continues with the final round of Blind Auditions and immediately gets started on the Battle Rounds. By the end of the 120 minutes, five new artists will have joined those who will continue to the Battles in the coming weeks. And sadly, we say goodbye to the very first Battle competitor to not win his round.
Other than the fantastic voices added to each of the coaches' teams, we have visits from three mega stars in the music industry as they step in to advise each pair of Battle competitors. On deck during the second half of the evening are Meghan Trainor, Ellie Goulding and Lionel Richie. Let's get started.
A First for The Voice
For the very first time in The Voice history, this installment combines two competitive formats. First, we'll be finishing off the Blind Auditions. Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton have 11 artists each and need one more. Pharrell Williams has been strategic this season by being more selective in who he turns for. As a result, he still has room for two more artists. Once each coach's stable of artists is complete, there will barely be time to powder noses or run a couple of scales before we head straight into the Battle Rounds.
The Voice Welcomes Advisors Meghan Trainor, Ellie Goulding, Nick Jonas and Lionel Richie
My favorite aspect of The Voice is now before us. Superstars from all genres of music will now advise those fortunate enough to have made it this far. Seeing these mega powerhouse performers interact with the artists give us a unique opportunity to witness their true (?) personalities.
So who brought whom? Blake has invited "All About That Bass" superstar Meghan Trainor and Adam has triple-platinum international recording artist Ellie Goulding. Christina brought in Nick Jonas and Pharrell introduces the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist Lionel Richie. Wow. Talk about star power.
Also fantastic about the Battles is that the stealing between coaches begins. Yes! This is stressful to the max, but also exciting as hell. So buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, and let the blind games begin. Here are the final Blind Auditions:
Nathan Hermida ("Sure Thing")
Seventeen-year-old science geek, guitarist and vocalist Nathan Hermida, from a Philippine family, sounds completely different than he looks. He looks bookish, innocent and international, but his sound is sexy, mature and 100% made in the US of A.
Adam turns after the first two or three lines. Christina turns next and gushes confidence in Nathan's skill and talent. She comments on the seductiveness of his rhythm. His delivery is flawless. His guitar is mellow and blends amazingly well with his voice. Both Christina and Adam have only one more spot to fill on their teams. Who does Nathan choose?
Result: Nathan chooses Adam
Paul Pfau ("Fly Me to the Moon")
An economics major and Maroon 5 fan, be-dimpled Paul from Washington DC came to The Voice to experience coaching by some of the industry's greatest. He admits to having chickened out on an opportunity to give a demo tape to Adam Levine years back.
He's as mellow as Sinatra, but with a more dynamic vibrato than the Chairman of the Board ever had. Blake turns, followed by Pharrell. Pharrell commends Paul for his scary genre-crossing bravery. Paul and Blake share Oklahoman origins.
Result: Paul chooses Pharrell
Gaia Golden ("Red")
Twenty-six-year-old Hawaiian native Gaia doesn't want to wear a hula skirt and dance with fire despite her fire engine red mohawk and big yellow hair bow. She wants to write songs about love and sing in the States. Back home, she manages a vacation rental and isn't afraid to get dirty while gardening or participating in all kinds of outdoor activities. Her performance is lovely, but to my surprise, no coaches turn. I'm mostly surprised because I thought we'd be skipping all the no-turns so we can get straight to the Battles, but there you have it.
Vance Smith ("Reach Out I'll Be There")
Twenty-two-year-old Vance comes from the rough side of the tracks back in Detroit. A full time diesel mechanic during the day, Vance spends every other hour of the day and night producing music.
In the final seconds of his performance, Pharrell and Christina push their buttons. It seems they both learned a little from Adam's strategy last time of beating out his fellow coaches by turning at the very last possible moment. Once the coaches turn, poor Vance falls to the floor in gratitude.
Result: Vance chooses Christina
Caitlin Caporale ("Impossible")
A Newburgh, NY, customer service representative at a cable company, Caitlin sang in competitions and at the fair growing up, but this is the biggest stage she's ever been on. She'd already sung for Christina once before and would love to have her as a coach. Christina's dance card is already filled, however. She loves Xtina so much that she's chosen one of her songs to perform for the Blind Auditions.
Both Blake and Pharrell turn their chairs for her and give her standing ovations. Blake says she has a 700-pound voice. After Caitlin makes her coaching choice, Christina invites Caitlin to re-sing "Impossible" as a duet and it's magical. I actually got choked up. Did anyone else feel that?
Result: Caitlin chooses Pharrell
Thee More Artists Perform without Chair Turns
Now that Pharrell's stable of artists is complete, Blake is the only one who has a chance to make some lucky performer's dreams come true, and the competition is getting tough. Retro blue and black haired Athena performs "Am I Wrong," Jennifer Chung performs "Don't Speak" and powerhouse Ashley Prince performs "Bartender," but none of them get coaches to turn their chairs.
