The Voice 2013 Live Recap: The Battle Rounds Continue! (10/21/13)
The battle rounds are back! We started things off last week but coaches Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton aren't done yet. Season 5 of The Voice is just getting started so buckle into your giant spinning chair and prepare for battle rounds week two.
In case you need a refresher on how battle rounds work, two artists duet to the, well, not death but it's still pretty intense. To make things even more fast-paced, a booted contestant might get a second shot if another coach jumps in for the steal, resetting that contestant to the blind audition mode where he or she gets to pick a new team.
Up to speed on all things Battle Round? Good. Now let's settle in for week two of battle rounds. Remember, keep refreshing this page throughout the show for up-to-the-minute updates.
First for the evening is Team Xtina and two of her leading men, Josh Logan and Michael Lynch. On one side we've got ourselves a dad torn between working six nights a week while taking care of his kidlet (Josh); on the other, a landscaper passionate about Latin music (Michael). In to consult on the battle, English superstar Ed Sheeran. To up the ante even more, Christina gives the pair a tough assignment: perform Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe." Oh, and btw, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's going to watch your every move. "You need to kick its ass a little bit," Christina says of the song.
Butterflies flying, Josh and Michael take the stage. Josh, wearing a black fedora, starts strong while Michael belts it and bounces around the stage. "I enjoyed both of your guys's confidence," says Cee Lo post-performance. "It was really cool, just like Adam is." Speaking of the Maroon 5 singer, Adam appeared to enjoy the whole thing, bobbing along and grinning big during his band's first major hit. "He has a more masculine version of my voice," Adam says of Michael. "And image," Blake added. Boys, behave.
"It was really fun and you guys did an amazing job," Adam adds, ultimately siding with Josh. Does frenemy Christina agree? She sure does, and Josh moves on to the knockouts. Michael ends up heading home with none of the coaches interested in using a steal on the singer. Even more surprising, Adam gives Christina a quick peck to thank her for her nice words. Oh you two.
Young, fresh, and hot. That's what Cee Lo wants from his two contenders: George Horga Jr., the hopeful Romanian immigrant, and Juhi, Tennessee's 16-year-old version of Duffy. To set them up for success, he gives them fast-paced number "Best I Ever Had" by Gavin DeGraw. On hand to consult, musician Miguel. Young, fresh, and hot. You got it, Cee Lo.
"The girl can sing her face off," George says of his competitor, clearly intimidated by the character she spikes her performances with. Later, at practices, the tables turn with Juhi getting harsh critiques from both Cee Lo and Miguel. "I need to step up my game," she says. The scene set for a heated battle, Cee Lo's gives this last advice: "What's going to sell this song is a lot of personality." So who brings the pizzazz?
Honestly, both pack a punch. Juhi kicks things off with her signature gravely tone while George attempts to compensate with an overabundance of hand gestures. Juhi looks to lose her edge about midway through the performance as George hits the high notes and points to the sky. Clapping commences as the two vocally spar for the last half of the song. The best the stage has ever had? Perhaps with praise coming fast and furious from the coaches after a little constructive feedback.
"You had a bad note," Adam says of George but commends the new performer for fighting throughout it and giving an overall strong performance. As for Juhi, Adam says, "You have more range than I initially gave you credit for." On the other side of the stage, Blake casts his ballot for "JuJu," even going so far as to say, "My biggest regret is not pushing my button for you during the blind auditions." Christina also prefers Juhi's performance while Cee Lo seems torn between the two brilliant young things. Ultimately, Cee Lo picks George, much to the young Romanian's surprise!
Then, out of nowhere, Adam slams his button down and steals a crying Juhi. "I think we have work to do," Adam tells his new member, "but I just kind of won the lottery for grabbing you for my team." "That shocked me," Blake later says of the steal. Us too, Blake! We thought you'd want her!
"It's the denim," coach Blake Shelton says of why he paired together contestants Austin Jenckes and Brian Pounds. Their shared love of denim and their amazing country-infused vocals, of course. To mix things up, however, Blake gives the boys a song not known for its country roots: "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees.
"Try and start a little bit slower," Cher says of powerful vocalist Austin, who, by the by, says he's a HUGE Cher fan. Looking on, former baseball player Brian gets a little antsy and ends up giving a weak first run at the song. "I really need to work on connecting with the song," he confesses. Go "balls to the wall," Cher advises him. "It's too cerebral [at times]," she adds of his singing. During their final audition, Brian makes the bold move to drop the guitar while Austin opts to keep on strumming. Was it a wise decision?
At first, the answer seems to be no with Austin attracting all eyes center stage with guitar in hand. Then, Brian gives the song a go and drowns out Austin's quieter notes. Not to be outdone, Austin comes back swinging (don't worry, guys; the guitar is fine) and the battle picks up steam after the first chorus. This is gonna be a tough one.
