‘The Voice’ season 20 episode 7 recap: Let the battles … begin! [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

With the blind auditions in the rear-view mirror, it was time for the next stage of “The Voice” competition to begin on Monday night. That’s right — it’s the battles! During this round, the four coaches (Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas, John Legend and Kelly Clarkson) pair up their artists for showstopping duets and then determine who stays and who goes. They can also hit their “save” or “steal” buttons if they want to keep a losing artist in the competition. Oh, and because Kelly was feeling “under the weather,” special guest judge Kelsea Ballerini was invited to temporarily replace her on the judging panel.

Below, read our minute-by-minute “The Voice” recap of Season 20, Episode 7 to find out what happened Monday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite artists on NBC’s long-running reality TV show, which coach you’re rooting for and who you think will ultimately join “The Voice” winners list for this 10th anniversary season. Here is a closer look at each coach’s team:

Team Blake Shelton: Aaron Konzelman, Avery Roberson, Cam Anthony, Connor Christian, Emma Caroline, Ethan Lively, Jordan Matthew Young, Keegan Ferrell, Pete Mroz, Savanna Chestnut

Team Nick Jonas: Andrew Marshall, Awari, Bradley Sinclair, Dana Monique, Devan Blake Jones, Jose Figueroa Jr., Lindsay Joan, Rachel Mac, Raine Stern, Zae Romeo,

Team John Legend: Carolina Rial, Christine Cain, Ciana Pelekai, Deion Warren, Denisha Dalton, Durell Anthony, Pia Renee, Rio Doyle, Victor Solomon, Zania Alake

Team Kelly Clarkson: Ainae, Anna Grace Felten, Corey Ward, Gean Garcia, Ghianna Zoe, Halley Greg, JD Casper, Kenzie Wheeler, Ryleigh Modig, Savanna Woods

Keep refreshing/reloading this “The Voice” live blog for the most recent updates.

8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘The Voice’!” In last week’s sixth episode, the final four artists made it onto the show when the coaches pressed their “I Want You” buttons during Night 6 of the blind auditions. Team Kelly scooped up Ainae, Team Legend acquired Denisha Dalton, Team Nick welcomed Awari, and Team Blake took in Keegan Ferrell. But enough about last week — it’s time for the battles to begin!

8:02 p.m. – It’s gonna be fun having a change of pace with Kelsea in Kelly’s seat, but at least we know Kelly instructed her to keep the rivalry with Blake going. The show needs that! Kelly was, however, on deck for the advising session with Luis and her team as they learned their pairings. First up was Gean and Ryleigh on the Ariana Grande song “POV.” Gean was especially excited to see Luis in the room as another Spanish language artist. After one pass-through of the song, Kelly was so pleased with how they were handling the song with maturity, as was Luis who was legitimately mad that Kelly paired them against each other in the first place, forcing herself to have to eliminate one. In the performance, Gean and Ryleigh tossed the vocal back and forth line by line in a complementary way and meshed together so perfectly for tender harmonizing moments. Blake thought Gean was performing “from another dimension” in a cool way, but also thought that Ryleigh sounds like someone they’ve never had on the show. Nick doubled down on wanting to pull Ryleigh over to his own team still while John was concerned with himself for having not turned around for either of them in the blinds. Kelsea, faced with a tough decision, gave Kelly a call, but was advised to choose either of them because she didn’t think either of them would actually go home. And so, Kelsea gave the win to Ryleigh, leaving room for both John and Nick to hit their buttons to save Gean! Though John didn’t turn his chair for him initially, Gean decided to join his team and get that song sang in his name.

8:18 p.m. – For his advisors, Blake brought in Dan + Shay, two guys he mentored himself back in the day. Their first session on the show was with Aaron and Connor to work through their rendition of “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” by Waylon Jennings. In the rehearsal there was a lot of discussion about the parts of the song they’d harmonize on and where they’d split their voices to give each other bigger moments. The guys both brought their guitars out for the rockabilly performance that was high on energy from the jump. While a lot of their rehearsal was focused on harmony, that was the weakest part of their battle — instead they both excelled in their solo moments where their raspy voices were more pronounced. Nick thought that Connor’s rasp sets him apart from everyone else, but appreciated that Aaron was “swinging for the fences.” Kelsea liked that Connor was claiming his own space in the battle and approaching it like a solo performance. Basing it on “how much work” he put into the performance, Blake decided to keep Connor, aiming to to find songs that can allow him to let loose in future rounds.

