. “So why would you bring it to this moment?” He tells Meghan this is her moment, and that NBC for her means “Now Baby Come-On”. That was pretty smooth, actually. Love me some Pharrell, “Blurred Lines” verdict notwithstanding.
-I think Meghan sounds better here, but I prefer Paul’s voice overall. Sure, he doesn’t have her range, but I think there’s a lot more that could be done with Paul than can be done with the country-rock stylings of Meghan. Yet I don’t expect him to win. Still, I’m not really all that worried about Paul’s place in the competition. He can easily earn a steal from Adam. Really, he belonged on Team Adam in the first place, since he’s the quintessential Team Adam contestant.
-Adam recalls being unable to turn for Paul, and also being rejected by Meghan, saying he has conflicting emotions. He likes both singers so he says he’s going to keep his mouth shut. Blake thought it was a great performance, noting that Paul knows what he’s capable of and he’s great at doing it. Meanwhile, he reaffirms that Meghan is one of the best voices he’s heard. He tells Pharrell that Meghan shouldn’t win this battle, a wink-wink nudge-nudge suggestion that he wants to steal her. Christina felt Meghan took the battle, although she does like Paul. As for Pharrell, he says that performance proved that they both deserve to stay on the show. He makes his choice…
PAUL PFAU WINS THE BATTLE!
-What a pleasant little surprise! Pharrell says he chose Paul because he feels Paul knows what he wants to do with the rest of his time in this competition. Backstage, Paul is stoked to advance with Pharrell. Back in the studio, Meghan begins to thank the coaches for the opportunity when Blake hits his button. Adam quickly follows, driving Blake nuts. Right as both men are about to make their pitch, Christina hits her button to make this a three-way race.
BLAKE SHELTON, ADAM LEVINE and CHRISTINA AGUILERA HIT THEIR BUTTONS!
-Christina acknowledges that she probably doesn’t have a chance here, but she feels she can do a lot with Meghan. Meanwhile, Adam reminds Meghan that Blake didn’t hit his button for her in the Blinds. Blake fires back by noting that Adam “screwed the pooch” last year, losing the season despite having three of the four finalists in the finale. A good point, and I’m still slightly bugged by it. Would Matt have lost if he hadn’t been splitting votes with two other Team Adam guys? If so, it’s just one more reason to hate last year’s utterly pointless Wildcard twist. Then again, was that really the case, or was Craig Wayne Boyd always going to win no matter who was in the finale against him? It’s an interesting question to muse. But anyway, back to the result, as Meghan makes her choice…
MEGHAN LINSEY CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-This was the right choice for Meghan, and it’s the choice she would have made had it been available to her in the Blinds. Blake’s team is growing pretty strong, and I’m thinking he’s once again the one to beat this year.
-And that’s a wrap! To recap, here were tonight’s results…
Team Adam Levine: Blaze Johnson defeats Michael Leier, Nathan Hermida defeats Josh Batstone, Deanna Johnson defeats Nicolette Mare
Team Christina Aguilera: Joe Tolo defeats Gabriel Wolfchild, Sonic defeats Ameera Delandro
Team Pharrell Williams: Paul Pfau defeats Meghan Linsey (Meghan Linsey STOLEN by Blake Shelton!)
Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza defeats Hannah Kirby (Hannah Kirby STOLEN by Pharrell Williams!), Cody Wickline defeats Matt Snook
What did you think of tonight’s show? Did the coaches make the right decisions? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out in the comments! It’s been a blast.