It's week two of the battle rounds and as Shakira so elegantly put it, "It's go time."
For those of you who are new to the game, here's what the formula for the battle rounds looks like: The coach pairs two people together and brings them in for the first rehearsal, in which one singer is obviously superior. The coach and his or her handy sidekick then spend their time giving pointers to the underdog, so that by the time the second rehearsal rolls around, suddenly the roles have changed — the underdog now sounds better. The coach compliments the former underdog on all of the "homework" they must've done, and then the former leader is the one in need of some advice. That way, when the players actually head to the battle, we have no idea who will win. Is it predictable? Yes. Does it work? Definitely.
Now that you're prepped for battle, it's time to get off the ropes! Let's get into the ring, shall we?
TEAM USHER: JESSICA CHILDRESS VS. VEDO
The song: "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
The battle: Usher pairs the show's cutest personality with the young R&B hopeful whose mom just passed away. In the first rehearsal with Pharrell and Usher — or as Jessica calls them, "two of the baddest guys in the game" — Jessica is feeling apprehensive about the song choice when she hears the desperation Vedo puts into the track. She thinks it's out of her range, but Pharrell disagrees. He thinks the song challenges her and makes her "shine." Sidenote: Did Pharrell seem oddly hippie-like in this episode? There's no way anyone is that chill. I don't care how rich you are.
After the first rehearsal, Jessica steps up her game and outshines Vedo when it comes to personality. But when they step in the ring, Vedo brings the shine in honor of his mother. And after a lot of jumping around, a few slick dance moves, and one very moving moment in which Vedo gets down on one knee and holds Jessica's hand — P.S. she's married — it's time for the judges' reactions.
The verdict: Basically, everyone wants to be Jessica's friend. But despite winning Miss Congeniality for this season, Jessica is sent home when Usher picks Vedo. Bonus sweet moment! Usher goes backstage to love on Vedo, because he knows that he misses his mom. Thanks a lot, Usher. Now I'm crying.
*Christina Milian rocks leather pants.
TEAM SHAKIRA: LUKE EDGEMON VS. MONIQUE ABBADIE
The song: "You and I" by Lady Gaga
The battle: This "eclectic" pairing is one I wasn't so sure about at first. But after drinking a couple cups of coffee (through a straw), Shakira is able to get these two on the same page. At first, Monique has to fight her Broadway-ness while Luke is encouraged to embrace his yodeling. But at the second rehearsal, it all comes down to the two of them being able to work together. Remember: It's a competition, y'all, and it's not always easy to avoid the other contestant's toes.
But when the time comes, the preacher's kid goes up against the former child star in an all-smiles performance that ends with a sweet face-to-face moment between the singers. I thought both gave a solid performance, but I'm drawn to Luke's inflections. Also, his hair looks great.
The verdict: When Blake asks, "Where in the hell did Luke come from?" Adam responds with the obvious answer: "From heaven." And when it comes time for Shakira to pick, she uses her impressive IQ and decides to pick Monique, hoping that someone will steal Luke. And it works! Both Blake and Usher push their buttons. But after Usher doesn't say much of anything to sway Luke's choice, Blake steals Luke. The lesson here for Usher: Playing it cool doesn't always work. As Luke put it, "Blake is a winner."
NEXT: Usher gives Blake a dance lesson