'The Voice' Recap: Battles Begin
The Battle Round kicked off Monday night on season 16 of NBC's The Voice, and coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend each tapped celebrity advisors Charlie Puth, Brooks & Dunn, Kelsea Ballerini and Khalid, respectively. In this round, artists from the same team sing duets, and the coach has to pick a winner. The loser either goes home or gets stolen by another coach, and the coaches have two opportunities to steal this round.
The first Battle came from Team Legend. Legend paired two four-chair turn artists: Matthew Johnson and Shawn Sounds. He had them sing “Never Too Much,” which he said he could hear both of them singing. The artists were super evenly matched, but that was probably the point. They fill similar slots on Legend’s team, and since they are both so talented, it was likely one would get stolen.
In their performance, Johnson and Sounds had great chemistry and also blended well vocally. They both managed to stand out in moments without upstaging one another, delivering solid runs and putting on an entertaining show. Legend praised their energy, and he ultimately went with Sounds as the winner. Levine and Clarkson both swooped in to steal Johnson, and he chose Team Kelly.
Next up was a Team Kelly Battle. Clarkson paired her trio of siblings, known as The Bundys, with Mikaela Astel to sing “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac. It was a unique Battle in that there were four artists onstage, and in rehearsals, there was a lot going on with the harmonies. But at just 14 years old, Astel held her own as the youngest singer of the season, up against a seriously talented trio.
The song choice suited the trio best, but Astel’s voice sounded lovely as well during the final performance. Legend said he would choose the siblings, and Shelton noted that Astel was likely better in rehearsals and held back a bit by nerves. Clarkson went with the Bundys, and Astel went home.
In a Team Blake Battle, Gyth Rigdon faced Rod Stokes in a duet of “Drunk Me” by Mitchell Tenpenny. Shelton said he wanted to give them a current song to see what they could do with it. Both were very amped to work with Brooks & Dunn.
In their final performance, the two artists had contemporary country-rock vibes. They brought grit to the vocals, and they didn’t do a lot of harmonies, but those that they did do added a nice touch. They both had solid stage presence, too. Legend thought Rigdon had the more flexible voice, but Clarkson was impressed by Stokes taking the higher harmony. Shelton chose Rigdon as the winner, but Levine stole Stokes, landing a country artist for Team Adam.
From Team Adam, Domenic Hayes and Trey Rose were up to sing “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc. Puth and Levine came up with an interesting arrangement of the song for them, and Puth praised the rasp in Hayes’ voice during rehearsals.
The arrangement suited both of their vocal strengths, and they put on one of the night’s standout performances. It was dynamic and played to each of their ranges and styles. Clarkson thought it was an even match, while Shelton said he’d give it to Hayes for his performance abilities. Levine went with Hayes, and Rose was eliminated.
Team Legend’s Maelyn Jarmon and Savannah Brister were given “When We Were Young” by Adele to sing for their Battle. The song choice worked for both of them, and Legend said he knew they could handle the power and emotion of it.
The two women indeed gave a performance that was emotional, backing strong lyrical interpretations with powerful vocals. It ended on a subtle but engrossing note, both artists nailing their harmonies. “You really shared the song with each other,” Levine said. Legend chose Jarmon as the winner, but Brister was selected to complete on The Comeback Stage.
The final Battle of the night came from Team Kelly’s Beth Griffith-Manley and Jej. Clarkson had them sing “Jealous” by Labrinth so they could flex their skills as storytellers. Ballerini was blown away by Jej’s runs, but Clarkson told him to hold back a little so they could really stand out. It seemed certain this Battle would also end with a steal.
The pair started subtly and then really built the performance. They delivered complex vocals and a ton of stage presence, both very natural performers and powerhouse singers. Legend said he wanted both of them on his team, and it seemed like all the coaches were in agreement. Clarkson picked Jej as the winner, but sure enough, Legend stole Griffith-Manley quickly off the chopping block.
The Battles continue next Monday.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.