We”re here at the end of the Battle Rounds, which has yielded as many great moments as headscratching ones for “The Voice”. The introduction of the steal has increased the drama of this phase of the game, but hasn”t solved its inherently odd structure. Building up a solid team only to systematically dismantle it via one-on-one sing-offs really can”t be the best way to narrow the field down to more manageable size. But holding out hope for its removal from the show before the next cycle is probably asking too much.
But let”s focus on the present, rather than the past. Only four slots remain. Adam Levine”s team has been filled, but there are spots left for Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and CeeLo Green. Plus, Aguilera has the one remaining steal left, and something tells me she”ll use it tonight. Let”s get down to business.
8:00 p.m. Speaking of Aguilera, we have a Team Christina battle to lead things off tonight. Xtina has decided to pit Adriana Louise versus Jordan Pruitt. Both express nerves upon meeting Aguilera and mentor Billie Joe Armstrong for their first rehearsal, but are excited about their battle song. That song? Katy Perry”s “Hot And Cold”. (A lot of Katy Perry in these Battle Rounds thus far.) Louise doesn”t have the “bite” that Pruitt does, according to Aguilera, during their first runthrough. Aguilera encourages both to stop emulating Perry and find notes to make their own.
8:05 p.m. Aguilera”s Black Bandana casts a watchful eye over the final rehearsals. She reiterates that she wants both to be more aggressive with the benign tune. Xtina demonstrates what she means by scream-singing at both contestants. In essence, she wants both Louise and Pruitt to sing an Aguilera cover of “Hot And Cold”. To her credit, Aguilera hasn”t done much of this during the Battle Rounds to date. And that”s a good thing, since this is a bit painful to watch.
8:11 p.m. Former Disney singer Pruitt hits the word “bitch” hard in the first verse of the stage performance, taking her coach”s advice to heart. Louise doesn”t have quite the vocal control as Pruitt, but her grit more than makes up for it. (She also gets THE big note of the song, which should go a long way towards the ensuing decision.) In terms of vocals and performance, this is fairly middle of the road for the Battle Rounds. Aguilera is dancing in her chair, which must mean this sounds much better in-house than on television.
8:14 p.m. “That was one of the best battles we”ve had,” says Green, which makes me want to listen through their PA system more than ever. Levine feels the battle was more even than any other he can recall. He sides with Pruitt, because…she had the last big note. That makes absolutely no sense, but OK. Shelton expresses dismay that he doesn”t have a steal left to snag Pruitt.
8:16 p.m. Aguilera expresses connection with both singers, but ultimately, the winner of this battle is Adriana Louise. With no steals left, that”s the end of the road for Jordan Pruitt. Pruitt breaks down onstage, and Aguilera runs up onstage to comfort her. “I wish there were steals left!” she says to her former teammate.
8:17 p.m. What are the odds someone not stolen somehow shows up later down this line this year? Stranger things have happened. Just musing out loud here.
8:23 p.m. Let”s get our Team Blake on, with a battle featuring Kelly Crapa versus Michaela Page. “I”m so old,” says Michael Bublé upon meeting the pair. The punk rocker and the country singer will be tackling Joan Jett”s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”. Shelton advises Page to not oversing the tune after her first pass. Meanwhile, Crapa essentially sings the Faith Hill “Sunday Night Football” version of the song. (Oh God, is Al Michaels going to be a mentor during the next cycle?)
8:25 p.m. At the final rehearsal, Crapa tries to add enough country flair to overcome Page”s power advantage. “Man, Kelly has an answer for everything you do,” Shelton tells the mohawked contestant. “You surprised me, Kelly. You really did.” Shelton then advises Kelly to think about body language when taking her performance before the audience in order to help sell her vocal.
8:26 p.m. If Kelly Crapa ever makes it big, Anna Kendrick has to play her in the biopic. Right?
