The first of the six battles on the March 21 episode of “The Voice” pitted two of Gwen Stefani‘s artists — Johnny Gates and Sammie Zonana — against each other. For their battle song, Stefani chose “I Drove All Night,” which had been a 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. Stefani’s adviser Celine Dion did a cover in 2002 and her 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. Although both impressed Stefani, in the end she went with her kindred spirit Gates. And while Alicia 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.
On the March 7 blind audition episode, Gates, a 31-year-old from Providence, RI, had rocked the house with his rendition of the 1971 Rod Stewart hit “Maggie May.” While Adam Levine took a pass as he already has several strong male rockers on his team, Gates had Keys, Blake 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. For her March 13 blind audition, Zonana, a 24-year-old from Austin, TX, offered up her version of the 2016 Arianna Grande hit “Dangerous Woman.” Stefani was the only coach who liked her sound.
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 — Keys, 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 Gates? Watch the battle above and then vote in our poll below. And be sure to sound off in our comments section too.