The Voice begins the Battle Rounds tonight and I, for one, am not looking forward to seeing anyone go home. So much solid talent this season — and this is when it starts to get painful as it’s artist versus artist and some see the end of the line. Let’s see if we agree with how each coach votes on the performances of their artists.
Each coach has chosen a partner to assist with the coaching for the Battle Rounds.
How brilliant is that? Every single one of us, famous or not, expert or not, is limited by our own experiences. With every set of eyes, or ears (as the case may be on The Voice), brings 150 different ideas and perspectives. The most awesome part of this whole thing is getting to see how these iconic experts think and train themselves to be the successes they are.
Meet The Voice Season 7 Advisers >>>
Big Huge Guns Are Brought In to Assistant Coaches for the Battle Rounds
Pharrell Williams has brought in the amazing R&B singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress and Billboard top R&B artist of the decade Alicia Keys, to guide Team Pharrell.
Adam Levine brings Fleetwood Mac veteran, Rolling Stone‘s ‘Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll’ and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” Stevie Nicks to the table for Team Adam’s benefit.
Gwen Stefani brings in husband Gavin Rossdale, one of Hit Parader‘s Top 75 Heavy Metal Vocalists and the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Bush. Rossdale is British and sexy as hell. Lucky Gwen, right? More important, though, is how lucky Team Gwen is to have him.
Lastly, Blake Shelton has 14-time Billboard Hot Country Songs topper Little Big Town in the studio to coach Team Blake, though he warns them that he wants them to help with harmony and then shut up. That’s why we love Blake, for comments like that.
Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for our The Voice slideshow of all the coaches’ most entertaining comments of season 7.
Choosing Between Children Makes Gwen Want to Hurl
Gwen feels sick to her stomach at the prospect of having to choose between any of her singers and so do I. She mentioned in a previous episode that she doesn’t know how these contestants get through such an intimidating process and doesn’t think she could have done it. Well, we know she would have done anything necessary if it meant getting to where she is today, because all four of these artists have battled all kinds of obstacles to get to where they are today; they just look small in comparison to what’s before them right now.
Ask any parent or coach and they will tell you that it’s a lot harder to watch someone you’ve loved, trained and supported go through this kind of baptism of fire than it is to go through it sometimes. Not because it really is easier now, it’s just that when you are the one under the microscope with your whole future on the line, your body creates enough adrenaline and other life-saving chemicals that help you block out a bit of the reality of what’s happening so you can focus on what you have to do to survive.
That’s why so many of these contestants in their post-audition interviews say they don’t really remember what happened when they were up on that stage. Many of the contestants say that in the end, when it came to choosing a coach, they went with their gut. Their gut is ruled by their lizard brain — that fight or flight instinct that directs them toward their best option for survival.
Tonight, we find out if that lizard brain chose the coach that will choose each singer above their teammate.
Alicia Keys Coaches Elyjuh and Maiya from Team Pharrell
Elyjuh screams when he meets Alicia Keys, and who wouldn’t? Pharrell advises both contestants not to be nervous at all because Alicia is someone they both know and love. During practice, Elyjuh plays with some of the lines and it sounds good. Alicia tells Maiya to emote from the truth of her experience. Pharrell’s parting words before the two hit the stage are that he cares more about conviction than technicality. He tells them both to go out there and hit it hard.
Elyjuh Rene and Maiya Sykes Perform “If I Ain’t Got You”
Two of the most passionate singers are Elyjuh and Maiya, according to Pharrell. They sing. And it is A-Mazing. My inexperienced ear thinks there’s no way Elyjuh can beat Maiya’s perfect vibrato. Gwen says they are like Lego pieces and they just connected. Elyjuh’s voice is beautiful, says Gwen, and Maiya’s voice shot straight through her.
Adam says these two did a better performance of “If ‘I Ain’t Got You” than his own band did. Blake feels like he had a front row seat at a Grammy moment and calls Maiya a world-class singer.
Pharrell says the two did a great job at making his choice difficult and Adam says welcome to the hell he and Blake have endured for three years. Blake, once again, delivers the perfect line: “That’s why I drink so much.” Eventually, Pharrell has to choose.
Result: Pharrell Chooses Elyjuh Rene
Stevie Nicks Quotes Michael Jackson as She Coaches Jonathan and Chris
Stevie Nicks has several valuable pieces of advice. “A show like The Voice is very important because it’s very, very difficult to make it in the music business,” she tells all of us viewers. To the competitors specifically, she has this to say: “Walk out there with a big attitude and sing the best you can.” Then she quotes one of the music industry’s most brilliant writers and performers, Michael Jackson: “If you’re prepared and you’re rehearsed, you don’t have any reason to be nervous.”
Jonathan Wyndham and Chris Jamison Perform “Young Girls”
The two sing Bruno Mars’ “Young Girls.” Their harmonizing on the whooooo whoooo whoooo part of the song is bone chilling. Chris brings it as he was advised to do during practice, and John holds back the emotion perfectly. How on earth Adam will choose between the two is beyond me, though I prefer a more swarthy and mature man so my vote is for Jonathan.
Blake says Jonathan was perfectly on pitch. Adam says they might have broken the PA system, which would be a first for The Voice.
Result: Adam Chooses Chris Jamison
Both of these choices have surprised me and I’m wondering if they are just going with the younger guys because they have longer futures in front of them.
