The Battle Rounds began on The Voice this week, so of course that meant plenty of battles between Blake Shelton and his offscreen girlfriend/onscreen rival, Gwen Stefani. Gwen returned to the show this season as a last-minute replacement for Blake’s longtime Voice nemesis, original coach Adam Levine, and so far, she really seems to be taking the role seriously. Maybe too seriously. Hopefully it’s all a wacky act, otherwise there may be a new album of post-Blake breakup songs in Gwen’s future.
So, Tuesday’s Battles climaxed with a spectacular, standing ovation-garnering “Tiny Dancer” duet between Team Legend’s Destiny Rayne and Katie Kadan. The coaches were impressed that Destiny was able to hold her own, but Brittany Howard-esque powerhouse Katie was the clear standout, commanding the stage with a massive, expressive, elastic voice — a voice perfectly suited to the Elton John songbook — that Blake liked to an “eruption,” Gwen called “craziness,” and John Legend described as “spiritual.”
John unsurprisingly declared Katie the winner of this Battle… but then, somewhat surprisingly, both Blake and Gwen swooped in for the Steal. And the fight between the show’s “Mom and Dad” was back on again.
“I have won this show more seasons than Gwen has been a coach,” Blake declared smugly. “Maybe he has the most wins on this show — but I have the longest career,” Gwen countered. (Oooh, sick burn. That was like something out of a RuPaul’s Drag Race “The Library Is Open” mini-challenge!)
Destiny ultimately signed up with Gwen, who could not help but rub this victory in her boyfriend's face. “Blake was almost sleeping on the couch tonight, so Destiny made the right choice,” Gwen giggled. You know, I think Blake may have met his match, in more ways than one.
These were the other Battles of Tuesday night:
Team Kelly: Alex Guthrie vs. Injoy Fountain, “Home”
I’d assumed that this soulful Marc Broussard singing-show staple would be more suited for Alex, and he certainly had his moments during this Battle (he displayed masterful control of his low notes). But there were many times when Alex almost seemed like the vibrant, vivacious Injoy’s backup singer, not her duet partner. Blake thought Alex could have been more “aggressive,” while John said Alex’s performance lacked personality. Meanwhile, Injoy was the star of the show, electrifying the stage with her infectious energy and electric red suit. But Kelly Clarkson, for some odd reason, thought Alex was the better choice to round out her team. Damn. This was one time when I wish the Comeback Stage or Bringbacks were still in effect. Injoy was robbed.
Team Gwen: Elise Azkoul vs. Myracle Holloway, "Breathin"
Elise was a capable and perfectly adequate singer on this Ariana Grande hit (Kelly was impressed by her “Mariah lick”), but she didn’t breathe passion and life into the song. That, however, is exactly what Myracle the miracle-worker did. Gwen’s guest mentor, will.i.am, said his “heart broke” during Myracle’s rehearsal; Blake said he could hear Myracle's pain in her voice (she’s a 44-year-old recovering addict and domestic abuse survivor); and Kelly compared her to Mary J. Blige. Gwen told Myracle she has a “special gift.” Poor Elise really never had a chance.
Team Legend: Matt New vs. Max Boyle, “Let Me Love You”
Montage alert! Season 17 up until now had been montage-free, but with Tuesday’s episode being only an hour long and there still being something like 79 contestants left to whittle down, I had a feeling that a few unfortunate contestants were going to receive brutal edits tonight. From these 30 or so seconds, Max did seem like the superior singer of the two — John called him “exciting,” which was a stretch, but least Max was less boring than Matt. We will see how exciting he really is — or what sort of edit he gets — in the Knockout Rounds.
Team Blake: Cali Wilson vs. EllieMae, “Miss Me More”
This 30-second montage was about 28 seconds too long. Both of these country ladies were just shouting and hollering. Blake called it “attitude,” but I just called it volume. Anyway, Cali won. Hopefully she learns how to use her indoor voice in time for the Knockouts. Let’s leave the yelling to Gwen and Blake.
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