On March 19, season 14 of “The Voice” kicked off the first of four episodes devoted to the battle round of the competition. Over the course of four episodes, the 12 artists on each team will be split into six pairs and have to sing the same song for survival. The four coaches — Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton — will then have to decide which contender in each battle to take to the knockout round.
At rehearsals, the coaches had fellow artists on hand to offer advise: Clarkson turned to Hailee Steinfeld, Keys was counseled by Shawn Mendes, Levine had Julie Michaels by his side, and Shelton brought in Trace Adkins. Below, take a read of our recap of each of the first six battles and then weigh in with your choice as to the best of these match-ups by voting in our poll and sounding off in the comments section. And be sure to check out our exclusive power rankings for each of the dozen singers for each coach: Team Adam, Team Alicia, Team Blake and Team Kelly.
Team Alicia Keys: Sharane Calister vs. Jamai – “Mercy”
Keys turned to the songbook of her advisor for the first battle of the night. He urged them to focus on the emotion of the song and let it guide their performance. Keys counseled them to have fun with the song. and not try to be “pretty” or “cool.” Each did a good job, with Levine noting that it was a dead heat. While Clarkson sided with Callister, Shelton endorsed Jamai. In the end, Keys chose Callister and with none of the other three judges throwing Jamai a lifeline with a steal, her time in the competition was over.
Team Kelly Clarkson: Brynn Cartelli vs. Dylan Hartigan – “…Ready for It?”
For Clarkson’s first battle, she pitted two of her younger artists against each other on this Taylor Swift tune. Noting that they were softer, folk-influenced singers, she opted fora “swampy” rendition of this pop hit. However, the two singers never came together in their performance. While all the coaches love Hartigan’s dynamic style, it was Cartelli’s singing that won them over. After Clarkson went with the latter, Shelton used the first of his two steals to give Hartigan a second chance to shine in the knockout round.
Team Blake Shelton: Kyla Jade vs. JessLee – “One Last Time”
While this Ariana Grande hit is not typical fare for Shelton, he thought it the sort of song that would push these artists to the edge of their comfort zones. He was hoping Jade, a background singer, would step into the spotlight and he hopes that the contestants “blow the roof off the place.” After Clarkson and Levine lavished praised on Jade, Shelton opted to keep her on his team while JessLee left the competition.
Team Adam Levine: Tish Haynes Keys vs. Rayshun LaMarr – “Sweet Thing”
Both artists admit to being nervous about singing this song, a soul-funk hit for Rufus and Chaka Khan. They needn’t have worried as their voices blended so well together. They earned a standing ovation from the coaches. Not surprisingly, Clarkson, Keys and Shelton were equally enthusiastic about both artists. After Levine opted to keep LaMarr, Clarkson used her first steal to bring Keys onto her team.
Team Alicia Keys: Christiana Danielle vs. Shana Halligan – “Use Somebody”
Keys is the first coach to have her artists do battle for a second time. She explains that she pitted these two talents against each other as she wants to see how each handles this Kings of Leon hit. Mendes admits he loves the tone of Danielle’s singing but appreciates the uniqueness of Halligan’s voice. Their battle was the best of the night, with perfect harmonizing and stand-out solo moments. While Levine loved Danielle, Shelton sided with Halligan and Clarkson couldn’t decide between the two. It was a surprise that no other coach stole Halligan after Keys went with Danielle.
Team Kelly Clarkson: Jackie Foster vs. D.R. King – “Sign of the Times”
Clarkson is back with her two powerhouse singers, who are tasked with taking on this big pop song by Harry Styles. They were up to the task, with all four coaches on their feet at the end of the performance. Keys called it “favorite battle to date,” Levine said it was “special” and “astonishing” and Shelton said it was “outstanding.” After Clarkson opted for King, she said she hoped that one of the other coaches would rescue Foster and she soon got her wish as Levine used his first steal to do so.