The fourth of the nine battles on the March 27 episode of “The Voice” pitted two of Gwen Stefani‘s artists — Stephanie Rice and Caroline Sky — against each other. For their battle song, Stefani chose “The First Cut is the Deepest.” Cat Stevens wrote this song in 1967 and, after P. P. Arnold had a hit with it, he included it on his own album that year. Keith Hampshire (1973), Rod Stewart (1977) and Sheryl Crow (2003) all enjoyed success with their versions of this melancholy tune.
Rice was a revelation as she brought her own compelling backstory to the stage. While Stefani chose her, Blake Shelton was impressed with Sky who, despite only being 16, also connected to the track. “Your voice is delicate and beautiful, and it kind of shreds at the same time,” he observed before using his second and final steal.
Rice stole the show on the February 27 blind audition episode with her cover of the Kelly Clarkson hit “Piece by Piece.” This 27-year-old from Texarkana, TX did so with a rock-tinged pop vocal. What she lacks in range was more than made up by her emotion. Her performance convinced Shelton and Stefani to turn their chairs, resulting in the first head to head battle between the lovebirds. In the end, Rice chose Stefani as her coach.
Likewise, Sky was the star of the March 7 blind audition episode. Stefani nabbed this 16-year-old talent from San Anselmo, CA for her team but only after a hard-fought battle with her fellow, Shelton. Both were impressed by her poise as she performed Carole King‘s plaintive 1960 hits for The Shirelles, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Although Shelton tried to convince Sky to fly with him by pointing out his successful mentoring of other young talents, in the end Stefani succeeded by connecting with her on a more personal level.
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, Adam Levine, Shelton and Stefani — will then have to decide which contender in each battle to take to the Knockout rounds.
Do you think Stefani made the right choice by going with Rice? Watch the battle above and then vote in our poll below. And be sure to sound off in our comments section too.