The Voice Battle Rounds premiere tonight on NBC! It is now the second stage in the season, when the competitors on each of the teams go against each other in head-to-head singing battles. The four coaches/judges, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton, will have to decide between which of each pair sang the best. The coaches can just choose one of each pair to keep, while the other one will either get sent home or be stolen by one of the other three coaches. Each coach has just 2 steals to use during the Battle Rounds on The Voice.
Carson Daly, the host of The Voice on NBC, began the episode by introducing the coaches and explaining about what the Battle Rounds were and how important this phase of the season will be, as the teams gets cut down and shaped through the heat of battle. According to Carson, “Only the best of the best will survive!”
Adam has Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac as his team’s mentor, Blake has Little Big Town, Gwen has her husband Gavin Rossdale and Pharrell has Alicia Keys as the mentor of his team. The artists must rise to the challenge if they hope to advance,” according to Daly.
Pharrell’s first Battle Round will have Elyjuh Rene going head-to-head against Maiya Sykes. They will be singing If I Ain’t Got You. Elyjuh called Alicia Keys his “best singer of all time.”
Alicia said that “Maiya was magnificent,” but she still “had miles to go.” Pharrell did not want Elyjuh to play around so much with the original arrangement. Elyjuh was somewhat worried, as he called himself more of a “technical” singer, not relying on power so much.
Pharrell said that each has what it takes to win. “They each just have to come with their A games,” he added.
Elyjuh knows that he has to do his best in order to win this Battle, as does Maiya. The atmosphere in the place was intense as Maiya began the song. Then, Elyjuh sang the first line. They went back and forth, singing lines, until their voices melded together and they harmonized for a few lines. They sounded great together — it will be a shame to say goodbye to either of these talented singers.
Pharrell stood up and clapped for both of them. Gwen said “That was unbelievable! You were so different, but you were like a LEGO and connected!” She called Maiya’s voice “Beautiful,” and said “it would be impossible for me to choose.”
Adam said that “I go with Elyjuh on this one.”
Blake said “I felt like I had a front row seat at a Grammy moment. I might lean toward Elyjuh just a little bit because of the growth that is yet to happen.’
Pharrell said that it was tough to decide, as they had two different singing styles. Still, he had to choose. “The winner of this Battle,” he said, “is Elyjuh!” Elyjuh is the first one to be moving forward into the Knockout Rounds. Nobody decided to steal Maiya.
Pharrel felt bad, but Gwen tried to reassure him. “You picked the right one,” she said.
Adam and Stevie Nicks discuss things between themselves when The Voice returns from a break, Team Adam’s first Battle Round of the show will pit singer Jonathan Wyndham against Chris Jamison. Jonathan freaked out by getting to meet one of his favorite singers.
Adam gave the two signers the Bruno Mars song, Young Girls, to perform. Adam told Chris “There’s literally no reason for you to be nervous. You have a killer voice — don’t be afraid of using it,” Adam said.
Adam told Chris “I want you to work on not baling on those higher notes.” He told Jonathan “Watch out for straining,” as he sings.
“It’s the night of their Battle,” Carson declares. After another commercial break, Chris and Jonathan will go head-to-head against each other on The Voice.
Before they take the stage, they meet with Adam one last time and Adam tells them to “Have a good time.” Then, the two adversaries began to sing the first notes of Young Girls. They both have fantastic voices, so it will be difficult for Adam to choose which one to keep. The audience clapped and cheered as they sang. Adam stood up and said “Yeah!” as they finished singing.
Blake said that Jonathan’s voice “Cut through.” He thought that Chris might have sounded so loud it broke the microphone.
Pharrell said “You guys are both sick,” but he chose Chris.
Gwen thought that the “stage presence” of both of them was incredible.
Adam said “You’re both really exceptionally talented.” When he was asked who won, he said “The winner of this Battle is Chris.” Jonathan was available to be stolen, but the coaches did not use a steal on him.
The Voice went to another commercial break. When the show returned, Gwen’s first Battle Round eve was with her team members Sugar Joans against Jean Kelley. They will be singing Survivor. They were awestruck when they met Gwen’s husband, the lead singer of Bush, Gavin Rossdale.
Gwen said “This song is really hard. It’s all about attitude and surviving.”
“They’re both super-professional,” Gwen said, adding “and they’re going to master it.”
At the last rehearsal, Gavin said “Jean nailed it. I really loved Sugar’s voice, but today Jean was in the running.”
“Coming up, Gwen’s powerhouses take the stage for an electrifying performance that blows our judges away,” host Carson Daly said, as The Voice went to another commercial break.
Jean Kelley entered onto the stage first. Then, Sugar Joans joined Jean and the Battle Round officially began! Both of these young women sang the sang with a lot of sass and attitude, as if their own survival depended on it — which, literally, as far as remaining in the competition, it did. They did not make it easy for Gwen to choose between them, as they were each great.
Adam said “That song is so hard! But, it was really excellent. Right down the middle!”
Blake said it was close, “about 50/50.”
Pharrell said “it was really impressive. I always wanted Sugar for my team, but Jean, you’re — you’re special.”
The host of The Voice, Carson Daly, asked Gwen who won the Battle, and Gwen answered “The winner of this Battle –” and, before she could finish her sentence, The Voice went to yet another commercial break.
Gwen said “The winner of this Battle is — Sugar Joans!” Jean Kelley was available to be stolen, and Adam and then Pharrell pushed their buttons to steal Jean.
“Welcome to the party,” Adam said to Pharrell, “but you’re a bit late.”
