Kaleigh Glanton vs. Ryan Whyte Maloney
Surely it can't bode well for Kaleigh or Ryan that I had to look up both of their names—and not just last names, but FIRST names. Sorry about it, but if I can’t remember your name and your show is literally my job, then you’re clearly not ranking high on my eventual season six power list (coming soon to an EW.com near you).
As we learn during the rehearsal, this battle is all about emotion—one of those battles—and surprisingly, they both really do deliver both vocally and, I suppose, emotionally, although that’s sort of difficult to tell. I mean, maybe Ryan’s wearing his heart on his sleeve, but he’s got so many tattoos that I’m not sure where his sleeve actually is.
I actually really like the two of them together—they look like they’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company, playing off one another in an intimate high school production of Passion kind of way. That's always delightful. Throughout the song, Kaleigh is a little more emotional, I guess? But Blake picks Ryan, and I don’t necessarily care either way because neither of these two is making it into the live shows.
Does Blake Steal?: No, it’s Blake.
Jake Barker vs. Brittnee Camelle
Look at this sexy pair! Now that’s a smart match, Miss Swann, if it’s not too bold to say. (That is too bold.) Both Jake and Brittnee stand out in my memory, if not for their Tiger Beat-ready looks than for their stellar voices. I’ve been anticipating a battle of this caliber all night long, and since the episode has largely been full of duds up to this point, we're finally treated to a worthy showdown of the vanities.
The best moment happens when Jake and Brittnee are running through their possible song choices. Jake kind of smiles when he suggests “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj, smirking and then looking at Brittnee who is sooo not amused by the suggestion (hmm, I wonder who would have to "sing" the Nicki Minaj part?). “Let’s scratch out ‘Beauty and a Beat,’” she says matter-of-factly, and I already love her because she takes no nonsense, much like my dearly departed Music Box. The pair ends up picking Usher’s “Climax,” which isn’t as great a choice as “Beautiful Soul” could have been, but Jake is all excited about taking some big risk with this song. Now, risk is great (though Stratego is better), but falsetto doesn’t do anything for me except make me wish I was listening to Adam Levine.
Prior to hitting the stage, Jake confesses that he doesn’t want to bartend in New York ever again, which is surely the least threatening fate on the spectrum of hometown destinies awaiting eliminated contestants who still want to pursue their dreams. (Remember that one girl who, heaven forbid, had to return home to her husband and young children? Yikes!) If Jake does get eliminated, I'd like very much to visit the bar he tends to and have a conversation with him about how to get that GQ-ready undercut.
The song begins, and damn, climax is an understatement for this performance. Brittnee, for what it’s worth, is pretty flippin’ incredible, and Jake does equal justice to the vocal madness here. If ever someone should use a steal (ahem Blake ahem) it’s this battle, but lo and behold, deliberation rolls around and it’s overwhelmingly pointing towards Jake, who likely has the fullest fame-ready package of any contestant this season.
Tough luck for Brittnee, who is let go without so much as a second glance from Blake. What a waste of a great talent.
Did Blake Steal?: No.
But Blake still has a steal to use and there’s only one battle left: Yes, that’s why this is the least suspenseful season ever.
Madilyn Paige vs. Bria Kelly
Finally, we arrive at the last battle of the night, nay, the season. I guess I made a mistake calling Bria an underdog a couple episodes ago—though to be fair, it was only because she was the unassuming quiet child to the Regina Georgian Tess Boyer. In this match-up with District 12 tribute Madilyn Paige, Bria seems like the one with charisma. I adore both girls, and it’s a relatively even-handed match, but it's evident that Bria is the one who has the opportunity to prove herself a major contender.
On the aesthetic front, Bria really surprises me, rocking three (3!) different hair styles in her opening package AND sporting a festive Elsa-at-coronation tiara. Vocally, she also blows past Madilyn, who does an admirable job keeping up but doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of thrills, much like a scary children's picture book or low-intensity carnival ride. Ultimately it’s a fairly mild-mannered battle, but it does show off an admirable and promising talent in Bria. I think Bria will go relatively far in the competition, if she can open up to America a little more and turn on some personality fireworks.
With little surprise, Usher sticks with Bria, and it’s a shock to no one that Blake uses his steal on Madilyn. Whoever edits this show is easily the season’s least valuable player.
Did Blake Steal?: Yes!!! Did anyone else totally not see that coming?!
Stay tuned to EW.com for my Season Six Top 20 Power List.