"I really enjoyed that. You guys both brought it," says Christina who picks the contestant whose performance moved her the most emotionally (that's good news for you, Austin!). Cee Lo and Adam both agree with Xtina's choice but does Blake? Well, first he calls himself out on his odd song choice even though Adam compliments it ("Do you know how hard it is to give you a compliment?" Adam tells Blake with a grin). Even harder is having to agree with Adam but Blake does it, picking Austin to move ahead in the competition. Brian ends up going home, un-stolen but with a smile still on his face.
Wearing strikingly similar grey shirts, Adam Levine and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic put their equally well coiffed heads together to coach singers Matt Cermanski and James Irwin. Their battle tune? Ryan's own song, "Counting Stars." Self-labeled as "the comeback kids," Matt and James push their musical boundaries with Matt aiming for a higher range and losing his "security blanket" of the guitar while returning performer James continues to wow with his natural talent and attempts to, as Adam suggest, "inject a little bit more soulfulness" into his style.
Matt and James put it all on the line in their return to the stage. Crooning into the mic, Matt starts soft as the tempo picks up and the boys face off. James keeps the pace slow, giving Matt a chance to flaunt his range. By the time they get to the end of the song, tensions are running high with no clear winner in sight. Can we count one more star on Adam's team? Don't know about you but we see two.
But sadly, that's not how Battle Rounds work with Adam forced to make a tough decision. "I think you guys had the same strengths and weaknesses in your performances," Blake says, although he specifically compliments James's performance and pitch. Xtina loves Matt's falsetto and the way he ended the song; Cee Lo, meanwhile, disagrees with his fellow fashionista, going for James. Wringing his hands, Adam's torn on which comeback kid to give the comeback to despite what he felt was an overall "flawed performance." Eventually, Adam picks James, cautioning him that there's still lots of work to be done.
The same is true for Matt who will have to focus on his music career at home, having not been picked up by another coach.
The Voice stage is a long way from the biker bar for Destinee Quinn while former teen model Lina Gaudenzi took to music as a way to keep expressing herself creatively. Both are soft-spoken young women who, keeping with her theme of "kicking ass," Christina decides to push by assigning a hardcore song: "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks.
Adviser Ed Sheeran doesn't envy the two singers, saying this particular tune is a hard one to connect with emotionally. Xtina keeps pressing the girls to "put some fire out there" and give the audience something emotional to latch on to (she makes sure to demonstrate for them). Prepped for battle and more than a little intimidated by their diva of a coach, the two ladies take to the stage. The winner will be the singer who lets go the most, Christina says as she drops the mic and exits stage right (okay, so she only did that in our imaginations but you know she wanted to).
During their performance, Destinee and Lina try to show Christina how good they can be at not making nice. Although we avoid a cat fight — much to Adam's dismay, we're sure — we do see some claws as Destinee and Lina size up one another. Xtina nods approvingly from her giant red throne chair.
"You both were very connected to the song," Adam says, praising the ladies on their skills emoting. Not as strong, he says, were their vocal skills with both sounding "flat" at times. Blake gives the performers a free pass on the weak spots in their performances because of the way they presented it emotionally. Is Christina as forgiving? Yes, but she's torn between choosing emotion or range when it comes to picking who wins this round. Drum roll please...
The round goes to Destinee! But never fear. For the second time tonight, Adam hits the big red button and steals Lina. She just has "so much potential," he can't bear to say goodbye to his "diamond in the rough."
For the night's final performance, we're back to Team Adam and consultant to the stars, Ryan Tedder. Adam looks to the song's hottest songs for what the two bespectacled performers James Wolpert and Will Champlin should sing. Cue "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.
In rehearsals, James gives emoting a try while Will focuses on his technical skill. James needs to watch his "overstylizing," suggest Ryan, while Will was so good he even "blew the mind" of his onstage contender. Do we already have a winner? Adam remains supportive of both, telling them to "make this the hardest decision."
Mission accomplished. Both James and Will go nuclear during their duel, lighting up the sky with their "Radioactive" rendition. Adam sits, grinning knowingly, as his fellow coaches enjoy the show. "I love it because Adam has no idea what he's going to do," Blake says with a chuckle. Not so fast, Blake! Adam's got his mind made up — James, welcome to knockouts!
But what about Will Champlin, son of a musical legend? He's not going anywhere. Moments before he leaves the show for good, Christina pounds the button and Will is back in the game!
What did you think of tonight's round of battles? Did your favorite contestant advance to the knockouts? Weigh in below and don't forget to tune in tomorrow, Tuesday, October 22, at 9 p.m. for another night of awesome performances!