The Voice 23 Battles: Team Blake’s Tasha Jessen vs. EJ Michels Results in Double Steal
The Voice Season 23 Battles kicked off Monday night with the reminder that it is, of course, Blake Shelton’s final battle round. It also was Niall Horan and Chance The Rapper’s first battle round. Each gave great advice during their mentor session which resulted in some outstanding battles. (Read our Recap)
However, the show introduced two new wrinkles to the round. First, the Playoff Pass where a coach can save a contestant and send them straight to the Playoffs, allowing the artist to skip the Knockouts. Additionally, this season, the coaches mentored without celebrity Battle battle advisors, which I’m guessing, is due to budget cuts.
The night kicked off with a Team Blake battle featuring Tasha Jessen and EJ Michels who performed an R&B classic that resulted in a double steal.
Blake wasn’t shocked that EJ picked him, but he was surprised when Tasha choose him. Tasha grew up in Pakistan, and is grateful for this opportunity. She sang “River” by Leon Bridges for her Blind Audition, and is honored to be on his last team. EJ sang “Easy on Me” by Adele for his audition, calling The Voice a “dream experience.” He shared his experience coming out LGBT and describes the show as a “healing experience.”
Blake gave the two “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – also known as former winner Chris Blue’s signature song after he auditioned with it. Blake gave the song to them as it “lands perfectly between Tasha and EJ.” Tasha notes her past separation from her husband due to immigration issues and says she listened to the song during the “uncertainty,” calling this a “full-circle moment.” Blake compares her to Norah Jones, but believes she also has a more soulful side to her. He calls EJ “electrifying.” Blake wants them to tighten it up, and believes both could end up in the finale.
The two sing an acoustic arrangement of the song with light and fitting harmonies. EJ opens the performance with a lot of flowy runs. Tasha’s phrasing and tone is gorgeous, but at times her tuning and timing is a bit off. EJ has more power in his voice, but Tasha’s approach seems more artistic. As the performance goes on, I would lean towards picking Tasha as her vocal seemed to stay on point a bit more through the end, whereas EJ strained some at the climax of the song while showing off his power and range. Both did a solid job, but the battle had its imperfections.
Kelly Clarkson says she was afraid for Tasha due to EJ being “really good,” but calls her tone “incredible.” She calls the battle “evenly matched.” Chance dubs it “an award show performance,” and thinks EJ’s stage presence gave him the edge. Niall says they brought the “song to life.” He asks, “Do I have to say anything?” and Blake jokes that it’s in his contract. He finally says he’d go with EJ. Blake says, “there is truly something special about you” when talking about Tasha’s tone. He calls EJ’s improvement shocking, saying people must have wondered “where the hell did this guy from?” Blake chooses Tasha to move on to the knockouts calling her a “one-of-a-kind artist.”
It’s no surprise that the two newbie coaches decide to steal EJ as they both picked him to win the battle. Chance uses him turning for EJ as a pitch. Niall says, “I don’t have a singer with the range you’ve got” for his pitch. EJ chooses to join Team Niall.
Two great Battles from the episode included Team Niall’s Gina Miles vs. Kala Banham pairing with “Skinny Love” which resulted in Kelly stealing Kala after Gina won. The other was 80s rock battle from Team Kelly with Cait Martin beating Allie Keck on “It Must Have Been Love.” Allie was the closest contestant to robbery on premiere night as she nearly matched Cait who is one of the competition’s top contenders.
Do you think Tasha and EJ’s battle deserved a double steal? Or should have Niall and Chance held off to steal someone later in the battles?