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The Voice 5 Battle Rounds begin tonight! I’ll be live blogging them RIGHT HERE. Join us as team members face off for the opportunity to advance to the knockout rounds.
Let’s meet the mentors! Christina will coach with Ed Sheeran, Adam with Ryan Tedder, Cee Lo with Miguel, and Blake with Cher.
Part of me misses the first couple seasons of The Voice, when you could count on several trainwrecks to make up the Battle Rounds. My favorites were the hopelessly mismatched couplings. But these days, logic dictates how singers are put together. Tonight, the oddest pair was R&B singer, Anthony Paul battling out against the delicate stylings of indie girl, Caroline Pennell. Separately, they held their own (Anthony, in particular) and in the end both advanced to the next round. Caroline chosen by coach Cee Lo and Anthony snatched up by Christina.
The end of the Blind Auditions was also an end to the discovery of new talent. The Battle Rounds are a let down in that regard, the steal notwithstanding. That’s not to say that tonight didn’t feature some highlights. Both Grey and Nic impressed me more the second time around. I’m glad they both got through. Christina choosing Amber, seemingly cannon fodder by virtue of being montaged in the blinds, was a nice surprise (and deserved). It was inevitable that Caroline Pennell would get through by via her quirky girl pedigree. I’m glad her partner , Anthony Paul, (who deserved to win the round) was stolen by Christina. Donna’s age and old fashioned style doomed her. Battle partner, Tessanne is destined to make the live shows and is a real contender, bringing a great voice and contemporary vibe to the competition.
Sixteen year old Jacqui killed it tonight and was the clear winner over Briana, who I think is only on the show because she’s sister to TV star Kaley Cuoco. If Briana makes the live shows, can’t you just imagine her sister geeking out in the audience? It’s great publicity for NBC. However, I’m not convinced she’ll make it far in the voting rounds, unless Kaley has stans and they vote in droves.
The celebrity advisers continue to be pretty pointless. Where is the snark and back and forth between Cher and Blake? I was hoping for a replay of the Sonny and Cher show. I thought it was sweet when Ed Sheeran confessed to Amber and Timyra that he’d never advised before and was nervous too. It made him relatable (Fact: If I were a teen girl? Forget One Direction and Justin Bieber. I’d be stanning over Ed.)
Team Adam is up first!
Grey vs Nic Hawk – Domino by Jesse J. – Grey is the Berklee student/wedding singer. Nic is the flamboyant theater kid. Grey is nervous. She’s afraid Nic’s personality will dominate the performance. But Grey knows the song by heart, having sung it at many weddings. Ryan tells Grey not to mess with the melody. And he warns Nic about his pitch problems. The team is really impressed with the duo in rehearsal. Adam advises them to sing it with spirit and and energy.
They’re both better than they were in audition. Both bring a theatrical flair to their performance. Nic comes off less like a joke contestant here. Their voices blend well and they are powerful without out screaming at each other. I honestly don’t know who I’d pick. Blake complains that Nic didn’t hit on him. Ha. Nevertheless, he’s Team Nic! Christina goes with Grey for her consistent vocals. Cee Lo is also partial to Nic. Adam chooses Grey. He believes she has growth potential. BLAKE STEALS NIC. “You screwed up so bad! Why is Adam such an idiot!” Blake appreciates Nic’s combination of charisma and vocal prowess. Nic breaks down in tears later.
Team Christina is next
Amber Nicole vs Timyra-Joi – “Listen” by Beyonce – Seventeen year old Amber has been performing since she was a baby. She was part of a montage. So, cannon fodder pretty much. Timyra-Joi is 15 year old singer with the dedicated voice coach. The girls remind Christina of a younger version of herself. She suggests they dig deeper into the song. Christina and Ed work on Timyra’s vocal “tremble.” Amber’s louds and softs were awesome, says Christina. Christina is coaching the girls to give every ounce of passion they can. PASSION is Christina’s mantra.
Timyra has a throaty alto that belies her young age. She sounds a little like Christina, actually. Christina mouths along to the words as they sing. Amber has a brighter tone. They clash a little, and try hard to outsing each other. But, both girls are POWERHOUSES. And for sure, they give it all they’ve got. Christina is in tears by the end. Cee L0 calls it wonderful. He gives it to Timyra. Blake calls the girls “amazing.” And of course, Christina chooses Amber! I was not expecting that at all. Nobody steals a tearful Timyra. Amber’s age worked in her favor–Christina preferred Amber’s mature interpretation.
