It’s hard to get excited about The Voice finishing up its battle rounds now that we know there’s more battle rounds in store around the corner. Nonetheless, the final handful of first-round fights concluded on Tuesday, so here’s who made it through to the Top 32.
1. Team Adam: Cary Laine (4 chairs in blind auditions) vs. Sam Behymer (2 chairs), “Give Me Love”
Here’s an interesting way to star the evening: two talented artists on Adam’s team that we’d honestly rather keep around. But one of them’s gotta go. Their coach hands them an Ed Sheeran song in hopes that they’ll “meet in the middle” on it. Cary is impressed by Sam’s originality, while Sam respects the power that her colleague brings. Advisor Aloe Blacc warns Cary about getting pitchy, while Adam coaches Sam not to be too quirky. “I want her to kind of break out of her shell,” he tells us. Meanwhile, we realize that Sam sort of reminds us of a young Keri Russell. There’s your random fact for the night.
In the ring, both ladies do well by the song; it’s really a matter of preference, with Cary’s power and the unique, as Aloe Blacc calls it, “yodel” Sam is capable of both highlighted. Blake lightly criticizes both artists’ pitch, but both he and Usher say that the result will be a matter of Adam’s taste. Shakira doesn’t name a pick either, so Adam’s on his own when it comes to selecting which artist that he retains. He tells the singers that he actually sees a “striking similarity” between them, and that he’s making his decision “in the moment.” It’s an upset for Sam, who we love, but we get a little sad that Usher doesn’t push his button for Cary.
Winner: Sam Behymer
2. Team Blake: Kaleigh Glanton (4 chairs) vs. Noah Lis (2 chairs), “Everything”
This battle involves another of our favorites. It’s over a Michael Buble tune, so it gives a little bit of an edge to Noah, but not as much as you might think, as Kaleigh impresses The Band Perry right away. Blake wants to know “which one of these two can show a clear path of the artist that they want to be.” The second rehearsal confuses Blake a little bit, at least when it comes to Noah’s ad-libs, which he calls “way over the top.” At least we have no worries about whether or not these two can work together. They’re clearly having fun.
That positive vibe spills over into the actual battle, where these two wring every last drop of romance out of the song for one of the best battles of the season. “That was the nicest battle I’ve ever seen,” Carson quips. “So polite.” Usher calls Noah’s performance “too lounge,” and we respectfully disagree, but he does vote for Noah. Adam picks Kaleigh, and we skip Shakira to get to Blake’s decision time. Blake sides with Kaleigh, and we weep at the departure of Noah. Hopefully we’ll hear more from this young man very soon, because he could’ve broken out in this competition with a little more time.
Winner: Kaleigh Glanton
Not Aired: 3. Team Blake: Ryan Whyte Maloney (4 chairs) vs. Cali Tucker (1 chair), “What’s Love Got To Do With It”; 4. Team Adam: Christina Grimmie (4 chairs) vs. Joshua Howard (2 chairs), “I Knew You Were Trouble”; 5. Team Shakira: Kristen Merlin (2 chairs) vs. Lindsay Bruce (2 chairs), “Turn On The Radio”
Another montage, with the winners being Ryan, Christina and Kristen. We’re going to metaphorically downvote this for montaging Cali for the second time. There should be some rule against being montaged more than once and we should call it the Adanna Duru rule. It’s totally not surprising that NBC saves the battle in which Usher uses his final steal for last.
6. Team Shakira: Cierra Mickens (3 chairs) vs. Emily B (3 chairs), “Brave”
These two ladies wrap up this phase of competition with the Sara Bareilles hit from those phone commercials. Shakira doesn’t want Cierra to focus on singing it how Sara performs it; as Miranda points out, this is where you’re supposed to put your own spin on the song. Emily has tremendous volume that she has to rein in. Second rehearsal prompts Shakira to break out the Blake Shelton slow clap, to Miranda’s amusement.
We already know a steal is going to be used here, so it really just depends on who Shakira would like to keep, and who she will be giving to Usher. You’ve got to smile at the little fistbump at the beginning of the battle, though. Both of these ladies hit big notes but also have their issues, so again it comes down to preference. Adam votes for Cierra, Blake goes with Emily, and Usher calmly just avoids the issue because he doesn’t have to say anything. Shakira hangs on to Emily, and Cierra gets a new coach.
Winner: Emily B and Steal: Cierra Mickens to Team Usher
The Voice begins its second round of battles on Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.