Regular viewers of The Voice will recall that Kim Cherry was the novelty rapper who did a drunk-karaoke version of TLC’s “No Scrubs” during this season’s Blind Auditions. So, my expectations for her going into Monday’s Battle Rounds were admittedly pretty low. I didn’t think Kim would be able to nail a note of Best New Artist Grammy winner Alessia Cara’s storming signature song, “Here.” And I didn’t think Kim could hold her own alongside Blake Shelton’s power-singer, Kendra Checketts — let alone beat Kendra.
But it turns out that Kim is no scrub. She was an even vocal match for Kendra, plus she brought the bold personality and well-executed body-rolls of her first audition to the Battle ring. (“That performance was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” she said later.) So, this is no April Fool’s Day joke: Kim actually won this round, despite Blake noting that Kendra had given the “performance of a lifetime.” That prompted two other coaches, newbie John Legend and Blake’s frenemy Adam Levine, to both go in for a rare and dramatic double-Steal.
“Kendra, you would be one of the best singers on the team if you joined the team,” said John. “I don’t have very many females on my team, and I think that you would thrive. I think you can go all the way,” countered Adam. Adam prevailed, and he predictably gloated, saying, “I love when I get to make Blake look dumb.” Adam may have a new Voice rivalry with EGOT-winner John, but his longtime rivalry with Blake is obviously still going strong.
These were the other, slightly less dramatic Battles of Monday night:
Team Adam: Karly Moreno vs. Celia Babini, “Friends”
Karly’s feathery, girlish voice was no match for Celia’s deep, booming, and altogether more unique style, which took this Marshmello to another level and was described by Kelly Clarkson as an “urban Florence [Welch]. Celia was the perfect balance of intensity and chilled-ness, and she reminded me of Evelyn Cormier from this season of American Idol. Interestingly, Adam seemed to be leaning towards Karly, but ultimately went for Celia, because she’s clearly more of what they call in the business a “package artist.” But Blake, who used his new favorite word, “holycrapness,” to describe both singers, went in for the Steal. “I’m so happy Karly got saved,” said a relieved Adam. “Everything Blake has done, other than date Gwen [Stefani], has been pretty stupid until now.” But he did also call Blake “awesome,” so for a moment, there was peace on the Voice set.
Winner: Celina / Steal: Karly moves to Team Blake
Team Legend: Julian King vs. Denton Arnell, “Grenade”
John blocked Adam for Julian in the Blinds, so Julian already seemed to have an advantage going into this Battle. Once both singers got in the ring, Adam said they were evenly matched, but Blake and Kelly said there was one run Julian did that made him stand out more — and I agreed with them. Maybe the newly engaged Denton was just too blissfully in love to relate to the angst in this unrequited-love song. And so, John picked Julian — but at least Denton this show with a new fiancé.
Team Kelly: Presley Tennant vs. Rizzi Myers, “Whataya Want From Me”
It ain’t easy to sing an Adam Lambert song, but both women seemed up for the challenge. (Remember, this song was originally written for and by a female powerhouse, P!nk.) Since Kelly used her Block on John during the Blinds for Rizzi, and I thought Rizzi gave one of the best auditions of this season, I expected Rizzi. would have the edge over tomboy ATV rider Presley. But Presley was impressive. Whomever Kelly chose, she was “screwed” (“Dude, these two are really good. I messed up!” she lamented. “Literally I could not have made a poorer decision.”) It wasn’t a poor decision to Kelly to save Presley, but I was shocked that John didn’t seize the opportunity to steal Rizzi for his team. And where was Bebe Rexha when we really needed her? Rizzi didn’t even get to swing by the Lay’s Recording Lounge.
Team Blake: Dexter Roberts vs. Dalton Dover, “Hurricane”
Dexter went all the way to seventh place on American Idol Season 13 (not that that has ever been mentioned on The Voice, of course; even Kelly seems contractually forbidden to address her Idol past), so he had the advantage here. He certainly seemed like a seasoned pro singing this Luke Combs song, especially next to relative amateur Dalton. Let’s see if Dexter makes it to seventh place on this show.
Team Adam: Ciera Dumas vs. LB Crew, “Done for Me”
Adam warned that this Charlie Puth song is hard to do… and it was clearly even harder to do standing in front of Team Adam’s adviser, um, Charlie Puth. Both singers struggled with nerves in rehearsal, but eventually they got it together and Charlie was actually impressed — even giving his blessing to their original arrangement. Ciera stood out to be as the cool, current star with her smooth pop voice, and I think she deserved better than being dispatched to the Island of Misfit Toys, aka the Bebe Rexha-coached, YouTube-only Comeback Stage. But at least she got another chance, which is more than Rizzi got.
Winner: LB / Steal: Ciera moves to Team Bebe
Team Bebe: Ciera Dumas vs. Kayla Seeber
Over on the Island, aka the subtly branded Lay’s Recording Lounge, pop singer Ciera took on Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” while quirky girl took a bigger risk with a vulnerable folk-rock on Cher’s “Believe.” Ciera was the stronger vocalist, but Kayla had a more creative and “make the song your own” approach. However, this show is called The Voice… so there ya go.
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