Tonight, we’re in for another two hours of torture and bliss on night three of the Battle Rounds on The Voice season 7. Bliss is the only way I know how to describe the experience of watching some of greatest artists of all time coach the up-and-comers, and then to see the amazing performances of the tutored battling team. Whew.
The torture, of course, is the emotional angst we go through as we watch the coaches squirm in their chairs and shake their heads as they gnash their teeth over who to choose when the competitors are two extraordinarily gifted performers. I was not prepared for how much I would squirm myself, people. Full disclosure: my brother and sister-in-law have been raving about The Voice for five years and I have come to the party for the very first time this season. Shameful, I know, but now that I see what all the fuss is about, I’m just as addicted and invested as they are. Plus, now we have one more thing to talk about at family gatherings. Always a plus, if you knew my family.
The Voice Coaches Announced: Who Will Be Back for Season 8? >>>
My all-time favorite battle so far was on night two between Alessandra Castronovo and Joe Kirk, who were coached by Adam Levine and the estimable Queen of Rock and Roll, Stevie Nicks. Their performance of “Stay” was the most chilling and emotional rendition to ever hit the airwaves. We’ll see if anyone comes even close to that tonight.
A Big, Big Upset Going Forward
if you’ve been keeping up on The Voice news, then you already know what I’m talking about. The great news is that The Voice has been renewed for an eighth season. The bad news — and this really depresses me — Gwen Stefani won’t be back next season. She is such a positive, guileless, loving bright summer breeze in the midst of the competition. I’m hoping she’s leaving because she has a grueling promotional tour heading my way, but I also wonder if it’s breaking her heart to have to choose between two performers. I’m not saying I don’t think she has the teeth for the job. Not at all. It’s just gotta take a lot out of a person to do that. Either way, I’m grateful for having had her be a part of my freshman viewing and recapping season. Hopefully, she’ll be back for the ninth.
More good news, though: Pharrell Williams, the other bright and affectionate newcomer to the red couches, WILL be back. And the crowd roars in approval. Whoo-hoo.
Kelli Douglas and Damien Perform “Knock On Wood”
Our first two competitors of the evening are the soulful duo of Kelli and Damien from Adam’s team. They are being coached by Fleetwood Mac veteran, Rolling Stone‘s “Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll” and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” Stevie Nicks.
Kelli is nervous during the practice and Damien is teary-eyed. Who wouldn’t be? This is a dream come true for both of them. It bothers me that they enunciate at the end of the word “baby”. In Amii Stewart’s original recording of “Knock on Wood”, it’s always sung, “Bay-beh-heh-heh”, and that’s how it ought to be in my mind.
Blake says it’s going to come down to a matter of taste because Damien has an explosive voice and Kelli is smooth and warm in her delivery. Pharrell is brought back in time to the ’70s and Gwen is transfixed with Kelli’s bright red curvy figure.
Result: Adam Chooses Damien
Jessie Pitts and Ryan Sill Perform “I Need Your Love”
This battle makes me nervous because I so absolutely love Jessie. My daughter says Jessie’s performance of “The Story” is like liquid love and I couldn’t agree more. Both of these performers turned two chairs. Gwen explains she paired these two together because they have similar pop sensibilities.
Gwen’s celebrity coach is Gavin Rossdale. He says Jessie is sensitive and magnetic. She draws you in. Gwen loves the edginess of Jessie. They coach Ryan about being loosey-goosey on stage.
Gwen acknowledges that these two people are about to sing a true and desperate love song though they hardly know each other. Jessie and Ryan surprise Gwen by admitting to her that they are in love, but then laughingly admit that they aren’t really, but they plan to make it look like they are for this performance.
And they do. The performance is like something inside a beautiful snow globe. Beautiful and graceful. They cap it off by staring into each other’s eyes and you can tell they really do care about each other and each other’s success. When the performance is over, the audience sounds like the winning side at the end of the Super Bowl.
Result: Gwen Chooses Ryan Sill
The Voice Recap: It’s Adam vs. Pharrell in the Battle Rounds Night 2 >>>
Result: Blake Steals Jessie Pitts
Blake says she’s so unique she can win this freakin’ thing! I’m with Blake, and Gwen is so happy that Jessie is still in the game that she almost cries. Maybe she did cry. She certainly cried during practice. So did I.
Blessing Offor and Katriz Trinidad Perform “Do I Do”
Katriz’s voice is exquisite during practice with Pharrell and amazing R&B singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress and Billboard top R&B artist of the decade Alicia Keys. Blessing, however, has the music in his DNA, says Pharrell. They talk about how they will move around the space as they perform. Katriz is nervous because she’s only 15 and Blessing has a lot more experience than she does.
