‘The Voice’ season 23 episode 7 recap: Let ‘The Battles’ begin! [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The Voice” Season 23 continues on Monday, March 27 with the Battle Rounds premiere. Coaches Blake Shelton, Niall Horan, Chance the Rapper and Kelly Clarkson prepare their artists to go head-to-head in hopes of advancing to the Knockouts or straight to playoffs with the coveted, brand-new Playoff Pass. Each coach has one steal and one Playoff Pass.

The show’s innovative format features five stages of competition: Blind Auditions, Battle Rounds, Knockouts, Playoffs and Live Performance Shows. Shelton announced last year that this season would be his last. Can the nine-time champ make it an even 10 before signing off for good?

SEE ‘The Voice’: All 9 Team Blake Shelton winners ranked worst to best

Below, read our minute-by-minute “The Voice” recap of Season 23, Episode 7 to find out what happened Monday, March 27 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 23rd season. Carson Daly hosts the Emmy-winning program.

TEAM BLAKE: Neil Salsich, Tasha Jessen, Alex Whalen, Carlos Rising, Walker Wilson, EJ Michels, Mary Kate Connor, Kylee Dayne, Kason Lester, Grace West

TEAM NIALL: Ross Clayton, Michael B., Kala Banham, Ryley Tate Wilson, Jerome Godwin III, Laura Littleton, Kate Cosentino, Tiana Goss, Gina Miles, Talia Smith

TEAM CHANCE: Sorelle, Noivas, Magnus, Jamar Langley, Manasseh Samone, Chloe Abbott, Mariah Kalia, Ray Uriel, Alyssa Lazar, NariYella

TEAM KELLY: Holly Brand, D.Smooth, Sheer Element, Allie Keck, ALI, Marcos Covos, JB Somers, Rachel Christine, Cait Martin, Katie Beth Forakis

SEE Everything to know about ‘The Voice’ Season 23: Mega Mentor announced

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

8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘The Voice’!” In Episode 6, blind auditions concluded with four artists advancing to the Battles. Who will excel in this next phase of the competition? And whose journey is over? Let the Battles begin!

8:01 p.m. – New this season is the Playoff Pass, a one-time selection each coach can make that will allow the artist of their choice to skip the Knockouts and advance straight to the Playoffs. Ahead of tonight’s performances, Kelly noted that the pass is something that overrides the steal and Niall suggested that he’ll use it on a “breakout performance.” In addition to the Playoff Pass, the coaches worked with their artists at this stage of the competition without a guest advisor from the industry.

8:02 p.m. – The first Battle of the night was Team Blake’s EJ Michels vs. Tasha Jessen. Blake told Tasha that he was surprised she joined his team, compared to EJ who he expected to, but she explained that it’s an honor to be part of his final team. EJ and Tasha were happy with Blake’s song selection of “The Tracks of My Tears” that he thought would cater to both of their strengths. In rehearsals, Blake told Tasha that she was rushing some notes at the end and that together they could tighten up the close of the song better.

8:11 p.m. – Kelly thought the battle was evenly matched, calling EJ “really, really good” and Tasha’s tone “incredible.” Chance agreed that Tasha has a good tone, but he told Blake to go with EJ because of his stage presence. Niall thought they “brought the song to life” and regrets that he didn’t turn his chair for EJ. Blake told Tasha that there’s something special about her because of her tone and EJ that he’s shocked how much progress he’s made since the Blind Auditions. For his decision of who to keep on his team, Blake went against the grain and gave Tasha the win over EJ because he sees her as a special artist unlike everyone else in the competition. Blake taunted both Chance and Niall to use their Steal on EJ, which they both did. Chance argued that they could pick the right songs together to give him a chance to win and Niall said he doesn’t have anyone like him on his team and he’d fit perfectly. EJ decided to go with the coach that didn’t turn for him in the first round and joined Team Niall.

8:18 p.m. – Chance brought together Mariah Kalia and Jamar Langley for his first pairing of the round. He said they have similar tones and despite an age gap, he sees them as equally talented. He gave them “Gravity” as a song because he wants to see their interpretation of the soulful song from two different viewpoints. Jamar brought the electric guitar to rehearsal, hoping to show something different. Chance asked Mariah to “let go of the nerves or use them to feel the song out” and advised Jamar to use his life experience to bring the song to life by pulling the natural ache from the lyrics.

