With only one steal left on Team Usher, the competition is closer than ever. This will prove to be a packed hour of performances, many of which they will likely fast forward through.
They often save the best for last with the final night, and here's hoping they have because this has been a weak season of Battle Rounds so far. The coaches are still working with the marginally helpful advisors Miranda Lambert, Aloe Blacc, The Band Perry and Jill Scott.
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Team Adam: Cary Laine vs. Sam Behymer ("Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran)
Both vocalists struggle in rehearsals with pitch and emotional expression. I definitely prefer Sam's take, but Cary could surprise during the performance since she has a stronger, more dynamic voice.
Sam seems really nervous at the start, and though I like her style, I can't help but feel like she isn't shining on this one. In contrast, I'm amazed with Cary's performance because it is powerful and strong, but vulnerable. Her performance gives me goosebumps, which I was not expecting! I anticipate Adam will choose Sam for her unique style alone, but Cary wins this one in my opinion.
Blake heard pitch issues between the two of them, and Usher and Shakira both give diplomatic responses, saying they were both fine and both could do well. Helpful coaching. Adam says he is making his choice on what speaks to him in the moment and he chooses Sam as the winner.
Team Blake: Kaleigh Glanton vs. Noah Lis ("Everything" by Michael Buble)
Both Kaleigh and Noah had solid Blind Auditions, but I forgot about both of them. At first, the song choice seems to the advantage of Noah, who is a jazz singer and crooner. However, Kaleigh is definitely holding her own. When they are given the note by The Band Perry to work on their chemistry, I am made uncomfortable by the awkward wink-flirting from Noah that seems akin to the flirtatious stylings of one George McFly.
I am not convinced these two have much chemistry because the whole performance is a bit awkward. But that's neither here nor there since it's all about the vocals. Kaleigh shines because she sounds fresh and interesting, while I feel like I've heard a voice like Noah's a lot before.
Usher puts my thoughts to words in saying Noah was trying way too hard and it had no finesse, but he would still inexplicably give it to Noah. Blake believes that Noah did fine but says that Kaleigh has what can't be taught and he chooses Kaleigh.
Here come the fast-forwarded performances:
Team Blake: Cali Tucker vs. Ryan Whyte Maloney ("What's Love Got to Do with It" by Tina Turner)
In the six seconds we see of this performance, we see a major hair flip from Cali and hear a great vocal from Ryan. Ryan is the winner.
Team Adam: Christina Grimmie vs. Joshua Howard ("I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift)
We see what appears to be an underwhelming performance from a not-so-fresh song (it's no secret I am not into Adam's song choices this season) and Adam chooses Christina. I don't even remember the other singer, so Christina seems like a good choice.
Team Shakira: Kristen Merlin and Lindsay Bruce ("Turn on the Radio" by Reba McEntire)
During this abbreviated country battle, we hear two major notes from the singers. Shakira chooses Kristin for winning her over with her attitude.
Team Shakira: Cierra Mickens vs. Emily B. ("Brave" by Sara Bareilles)
With this being the last performance of the night, we know that both vocalists are safe since Usher still has one steal left. Shakira shares that she put these two together for their soulful voices and vocal ranges. Miranda advises that this their opportunity to show their artistic sides and leave their hearts on the stage.
They are both strong and sound great on the song, though there are some rhythmic issues. It's a joyous, friendly performance which is a nice way to end the Battle Rounds. I do prefer Emily's voice, but I actually really like them both and am glad they will both be in the competition.
For their big notes, Adam would choose Cierra and Blake would choose Emily. Shakira is impressed with Emily's determination and loves the rounded tone of Cierra's voice. Shakira chooses Emily as the winner. As predicted, Usher steals Cierra at the very last second.
Next week, we will see a change in format (though, really, it's just a renaming of the Knockouts) in that there will be the Battle Rounds, Part 2. The pairings will be a surprise and the vocalists have to agree on their song. Chris Martin from Coldplay will be the sole advisor for each pairing. Should be interesting!
Battle Rounds, Part 2 begins next Monday at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)