The final matchups of the first round of battles are upon us, and with only one steal left among the four coaches, the window for the contestants to stay on the show is getting narrower. Here is everything you need to know about tonight's episode.
You've got to rise to the occasion.
The first pairing of the night is Team Adam's Sam Behymer and Cary Laine. Sam is a quirky pop singer, and Cary is a country artist who turned four chairs in the blind auditions with her take on The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two." It's ironic that she chose Adam over Blake, who has The Band Perry as his team's advisors this season, but those are the breaks.
Adam gives Sam and Cary Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love," a pop love song that falls somewhere in between both singers' normal comfort zones. It makes both Cary and Sam nervous, as they would obviously rather play to their own strengths. Cary has a very powerful voice, but Sam is better at conveying the subtle emotions of a song, though she admits she can be quirky in her performances because the more quirk she throws in, the less singing she has to do. Adam and advisor Aloe Blacc have their work cut out for them in trying to push both singers to break out of their shells.
On show night, the nerves show through, and the coaches all find some technical issues with the singers' pitches to critique. In the end, while Adam thinks both are about equal, he picks the singer with the most special moment he can expand on, the one who rose a little more to the spotlight, and that is Sam. Cary is on her way back home to Wyoming.
Just sing, darn it.
Blake Shelton matches up crooner Noah Lis and classical guitarist Kaleigh Glanton and assigns them Michael Buble's "Everything." This song is right in the wheelhouse of Noah, who, as he said in his blind audition, is an enormous Buble fan. Perhaps this makes him a little overconfident. During the final rehearsal he keeps ad-libbing some notes, going for some things "that have no business being in the song," as his coach says. Plus he derails Kaleigh by winking at her, and she is already struggling to find the beat and the harmony of the song.
Still, there is some chemistry between the crooner and the pop rocker, and it shows when they take the stage. It works for the performance, but Noah keeps going with some of the theatrical flourishes - air-drumming with his microphone, pirouetting across the stage. He does manage to tone it down at the end, singing the last note as he and Kaleigh look into each other's eyes, and he runs his hand down her arm, after which her dad looks like he wants to rip Noah's lungs out. But maybe he's just nervous that his daughter will lose the battle.
The other coaches notice Noah's quirks, with Usher commenting that his performance was "a little too lounge." Usher and Adam both give the battle to Kaleigh, and Blake agrees, choosing her to advance and sending Noah home.
Who will get stolen?
In a montage, the night's other performers get their moments. Blake's singers Ryan Whyte Maloney and Cali Tucker go head-to-head on Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It," with Ryan coming out the winner. Team Adam's Christina Grimmie sends Joshua Howard home after their duet of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble." And in a battle of Shakira's two country stars, Kristen Merlin beats Lindsay Bruce with Reba McEntire's "Turn On the Radio." And still Usher is sitting on his last steal.
Another night, another powerhouse duo.
Monday night it was Tess Boyer and Bria Kelly and their awesome duet of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." Tonight, it's Cierra Mickens and Emily B. taking on the Sara Bareilles hit "Brave." It's a good choice for both of them, but Emily seems to have the advantage - she's a professional session singer with years of training and experience, and Cierra is a recent college graduate who put law school on hold to compete on The Voice. But Cierra does have a powerful voice that can hit big notes, and if anyone can stick with Emily, it is she.
The rehearsals are almost businesslike, with Shakira and advisor Miranda Lambert giving instructions that the two singers absorb like sponges. Miranda in particular pushes both to recognize that despite their friendship, they each have to grab their moments on the stage to show what they can do as singers. Or else they are going home.
Once they take the stage, both Cierra and Emily take the advice and hit their big notes, which splits the coaches. Adam, to Cierra's mom's happiness, picks Cierra while Blake chooses Emily, and Usher refuses to push either one. Though with that one steal left, maybe he's being strategic. Shakira picks Emily, who practically bounces off the stage. Then Cierra takes a moment to thank her coach and head off. Usher, with a bit of a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin and a flair for the theatrical, lets her get nearly out of the room before pushing his button. "We gotta steal!" Carson Daly cries with his usual excitement. Cierra gets to put off law school just a little longer.
With the teams set, the coaches will get their artists ready for the next battle round, when everyone's advisor will be Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin. Plus the singers will have to agree on which song to sing, which could make for some fun clashes. And each coach gets one steal. So prepare for possible fireworks on The Voice stage starting next week.
The artists wrap up the first round of battles with a series of over the top performances.