8:29 p.m. – Kelly said they gave the best version of that song that she’s heard. She thought Mariah brought a youthfulness to the song that makes her curious about the type of record she’d make and loved that way Jamar played the guitar which made him stick out more for her. Blake wondered how Jamar doesn’t already have a deal because he’s “ready right now,” but because Mariah is still developing as an artist she’s the one he’d want to invest his money in because “she’s going to be a superstar.” Niall said that they both should be proud of their performance, but he leaned toward Mariah overall. Chance called Jamar an “artist’s artist” and he delivers stuff he’d like to see through the competition. He is reminded of his daughters with Mariah and he also feels like she belongs on the show. Not wanting to make a decision, Chance decided to stick with Jamar because he’s “ready right now” with the choices and control of a seasoned artist.

8:38 p.m. – Team Niall’s first Battle was Kala Banham against Gina Miles, two artists excited to work together because of their similarities. Keeping with his storytelling vibe, Niall chose “Skinny Love” because of its airy, breathy nature and wanting them to focus on “the feel” of the song. He advised them both to work on the dynamic aspect of certain words, taking their voices up and down in waves to match the air of the song.

8:51 p.m. – Kelly said that Gina has a round and deep tone that is a special gift, but she seemed completely taken by Kala whose voice she said broke her heart. Chance said that Kala had more control over the song, but thought that Gina’s shakiness gave her more edge. Blake called the battle evenly matched and wants to hear the crackly bits of Gina’s voice on a record so he’d go with her. Niall said they were both “unbelievable” to work with. He sees Gina’s tone as “phenomenal” and Kala’s commitment to her artistry as her asset. Stuck between the two, Niall called Gina the winner because of the growth she showed between the two rounds. It wasn’t the end of Kala though because Kelly used her Steal to bring over the artist she was blocked from grabbing in the first round.

9:00 p.m. – Kelly got her Battles off to a start with the pairing of Allie Keck with Cait Martin. She said they have different voices, but because of their big ranges she knew she had to narrow her team down to only one big vocalist. She wanted a multi-genre song so she chose “It Must Have Been Love,” but stripped of the original 80s vibe. Kelly worked with Allie on the placement of her vibrato in different places and then with Cait on bringing “more ache” in her approach to the lyric.

9:10 p.m. – Ahead of the Battle, Kelly told them that she’d pick the artist that performed the best in the moment. After the performance, Blake said Cait has more finesse in the way she sings and her big notes work really well in combination with that. He said Allie “has more of an attack” with her approach to singing. Niall called it a “mind-blowing” performance, noting that their harmonies were perfect and they both showed control. Chance liked Allie’s tone and voice, but he would go with Cait because she really took off with the song. Kelly agreed with Blake’s assessment on Cait’s finesse and Allie’s power, and she was torn because they both rose to the occasion. Ultimately, Kelly’s decision came down to Cait’s “limitless” range that she thinks could win the show.

9:21 p.m. – Blake was the first coach to return to the rehearsal studio, this time with Walker Wilson and Kason Lester because of their similar rock-country styles. Wanting to keep with the rock genre, Blake chose “Here Without You” for them to sing. At rehearsal, Blake warned Walker about looking uncomfortable without a guitar and Kason about watching his pitch on a couple of notes.

9:29 p.m. – Niall told Kason it was nice to hear his “husk,” but thought Walker’s voice pierced through the song and so he leaned in his direction. Chance said that tonally they were evenly matched and it was an awesome performance all-around, but Walker had the edge. Kelly noted Kason’s raspiness and Walker’s grit without naming one ahead of the other. Blake called it a close race for him because they both have the rasp, but Walker has “a buzz” in his voice and Kason plays within the song a little more. For his winner, Blake chose Walker based on the advice of Niall and Chance.

9:37 p.m. – For his next Battle, Chance paired the trio Sorelle against Manasseh Samone. He chose “Someone Like You” so that Sorelle could work on their harmonies and to give Manasseh a chance to “go big with it.” In rehearsal he thought Manasseh should let the song build rather than going so big with it from the beginning. With Sorelle, Chance switched up the arrangement so that he could work with their harmonies and their different vocal elements a little more.

9:53 p.m. – Kelly was impressed with Chance’s production of the song; she also noted the intricate harmonies of Sorelle, but said that the show exists for artists like Manasseh who “live and breathe” the song. Blake admitted he wasn’t sure the two artists would blend well, but he ended up thinking it was a perfect match. He called Sorelle as unique in how tight they were with their harmonies and so he gave the edge to them. Niall liked the journey Manasseh went on with the song, but he leaned toward Sorelle because they created “a wall of harmonies” that sounded like a produced record. In his own final thoughts, Chance said Manasseh was great to work with because she took his notes and Sorelle was poised for a trio who has tough work building one voice together. Ultimately, Chance in the direction of Blake and Niall and kept Sorelle around because of their dynamics and confidence, but he snuck in his Playoff Pass for Manasseh in order to send her directly to the Playoffs!

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