8:32 p.m. Page has a Ph.D. in stage presence, that”s for sure. Crapa looks slightly uncomfortable in her made-over look, but maintains eye contact with Page throughout the battle. (In other words, she”s way braver than I”ll ever be.) Closing one”s eyes, it”s a dead heat between the pair. But it”s hard to watch the performance itself and give the win to anyone but Page. We”re not hearing judging the best-recorded performance, after all. Them”s the breaks.
8:35 p.m. Aguilera and Green both give slight edges to Page. Levine called it a “musical pillow fight”, which is more insulting than choosing a winner based on the last big note either one sung. “You both just did amazing,” says Shelton, noting that a year can make a big difference for artists their age. And with that, the winner of this battle is Michaela Page. You could argue she won when Shelton picked that Joan Jett song, but there has been enough evidence of underdogs winning battles to make that a shortsighted assumption.
8:43 p.m. Let”s head over to Team CeeLo”s neck of the woods, where he has put Avery Wilson versus Chevonne in head-to-head competition. Green paired them up for the dramatic qualities both possess, and to that end he has given them David Guetta”s “Titanium”. Rob Thomas praises Chevonne”s high range, but Wilson has trouble matching that register.
8:45 p.m. At the final rehearsal, Wilson seems to have his head (and voice) on straight. Chevonne”s control is the issue of the day, making her focus key when it comes time to battle onstage. Green is impressed with Wilson”s improvement, but worries about his consistency. “Experience” versus “raw talent” might yield a knockout battle. I say that because both have talent, but also because “The Voice” wouldn”t hold this battle off this long unless Christina makes a steal.
8:51 p.m. You gotta think Carson Daly practices, “Let the battle…begin!” in the mirror each night.
8:52 p.m. These two work really well together, which wasn”t apparent when the pair sung solo. Chevonne and Wilson take the battle semi-literally, urging the other to “shoot me down” during the second chorus in a musically dramatic moment for both. Overall, the biggest takeaway is that these two should tour together, not compete against one another.
8:54 p.m. Both Levine and Shelton give the clear edge to Wilson, with Aguilera stunned by Chevonne”s stage presence. “You were soaring!” Xtina gushes. (We can see where this is going, right?) Green notes that Wilson did less than Chevonne, performance-wise, but picked his spots his well. With that, the winner of this battle is Avery Wilson.
8:56 p.m. And there”s the steal! Anti-climatic for us, but a wonderful moment for Chevonne. It”s not as emotional as Aguilera”s steal of Alessandra Guercio, but what really could be?
8:57 p.m. We get a preview of the Knockout Rounds, in which we”ll see five head-to-head battles to take us down to 20 contestants heading into the live shows. Each artist gets to choose his or her own song in this round after discovering the opponent. That could yield some impressive performances, or the Knockout Round version of “The Cupid Shuffle”. Anything”s possible. Guess we”ll see!
Final knockout round rosters, with steals in italics:
Team Blake: Terry McDermott, Collin McLoughlin, Gracia Harrison, Julio Cesar Castillo, Suzanne Choffel, Rudy Parris, Liz Davis, Cassadee Pope, MarissaAnn, Michaela Page
Team Adam: Bryan Keith, Amanda Brown, Melanie Martinez, Sam James, Joselyn Rivera, Kayla Nevarez, Michelle Brooks-Thompson, Loren Allred, Joe Kirkland, Nicole Nelson
Team Christina: De”Borah, Aquile, Celica Westbrooke, Dez Duron, Sylvia Yacoub, Laura Vivas, Alessandra Guercio, Devyn DeLoera, Adriana Louise, Chevonne
Team CeeLo: Diego Val, Trevin Hunte, Cody Belew, Caitlin Michele, Teresa Griffin, Nicholas David, MacKenzie Bourg, Mycle Wastman, Daniel Rosa, Avery Wilson
What did you think about the last night of Battle Rounds? Which team seems strongest heading into the Knockout Rounds? Does team strength even matter at this point? Any personal favorites at this point to go all the way? Sound off below!