Night 1 of the battle rounds on The Voice
The Voice has assembled 48 talented singers for Season 5.
Tonight, the coaches will start whittling away at that field of 48, matching their singers in duets and selecting one winner.
Of course, this being The Voice, losing contestants can be stolen.
And, based on chair turns, I’m figuring the members of Team Adam will be prime targets of steals over the next couple of weeks as the battle rounds play out.
BATTLE 1 — TEAM ADAM
Grey, 25, of Jacksonville, Fla., got three coaches to turn for her version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath.” She’ll be pitted against Nic Hawk, 26, of Dallas, Texas, who turned two chairs when he performed “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” Grey is the wedding singer whose real name is Greylyn Paluszynski. Nic is the guy who said he was afraid of joining Team Adam because Adam’s so cute.
They’ll be performing “Domino.” Hmm, Grey performs this song with her wedding band. Perhaps I should say her former wedding band. She tweeted that Sunday marked her last performance with Groovin’ You. Adam’s guest mentor, Ryan Tedder compliments Nic on his ability to hit the song’s higher notes. Grey displays a great voice from the first note. Nic quickly displays his strength — his charisma on stage. Not crazy about his vocals on this Jessie J tune, but he’s certainly the more flamboyant of the two performers. Two coaches say they’d pick Nic; Christina said she’d favor Grey. My choice, based on her superior vocals: Grey.
Adam picks Grey.
But, hold it, Nic gets stolen by Blake Shelton. Didn’t expect that.
BATTLE 2 — TEAM CHRISTINA
Christina is matching up two of her youngest singers. Timyra-Joi, 15, of San Diego, turned three chairs when she auditioned with Alicia Keys’ “This Girl is On Fire.” We only saw a tiny bit of Amber Nicole’s blind audition. The 17-year-old from Houston, Texas, turned two chairs singing Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette.” Timyra-Joi is the gal who spent some time living with her vocal coach when her family was down on its luck. We saw only a few seconds of Amber Nicole’s audition.
They’ll perform Beyonce’s “Listen.” And Christina says she wants to see the youngsters dig deep for the emotion of the song. Amber seems to be making the better connection with the song during the first rehearsal. But for as small as Timyra-Joi is, she sure can deliver some powerful vocals. And Christina’s mentor, Ed Sheeran, says they’re heading into the battle dead even. Nice start from Timyra-Joi as the battle begins, but Amber Nicole isn’t going to be a pushover. She has her own distinctive tone, not to mention a big voice, too. Wow, why did The Voice hide Amber Nicole’s blind audition? Those are two powerful young singers. Timyra-Joi hit an absolutely incredible glory note right at the end of that.
My pick, by the narrowest of margins: Timyra-Joi.
Christina picks Amber Nicole. I’m surprised no one saved Timyra-Joi. Especially after Nic Hawk was saved.
BATTLE 3 — TEAM BLAKE
Shelbie Z.’s sassy version of Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party” got two coaches to turn in the blind audition. She’s 21 and from Jasper, Ala. Blake was the only judge to turn his chair for Justin Chain, 23, of Fort Payne, Ala., who performed Luke Bryan’s “She’s Country” in his blind audition. Justin is the guy who was into sports until a devastating motorcyle crash turned his attention back to music. Shelbie is the hair stylist and part-time pageant coach who has honed her singing skills at fairs and festivals around Alabama.
The country duo has been given a country duet to perform — “Don’t You Want to Stay” — the song Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson took to number one. In rehearsal, Shelbie Z. sounds great on this, even before Cher starts doling out tips. Cher encourages Justin to dig deep and use all the power in his voice as well. And the battle begins — decent opening by Justin. They still need a little more work on those harmonies. Dang, Shelbie Z. has a really great country tone to her voice. That song came alive during her solo parts. They were the highlight of the performance. And, for that reason …
My pick would be Shelbie Z.
Blake picks Shelbie Z. Justin does not get saved.
BATTLE 4 — TEAM CEE LO
Cee Lo is pitting two of his youngest singers against one another. Caroline Pennell, 17, of Saddle River, N.J., turned two chairs when she sang “Anything Could Happen” in the blinds. We only saw a couple of seconds of the audition from Anthony Paul, 18, of Twinsburg, Ohio. He sang Chris Brown’s “With You”; just Cee Lo turned his chair. Caroline is the shy gal who giggled through her blind audition in the most endearing way; she already has an EP out. Anthony is making his first stab at being a soloist after excelling in show choir in high school.
Cee Lo will ask them to sing Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me.” Anthony seems thrilled by the choice. Caroline says the song “is a little out of my genre,” but that she plans to make it her own. Cee Lo and guest mentor Miguel seemed impressed with Caroline’s interpretation of the song. Anthony says he needs to work on delivering the emotion in the song. And the battle begins. Wonder if Anthony’s red shoes will give him an edge in Cee Lo’s mind? Dang. Anthony can sing. Again, I’m wondering why we weren’t treated to his full blind audition. Caroline certainly has a unique sound. Not sure this is the best song for it though. All in all, a very nice performance by both youngsters. Caroline came on particularly strong in the second half of the song.
My pick: Anthony by a narrow margin. He seemed more on point through the entire song.
Cee Lo picks Caroline. I get it; she’s the more unique of the two.
Christina steals Anthony Paul. Well deserved.
BATTLE 5 — TEAM ADAM
This should be a solid matchup. Tessanne Chin, 28, and a native of Jamaica, turned all four chairs in the blinds when she sang Pink’s “Try.” Big-voiced Donna Allen, 55, of Hollywood, Fla., sang “You Are So Beautiful” for her audition and turned two chairs. Donna was a background singer with Miami Sound Machine, but also released a couple of albums of her own back in the 1980s. Tessanne has also performed as a background vocalist, but also released a full-length album back in 2010 called “In Between Words.”
They’ll be singing “Next To Me.” Donna has the big voice; Tessanne has the smoothness to her delivery. Adam says he’s hoping both learn a little from one another. Ryan and Adam encourage Donna to show a little more control over that booming voice of hers. The battle begins. Tessanne displays a great tone as she starts the song. Donna quickly shows how much of a show woman she is. There’s also a ton of character to her voice. Tessanne just hit a couple of incredible high notes. And Donna goes a little crazy — in a good way — as the song comes to an end. Another very evenly matched battle. Wow. Maybe the best of the night.
My pick: Tessanne, again by the narrowest of margins, based on the incredible range she displayed.
Adam picks Tessanne. Donna Allen does not get stolen.
BATTLE 6 — TEAM CHRISTINA
Here comes a matchup from two recipients of two-chair turns. Briana Cuoco, 24, of Los Angeles, Calif., performed Lady Gaga’s “You and I” in the blind auditions; Jacquie Lee, 16, of Colts Neck, N.J., sang Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” Briana is the personal assistant to sister Kaley, who stars as Penny on “The Big Bang Theory.” Jacquie was impressive beyond her years in the blinds.
They’ll sing “House of the Rising Sun.” Jacquie Lee sang this song en route to winning the Freehold Idol competition last year. In fact, I embedded her cover of the song in the profile you can find by following the link above. Briana doesn’t sound quite as good in the initial rehearsal, but develops a unique twist to the classic by the final rehearsal. The battle: Love Jacquie Lee. She looks so young and sweet, then unleashes this surprisingly big voice. Briana is doing a very nice job too, better than in the rehearsal. Really nice ending by both of them together.
My pick: Jacquie Lee, because you wouldn’t expect those amazing vocals out of the high school junior.
Christina picks Jacquie Lee.
But Briana will get a steal. Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton vie for her. Briana decides to join Team Blake.