The third of the nine battles on the March 27 episode of “The Voice” pitted two of Adam Levine‘s artists — Johnny Hayes and Julien Martinez — against each other. For their battle song, Levine chose “Hard to Handle.” Otis Redding wrote and recorded this soul tune shortly before his death in 1967 and The Black Crowes had a hit with a blues rock version in 1990.
Hayes was inspired by the latter’s take on the track and easily eclipsed Martinez in their duet. As Shelton observed, “Johnny, rock is your thing. Julien, I felt like you would tend to shy away from some of the bigger vocal moments of the song, and it was frustrating.” Not surprisingly, after Levine opted for Hayes, Martinez did not merit a steal from Gwen Stefani or Blake Shelton, who still have one apiece to use.
Hayes had been rejected by all the coaches last season. The soulful rock singer from Mobile, AL returned on the February 27 blind audition episode seeking redemption. After only singing a few bars of the 1966 hit “Try a Little Tenderness,” the 29-year-old had both Levine and Stefani hitting their buttons. Hayes was won over by Levine’s passion for him and his music.
In his appearance on the March 2 blind audition episode, Martinez eventually inspired both Levine and Shelton to turn their chairs with his offbeat version of the 1983 Stevie Ray Vaughan song “Pride and Joy.” His singular sound certainly makes him stand out from the competition.
Over the course of the four Battle episodes, the 12 artists on each team will be split into six pairs and have to sing the same song for their survival. The four coaches — Alicia Keys, Levine, Shelton and Stefani — will then have to decide which contender in each battle to take to the Knockout rounds.
Do you think Levine made the right choice by going with Hayes? Watch the battle above and then vote in our poll below. And be sure to sound off in our comments section too.