Week one of the battle rounds for “The Voice‘ concluded Tuesday night, so who had the most spine-tingling performances? Here’s a brief recap of all nine battles plus my verdict on each coach’s decisions to salvage or save the competing artists.
Is four-time winning coach Blake Shelton on pace to prevail yet again? Or will the reigning champ Pharrell Williams win two consecutive times? How about two-time top coach Adam Levine or second-time contender Gwen Stefani? Do you agree or disagree with my rankings for this week?
9. Chris Crump vs. Krista Hughes (Team Blake): “When I Get Where I’m Goin”
In a lackluster, disappointing duet, Crump and Hughes’ performance lacked stage presence, imagination and star power as the two basically went through the motions until the music stopped. Crump, who gave a cleaner vocal to a song that seemed more suited to his style, won the battle. That left my frontrunner prediction of Hughes with nowhere to go – and no coach interested in saving her. Final verdict: Blake made the wrong choice with Crump, who is the less interesting singer. Hughes, although not impressive in this battle, has the more unique sound, while Crump is safe and forgettable.
8. James Dupre vs. Dustin Monk (Team Adam): “Fortunate Son”
The most forgettable battle from Team Adam paired country singer Dupre and light rocker Monk. It was a completely dreary version of the John Fogerty song (with the rock legend as their advisor no less) that absolutely nobody would ever want to “rock out” to again. Monk showed a glimmer of personality compared to the stiff appearance of Dupre on stage. Final verdict: Adam seems desperate to have a country singer on his team (to defy Blake), so he chose the less interesting performer. Neither one has what it takes to win – so no harm, no foul here.
7. Zach Seabaugh vs. Tyler Dickerson (Team Blake): “I’m Gonna Be Somebody”
A less-than-epic battle between two young country singers never quite had the expected energy. Seabaugh’s voice cracked throughout the song, and he couldn’t seem to muster up the range to give the vocal much impact. The more vocally fluid Dickerson seemed to hit all the right notes, but coach Blake was not impressed and sent the once-signed Nashville singer packing. Final verdict: Blake shockingly advanced one of the most vanilla, lackluster performers of the season while dropping someone with more vocal ability that can connect with a broader audience.
6. Ellie Lawrence vs. Tim Atlas (Team Gwen): “Sweater Weather”
Gwen’s pairing seemed to be a fitting choice for their indie-inspired vocals. The pair was evenly matched throughout the song with neither truly outshining the other while maintaining their own unique styles. Gwen explained she had a special connection with Lawrence, and chose her as the winner of the battle, but Atlas didn’t suffer long as Pharrell quickly snatched him up with a steal. Final verdict: Gwen chose the safer bet. I was a bit surprised Pharrell used a steal on Atlas, who is an interesting performer but not as impressive as most.
5. Siahna Im vs. Ivonne Acero (Team Pharrell): “You Keep Me Hanging On”
Pharrell brought out his quirky teenagers to battle it out in a cute but not terribly impressive version of the classic. Neither singer took it anywhere special, but neither sounded bad either. Im was declared the winner, while Acero drew an unexpected fight between Blake and Gwen to steal her. In the end, Acero chose Blake in a surprise move. Final verdict: Pharrell didn’t have a “wrong choice” here. Im has an interesting presence about her, so it was a good selection taking the singer who had a more memorable blind audition.
4. Barrett Baber vs. Dustin Christensen (Team Blake): “Walking In Memphis”
Baber and Christensen provided the top performance for Team Blake this week with their energetic take on the Grammy-winning hit. Although Baber can appear a bit awkward on stage at times, his energy and power were a winning combination. That sent the more vocally impressive Christensen to the chopping block. Luckily for him, Adam was eager to steal. Final verdict: The real winner of this battle was Adam, who gained yet another contender in the precise Christenson. In the end, he should easily outlast Baber in the coming weeks.
3. Keith Semple vs. Manny Cabo (Team Adam): “Baba O’Riley”
The two rock-and-rollers didn’t disappoint with a searing rendition of the Who classic. It was an effort that saw new-age rocker Semple taking on the more old-school style of Cabo. Evenly matched in vocal power and stage presence, it was Semple who won out to advance to another round, sending a disappointed Cabo packing. Final verdict: Adam made a wise choice in keeping the Irish-rocker. He has all the makings of a star who could contend for the title.
2. Jordan Smith vs. Regina Love (Team Adam): “Like I Can”
These vocal powerhouses kicked off the battle rounds on Monday in epic fashion. It was a knockdown, drag-out matchup of guts and glory. They were evenly matched throughout, although Love’s experience was shining through with her more convincing passion matched with a rich tone. Smith’s strength, his unique voice and endearing presence, was what won out in the end. Gwen made a smart move in quickly stealing Love to add much needed power on her team. Final verdict: Although Smith seems to be a sentimental favorite, I’m not buying what he’s selling. Love should have won the battle. Luckily, she will have a chance to sing another day in the knockout rounds for Team Gwen. That being said, Smith will probably garner more votes from the public, so I understand where Adam was going by keeping him on his team.
1. Celeste Betton vs. Mark Hood (Team Pharrell): “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
Without question, the most entertaining battle of the week was this seamless partnership. Hood’s infectious energy matched with the elegant, sophisticated style of Betton, working beautifully as these two slayed in an epic battle that left the audience on their feet wanting more. Ultimately, Hood was the chosen winner, and Betton fell victim to an emotional, early elimination. Final verdict: Pharrell made the right decision in choosing the more charismatic, versatile of the two in Hood – but it would have been nice to see Betton get a steal.
What are your thoughts about our rankings for the first battle rounds? Who tops your own list? Comment below or sound off on “The Voice” every week in Gold Derby’s reality TV forum.
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Photo courtesy of NBC.