The days of spinning chairs and blind auditions are over on The Voice 2013. Tonight the four celebrity coaches — Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira, and Usher — will pit their contestants against one another in the first set of battle rounds.
Each pair will sing a duet to a song of their coach's choice, and even if winning seems out of their reaches, a “steal” could be in order. When an artist loses a battle, the three remaining coaches then have the option to “steal” them onto their own teams. Each coach is allowed two steals throughout the battle rounds.
Let the battles begin!
Sasha Allen vs. Amber Carrington
The first to battle from Team Adam was country cutie Amber Carrington and soulful powerhouse Sasha Allen. Amber was clicking her cowboy boots together when she spotted mentor Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, and Hill ended up being a supportive force for Amber who viewed the song choice of P!nk’s “Try” as a personal mantra.
Power belter Sasha was challenged to be more haunting in her melody, but with a four-chair turn in the blind auditions, she had little to fear.
Both ladies took Adam and Hillary’s advice, and gave a melodic performance. Blake Shelton said he was really surprised by Amber’s transition into pop rock from her country roots. Shakira took the opportunity to laugh at Adam, saying Amber and Sasha were two of the rockers’ best contestants and she wouldn’t like to be in his position.
Adam called the battle one of the best the show has seen, noting how impressed he was by Amber’s professional performance. And it was the country sweetheart’s massive transformation that helped her to win the battle.
But Sasha wasn’t sent home that easily. Usher and Shakira immediately pressed their buttons to “steal” the New York mother of two. Usher and Shakira both told Sasha that they thought they could win the entire show with her at the wheel.
And with her daughter shouting for her to pick Shakira in the audience, Sasha went with her gut and opted for girl power over Justin Bieber. Usher was none too pleased when Sasha once again failed to join his team, but he assured her it wasn’t personal. Yeah, OK.
Garrett Gardner vs. J’Sun
Second timer Garrett Gardner was looking to stay in the competition, but first he had to make it past Brooklyn soul singer J’Sun. In Shakira’s first real display of coaching, the Colombian superstar gave the artists “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy for their battle.
She cautioned Garrett to control his growl while complimenting J’Sun’s rocker side, but when it came time to perform the two singers seemed to be almost evenly matched. J’Sun slid around the stage making eyes at the camera ... and Usher, but Garrett threw in some impromptu scatting, so it’s anyone’s game.
Adam told Garrett that he “definitely gets it now,” and Blake Shelton also complimented Garrett’s shocking transformation. Usher said he felt like he was watching a lively sermon and that he felt like J’Sun clearly won the battle.
Shakira hesitated between the two artists saying that she should never have taken the job in the first place. Admitting she has a soft spot for Garrett, Shakira picked the singer giving him yet another chance.
Holly Tucker vs. Michelle Raitzin
These two ladies both showed a strength to their voices that Blake immediately picked up on. With the help of mentor Sheryl Crow, Holly and Michelle rehearsed Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.”
Though Sheryl said Holly could sing the phonebook beautifully, Blake was concerned that her sound was too sweet for a song about abuse. Michelle had some pitch issues, but those cleared up by the final rehearsal.
Blake quickly started regretting his choice to pair these two together, but that typically means we’re in for a fantastic performance.
Both ladies lit the stage on fire, belting and taking all of Blake and Sheryl’s notes. Shakira and Usher were complimentary of both artists, but Adam picked Holly for the win noting Michelle’s lack of breath control toward the end of the song.
Blake didn’t necessarily see Holly as the clear winner, noting Michelle’s amazing journey and saying, “Screw you,” to Carson Daly when the host said he couldn’t keep both girls. Calling the battle a tie, Blake told the girls he had to go with what came naturally to him and picked country artist Holly.
Jess Kellner vs. Taylor Beckham
Now it’s time to see if Usher can put his money where his mouth is. Justin Bieber’s former mentor was dead serious about his coaching on the show. Bringing in hit songwriter and performer Pharrell Williams, Ush showed America his new coaching style. Pitting Jess and Taylor against one another, he encouraged them to “attract him” to them with Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”
By the end of rehearsals, Ush was right with Jess, wrapped up in her warm sound and personal touches. But Taylor was ready to loosen up on stage and took the “catfight” as a her own challenge.
Shakira complimented Jess’s rich, silky voice while saying she was attracted to Taylor’s angelic, unique qualities. Adam loved Jess’s “robust big voice,” but said he’d pick Taylor.
Ignoring Adam and Shakira, Usher picked Jess saying her hard work was what he needed moving forward. But Blake Shelton shocked everyone stealing Taylor after he crowned Jess the winner. The tearful former gymnast couldn’t have been more grateful for the country crooner.
The Swon Brothers vs. Christian Porter
Christian may be sexy (and he knows it), but it feels like this is the year of the duos on The Voice, so it’s a fair match in this Team Blake battle round. The goofy Swon Brothers came prepared to work hard (while cracking some jokes).
Blake gave the boys Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down,” and Christian took the message seriously. Though he struggled to hit the high notes, Christian’s practice makes perfect mentality paid off when he hit all the notes in the final rehearsal.
The country-singing coach appreciated Christian’s work ethic while giving The Swon Brothers some testy side glances after they came off sloppy in rehearsal.
But when the pressure was on, both acts gave it their all. The self-proclaimed “bar singer” (who knew that was a title?) rocked a V-neck and some dog tags, just in case the ladies forgot that he knows how to “wiggle wiggle wiggle.” And though The Swon Brothers and their painful hair/earring combos didn’t quite have Christian’s swag, they held their own on impressive harmonies.
The trouble with duos in the battle rounds is their tendency to sound like the backup singers for the other contestant. Christian easily stood out and Usher said it best when he said, “Give it up for Christian Porter!”
Shakira wasn’t convinced of Christian’s dominance, saying she was intrigued by the cohesion found in a duo.
Blake applauded Christian for hitting the hard note while also taking the time to note The Swon Brothers’ stand-out sound that’s all their own.
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Judith Hill vs. Karina Iglesias
Finishing out the night of battles, Adam paired two of his strongest singers together. Adam picked James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” for former Michael Jackson singer Judith Hill and rocker Karina Iglesias so they could prove the song title wrong.
Though Judith got a four-chair turn in the blind auditions, Adam made it clear that these two were on an even playing field. Mentor Hillary Scott encouraged the ladies to “leave it all out there” as Adam challenged Karina to work on her dynamic sound and Judith to express more emotion.
Once they were in the ring, both ladies clearly stepped up to impress their coach and give one of the best battle round performances in the show’s history. The battle brought every single coach to their feet, proving that it was not, in fact, a man’s world.
Blake was rendered speechless, finally saying he was “freaking out.” And though he acknowledged that Judith was the favorite, he commended Karina’s fearlessness in battling the seasoned singer.
“It was almost deliciously contradictory to see so much female power on stage,” Shakira said, reiterating Blake’s conclusion that Adam made a bad decision in pitting them against one another.
“That was not a great battle. That was the best battle I’ve ever seen on the show,” Adam said. But Adam ultimately picked his original favorite and moved Judith on to the next round.
Karina wasn’t going anywhere though, because Shakira quickly pressed her button for the talented rocker. Now Shakira’s out of steals, but definitely improved her team.
What did you think of the first set of battle rounds? Tell us below!