In the first two Battle rounds of “The Voice” last week, coach Blake Shelton pitted four pairs of his artists against each other. He had to choose one singer in each duet to take on to the knockout rounds. And he picked up one more artists for her team when he stole away one of rival coach Alicia Keys‘ rejects. In the final two Battle rounds this week, he teed up duets with just two pairs of his artists. And he picked up the final artist for his team when she stole away a reject from his gal, Gwen Stefani.
Shelton has won five of his 11 previous seasons on “The Voice.” Which of his eight artists do you think could win him the competition this season? Below, a description of what each of these did to get his attention. Be sure to cast your vote in our poll and then sound off in the comments section.
Blind Audition – “You Were Meant for Me” (February 27)
The unique tone of this country singer from Gaylord, MI will make her stand out. Duski, 25, incorporated pop and soul into her performance of “You Were Meant For Me,” which was Jewel‘s first big hit back in 1996. She was able to convince Levine, Stefani and Shelton to all turn their chairs. After a strong debate between the coaches, Duski went the predictable country route in choosing Shelton as her coach.
Battle Round: “Better Man” vs. Brennley Brown (March 20)
Duski did an outstanding job conveying the emotional intricacies of this 2016 Little Big Town tune about a break-up while 15-year-old Brown, whose never had a boyfriend, struggled to connect to the lyrics written by Taylor Swift. After Shelton sided with Duski, Levine and Stefani tried to rescue Brown. Stefani won her over in the end by telling her, “There something about your innocence that I would want to work with.”
Blind Audition – “Blue” (March 1)
Saving the best for last on Thursday’s episode, Joy was the only one of the seven acts seen that got the support of all four judges. She put her own spin on the 1958 country classic “Blue” by Bill Mack that won LeAnn Rimes a Grammy in 1996. While Joy was open to trying different genres, in the end she chose to go with Shelton, her favorite country singing star.
Battle Round: “How Blue” vs. Ashley Levin (March 20)
This pairing might have been the last of the night, but it was the first in which all three of the other coaches fought to get the loser for their team. Joy and Levin were both outstanding as they crooned Reba McEntire‘s 1984 No. 1 country hit. Before revealing his choice, Shelton acknowledged he had made a mistake with this match-up: “I told you girls from the second I heard you singing together, I wish I hadn’t.” After he opted to take Joy to the knockouts, the others made their case for Levin, who went with Keys in the end.
Blind Audition – “Hound Dog” (February 28)
Though she’s only 15, this powerhouse from La Habra, CA has a lot of experience under her belt already. Moulden showcased her voice with a take on the 1956 Elvis Presley hit “Hound Dog” and convinced Shelton to turn quickly. The only surprise was that it took so long for Keys and Stefani to join him.
Battle Round: “Walking on Sunshine” vs. Dawson Coyle (March 21)
Inexplicably, Shelton chose to showcase his two teen talents with a song that was a hit way back in 1985 for the new wave band Katrina and the Waves. After being denied three full performances in a row, we saw Moulden and Coyle having fun with this dance tune. Shelton opted to keep Moulden, who sounded stronger in the choruses, while Keys opted to use her second and final steal on Coyle.
Blind Audition: “All I Ask” (March 13)
Taking on an Adele song is no small task but this 25-year-old from Tampa, FL nailed “All I Ask,” a track from the Grammy-winning “25.” It was surprising that Shelton went for her sound, as he tends to prefer those with a country flavor over pop stylings.
Battle Audition:”Love Triangle” vs. Valerie Ponzio (March 27)
We didn’t see the full battle between these two on the show (it was posted in full online). Rather, there was just a short snippet of them singing this 2016 country hit for singer/songwriter RaeLynn. Ortiz was deemed the winner of this match-up by Shelton. Poor Ponzio did not merit a steal by Stefani.
Caroline Sky (steal from Gwen Stefani)
Blind Audition: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (March 7)
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.
Battle Round: Stephanie Rice vs. Caroline Sky – “The First Cut Is the Deepest” (March 27)
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, Shelton was impressed with Sky who, despite her age, 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.
Felicia Temple (Steal from Alicia Keys)
Blind Audition – “All I Could Do Was Cry” (February 27)
This 28-year-old from Teaneck, NJ delivered a powerful performance of the 1960 Etta James classic “All I Could Do Was Cry.” While Shelton and Stefani also wanted her for their teams, she connected with Keys and they even sang a few bars of the coach’s hit “Fallin’.”
Battle Round:”Titanium” vs. Quizz Swanigan (March 20)
Temple spoke of her personal connection to this 2011 Sia song, which she had used as inspiration when undergoing treatment for cancer. But she could not overcome the desire by Keys to mentor Swanigan who, at just 13, is the youngest contestant in the history of “The Voice.” However, Shelton liked what he heard from Temple – “You can just hear the warmth and that rounder tone that she has” – and stole her away for his team.
Blind Audition- “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” (March 13)
We didn’t get to see Thomas’s take on “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You,” a 1967 hit for The Foundations. We do know that this 25-year-old from Fort Worth, TX is a country singer.
Battle Round:”What Hurts the Most” vs. Micah Tryba (March 21)
What hurts the most about this match-up was not seeing much of it. In the teaser clip, Thomas and Tryba looked equally good as they crooned this 2005 hit for the Rascal Flatts. Thomas won the vote of Shetlton. Tryba, who had charmed him with her performance of Chaka Khan‘s 1987 anthem “I’m Every Woman” in the blind audition, was left in the cold by the other coaches.
Blind Audition: “Take Me to the River” (March 13)
This Richmond, VA native made Al Green‘s 1974 hit “Take Me to the River” sound like a contemporary tune with his unique song stylings. The 29-year-old went with Shelton over Levine as he liked his endorsement of his sound.
Battle Round: “In the Midnight Hour” vs. Josh Hoyer (March 27)
Shelton pitted two of his strongest artists against each other on this 1965 hit for Wilson Pickett. Not surprisingly, TSoul connected with this similarly styled song as that of his blind audition and was Shelton’s pick. Although Stefani praised Hoyer neither she nor Levine used one of their steals on him.