TEAM BLAKE: AUSTIN JENCKES VS. BRIAN POUNDS
Song: "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees
Battle: Austin and Brian are both country crooners, but Austin clearly has the advantage. He has a beefier voice that just steamrolls over Brian's innocuous vocals. But this battle is all about Cher. If we could take a moment here, I think it's high time we recognize Cher for her advising talents. I think that she doles out the best critiques because she isn't afraid to sound bitchy or monopolize the session with her industry anecdotes (more story time with Cher, yes!). She warns Austin to not show all his cards in the beginning. She urges Brian to amp up his emotional connection to the song and go "balls to the wall," which she adorably asks Blake if that's kosher to say. In battle, it's obvious that Austin simply overpowers Brian's blasé rendition.
Verdict: All the judges are moved by Austin's emotional investment in the song. Poor Brian never stood a chance. Coach Blake chooses Austin: "He left his heart laying there on the stage."
TEAM ADAM: JAMES IRWIN VS. MATT CERMANSKI
Song: "Counting Stars" by OneRepublic
Mentor: Ryan Tedder
Battle: Adam picks a song that his chosen adviser wrote, which makes James and Matt, both returning contestants, understandably a tad nervous. Ryan Tedder says James enunciates too slowly, while Matt is insecure of his higher-register range. The consensus is that James, who garnered that zero-to-four-chair-turn in the blinds, has more natural ability than Matt. But overall, this comeback kid battle wasn't very memorable. James and Matt performed decently, except James' parts seemed slightly more effortless.
Verdict: Everyone agrees that James had better pitch and a better connection to the OneRepublic tune. Coach Adam chooses James. No steal for Matt.
TEAM CHRISTINA: DESTINEE QUINN VS. LINA GAUDENZI
Song: "Not Ready to Make Nice" by Dixie Chicks
Mentor: Ed Sheeran
Battle: Finally some diva-action! In the first all-female battle of the night, Coach Christina pairs country singer and veteran of the biker bar circuit Destinee, with former model Lina. For me, their voices are nearly identical, except Destinee sings with more attitude. During rehearsal, Christina stresses the importance of connecting with the audience, especially for a song with such an angry core. "Are you mad as hell?!" she asks her students. Christina got a little frustrated and had to demonstrate (to our delight) the song herself. Ed Sheeran adorably tried to help Destinee with harmony problems. In battle, both girls really improved from rehearsal and delivered an electrifying duet. You could tell they were really reaching to display that fierce intensity that Christina demanded.
Verdict: The guys are split between the divas. Coach Christina says she's "torn between emotion [Destinee] or range [Lina]." She chooses Destinee. Adam steals Lina, calling her a "diamond in the rough," which I think is kind of an understatement considering how good her voice already is.
And our final battle of the night...
TEAM ADAM: JAMES WOLPERT VS. WILL CHAMPLIN
Song: "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
Mentor: Ryan Tedder
Battle: We have Mr. Four-Chair Turn and Apple store employee James, against Mr. Three-Chair-Turn and son of Chicago band-member Will, in the most competitive battle of the night. Adam pairs them up because if both advanced, it would be "redundant." Both have similar styles, but James' vibrato is from another planet. Will's delivery is a little rough around the edges, with a scrambling kind of energy -- like a Jimmy Connors of singing. In battle, Adam's song choice did a good job of pitting their voices against each other, line by line.
Verdict: CeeLo and Blake are amazed at the juxtaposition of James' 1950s ad man style and his surprisingly gritty voice. "It's just not right," says Blake. But Christina is partial to Will's rendition. Coach Adam chooses James. Christina saves Will, "because he brought it!"
- So many cute Voice offspring in this episode!
- I really want to see Cher pull a Christina for once, and actually sing her advice. Why hasn't she spontaneously burst into song yet?
- What did you guys think of CeeLo's reasoning for not choosing Juhi even though she was the better performer? He sort of ignited this debate of education versus career ambition. He called George "completely committed," but isn't Juhi just as focused if she's in this competition? I could imagine she'd be peeved by having her good grades and substantial non-vocal interests used against her. But George's decision to solely pursue music also definitively declares that he's in this for the long haul. This divide reminds me of when Natalie Portman famously proclaimed that she'd rather be "smart than a movie star," regarding her decision to go to Harvard. But clearly she's accomplished both. Your take?
What did you think of the battles? Any egregious mistakes by the coaches? Sound off in the comments.