Blake Shelton has been a coach on “The Voice” for 17 seasons now, but this is the first time he’s had a “literally awful” time picking a battle winner. During Monday’s episode of NBC’s reality TV show, the country superstar pitted 37-year-old Marina Chello against 29-year-old Ricky Duran in a battle to “Valerie.” After their near-flawless performance, Blake essentially threw his hands up in defeat and admitted, “I’m picking the winner of this battle not because I think somebody is better than the other, it’s just based off of this song.” Watch “The Voice” battle video above.
“You guys did everything that a coach could ask you to do,” Blake told his two aspiring artists, of which Ricky was a four-chair turn. “You took the notes, you listened, you came out here, you gave it 150% percent. You’re way overdue for a break in music, both of you.”
As for Ricky, Blake thought his performance was “kind of sneaky.” He explained, “Even in the way he performs it’s like he’s sneaking up on something, he’s about to catch a neighbor’s cat or something.” For Marina, Blake praised her for the way she “kept building on [her] performance.” He raved, “Every time you thought Ricky was just gonna run away with this thing, you would do a run, you would do something range-y that was like, ‘No, I’m still here. I’ve got something to showcase here.'”
After a brief deliberation Blake decided to advance Ricky to the Knockouts, but Marina’s “Voice” journey wasn’t over quite yet. Before Marina could walk off the stage, Blake hit his “save” button … and then rival coach Kelly Clarkson hit her “steal” button. Marina had a tough choice to make between the two of them, ultimately agreeing to stay on Team Blake.
In his “The Voice” live blog, our recapper John Benutty had this to say about the battle: “In their battle both artists contributed to what was a passionate and well-connected performance. They were in the same lane together and raised each other’s game vocally while trading line for line and then harmonizing on the choruses. John advised Blake to go with Ricky because of his unique tone and Gwen backed him up based on Ricky’s star quality and lack of nerves. In his decision Blake said he based it off of ‘this song’ and so he went with: Ricky!”