As Battle Rounds on The Voice wrapped up on Tuesday night, we saw a Moneyball-level underdog tale, a tale of two divas, and a performance of “Team” that Lorde would most definitely not draft. Next week, we say goodbye to awkward forced pairings and hello to the Knockouts, where free will reigns. Praise God for that.
Best underdog story
Ricky Manning didn’t think he was going to win against Brittany Butler. And we can’t blame him. After all, she’s a) a super fly jazz singer and b) a super fly jazz singer who was trained at Berklee, one of the best music schools in the country. He was noticeably nervous during rehearsals, as Pharrell pointed out that he seemed “skittish” when Brittany started singing. But once Joaquin Phoenix’s mini-me got to the stage for their dueling performance of George Benson’s “On Broadway,” his soulful and spirited presence out-shined the more reserved (albeit slightly more polished) Butler. As Blake put it, he “just seemed to let it fly,” while Brittany was far more calculated. It wasn’t an easy choice for Pharrell, but he ultimately chose Ricky, because after all, holding back doesn’t get you on Broadway.
I know, I know, I didn’t even pick a Best Performance—it was that kind of show tonight. Was I the only one who thought Kensington Moore and Reagan James’ take on Lorde’s “Team” was just plain terrible? The two sounded simply perfect during rehearsals—or at least the rehearsals that they could attend, as Kensington had to sit one out on the count of kidney stones—but onstage, neither could find their footing. Both seemed to try to put their own “spin” on the melody so much, that when they were combined, it was something of a mess. Can’t you just sing the damn song? I kept wanting to yell, but they just had to play showoff, and the result was a woozy and shaky take on a song that, ultimately, isn’t all that challenging. And on top of that, it both looked and sounded like they were competing, rather than performing together like all good Battle Rounds do. Nonetheless, our ever-positive coaches told them it was a tough choice and that both did just wonderful. Can we get some Simon Cowell in here to tell it like it really is?
When you have a diva with an unbreakable voice, you hold on to her for dear life. When you have two of them, however, you have to get rid of one of them ASAP. Or so is the strategy of Adam Levine in pairing formidable vocalists Beth Spangler and Mia Pfirrman in Battle Rounds for a performance of Christina Aguilera’s “I Turn to You.” In his words, “I’ve only got room for one belter on my team.” (In other words, Adam cares less about whether you can sing like Whitney Houston or not, and whether you’ll increase his odds of winning.) In rehearsals, Adam preached to them about the art of restraint, reminding them that “less is definitely more… you have these nice sports cars but you don’t know how to drive them.” Mentor Stevie Nicks—I can’t quite get over that The Voice made that happen, either—told them not to try to be Christina Aguilera. And neither did onstage. Both gave on-point performances that meshed well together, and left a rather difficult choice for Adam. (But don’t feel bad for him, he knew this was coming.)
Biggest ‘SIKE!’ moment
After Adam chose Mia, Beth was convinced it was the end of the road. But mid-obligatory goodbye hug from Gwen, the coach reached behind her and pushed her button, using her last save on the South Carolina-bred belter.
Most shameless product placement
Sorry, but no matter how sexy you make that little Nissan look, I will not want to drive anything called a “Leaf” next to a four-wheeler on I-10.
Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.