Jean Kelley and Sugar Jones Perform “I’m a Survivor”
Jean, looking even more beautiful than Sasha Alexander’s Dr. Maura Isles from Rizzoli & Isles completely nails Destiny’s Child’s “I’m a Survivor,” which Adam admits even Beyonce probably said was a hard song to perform. For Adam, Jean and Sugar were equal in their performances. Blake thought Sugar’s long straight blue-tipped jacket fringe was actually her hair down past her knees, but comments on how amazingly Jean and Sugar seemed to be each other’s biggest supporters.
Gwen says it is the hardest song in the world (and the toughest decisions in the world) but eventually makes her final choice because this particular performer’s voice was effortless.
Result: Gwen Chooses Sugar Jones
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Adam and Pharrell Try to Steal Jean
As Jean is delivering her final words of gratitude to Gwen, Adam slams his hand down on his buzzer. As Adam waxes flattering all over Jean, Pharrell hits his buzzer and the gloves come off.
Result: Pharrell Steals Jean Kelley
A Bunch of Singers Walk into a Bar and a Jam Breaks Out
The practice session between competitors Craig and James, led by their coach Blake, and assisted by Little Big Town members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet, is the kind of experience an aspiring singer only dreams of. After putting in some time working on the song for their performance, James David Carter starts playing one of his favorite Little Big Town melodies, “Bring It On Home,” and before you know it the whole group joins them at the microphones to sing the song. I wish to God we could have seen more of the session because what we do see of it is pure magic.
Craig Wayne Boyd and James David Carter Perform “Wave on Wave”
Craig and James have what I consider to be the tightest performance of the night. Maybe that’s because I like the two singers equally. Craig has that magical country music gravel, but James has the smoothness and style that will take him far.
During practice, Blake comments that James’ voice is like a knife that cuts you and Craig’s is like a fist that hits you — and it’s deadly. As far as their performance is concerned, it’s liquid honey.
Result: Blake Chooses James David Carter
Amanda Lee Peers and Taylor John Williams Perform “Jolene”
Both alternative artists, Amanda and Taylor are given Dolly Parton’s classic “Jolene” to practice and perform for their Battle Round. The practice goes well enough, except that the two performers are not connecting at all. Neither of them shows any chemistry despite the advice from Gwen and Gavin. By the time they hit the stage, they’ve warmed a smidgen and Amanda shows great stage presence. Their a cappella intro is chilling and beautiful, but Taylor seems to be afraid of his own shadow and of Amanda’s as well. It’s a total shock when Gwen finally makes her choice, and I can’t help but jump up and down to demand a recount.
Result: Gwen Chooses Taylor John Williams
Alicia Keys Walks into a Bar and a Vocal Orgasm Breaks Out
Luke Wade and Griffin. These two men walk into their practice and it’s a hot mess. Luke, the very first performer to get a chair turn in season 7 of The Voice, can’t reach his falsetto to save his life. Pharrell says Luke is using it wrong, that’s his problem. Griffin is completely unfamiliar with the song Pharrell has chosen for them to sing.
It’s looking like we are going to have our first epic fail of the night, and I’m even more disturbed that Amanda Lee Peers has had to leave so one of these two can stay. That being said, I am a fan of Luke’s, but Griffin rubs me the wrong way for some strange reason. Maybe it’s because he never revealed why his family was financially strapped, or maybe it’s because he chooses to go by only one name. Who knows? There’s no logic to it. However, all is redeemed by what happens at the tail end of their performance and I find myself praying that neither of these fine young men is sent home tonight.
Alicia, in her artistic brilliance, asks the piano player to play the Aretha Franklin version of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” What happens next is nothing short of effing phenomenal, an ear-gasm for the music lover. Luke and Griffin have an absolute blast together. Now, see? Why can’t they have a whole show about these practice sessions?
Luke Wade and Griffin Perform “Maybe I’m Amazed” (Aretha Franklin Version)
The performance is amazing in front of all four coaches. It’s not as phenomenal as the practice version and I feel sorry for the thousands in the audience who don’t get to see the snippet we got to see.
Blake says it was the most epic battle they have ever had and Pharrell is one proud papa. The good news is, says Pharrell, that whomever he doesn’t choose for this round will be stolen by one of the other three coaches.
Result: Pharrell Chooses Luke Wade
Blake and Gwen Want in on the Griffin Train
Griffin makes his final thank you’s to Pharrell and walks off the stage when all of a sudden someone’s buzzer goes off. It’s Blake’s. Several moments later, Gwen hits her buzzer as well. The two give their reasons why they should get Griffin.
Result: Blake Steals Griffin
You Win Some, You Lose Some, You Steal Some
Tonight’s Battle winners were Elyjuh Rene, Chris Jamison, Sugar Jones, James David Carter, Taylor John Williams and Luke Wade. We lost competitors Maiya Sykes, Jonathan Wyndham, Craig Wayne Boyd and Amanda Lee Peers. Perhaps those who feel the most blessed are those who got stolen by one of the other coaches: Jean Kelley now plays for Team Pharrell and Griffin now plays for Team Blake. Tune in Tuesday night for the next bunch of Battle results.
Round two of The Voice Battle Rounds airs Tuesday at 8pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)