8:40 p.m. – Next up was Nick’s first battle of the night with advisor Darren. Dana Monique and Devan were given a guitar and piano version of Ariana and Justin Bieber‘s quarantine era song “Stuck with U.” Because the song is already a male-female duet, the session was clear of the pressure of deciding what parts belonged to which singer and instead both artists got to focus on pushing themselves and each other further in their parts. Nick stressed to Dana Monique that she needs to have fun with the song and to Devan that he needs to maintain his confidence even if up against a powerhouse vocalist. During the performance, when Dana Monique and Devan met for their shared chorus Devan certainly met Dana Monique as an equal, but without a doubt she soared in her solo parts and stole the show. She showed that it’s nearly impossible to focus on any other voice when hers is in the room. The coaches all agreed that Devan was up against the biggest voice in the competition, but that he stepped up to the plate and raised his game in order to battle with her. In the end, the decision was clear from the moment they were paired together — Nick stuck with “force of nature” Dana Monique. But, admitting to having shot himself in the foot, Nick didn’t let Devan go. He used his one save to honor his hard work in the toughest battle. That means Devan will be going to the four way knockout to get a spot in the lives.

9:03 p.m. – John brought Brandy in to the rehearsal session for Pia and Christine to work on her own song “Baby.” For them it was a moment of a lifetime to work with an artist that they admired from an early age. That being said, Brandy was visibly thrilled to see them singing her song and turning it into a “grown up version” that made the song feel totally new. Christine felt out of place at first because she feels like a shy girl still, but John actually thought that Pia was the one who needed to loosen up a little bit and get out of her own head. When they hit the stage, the women had so much fun with the song and played off one another’s energy. As promised, it was a bluesy, jazz rendition of the song that worked so well with their voices. Kelsea thought that Pia’s navigation of the stage made it clear she’s where she’s supposed to be, but she and Blake both thought that Christine got in her head and was too laid back a little bit. John was proud to see Pia rise to the occasion of becoming explosive in the performance after being so reserved in rehearsal and so he gave her the win.

9:24 p.m. – Nick and Darren returned to the rehearsal studio to work with Jose and Awari on “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. Darren was able to offer them advice about what it means to sing on camera and how that’s an important part of their journey on a show like “The Voice.” The ballad offered the guys the opportunity to show the softest, purest sides of their voices which made the parts where they finally opened up so much more powerful. John thought Jose was effortless, but “slightly edged” toward Awari who has a more powerful voice. Nick felt like Jose “brought him to church” in the performance with his runs and so he chose him as the winner, knowing that because of his experience he can take on anything he throws at him.

9:44 p.m. – The final battle of the night was set for Team Blake’s Avery and Ethan with “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” by James Otto. Ethan was worried about going against Avery who he called a “good storyteller” and because of his age he hasn’t experienced love yet. Dan + Shay thought that they both pushed each other in the rehearsal and that as long as they kept that energy on stage that they’d be great. After the stage rehearsal the guys were more comfortable with the full band behind them, but Blake cautioned that they have to be more powerful with their voices than in the studio. As soon as Avery and Ethan started singing their solos, the virtual crowd started cheering, confirming Blake’s guess that they’d win over the female audience. They were both honed in on being a country heartthrob with the song and it worked so well. Nick reluctantly gave the edge to Avery, but John thought that Ethan claimed the “robust low tone” that the song called for. Blake called out Avery’s ability to connect with a lyric, but in basing his decision on “what he just saw happen” Blake selected Ethan as the winner. It must have been a move knowing that the other coaches would jump at the chance for Avery, a four chair turn, and sure enough Kelsea (after confirming with Kelly in text) did!

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