Both Adam and Pharrell told her that there were “things she could work on” but they both wanted her on their teams. Carson asked “Who is your new coach?” and Jean said “I pick Pharrell!” Will the steal pay off for Pharrell?
Next on The Voice, Blake Shelton talked about his team’s mentors, Little Big Town. Blake said “Honestly, I have only room on my team for one male Country Western singer.” James David Carter will be going head-to-head against Craig Wayne Boyd. Blake has chosen the song Wave on Wave for the pair to sing for their Battle Round.
The two singers Blake has picked to go against each other on The Voice are so talented, the members of Little Big Town mention that they “don’t envy” Blake on his decision.
Blake said “This Battle could be my toughest decision. I just want to see which one of them steps up and sings for his life.”
After another commercial break, when The Voice came back, Carson Daly introduced the two country western signers. “This Battle starts right now!” he said.
Craig began singing. Then, James sang the next line, and they sang some of the song together. They sounded fantastic! It will be truly a hard decision for Shelton to make, and he likely has in his mind Gwen’s words earlier on The Voice about wanting to add a country singer to her team.
Pharrell said “Guys, is that not crazy? It’s like a boxing match for me. It really is a draw.”
Gwen said “It’s not like you’re in a contest. It’s like you’re performing.”
Adam said “You guys are dead equal as far as I’m concerned.”
Blake said “I wished somebody would have sucked because it would have made my decision so much easier. the winner of this Battle is — James.” James will be moving onto the Knockout Rounds on The Voice. Though Craig was available to be stolen, none of the judges used a steal on him — that is, until at the very end, when Gwen used one of her steals on Craig.
Gwen told him “I just want to dress you up.”
Craig said that the pairing would be unique, but added “It will be a blast.”
The Voice came back from another commercial break, and it was time for Gwen’s second Battle pairing. Taylor John Williams will be going head-to-head against Amanda Lee Peers singing the Dolly Parton song, Jolene. It is an unusual choice for them to be singing, but it should be a pretty good Battle Round. Gavin and Gwen said that Taylor needed to sing a bit stronger.
Gavin said to Amanda “When you start letting it be about who you are, that’s when it will get the most intense. Amanda has a voice for the ages; someone from a previous age had that voice.”
Gwen said that they will need to find a chemistry, a connection, between the two of them. That is what seem to be lacking in the duet. They need to work on that during the rehearsals.
Finally, it was the night on The Voice when the Battle Round between Taylor and Amanda began, Taylor began singing, and Amanda’s voice soon joined in, They harmonized really well together, apparently having heeded the advice Gwen and Gavin had given them. Amanda has a lot of power in her voice; it will be a tough decision for Gwen to make between the two performers.
Adam said “That’s a tough song. Those harmonies are extended and potentially lethal if you don’t nail them” He called Taylor’s performance “amazing” but he said that Amanda “was more careful at times.” He said that “I would pick Taylor.”
Blake said “I would pick Amanda if it was me.”
Pharrell told Amanda “You have what it takes.”
Gwen said “It is so interesting to hear the opinions of these people next to me. I was the only one to turn for Amanda, and I really believe in you. The winner of the Battle is gonna be — Taylor.”
Gwen told Pharrell after the Battle Round was over, “He’s the real deal.”
When The Voice returned, there “was one of the greatest Battle Rounds that has ever been on the show,” according to Blake. From Team Pharrell, Luke Wade went head-to-head against Griffin, singing the Paul McCartney hit, Maybe I’m Amazed.
Pharrell Williams and Aliica Keys gave both Griffin and Wade some great advice. Luke avoided the falsetto parts of the song. Pharrell said that he needed to not avoid those parts. At the final rehearsals, Alicia said that it just was not working. She had the idea to make the song more “bluesy,” like Aretha Franklin might sing it. then, they did much, much better with the song.
“It will be interesting to see which one I’ll be picking,” Pharrel said, “because they’re both growing.”
Their version of Maybe I’m Amazed was not McCartney’s, but they did an awesome job making the song their own. They WAILED on it! Luke still avoided the uber falsetto bits, but, other than that, they both ROCKED THE SONG OUT!
Carson Daly called it “an epic Battle!”
Gwen said “That was so…AMAZING!”
Adam said he really enjoyed both of their performances.
Blake said “I started feeling like Griffin got the better part of the song. But, he was taking it and making it seem that way. I’d chose Griffin.”
Pharrell said “I’m just trying to figure out who — ” and The Voice went to another break, of course.
After the commercial break, The Voice was back and Pharrell said “I’m going to go with Luke.” Griffin was available for a steal, and Blake Shelton used one of his steals to get him on his team. Then, Gwen also pushed her button, so the two judges now had a Battle of their own.
Adam said “I say Gwen all the way!”
Gwen said “You’re my last steal left me, so I guess I feel pretty passionate about getting you.”
Blake said “Please don’t say ‘no’ to me twice.”
Griffin said “This is a very tough decision, but I’m gonna have to go with Blake Shelton.”
Carson Daly said “Look out, Pharrell!”
Blake said “I really believe that Griffin won that Battle. I’m shocked I got the chance to steal him.”
Tomorrow, Carson said, “The judges are taking the steal to whole new levels!”
The Voice always begins to heat up during the Battle Rounds, and tonight’s episode was no exception to this rule. There were some terrific performances as the competitors sang for their continued lives on The Voice, and the chance to move on to the Knockout Rounds. YouTube did not yet have all of the performances posted, but two are included here, above. Please tune in tomorrow to see the second night of the Battle Rounds on The Voice and then check out the recap here later in the evening!
Written By Douglas Cobb
NBC Universal Media Village
International Business Times