The Voice Recap: Battle Rounds Begin With Show-Stopping Performances

Congratulations to all of the first battle round winners!

Written by Tammy Ragusa
The Voice Recap: Battle Rounds Begin With Show-Stopping Performances
THE VOICE -- Battle Rounds -- Pictured: (l-r) Gyth Rigdon, Rod Stokes -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

It might be the most challenging time on The Voice — the battle rounds. Coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton, along with their team mentors pair up their team members to face-off with only one continuing on in the competition…unless another coach steals them.

John brought Khalid in to advise his team of rising stars and the first pair of singers were Matthew Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, and Shawn Sounds of Houston, Texas—both four chair turns. Despite the competitive nature of the battle rounds, the two gentlemen appeared to have formed a bond that translated to incredible chemistry when they hit the stage.

After singing the Luther Vandross smash “Never Too Much,” Adam voiced his concern that the two were pitted against each other. “They’re both incredible singers. It was like a tennis match,” he said. “I’m a little perplexed why these to fantastic gentlemen are together because that’s just crazy,” he continued. “Maybe a rookie mistake,” John admitted. “I wish there was a button that you can push and it makes them be a duo for the rest of the season,” Blake suggested.

When it came time to pick who would continue, John took a moment to consider the round before firmly choosing Shawn for his team. Before Matthew could leave though, Adam hit his red button to steal the dynamic performer. Not to be outdone, Kelly also slapped her button who called Matthew a “light.” In the end, he chose Team Kelly.

Team Kelly’s sibling duo The Bundys from Nashville and Chicago, and high school freshman Mikaela Astel from Queens, New York were next into the ring, but not before a consultation with last year’s Comeback Stage coach, Kelsea Ballerini. Again, the contestants seemed less like rivals and more like new friends. Even Kelsea noticed and remarked, “This performance is about collaborating, having a great performance for both people’s benefit. And I think I really saw that with them today.”

When their turn finally arrived, the foursome’s performance of Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird” was absolutely mesmerizing.

Nerves may have gotten the best of 14-year-old Mikaela, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the coaches, however, Blake told her, “The last thing any of us would ever want to do is discourage you from doing this because this is what you are meant to do.” And with that, Kelly chose The Bundys.

Back in the rehearsal rooms, legendary country duo Brooks & Dunn joined Blake for an impromptu guitar pull before Gyth Rigdon of Singer, Louisiana and Rod Stokes from Moss Point, Mississippi came in for their first rehearsal. Both of the rising country stars were in awe of their celebrity mentors and even admitted to “fangirling” the award-winners. “They’re both really good singers, but at the same time, two different kinds of voices, two different upbringings,” Kix Brooks noted. “The way you perform at beer joints and bars is different from how you perform in church.”

Hitting the stage with Mitchell Tenpenny’s “Drunk Me,” the duo transitioned back and forth between verses seamlessly while still showcasing their unique vocal personalities.

“That’s a hard one,” Kelly told Blake as he faced making a decision between the pair. While John leaned more towards Gyth, both Kelly and Adam were more interested in Rod. “I think just, for my own personal taste, I might have gone with Rod on this one,” Adam said. Blake commended his team members for giving 150% and also making it harder for him to choose. Ultimately, he went with Gyth.

But hey, remember Adam saying he might have gone with Rod? He got that chance when he stole him back to the show.

It was finally Adam’s turn to trim down his team. With the help of Charlie Puth, they sat down with Tampa, Florida’s Domenic Haynes and Trey Rose of Hugo, Oklahoma. Singing Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar,” the contestants needed very little coaching up vocally, but instead, the four gentlemen worked on making the arrangement best showcase their voices. “Together, they’re like a dynamic duo. They have a big, big presence,” Charlie said following rehearsals.

If Charlie thought their presence was big in the rehearsal room, we hope he heard them on the actual stage. Both sounded like seasoned professionals as they volleyed verses across the stage and, once again, a difficult decision was ahead for Adam.

“That was such an incredibly even battle,” Blake told them. “I gotta say, hats off to both of you.” With his fellow coaches split, Adam was faced with a heartbreaking decision. “I’m going to make this decision based upon something that isn’t quite as harping on the technical because this person has shown me something that I’ve never really seen before in what they do,” Adam said. “So, the winner of this battle is Domenic.”

When Maelyn Jarmon of Frisco, Texas and Savannah Brister from Memphis hit the rehearsal room, it seemed apparent that their coach, John, had a lot of faith in their ability. He challenged his team members with Adele’s “When We Were Young,” and both of the young women more than rose to the occasion, especially considering that Maelyn is deaf in one ear.

An emotional performance from both Maelyn and Savannah had the coaches on their feet before their final note was finished. “I turned around for both of you in the blinds,” Kelly reminded them, and though she praised both of them, she nudged John toward Savannah. Blake and Adam, though, were on Maelyn’s side. Maybe it was a guy thing, but John did choose Maelyn.

However, Savannah’s journey wasn’t finished. She got a second chance on the Comeback Stage. Remember, you can watch the Comeback Stage battles on The Voice’s YouTube channel.

The final battle of the night belonged to Kelly, who paired Jej Vinson of the Philipines with Detroit’s Beth Griffith-Manley. Pairing up male and female voices adds another dimension to the competition. Both singers possessed massive ranges and unique textures, so applying those qualities to Labrinth’s “Jealous” was a true opportunity for a vocal showcase. Kelly even admitted in rehearsals, “I’m so stupid for pairing them.”

The first night of battles ended on a high note when the pair hit the competition stage. Magical harmonies had the audience roaring with delight, Blake shaking his head in disbelief, and Adam stating, “Damn!” “The unison that you guys did was maybe the best I’ve ever heard,” he continued. “It’s insane how incredibly talented you both are,” Kelly told them before choosing Jej as the winner.

OK, so maybe the night ended on two high notes because after Jej left the stage, John stole Beth before host Carson Daly could even say she was available.

Congratulations to all of the first battle round winners! The excitement continues on April 1 with more head-to-head action.