In both weeks of the Battle rounds of “The Voice,” coach Gwen Stefani pitted three pairs of her artists against each other. She had to choose one singer in each duet to take on to the knockout rounds. And in the first week, she picked up one more artist for her team when she stole away a reject from her fellow Blake Shelton while she the same in week two with Alicia Keys.
Stefani lost both of her previous seasons on “The Voice.” Which of her eight artists do you think could win her 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.
Brennley Brown (Steal from Blake Shelton)
Blind Audition – “Stupid Boy” (February 27)
Although only 14, this Apple Valley, CA native eventually impressed Alicia Keys and Shelton with her interpretation of Keith Urban‘s 2006 Grammy-winning “Stupid Boy.” She started off shaky but finished strong.
Battle Round: “Better Man” vs. Lauren Duski (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 – “Sexual Healing” (February 27)
After an injury ended his dream of playing in the NBA, this 29-year-old Atlantan turned to music. He had barely begun crooning the Marvin Gaye 1982 hit “Sexual Healing” when Levine turned his chair. Keys followed closely behind, soon followed by both Shelton and Stefani. JChosen, who gave a new spin on this old classic, surprised everyone when he went with Stefani.
Battle Round: “I Was Made to Love Her” vs. Kenny P (March 20)
Both artists struggled to connect with this 1967 Stevie Wonder track. Fifty years ago, this tune hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. On Monday, it didn’t sizzle when sang by either of these artists. But Stefani had to pick one of them to go on to to the knockout round and she went with JChosen. None of the other three coaches chose to use one of their two steals on Kenny P who leaves the competition.
Blind Audition- “Maggie May” (March 7)
This 31-year-old from Providence, RI rocked the house with his performance of the 1971 Rod Stewart hit “Maggie May.” While Levine took a pass as he already has several strong male rockers on his team, Gates had Keys, Shelton and Stefani fighting for his affections. Shelton tried to make his case that he would not try to countrify this lead vocalist of a garage band, but with Levine adding his support to Stefani she prevailed in the end.
Battle Round: “I Drove All Night” vs. Sammie Zonana (March 21)
Stefani pitted two of her strongest artists against each other on this 1989 hit for Cyndi Lauper. The song had been written for and recorded by Roy Orbison in 1987 but that version didn’t get released until 1992. Dion did a cover in 2002 and the two artists sang an acoustic version with their own arrangement to which the Canadian chanteuse had said “oui.” While Gates accompanied himself on guitar, Zonana strode around the stage. While both impressed, Stefani went with her kindred spirit Gates. Although Keys praised Zonana — “Sammie, I loved that you were the only one moving in the beginning” — neither she nor the other two coaches used one of their steals on her.
Hunter Plake (steal from Alicia Keys)
Blind Audition: “Carry One” (March 13)
The pop band fun released “Carry On” five years ago and this 20-year-old from Baton Rouge, LA managed to make his one voice sound just as strong on this powerful tune about perseverance. Keys and Stefani both wanted to mentor him but he went with Keys as he likes that she writes the songs she sings.
Battle Round: “Dancing on My Own” vs. Jack Cassidy (March 27)
This pairing might have been the last of the night, but it was the first in which two of the three other coaches fought to get the loser for their team. Inexplicably, Keys chose to showcase her two remaining male artists with this 2010 hit tune by Swedish dance diva Robyn. After being denied three full performances in a row, we saw Cassidy and Plake give it their all. Keys opted to keep Cassidy, who sounded stronger in the choruses, while Stefani opted to use her second and final steal on Plake.
Blind Audition: “Rise Up” (March 6)
Stefani was the only coach impressed by this 14-year-old from Provo, UT who delivered a stirring version of “Rise Up,” a track from Andra Day‘s 2015 debut disc “Cheers to the Fall.”
Battle Round: “Treat You Better” vs. Savannah Leighton (March 21)
Again, viewers were denied more than a few seconds of these two artists singing this 2016 Shawn Mendes pop hit. “The Voice” producers should have listened to the lyrics and treated them better. Stefani went with Rose, the 14-year-old talent from Provo, UT, who had impressed in the blind audition with her rendition of Andra Day‘s 2015 soul song “Cheers to the Fall.” With no coach throwing her a lifeline, 16-year-old Leighton, who had wowed in the blind auditions with Katy Perry‘s 2013 hit “Unconditionally,” was gone for good.
Blind Audition: “Wild World” (March 6)
This 32-year-old New Yorker sang “Wild World,” a plaintive tune written and recorded by Cat Stevens back in 1970. It first appeared on the fourth album, “Tea for the Tillerman,” by this English singer-songwriter. He penned this song as words of wisdom to a lover who is leaving him. Ramey sang it in tribute to his late father and had all four coaches vying for him; he chose his favorite, Stefani.
Battle Round: “Angel Eyes”vs. Jozy Bernadette (March 27)
The Jeff Healey Band had a big hit in 1989 with this track off their first album, “See the Light.” We didn’t get to see much of this match-up on the show. Watching it online, Ramey has the edge over Bernadette in the duet as he conveys the emotion underlying the lyrics.
Blind Audition: “Piece by Piece” (February 27)
It takes an impressive singer to cover Kelly Clarkson convincingly and 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.
Battle Round: “The First Cut Is the Deepest” vs. Caroline Sky (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 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.
Blind Audition: “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” (March 2)
After a five-year hiatus, this 31-year-old from the Virgin Islands returned to performing and impressed with his take on Stevie Wonder‘s 1980 soul hit “Master Blaster (Jammin’).” While Shelton also wanted to work with him, he went with Stefani after she told she him she thought he could rock in that genre too.
Battle Round: “In the Night” vs. Davina Leone (March 28)
For the last battle song of the series, Stefani chose this 2015 hit for The Weeknd, which has a range that strained both artists in contention. In the end, Royal was able to impress his mentor more, with Stefani observing, “To sing a chorus that’s that high effortlessly, but with enough effort that it’s, like, crying and emotional, I’m really proud of you.” But Leone had a lifeline as Levine still had one steal that he had to use.