Hannah Kirby ("The Letter")
Video game freak and psychology major Hannah, age 20, grew up in an environment rife with music. She says she has a punk rocker chick inside her. By the tonal quality of her voice, it sounds more like she's got a feisty African American woman hiding in there somewhere. This chick is fantastic. Her performance is sassy and hot, hot, hot. Pharrell, Christina and Adam all pound on their deactivated buttons, to no avail. Finally, when the song is almost over, Blake turns his chair and Hannah kicks her final note up a notch and gives the world hell.
Result: Hannah is with Blake
Let the Battle Rounds Begin
The coaches are raring to go and so are we, so we head directly on to the Battles. Over the next couple of Voice episodes, each coach will pair up their 12 artists into six performances. Each pair will have the opportunity to train and practice together with a visiting mega star for a couple of sessions before the final performance. The duo then performs while their coach decides who will advance. Whenever one of the artists is not chosen by their coach, the other coaches have the opportunity to steal the rejected artist. Hopefully, it gets a little ugly. No matter what, it's entertaining. Here we go.
Ashley Morgan and Mia Z Perform "Put the Gun Down"
One of Pharrell's duets hits the ring first. Both Ashley and Mia are phenomenal singers. Ashley has a beautiful voice, but Mia is crazy unbelievable. Ashley has technique and control. Mia has personality and amazing runs. They get to meet and train with Lionel Richie. Lionel and Pharrell advise Mia to practice and tighten her technical ability. For Ashley, they challenge her to forget her training and let loose.
The ladies take the stage and they are dressed to kill, with Ashley in black and Mia in red. Ashley does relax a bit, but Mia Z kicks the shit out of that song. The whole time, Pharrell is wide-eyed, amazed and proud. The coaches try to advise Pharrell, but of course, the decision has to be made by one man alone. Blake says Ashley reminds him of Jessie J, but that's a bit of an over-compliment because Jessie J is way out of Ashley's league. Adam says both artists are great but different from each other. Sometimes you want pancakes, sometimes you want waffles.
Result: Pharrell chooses Mia Z
Adam, Blake and Christina Try to Steal Ashley
All three remain coaches hit their buttons and say all kinds of flattering things to try to win Ashley's favor. Carson Daly's announcements sound like an authentic WWE event and the tension rises. This is the first Battle Round and the very first steal. The coaches are on equal ground, so anything can happen. Ashley is about to announce her choice when we break for commercial. Grrrrrr.
Result: Ashley chooses Christina
Tonya Boyd-Cannon and James McNeiece Perform "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
The team gets to meet and practice with Ellie Goulding. Tonya is a powerhouse vocalist. James needs to make his performance communicate who he is to the audience. During the final rehearsal, the two have great performance chemistry. Adam hops on percussion and says that Tonya is terrifying ... legit. He says James is one of the best singers on his team. This battle feels like it will lean towards Tonya, but it's never over till it's over, and all the coaches still have steals in their magic bag of tricks.
Carson announces the two and they come in from their corners. Both performers bring their A games, but the coaches all lean toward Tonya, though.
Result: Adam chooses Tonya
Brian Johnson and Joshua Davis Perform "Knocking on Heaven's Door"
Remember Meghan Trainor's performance of "Lips are Movin"? It was fantastic. That was the first time I'd seen her perform. Since then, I've purchased many of her iTunes recordings and look forward to adding more this year. So you can understand my excitement over her appearance as one of the guest advisers.
Joshua has the grit that coaches love. Brian has the powerful voice and range. The practice gives Meghan chills. Blake advises them to go with an acoustic version of the song, which will accentuate their perfection but also highlight their flaws so that it will be a true challenge for both of them. During the final practice of the song, Meghan is moved to tears when the song reminds her of a friend who recently passed away. She promises the guys this will be the best performance of the night.
Going into it, I have no idea who will win this one. Brian is a beautiful and powerful man. I just love his spirit and his complete presence. Joshua's Blind performance of "I Shall Be Released" was one of my favorites of all the Blinds.
The performance is fantastic. The only thing wrong with it is that it's Too. Damn. Short. And surely whomever Blake does not pick will be picked up by one of the other coaches.
Result: Blake chooses Brian
Adam Steals Joshua
Enough said. Adam even goes so far as to tell Blake it was dumb to put those two artists together. That's how evenly matched they were. Full disclosure: Blake's choice of Brian surprised me after how much he gushed over Joshua's enviable grit. But there you have it. You just never know. That's what makes watching The Voice so stinkin' fun.
The Blind Audition Results are Complete
During the first half of this episode, five artists joined the first 43. Pharrell added Paul Pfau and Caitlin Caporale. Adam picked up Nathan Hermida. Blake added Hannah Kirby. And Christina takes claim of Vance Smith.
The Battle Rounds Advance Four Artists to The Knockouts
Mia Z, Tonya Boyd-Cannon and Brian Johnson won their Battle Rounds and advance to the next level. Using the first two steals of the season, Christina stole discarded artist Ashley Morgan and Adam stole Joshua Davis. That brings the total number of artists advancing to the Knockouts so far to five.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.