Alicia Keys might be a rookie coach on “The Voice,” but the 15-time Grammy winner is already proving herself. She paired up two of her artists — We` McDonald vs. Lauren Diaz — for the most spectacular battle round of Monday’s episode on the NBC reality blockbuster. Keys is facing off this year against fellow rookie coach Miley Cyrus, four-time top coach Blake Shelton, and three-time winner Adam Levine. Let’s take a look at the first six battles of this 11th season, who were the victors and which ones were eliminated, and my rankings from top to bottom.
1. Lauren Diaz vs. We` McDonald (Team Alicia): “Maybe”
Diaz and McDonald gave two of the most memorable blind auditions this season, so it came as no surprise they paired up for the best battle of the night. The duet itself had moments where they were able to harmonize nicely together, but this performance was all about showing off their individual talents. Diaz is a seasoned performer with a rich tone, personality, and storyline people will remember. McDonald on the other hand is just a superstar. Many seasons there is one performer from the very beginning that just looks they should be named the winner right then and there – this season it is We. She’s so unique, so interesting and has such a style of her own it is hard to deny her as the early favorite. After Alicia officially declared We the winner of this battle, Miley fought off Adam to steal Diaz for her team moving forward.
2. Dan Shafer vs. Sundance Head (Team Blake): “Feel Like Making Love”
Although these two artists are stylistically quite different, this pairing was an absolute success in terms of delivering one of the most entertaining performances of the night. Shafer has a much lighter way of delivering a vocal and actually surprised me with some of the notes he hit. Sundance Head (who has the coolest name a musician could possibly ask for) just let it all hang out and really injected the energy and soul into the song. Blake understandably chose Sundance to move forward, and unfortunately Shafer was sent home after not securing a steal.
3. Christian Cuevas vs. Jason Warrior (Team Alicia): “Hello”
Delivering an impassioned version of the massive Adele hit from 2015, Cuevas and Warrior were able to show off their range and emotion with a strong performance. It is clear why Alicia paired these two artists together: both have similar strengths but also share a tendency to over sing. While I felt Warrior had the edge with the more magnetic stage presence, I agree with Alicia who said America will fall in love with Cuevas’ personality. After Cuevas was named the winner of this evenly matched battle, Adam used his first save to pick up Warrior for himself.
4. Natasha Bure vs. Riley Elmore (Team Adam): “Cry Me a River”
In an interesting twist, Adam paired two of the youngest singers in the competition together to perform a classic pop song written over 60 years ago. Bure, who was coming off a somewhat shaky blind audition, showed incredible growth this round by delivering attitude on stage and showing more range than we had seen before. But Elmore, who possesses such a unique and memorable tone, was the clear standout. This song fit right into his wheelhouse, and it was no surprise he was deemed the winner of this battle, leading to an early exit for Bure.
5. Ali Caldwell vs. Courtnie Ramirez (Team Miley): “Hit or Miss”
Miley proved you can expect the unexpected from her team, as she paired two completely different artists together with a totally unconventional song choice. One of the early favorites in the competition, Caldwell, once again showed poise and comfort on stage, seamlessly weaving her way through strong belts and runs that prove she is one of the singers to watch out for this season. Ramirez, on the other hand, seemed to shriek her way through this song in a tone that was less pleasing to the ear. Overall I found this pairing to be odd and lacking chemistry. Caldwell was named the winner, but more surprising to me was the fact both Blake and Alicia wanted to steal Ramirez for their own teams. In the end, Ramirez chose to continue her journey on Team Alicia.
6. Andrew DeMuro vs. Billy Gilman (Team Adam): “Man in the Mirror”
When this battle started, Gilman came out with such a clear, pitch perfect tone I really thought he was going to nail this song and secure an easy win. But he faltered in the middle and some of the notes he went for just didn’t quite come out right. DeMuro has the less memorable voice, but he also has the more fun personality – which ended up making this a pretty close contest. Unfortunately for both of them, it sounded like a pretty bad Broadway version of a Michael Jackson classic. In the end, Gilman pulled off the win, and DeMuro’s time in the competition came to an end.