Team Blake is next
Justin Chain vs Shelbie Z – ”Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean – Justin survived a motorcycle accident. Shelbie is the big voiced Honey Boo Boo pageant girl. Two country singers will face off. Blake calls them “outlaw” country singers. But, he wants to challenge them with a love song, pushing them to the peak of their ranges. Cher encourage Shelbie not to hesitate on the high notes. Blake reminds them to beg each other to stay. During the last run-though, Blake warns the duo that they need to work on their pitchy harmonies.
In the performance, when they sing to each other, there’s a lack of chemistry between two. (Yeah…I don’t care what the coaches say). As duets go, it’s boring, but the song favors Shelbie, giving her opportunities to hit some big notes. When she’s singing solo, she’s a standout and the song comes alive. Justin can’t match her presence. Christina thought they blended well, but she gives Shelbie the edge. Cee Lo notes that the song gave Shelbie more opportunity to shine. Adam thought they were so seamless it was hard to separate them. Shelbie was sharp, so he picks Justin. Blake thought they did a great job. Blake chooses Shelbie Z. Justin is so generic, I’d be shocked if anyone steals him. And they don’t.
Team Cee Lo is next.
Anthony Paul vs Caroline Pennell – “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber – Anthony has a show choir background (and was montaged). Caroline is the giggly teen with the unique voice. It’s out of Caroline’s wheelhouse, but easy peasy! She’ll just indie it up, the way she does every song. Anthony is nervous that his straightforward R&B take won’t be as impressive to the coaches. Miguel and Cee Lo warn Paul not to over sing it. In their last rehearsal. the team is impressed with both–Caroline needs to step out, while Anthony connected emotionally.
I’m not a big fan of Caroline’s indie affectations. Her deal is adding quirky vocal inflections to every song she performs, no matter what it is. Anthony has a beautiful tone, and gets behind the lyrics. He sings with conviction. I’m buying what he’s selling. He’s backed off the vocal runs, but what he’s left in is very nice. Adam says they both killed it. Adam chooses Caroline because she changed it up. Blake liked Anthony’s versatility. It was Christina’s favorite battle. She felt the heart in it. She’s torn. After waxing poetic over both, Cee Lo chooses Caroline Pennell. Not surprised. The Voice loves loves loves their quirky girls. And then…Christina steals Anthony Paul.
Team Adam returns
Donna Allen vs Tessanne Chin – “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande – Donna was part of Miami Sound Machine for 9 years. Jamaican, Tessanne Chin, sang backup for Jimmy Cliff. Tessanne things she’ll lose to Donna, Indeed, she’s tentative and intimidated in rehearsal. Blake and Ryan have to coax her to shine. Tessanne knows she can’t match Donna’s big voice, so she will rely on her dynamics to stand out. Donna is 54 and worries about her age (with good reason. She’s very old fashioned). Ryan suggests Donna back off her big voice a little. Tessanne may have an advantage here.
Donna has a big raspy voice, but it comes from a different time. Tessanne is smooth and powerful in her own way. Her vibe is contemporary. She doesn’t need to sing louder or bigger than Donna. The texture of her voice, her ability for subtle phrasing allows her to hold her own. Blake calls the battle “epic.” Blake loves Tessanne’s little “tricks” but he preferred Donna. Christina compliments Donna on her power, but she preferrs Tessanne. Cee Lo also gives it to Tess. Adam compares Donna to Tina Turner, he admires that Tess sings without breaking a sweat. Either could win. And of course, Adam chooses Tessanne Nobody steals Donna. Cee Lo says he passed, because he’s got his eye on other people.
Team Christina again!
Briana Cuoco vs Jacqui Lee – “House of the Rising Sun” – Briana’s sister is the popular actress, Kaley Cuoco. Jacqui is a 16 year old soul singer. Christina didn’t want to give them a safe song. Jacqui already sounds amazing in rehearsal. Christina urges Briana to use blues inflections. Ed reminds them that many have covered the song. Make it your own, he says, basically. Both singers need coaching on different aspects. Christina sings lines for Briana to help her with her bluesy phrasing. She suggests Jacqui step out to call attention to her voice. She’s timid.
This song is tailor made for Jacqui’s easy blues style and rich tone. Briana can’t match her chops. Comparatively, her voice–especially her upper range–is thin. Cee Lo liked Jacqui’s youthful take. Adam is torn. He can’t pick. Blake also thought they were evenly matched, but Briana brought something special. Christina felt they both dug deep. But, Christina chooses Jacqui. And then, Cee Lo and Blake BOTH try to steal Briana! Cee Lo says she has a story in her voice. He can nurture her. Blake loved the way she connected to the song. Briana chooses Blake.
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