NBC’s The Voice shifted into high speed for the October 23 battle rounds and while the clock assured viewers that it was indeed an hour-long show, the talent was so incredible that 60 minutes went by in the blink of an eye.
While coaches Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine had locked down their final teams and had no steals left, Blake Shelton did have one remaining and was using it strategically. He also frequently and hilariously reminded everyone–at every commercial break–that he had a steal left. “I’m waiting for that vocalist that is undeniable. And fits on my team,” he said.
Kelly Clarkson and advisor Thomas Rhett got things started pairing Sarah Grace of Houston and Erika Zade of Miami. As interesting as both of these young women are behind-the-scenes—15-year-old Sara is a synesthete and Erika attends Berklee—once they hit the stage, things got even crazier. While their vocal approaches were quite different, both young women had a soul and swagger that extended beyond their respective tender ages, and after their performance of Alice Merton’s “No Roots,” Kelly had a tough choice to make. She got little help from her fellow coaches, although Blake leaned towards Sarah saying, “she sounds like she’s a little mad at the song.”
That must have been what Kelly wanted because when it came time to make her final decision, she went with Sarah.
Team Blake’s Kameron Marlow of Kannapolis, North Carolina and Kayley Hill of Nashville were up next with “Only Want to Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish. Although both of the competitors are talented guitarists, that is where their similarities end. Blake’s advisor Keith Urban even commented, “This was a crazy pairing because they are, stylistically, so different, but I feel like the song forced them both to figure out how to find their strengths within it. I think the one that feels it the most, that’s the one that’s going to win it.”
Whether it was to strike a difference between them or to, as Urban suggested, feel the song, Kameron chose to not play his guitar during their battle, and it seemed to serve him well. It was another difficult decision, but it was Kameron that Blake pushed through to the knock-out rounds.
Teams Kelly, Blake, and Jennifer had additional battles between their team members, but due to the abbreviated episode, they were not aired in their entirety during the October 23 show.
From Kelly’s team, Claire DeJean faced-off with Josh Davis singing J.P. Cooper’s “All This Love.” Claire was chosen to continue in the competition.
Caeland Garner went up against Kirk Jay for the next Team Blake round. After performing David Nail’s “Let it Rain,” Blake pushed Kirk through to the next level.
Then it was Jennifer’s turn to showcase Kennedy Holmes and Lela competing with Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield.” After the final note, Jennifer chose Kennedy to go through to the knock-outs.
It wouldn’t be fair to call the final performance of the night the best, but it certainly was one of the most exciting.
From Team Adam, Deandre Nico’s of Port Arthur, Texas and Funsho of Lagos, Nigeria were the final battle round of the night. Bringing their A-game on the New Edition favorite, “Can You Stand the Rain,” their performance left the coaches split and unable to give Adam any help in making his decision.
“My dudes,” he said. “Look at what we did. Look at how much we impressed these guys. You guys really stepped up and it seems like you’ve become friends. That’s what makes the best music. And look, we made one of the best battle rounds of this season.” Torn between his two teammates, he added, “I don’t think there’s a fair way to judge this.”
Maybe not, but he finally settled on Deandre to continue in the competition.
But remember that last steal that Blake had stashed away? As Funsho was thanking Adam for his advice, Shelton slyly and quietly tapped his button to bring the talented young man to his team. “This is one of the great bonehead moves is Adam putting these two guys together,” he said. “I had one steal, I wanted you, man. That was incredible!”
Next Monday and Tuesday begin the knock-out rounds with superstar Mariah Carey stepping in as the key adviser. NBC is promoting the upcoming episodes as “the most competitive, most shocking round of knockouts The Voice has ever seen.”