Alicia says Katriz needs to know the song back and forth and put some power behind it.
It doesn’t seem completely fair that the song Pharrell has chosen for their battle is Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do” since Blessing is the vocal spittin’ image of Stevie. But we’ll see how it goes.
So they perform and it’s a friggin’ party. Blessing is phenomenal, but is he just a me-too version on Stevie Wonder? Katriz swallows the ends of some of her phrases in the first half of the song, but gets better as they go. Both performers nail the scat, but Blessing’s is more versatile and demonstrates a wider range. Katriz would be my pick because she’s loads more unique than Blessing, but he brings it too.
Gwen says both performers were shocking for different reasons. Blessing’s voice is big and rich and choc-o-late. Okay, I added the chocolate, but he was like a Godiva chocolate, wasn’t he? Katriz has this big, bold, acrobatic voice.
Adam acknowledges that this song choice was more of Blessing’s thing. Thank you, Adam. Blake is bowled over at how wonderfully Katriz stepped up to the plate despite the largeness of the song and the fact that Blessing is so much more experienced.
Result: Pharrell Chooses Katriz Trinidad
Adam tries to steal Blessing, but Gwen also wants him. Now Blessing has to choose again.
Result: Adam Steals Blessing Offor
Ethan Butler and Matt McAndrew Perform “Yellow”
We’ve got Adam up to bat once more and he’s chosen the song “Yellow” by Coldplay. During practice, Stevie says Ethan has such a beautiful choir voice, while Matt has a compassionate voice that could make you cry. Adam advises Ethan to go full voice and Matt to go full falsetto.
During the final practice, the men come in with their own guitars and their own twist on the song that Adam and Stevie love.
Ethan’s strength is that big voice which he can take all the way up the scale without sliding into a higher register. Matt’s soul seeps into everything he does, says Adam. So let’s get to it, boys!
Okay. Excited profanity just flew out of my mouth when that was wrapping up. Damn. I’d buy a whole album of these two singing together.
Result: Adam Chooses Matt McAndrew
Bree Fondacaro and Taylor Brashears Perform “You’re No Good”
Bree Fondacaro and Taylor Brashears are absolutely different from each other. Bree is smokey while Taylor is vintage. Bree is Bonnie Tyler while Taylor is flat-out country delicious. This is going to be a knock-down, drag-out, full-on battle. In the studio to coach them are Blake Shelton and four-time Billboard Hot Country Songs topper Little Big Town. The song Blake has chosen is “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt. So the girls can get down and dirty.
Blake advises the women to get pissed off at someone in their heads while they perform. Blake is just pissed at himself for pairing the two because he knows it’s gonna kill him to have to chose between them.
Pharrell says he’d choose Taylor because of her confidence. He says Bree didn’t enjoy herself as much as she could.
Result: Blake Chooses Taylor Brashears
DaNica Shirey and Toia Jones Perform “Halo”
Both women are strong singers. Both lost their fathers and imagine them being the ones wearing the halos for them as they sing this song. Pharrell warns them that they are singing like background singers when they are superstars.
Gwen says the performance was crazy and mind-blowing and inspiring. Adam says they killed, and then slapped the crap out of a big Beyonce dragon. Blake falls all over himself with complimentary words, saying both DaNica and Toia were singing at 10s for the entire performance. When it comes down to the wire, I am shocked at Pharrell’s choice. I thought Toia’s delivery was much more dynamic, delicate and surprising at the same time.
Result: Pharrell Chooses DaNica Shirey
Toia Jones barely gets any time to say a word before Adam slaps his buzzer. As Toia bends over with shock then offers a hand for Gwen to shake goodbye, Gwen slaps her buzzer as well and the verbal sparring begins. Adam sidles up next to Toia’s family, but Gwen calls sisterhood into the ring.
Result: Adam Steals Toia Jones
Favorite Battle Round So Far
I mentioned at the beginning of this recap that my all-time favorite battle performance so far was Alessandra Castronovo and Joe Kirk, whose night two delivery of Rihanna‘s “Stay” brought me to my figurative knees. Well, tonight I’d say those two were well matched by Ethan Butler and Matt McAndrew’s performance of “Yellow.” One more night, 12 more competitors, then we head to the Knock-Outs. Man, that’s going to be even more intense, isn’t it? #Excellent
Finally, NBC teases us with a couple of nuggets for tomorrow evening’s fourth and final round of battles: a contestant isn’t able to make it to practice and Gwen is the last one with the power to save a performer’s future with the only remaining steal of season 7. Tune in tomorrow night when my esteemed colleague Robin Lempel recaps that final Battle Round for you.
The Voice airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)