Twelve battles down; 12 yet to go.
Get set for more eliminations and more steals tonight on The Voice.
Last week’s battles saw Brittnee Camelle, Patrick Thompson, Jake Barker and Biff Gore stolen.
More drama is coming our way, and it appears we’ll be reintroduced to a couple of the duos — Alaska and Madi, and Dawn and Hawkes.
Josh Kaufman vs. Austin Ellis: Austin Ellis of Annapolis, Md., sang “Drift Away” and got Adam to turn around for his blind audition. He already has an album and EP to his credit. Josh Kaufman, 38, of Indianapolis, Ind., is the guy who thought about teaching in college, but tutors students instead so he can continue to pursue music. He turned four chairs with George Michael’s “One More Try.”
Adam has given them the new Pharrell hit “Happy,” saying it’s got a throw-back soul sound that should suit both artists. Adam says Josh has to work on making sure his onstage presence matches the song’s energy; he says Austin needs to step up his vocals a bit. Josh has followed Adam’s advice, and he’s injecting lots of energy into his performance. I’m not sure he can match the natural appeal Austin brings to the stage, but he’s the more unique vocalist. That caramel feel to his voice Adam was referencing … yeah, we heard that from time to time. Blake says he couldn’t keep up with all the vocal tricks Josh pulled out in that performance. Austin is getting nice compliments from the coaches, too. My pick: Josh takes the match, but Austin certainly held his own. Adam’s decision: He picks Josh, saying what he does vocally is “special.”
The steal? Austin doesn’t get stolen.
Alaska and Madi vs. Audra McLaughlin: Alaska Holloway and Madison Metcalf are the teens who became great friends singing together in the Oklahoma Kids program. They turned two chairs singing “Barton Hollow” in the blinds. Audra McLaughlin, 21, of Philadelphia, Pa., is the young woman who says she was bullied in school because of a learning disability. She wowed the judges with her rendition of “Angel from Montgomery,” turning all four chairs.
Blake says this was an easy pairing for him because all three girls are “great country singers.” And he serves up a country classic, “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt. Alaska and Madi are trying to figure out solo parts so their harmonies will seem special when they use them. The Band Perry warns Audra not to use vocal frills on every line she sings. Blake says the teen duo will have to be on the top of their game to top Audra, but thinks they’re up to it. Great harmonies from all three gals to start off the song. Wow, Audra has a big voice. And she threw some nice little wrinkles into her solo. She might have oversung just a bit. But I loved the tear you could hear in her voice on that last solo line. Dang, those three girls sounded so great together, you’d think they had been singing as a threesome for years. That was a really, really strong battle round match. My pick: Audra. Very, very nice performance. Blake’s decision: Blake picks Audra.
The steal? Alaska and Madi don’t get stolen, which Blake says “pisses him off.”
Deja Hall vs. Music Box: Deja Hall, 16, of San Antonio, Texas, is the young woman who moved around a lot because her father is in the military. She auditioned with “True Colors” and turned three chairs. Ayesha “Music Box” Brooks, 28, of Seattle, auditioned with “You Gotta Be” in a performance we didn’t see. The stage name was a means of dealing with stage fright by creating an alter ego early in her career.
Shakira has them singing “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles. Shakira is working with young Deja on getting her to relax. Miranda Lambert is encouraging Ayesha to add some subtlety to her performance. Music Box says this is a song where she needs to show a different side of herself; she can’t use her grit. She plans to sing the song to her son. Deja plans to think of her family when she performs. Music Box starts very well. Then Deja jumps in. Wow, this young lady can sing. She might not have quite as strong a voice as Music Box, but she has a really nice tone. This is going to wind up being a very difficult decision for Shakira. There’s no doubt, Music Box has more power in her voice. She dominated during the harmonies. But Deja looked and sounded like a young Jennifer Hudson. Usher says she has great potential. But he predicts they’ll both go far. My pick: Deja, just because I remember how enamored viewers got with Danielle Bradbery a couple of seasons ago. Shakira’s decision: She picks Deja.
The steal? And Usher steals Music Box, something he strongly hinted at while the coaches were commenting. He call her voice “incredible” and says she has the potential to “go really, really far.”
