It's the last night of the battles, and with only one steal left, the stakes for the singers just got higher. How will they bear up under pressure? Here is everything you need to know about tonight's episode.
Nerves are becoming a factor.
The deeper the artists get into the competition, the tougher the competition and the more pressure they are under. You can't hide that onstage when it's just you and a microphone, and the coaches are all seasoned performers who will pick up on it.
Case in point, Team Blake's Kaleigh Glanton, who is matched up against Ryan Whyte Maloney. The two pick "Easy" by Rascal Flatts, which is a good song for both of them to show off their range and depth. Advisor and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin picks up on it during rehearsals. "Feeling nervous underneath the lights and the cameras, it's a thing that's hard to overcome it, but when you overcome it, it's a real freedom," he says. We'll see.
The two take the stage, and Ryan's energy and power overwhelms Kaleigh, who almost seems to shrink. Though she has her good moments and the coaches all see great improvement and potential for her, everyone leans towards Ryan. It's a tougher choice for Blake. "I'm left with trying to make this decision and that blows," he says. "Well put," Adam responds. In the end, Blake feels he can do more with Ryan, though he thinks Kaleigh will be a force to be reckoned with if she can learn to conquer her nerves.
Another case of nerves comes with Adam's pairing of Brittnee Camelle and Jake Barker, his two steals from Team Usher. In choosing a song, Jake pushes hard for Usher's "Climax," which he thinks of as high risk but potentially high reward. Plus, maybe it's sticking it in the eye of their former coach just a bit?
It's a tough song for both artists to master, and Brittnee, in particular, is out of her comfort zone. For all that, she works hard to bring it to her performance, matching Jake's energy. But Jake's use of his falsetto and his runs and his ability to go from low to high gives him the edge for Shakira and Blake. (Usher abstains on the basis of it being his song and tough to critique.) Adam gives the victory to Jake, who is so overcome he breaks down backstage. Cry those tears of joy, Jake.
You've got to bring the energy.
Team Shakira's Dani Moz and Clarissa Serna kick off the night, and we know they can bring the energetic performances. The artists choose Pink's "Perfect," which is a high-energy song. Both of them are excellent singers, but it's Dani who really gets the crowd on her side, bouncing around the stage, clapping her hands and hitting the big notes. More than perhaps anyone else in this competition, Dani seems to enjoy being on the stage. The coaches are struck by the improvement of both singers, and by Dani's range and confidence. Citing her potential, Shakira declares Dani the winner, sending Clarissa home.
Kat Perkins of Team Adam also turns in another high-energy performance in her battle against folk duo Dawn and Hawkes. The trio picks "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall. It could be a tough song for Kat... She has a natural tendency to go for big notes and oversing, which is great when she's rocking out, but it's a more communal song, which fits a duo like Dawn and Hawkes better. Chris Martin suggests using their acoustic guitars only at the beginning and letting the full band come in on the last chorus to give the song a certain lift, and it looks as if that arrangement will make the performance.
Kat, who seems awkward around Dawn and Hawkes and positively frozen when she meets Chris Martin, comes alive on stage, as she always does. While Dawn and Hawkes seem rooted in place in front of their mic stands, Kat takes command of the stage, bouncing back and forth as she belts out the song. Afterwards Blake comments that it almost felt as if Dawn and Hawkes were her backup singers. In the end, it's that spirit and presence that carries the day as Adam gives her the victory.
A performance that probably could benefit from more energy comes from Melissa Jimenez and Music Box, Team Usher's two powerhouse divas. The two agree that they both want to rock out, to show some grit and attitude, so they choose Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire." As Adam says after the performance, it's a deceptively tough song. In rehearsals, Usher and Chris Martin both believe it is the singer who can really inhabit the lyrics and show that the song is hers who will win.
The two singers take the stage and work hard, trying to bring some energy. Blake is impressed, but Shakira and Adam both feel that they have not seen the best of either artist. Usher has a tough time, but Melissa's potential has him choosing her as the winner.
That one steal is still out there.
We're at the last performance of the night, and Blake Shelton is still hoarding that last steal. He'll have his chance with Usher's last pairing, Madilyn Paige and Bria Kelly. The sweet-voiced high school girl against the kick-ass blues singer, who turned four chairs in the blind audition by rocking out to James Taylor's "Steamroller Blues." The two choose to perform "I'll Stand by You" by the Pretenders, which is a challenge for both. Bria will have to work to control her voice and breathing, and Madilyn will have to give her performance an edge that she has not yet had to find. In rehearsals, she is obviously intimidated by Bria's power and onstage confidence, which is a bummer. What's not a bummer is getting a pep talk from Coldplay's Chris Martin. Not many teenagers get that chance.
Once onstage, Madilyn shows the determination Usher noted in the first battle round, and she more than holds her own. Still, Bria is Bria, a seasoned and confident performer. Adam and Blake feel like both singers are capable of more, but it's Usher's decision. He picks Bria. Blake wastes no time in stealing Madilyn, earning a "Thank God!" from Bria backstage. "I believe in you as an artist, now we've just gotta make a performer out of you and I think we can do it," Blake says. If he can, watch out. Madilyn could be a force.
So the teams are set for the playoffs. No more steals; no more second chances. It's win or go home for all the artists starting tomorrow night.
The artists sing their final elimination duets, hoping to prevail - or be stolen - and win a trip to the playoffs.