Now that The Voice blind auditions are finally over, the real competition begins!
For the next few weeks, the contestants will compete in the battle rounds, which — as judge Adam Levine so aptly described it — basically means “singing in harmony and secretly trying to destroy each other.”
The battle pits two teammates against each other in a duel-duet showdown that has them literally singing for their lives. When all is said and done, the teams will be cut in half, with the victors moving on to the live show.
Tony Lucca vs. Chris Cauley
First up was Adam Levine’s team. After warning them that things were about to get “extremely intense,” Adam called forward former Mousketeer Tony Lucca and honey-voiced Chris Cauley.
Singing U2’s “A Beautiful Day,” both got some help from The Voice’s star-studded mentoring staff. To lend Tony some moral and vocal support, Adam first brought out Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette, who helped him smooth out some of his nervous kinks. And for Chris, Adam enlisted the help of R&B crooner Robin Thicke. Clearly drawing from his own bag of tricks, the stunna shade-wearing artist gave the Atlanta native some great tips on how to sell the song.
In the ring, both singers brought their A game, splitting the judges over who should stay. Forced to make a decision on the spot, Adam decided that Tony’s stage presence and equally powerful voice won out, garnering him a live show spot on the Maroon 5 singer’s team.
Adley Stump vs. RaeLynn
Next up, judge Blake Shelton chose sorority star Adley Stump and Texas sweetheart RaeLynn to duke it out on the stage. Singing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,'" RaeLynn was more than a little nervous about being pit against powerhouse vocalist Adley. To help calm her nerves, Blake showed up with mentor and wife Miranda Lambert.
After a dream singing lesson with her idol, RaeLynn seemed to find her voice, though it was tough to compete with Adley and her mentor, American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson. No stranger to the reality TV singing competition herself, Kelly seemed to be the perfect mentor for Adley, whose bubbly personality with a voice to match impressed the “Since U Been Gone” singer.
After a poorly disguised shout-out to car company sponsor KIA, the girls got down to business. Nerves seemed to get the best of youngster RaeLynn, whom judges felt had some pitch issues, and maybe needed some time to mature. Adley, on the other hand, looked right at home on stage, almost drowning out RaeLynn’s unique twang.
However, despite her best vocal efforts, Blake surprised us and went with RaeLynn. (Did that have anything to do with their shared affection for wife Miranda?)
Chris Mann vs. Monique Benabou
After a pep talk from judge Christina Aguilera, the pop diva went to work and picked opera singer Chris Mann and Moroccan beauty Monique Benabou for her first battle. Taking on Celine Dion’s power ballad “The Power of Love,” it seemed that classically trained Chris had the upper hand on newcomer Monique.
Christina brought out soul legend Lionel Richie to help Chris quiet his perfectionist tendencies and “reach into his gut." Folksy singer Jewel took some time to mentor Monique, helping her to slow down and really channel her emotions into the song.
At the battle, both Chris and Monique must have felt that "power of love," because the teammates’ serious chemistry brought the performance to another level. Although Monique held her own, Cee Lo called Chris’s voice “one of the best in the competition," and Christina — who was rocking what looked like a bedazzled Frisbee atop her head — agreed. She eventually chose the talented Kansas crooner.
Cheesa vs. Angie Johnson
Finally, we got to Cee Lo’s team — Hawaiian hottie Cheesa versus army girl Angie Johnson. Attacking the classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” the girls got a little catty in rehearsals, arguing over key changes.
The prince of slow jams, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, was brought in to mentor Cheesa, getting her to push her own vocal boundaries. On the other side of the piano, Ne-Yo lent his voice and talents to staff sergeant Angie, helping her to get ready for a battle of a different kind.
Though she gave it her all, Angie’s controlled and subtle performance was no match for the powerful Cheesa, whose booming vocals secured her a spot in the live rounds.
Jordis Unga vs. Brian Fuente
In the second round of battles, judge Blake chose Jordis Unga and Brian Fuente to take on The Voice mentor Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.”
Finding himself a little at a disadvantage as a guy tasked with singing the classic girl ballad, Brian got some much-needed advice from mentor Kelly Clarkson. Meanwhile, Jordis was having a crisis of confidence, and needed a cozy sit-down with the country couple to help her take a breath and believe in her talent.
Although they both went at the song with high energy and enthusiasm, ironically enough, all of the judges agreed the entire performance was “pitchy” and lacked consistency. Mentor Blake Shelton was unimpressed with both vocalists, but made the tough decision to cut Brian and go with L.A. rocker Jordis.
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell
And talk about saving the best for last!
In the final battle of the night, Christina paired together the two strong male vocalists, Anthony Evans and Jesse Campbell. Taking on Alicia Keys’ “If I Got Ain’t You,” the two had a very similar vibe, and were tasked with finding a way to stand out.
Flying high on his stellar first performance, Jesse brought out the big guns, adding a little bit of male bravado and competition to the rehearsal session. Mentor Lionel Richie advised Jesse to take it down a notch, while Jewel and Christina told Anthony to own his underdog status.
And in an absolutely breathtaking performance that had judge Christina Aguilera almost in tears, the two made it look easy, bringing down the house and making us wonder if we could choose both dudes. In the end, though, judge Christina went with single dad Jesse — earning him a place in the live rounds, a far cry from his homeless past.
Battle rounds continue next week, and if they’re anything like tonight, we’re in for an episode of epic proportions! Tune in to the The Voice on Monday, March 12, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC for Round 2!