The final battle rounds for "The Voice" are now in the books. Who got kicked off that deserved to stay? Who is still on the reality show but doesn't deserve to be there? The teams are secure for coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell Williams for next week's knockout round. With fewer surprises in week two, many early favorites continue their journey, so here is my recap ranking this week’s battles. Comment below whether you agree or disagree.
9. Amanda Ayala vs. Shelby Brown (Team Adam): “Edge of Seventeen”
Two 17-year olds appropriately teamed up for the Stevie Nicks classic “Edge of Seventeen,” which displayed both their lack of experience and glimmers of star-power in the making. Ayala is the more comfortable on stage but had an uphill battle against one of the early favorites in Brown. From the beginning Brown appeared uncomfortable with the song and wasn’t quite sure where to go on stage, but her voice held up as the highlight of a mostly uninspiring duet. Adam had no choice but to take Brown to the knock-out rounds, sending Ayala home. Final verdict: Choosing Brown was a no-brainer – she is without question a threat to win it all.
8. Evan McKeel vs. Riley Biederer (Team Pharrell): “Higher Ground”
It’s never easy to cover a Stevie Wonder classic, but McKeel and Biederer pulled it off with their rendition of “Higher Ground”. McKeel had one of the more memorable blind auditions when he sang an impromptu verse of Wonder’s “Overjoyed” at the request of Pharrell, so this battle seemed slanted to favor McKeel from the beginning. Regardless, McKeel proved to be the much more interesting performer, both vocally and presence-wise as he easily advanced to the knockouts. The biggest surprise was Gwen slyly sitting down onto her steal button to save Biederer from elimination. Final verdict: Pharrell had an easy choice here taking McKeel, who is clearly a frontrunner this season, to the knockouts. The decision by Gwen to save Biederer remains a mystery considering she has yet to really stand out this season. Perhaps Gwen can give her the shining moment she needs to make an impact.
7. Emily Ann Roberts vs. Morgan Frazier (Team Blake): “I’m That Kind of Girl”
The battle of Blake’s blonde country girls was an evenly matched duo to the Patty Loveless hit “I’m That Kind of Girl.” It showed plenty of personality from Roberts and a bit more vocal substance from Frazier. The two played off each other well and shared many qualities, making it easy to understand why Blake didn’t feel there was room for both on his team. Roberts, with a slightly more memorable presence, won the battle to move onto the knockouts. However, Frazier ended the night by packing her bags and moving to Team Pharrell, securing the final steal of the season. Final verdict: No real opinion here. The two were very similar, and I can see why Blake thought Roberts had more potential. In the end, they’re both still in the competition regardless.
6. Braiden Sunshine vs. Lyndsey Elm (Team Gwen): “No One is to Blame”
In what some might have been seen as a David vs. Goliath battle, we saw Sunshine (who received only a two-chair turn in his audition) take on Elm (a big four-chair turn) on the Howard Jones song “No One is to Blame.” While Elm was the favorite going in, it was Sunshine who emerged the star and proved he could be a contender for the title. His unique delivery and charming personality will garner fans for the 16-year-old, especially among younger voters. Elm, who was perfectly consistent in her vocals, just didn’t stand out. The early-on coach’s favorite couldn’t even convince one to steal her after the battle, leading to a surprising elimination. Final verdict: Gwen made the tough choice, but the smart choice here. Sunshine is a diamond in the rough and may surprise people going forward.
5. Amy Vachal vs. Jubal & Amanda (Team Pharrell): “To Love Somebody”
Timid Vachal was paired with the powerful Southern duo of Jubal & Amanda for the Bee Gees hit “To Love Somebody.” All of the performers stayed true to their style, with Vachal at times looking like a third wheel to the love affair between Jubal & Amanda – but despite differing styles, it worked. It was a battle that could have no clear winner – three very seasoned musicians with two very different styles. Although Jubal & Amanda hit all the right notes, a battle like this it comes down to personal preference. Pharrell has been mesmerized by Vachal since her blind audition. Final verdict: I don’t quite get the hype the coaches have been piling on Vachal, but I do think she could go far in the competition. It’s unfortunate for the contestants who perform later in the battle rounds because I think singers less interesting than Jubal & Amanda have been saved.
4. Chase Kerby vs. Korin Bukowski (Team Gwen): “Samson”
In an understated version of Regina Spektor’s “Samson,” Kerby and Bukowski played to their strengths, which is delivery over power. The result was one of the more impressive battles on Team Gwen. Bukowski’s voice proved more fitting for the song, with perfectly sung lyrics that displayed her unique tone paired with emotion that wasn’t forced. This battle was one-sided as Bukowski was the clear winner, while Kerby exited the competition. Final verdict: Bukowski could be a dark horse for Team Gwen and was the clear winner of this battle.
3. Cassandra Robertson vs. Viktor Kiraly (Team Adam): “Nobody Knows”
These two soul singers blended perfectly in their performance of the Tony Rich classic “Nobody Knows.” Robertson showed a rich texture and range as she easily ran up and down the scale throughout the song. Kiraly matched Roberston with an impressive vocal of his own paired with stage presence that proved too tempting for Adam to pass up. With steals running low for the remaining coaches, Robertson fell victim to a premature elimination. Final verdict: There is no faulting Adam for choosing the charismatic Kiraly, who was even more impressive and likable than his initial audition. The loss of Robertson was unfortunate being that she is a better singer than other competitors remaining.
2. Blind Joe vs. Blaine Mitchell (Team Blake): “Old Time Rock and Roll”
This week’s battles kicked off with an entertaining rendition of Bob Seger’s classic. In what turned out to be a pretty even battle, Blind Joe’s voice rang out throughout the song, more soulful than country, and his ad libs during Mitchell’s performance were both timely and fun. Mitchell worked the stage throughout the performance and proved he had stage presence although his vocals were slightly less impressive. In the end Blake chose Blind Joe to advance to the knock-out round, but Adam wasted no time stealing the charismatic Mitchell. Final verdict: Blake made the right choice here choosing Blind Joe, who seems more seasoned and prepared to go the distance. Mitchell could prove to be a dark horse though if he improves and could be an asset for Team Adam in the future.
1. Andi & Alex vs. Chance Pena (Team Adam): “Wherever You Will Go”
The final battle on Monday was a haunting rendition of The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” by twin sisters Andi & Alex paired with 15-year old Pena and it proved to be the best of the night. The three sang together so seamlessly that their coach Adam said at one point they should team up as a trio. The twins have unique harmonies that can induce goose bumps one minute and even sound a bit creepy the next. The fresh-faced Pena held his own with the sisters (some coaches feel he outsang them) and proved he is more of a threat than the coaches initially thought. When Adam chose Andi & Alex as the winner of the battle, nobody was more shocked than Gwen, who had no steals available to save Pena. Luckily, Blake was also impressed and took Pena for himself after exclaiming, “I freakin’ love the sound of your voice.” Final verdict: I have to side with Adam on his choice to keep Andi & Alex. There is no one else like them on the show and their sound is unique. Pena is good, but I don’t quite understand the level of gushing the coaches were doing over his performance.
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