It's time for the new battle round, a tweak to The Voice that pits the artists against each other in a second duet for the right to advance to the live play-offs. Here's what you need to know about tonight's show.
The coaches pair off their remaining team members, make the singers watch their first battle round performances and listen to some critiques, and give each duo a list of three songs to choose from. The two artists agree on which song to sing and rehearse it with their coach and special advisor (and lead singer of Coldplay) Chris Martin. Just like in the first battle round, the artists perform and the coach declares one the winner and sends the other home. Each coach has one steal, so they will be sparing with them.
Don't put yourself at a disadvantage with song choice.
These coaches are tough enough to impress. If you make it harder on yourself, you increase the chances of going home.
Tonight's first matchup features Team Blake's Megan Ruger and Audra McLaughlin. The two singers agree on Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," which would seem to be more in Audra's wheelhouse. She's a country singer but closer to pop than Megan, who is a Nashville rocker with a bigger voice.This works against Megan in the battle, as all the coaches agree that Audra is the winner. Most importantly, Blake agrees with them, choosing Audra and sending Megan home to Nashville.
Song choice is also an issue in the Team Adam matchup between power singer Christina Grimmie and the quirky Sam Behymer. Once Christina finishes going all fangirl over Chris Martin, the two artists choose OneRepublic's "Counting Stars." Christina, despite a weak performance in the first battle round, has proven she can take on big songs with her blind audition take on Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" while Sam has a quieter voice that cannot be easily categorized. Still, she surprises all the coaches with her performance, with Blake being impressed by the way she has made her complicated style and approach seem so effortless. It's not enough for Adam, who chooses Christina based on her having a little more potential.
On the other hand, a great artist can rise to the occasion for any song. Patrick Thomson of Team Shakira proves this when he's matched against Josh Murley. The two pick Bryan Adams' "Run to You," the mid-'80s rock hit. With Patrick being a bit more of a blues singer, this song would seem to be better for Josh, who made it onto The Voice with his blind audition performance of the '90s rock song "The Freshmen." The early rehearsals are a struggle until Chris Martin suggests both singers use microphone stands, something contestants rarely do unless they are also playing an instrument. "Bono has his sunglasses, Jay-Z has his hat," Martin explains. "Some people just need props."
The two take the stage, and Patrick's gritty and bluesy sound turns out to work as he rocks out. "I asked you for a big rock star moment, and you gave me that. How awesome is that," an enthusiastic Shakira says. She chooses Patrick, eliminating the clearly crestfallen Josh. Talent and determination beat the song choice disadvantage this time.
Big voices give big performances.
Usher pairs up his two R&B singers, T.J. Wilkins and Cierra Mickens, who pick Oleta Adams' 1990 song "Get Here." T.J. has never sung a ballad before, so maybe he's giving himself a bit of a challenge. On the other hand, he has much more professional training and experience than Cierra, who already lost to another professional singer, Emily B., in the first battle round but was saved when Usher stole her. But she more than holds her own against T.J., with such a great emotional connection and performance that the only thing Shakira can do afterwards is to do a Wayne's World "we're not worthy" bow from her chair. The singers' coach, Usher, who seems to be going for Davy Crockett-chic with the fur hat he is wearing for the performances, struggles but picks T.J. There will be no steal for Cierra this time, so she is headed home to Alaska.
The other big-voiced performance of tonight belongs to Delvin Choice and Josh Kaufman of Team Adam. The singers choose Stevie Wonder's classic "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours." The rehearsals have Adam mad at himself for pairing them together because now he's going to have to give one of them up. Delvin and Josh don't make it easy for him, giving an energetic and fun performance, complete with a mic drop at the end, that earns them a standing ovation from the coaches and has Adam dramatically writhing in his seat like a man having a seizure. In the end, Delvin's power swings it, and he wins the battle. But Josh is too good to go home, and Usher wastes no time in stealing him. "I think I peed my pants!" Josh's mom exclaims backstage after all the excitement. "You know that's on national TV, Mom," her son says with an air of world-weariness. Proof once again that you're never too old to embarrass your children.
Two steals down, two to go.
Josh is the second steal of the night, but the first belongs to the matchup between Team Blake's Jake Worthington and Tess Boyer after their performance of John Hiatt's classic "Have a Little Faith in Me." Both of them are second-chance singers of a sort, Jake having come back after failing to turn a chair in the blind auditions of Season 5 and Tess having been saved by Blake after losing her first-round battle to Bria Kelly. The song is a good blend of pop and country, which gives Tess and Jake each an opportunity to showcase what they do best. Blake is torn: "If this is what we're in for with this second round of battles, my liver's not gonna make it," he says. In the end, he goes with loyalty to the singer who has been with him from the beginning, and that's Jake. He's barely out of the studio before all three coaches push their buttons to steal Tess. How does someone so good keep needing to get stolen to stay in the competition? Maybe she's this season's Will Champlin, who bounced around from team to team in Season 5 before ending up on Team Adam and eventually placing third in the competition. "I am the dark horse and I'm gonna continue to prove that and I'm gonna sneak up and work my way to the top," says the ecstatic Tess after choosing Shakira as her new coach. Who would bet against her after the ride she has had so far?
Tomorrow night, more battles to make the live play-offs, with Blake and Adam each having a steal to use up. Blake's liver may not be the only one that doesn't survive this round of The Voice.
Chris Martin advises the artists before they compete head to head in their second round of elimination duets.