Madilyn Paige vs. Tanner James: Madilyn Paige, 16, of Provo, Utah, is the young lady who says she got her start singing to songs in movies. She auditioned with “Titanium” and turned two chairs. Tanner James, 19, of Provo, Utah, is another singer who overcame a scary medical condition at a young age — a cyst in his brain that was wrapped around his optic nerve. He auditioned with “Heaven,” getting Usher to turn very early in his performance, but he turned out to be the only coach to do so.
Isn’t this interesting? Usher has matched up two singers from Provo. In a recent conference call, Tanner admitted they didn’t know one another before the competition. He has them singing “Everything Has Changed,” the Taylor Swift song, one she does with Ed Sheeran. It’s a love song, one he thinks will draw out a strong performance from these teens. Jill Scott is encouraging them to be actors as well as singers. Usher calls this the Romeo and Juliet battle. Really like the tone of young Madilyn’s voice. But Tanner is delivering crystal clear vocals as well. Hey, they turned in a very sweet version of that song. Both were strong vocally. Adam calls it “cute overload.” For someone who has never had a boyfriend, Madilyn turned in a very believable performance. Shakira touches on Madilyn’s unique tone, which is the only thing that would tip the scale in her favor for me. My pick: Madilyn. Usher’s decision: Usher picks Madilyn, complimenting her on her playfulness and aggressiveness.
The steal? No one steals Tanner.
Josh Murley vs. Dawn and Hawkes: Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes make up Dawn and Hawkes, a couple and a singer-songwriting duo from Austin, Texas. They performed The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and turned two chairs in the blinds. It turned out to be the most successful of all the audition songs on iTunes. Josh Murley of Kerryville, Texas, sang “The Freshmen” for his blind audition and got Adam to turn around early in the performance. He’s been singing with a band called “Someone Like You.”
Adam has them singing “Stuck in the Middle with You,” saying it’s a sing-along, fun song. Adam wants Dawn and Hawkes to loosen up and have fun with the song. He encourages Josh to ad lib to make up for the fact that it’s two against one. In rehearsal, Adam is still encouraging them to adopt a campfire vibe. Josh has a unique tone. But I don’t know how Adam can ignore the way the public responded to the first Dawn and Hawkes performance. They just sound great together. There wasn’t anything to fault in that performance. In fact, I thought all three were solid. Josh might have had a slight edge vocally. But that song wasn’t designed to reignite the romantic nature of their blind audition song. My pick: Dawn and Hawkes. They were too magical in the blind audition to dismiss in this round. Adam’s decision: Dawn and Hawkes.
The steal? Josh is stolen by Shakira at the very last moment. In fact, he was walking off the stage when Shakira reacted. “He’s way too talented to walk away from this competition,” she says.
Bria Kelly vs. Tess Boyer: Tess Boyer of St. Louis is the former NFL cheerleader and dance instructor who sang Little Mix’s “Wings” in the blinds. Usher was the lone coach to turn that day. Bria Kelly, 18, of Smithfield, Va., is the gal who grew up singing country but now favors an alternative-blues style of music. She impressed the all four coaches with her show-closing performance of “Steamroller Blues” in the Season 6 premiere.
Usher has these two vocal powerhouses singing Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” Usher says they’re already giving him goosebumps in their rehearsal. Tess has a sultry tone, but says she’s a bit intimidated by Bria’s ability to hit her high notes. Bria should have the big edge based on the blind auditions, but they sound very evenly matched in the rehearsals. This is the final battle of the night, so you know it must be good. Right off the bat, Tess’s sultry tone serves her well. She’s also doing a very good job of selling the song. Bria is just trying to overpower the number, and doing a very good job of it with that incredible grit in her voice. Wow, that’s a tough choice because I feel like Tess showed more shades in her performance. But Bria has so much power in her vocals, I don’t know how you cut her loose. My choice: Bria. I don’t know how you can let her voice go. Usher’s decision: Bria.
The steal? Urged on by Adam, Blake steals Tess. He says he’s “blown away” by getting a chance to steal someone who showed so much improvement.