Blake Shelton proved on Tuesday’s episode of “The Voice” why he has been the winning coach four times in the first 10 seasons. The country superstar matched up Courtney Harrell vs. Ethan Tucker for the best battle of the evening’s show. Shelton is trying to win his fifth title against rookie coaches Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys plus long-time nemesis (and three-time champ) Adam Levine. Let’s take a look at the six battles of Tuesday’s episode, who is moving on to the knockout rounds, which ones were eliminated, and my rankings from top to bottom.
1. Courtney Harrell vs. Ethan Tucker (Team Blake): “Gravity”
This match-up paired two of Blake’s most surprising team members considering no one thought either would choose Blake as a coach over the others. But the relationship has worked well so far because I was so captivated by this performance. The texture to Ethan’s voice is unique and so listenable and is enhanced by the classic qualities of Courtney’s. I think Blake had a tough choice here because either could succeed with continued growth within the competition. In choosing Courtney he went with the safer choice and that’s hard not to respect.
2. Dave Moisan vs. Michael Sanchez (Team Alicia): “Valerie”
Dave was a standout in his blind audition, earning a four chair turn because of his interesting take on a popular rock song so this battle was an opportunity for him to take on something smoother. For Michael the battle was an opportunity to prove himself to the three judges that didn’t turn around on his blind audition and to an audience that has yet to understand his value in the competition. It’s evidenced by the fact that both are moving on due to Adam’s steal of Dave. But Alicia chose the right winner — Michael’s eclectic performance style is sure to make him a memorable contestant in the coming weeks.
3. Josette Diaz vs. Charity Bowden (Team Miley): “She’s Got You”
In this pairing, Miley matched a pop vocalist against a country singer and gave them a country song to sing. But in choosing Josette, the pop vocalist acknowledged that this was a bigger challenge for her and that she was able to truly make it her own. That’s a smart decision on Miley’s part as I think Josette will be able to create moments in future performances that stick out from the pack.
4. Lane Mack vs. Sophia Urista (Team Miley): “Money”
This was the perfect pairing because both Lane and Sophia have the hard-edged, blues sound to their voice. With Joan Jett helping guide them through the performance as a guest mentor, they were each set up to really succeed. In execution neither really blew me away, but for me Lane came out on top — the smoothness to his approach really works better for the competition because of its versatility rather than Sophia’s more gritty tone. But Miley chose Sophia because of her personality, which is fair in a competition requiring viewer votes. But ultimately I think it was the wrong choice.
5. Ponciano Seoane vs. Elia Esparza (Team Adam): “Tenerife Sea”
NBC didn’t show very much of this battle, with Adam’s only comment being that the performance felt really natural for both of the singers. My problem with that is the song choice was an obscure and drowsy Ed Sheeran track, and the bit we did get to glimpse of their take on it seemed soulless and dry. Adam chose Ponciano to move on as a member of his team, but unfortunately I don’t think that he’ll be around much longer.
6. Maye Thomas vs. Khaliya Kimberlie (Team Miley): “For What It’s Worth”
In this battle, Miley pitted another country singer against a pop vocalist and once again chose the pop singer. Maye’s indie leanings and unique style is obviously the draw for someone like Miley, but in terms of lasting in the competition I think she’ll have a tough time finding the right audience to vote her through.