Miguel’s “Adorn” is a supersexy bedroom ballad. When the supersexy Miguel sings it. But when talent show contestants attempt to croon the lover-man slow jam? Not so much. The G-rated result usually leaves a lot to be desired. That wasn’t the case, however, when two of Team Alicia’s hopefuls “Adorn”’d the Battle Rounds stage on The Voice this Tuesday. Coach Gwen Stefani found plenty to desire here, particularly when it came to this Battle’s eventual victor, Chris Blue. In fact, Blue’s performance was so red-hot, it had Gwen getting all hot ’n’ bothered in her red chair, to the point where her boyfriend Blake Shelton even seemed a little concerned.
Singing against the competent but far less charismatic RJ Collins, Chris was a total superstar. He delivered a confident, controlled, impeccably phrased performance, and so totally owned the stage that I almost forgot RJ was even there. And apparently, Gwen forgot that Blake was there, as she made postperformance goo-goo eyes at Chris and purred, “Chris, you let yourself completely get absorbed into the music, almost in an out-of-body experience. And I’m watching your body movements. I don’t even know if I was listening to your voice, because I was so mesmerized by your body.”
— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) March 22, 2017
Chris looked mortified, while host Carson Daly joked that #mesmerizedbyyourbody was trending on Twitter. But Blake, consummate (no pun intended) professional that he is, put aside any jealousy to impartially acknowledge Chris’s greatness. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I think Chris will be in the finale. He’s just got whatever that thing is,” Blake admitted, before jokingly telling Chris, “By the way, I hope you’re not available to steal — because I’ll probably lose my girlfriend!”
Of course Chris wasn’t available to steal. Alicia Keys, being (like Gwen) a red-blooded woman with fully functioning eyes and ears, was mesmerized by Chris as well — because he gave one of the best Battle Round performances of this season so far. So Alicia picked Chris over RJ. And now, while Blake is probably in no real danger of losing his girlfriend, Chris does have a very good chance of winning The Voice.
Not everyone was feeling the love this Tuesday, however. One of my favorite contestants got the boot, while another was frustratingly montaged. Apparently not all is fair in love and war (or love and Battles, as it were). Here’s what happened.
TEAM GWEN: Johnny Gates vs. Sammie Zonana
Oh, Gwen. Don’t speak. I know what you’re saying, so please stop explaining. Don’t tell me, ’cause it hurts.
Actually, Gwen has a lot of explaining to do. I can’t believe she heartbreakingly pitted two of my Season 12 faves, likable longhair Johnny and beguiling quirky-girl Sammie, against each other. The Voice became a tragic kingdom tonight for me.
OK, enough with the No Doubt puns. Except for this one: There was no doubt that both Johnny and Sammie deserved to advance! (See what I did there?) They formed an adorable Americana duo — almost as cute a couple as “Shefani” themselves, in their matching black leather jackets — doing a charming acoustic cover of guest mentor Celine Dion’s version of “I Drove All Night,” with a Dion-endorsed arrangement they came up with themselves. Their uniquely raspy voices blended so pleasantly, and were complemented so nicely by Johnny’s guitar strumming, that they were sort of like Mumford & Daughter & Son. (Adam Levine also called them “Two Leather-Clad Badasses,” which would be a good name for them if they ever formed a band.)
I expected Johnny, a natural-born rock star, to steal the show from the kinder, gentler, mousier Sammie — but Sammie was a revelation. Unlike Johnny, she wasn’t tethered to an instrument, so she was free to dominate this performance and make full use of the stage. She was much more extroverted, and dare I say much more dangerous, than I recalled from her sweet, Feist-y audition of “Dangerous Woman.” She did the unimaginable: She actually pulled focus from Johnny. (“Sammie, I loved that you were the only one moving in the beginning,” Alicia later told her.) It was only when Johnny set his six-string aside — though, mysteriously, it continued to phantom-play in the background; what was up with that? — that he was truly able to shine. But even then, this Battle was pretty evenly matched. Sammie held her own, and Gwen even said this was the best performance she’d ever witnessed from Sammie.
But still, it seemed like this outcome was already decided. There was no way Gwen was going to send her fellow “garage band kid” home. And as Adam told Johnny, “You have a thing, and it’s hard to ignore that.”
Gwen didn’t ignore it; she picked Johnny, of course. I had hoped that one of the other coaches would steal the very deserving Sammie, but alas, it was not meant to be. To quote another Gwen song, that ish was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Sammie was robbed.
WINNER: Johnny Gates
TEAM ADAM: Nala Price vs. Josh West
TEAM GWEN: Aaliyah Rose vs. Savannah Leighton
TEAM BLAKE: Andrea Thomas vs. Micah Tryba
Speaking of robbed … at least Sammie received some proper screen time this week. That’s more than can be said for this poor lot, whose Battles were crammed into less than a minute (and, as of this writing, are not available to watch in full online). I really would have loved to hear Josh, the Soundgarden fanboy who covered Duran Duran for his Blind Audition, try his luck this week with another classic ’80s band. (I had to listen closely, but I could make out that he and Nala were singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.) Oh, well. At least Josh’s hair looked awesome. And he did survive, so maybe he’ll get a chance to do some Depeche Mode or Echo and the Bunnymen during the Knockouts.
Ironically, Aaliyah and Savannah didn’t receive a very nice editing treatment for their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snippet of Shawn Mendes’s “Treat You Better.” And what hurt the most about Andrea and Micha’s “What Hurts the Most” performance was this was the second time that Andrea had been montaged. That made no sense, considering Andrea’s obvious commercial appeal and experience (she’s Carrie Underwood’s backup singer), but maybe she’ll finally be ready for her Voice close-up in the Knockout Rounds.
WINNERS: Josh West, Aaliyah Rose, and Andrea Thomas, respectively
TEAM BLAKE: Aliyah Moulden vs. Dawson Coyle
Let’s just say it’s a good thing that Aliyah and Dawson tried out for The Voice and not for So You Think You Can Dance or America’s Best Dance Crew. Their silly malt-shop/sock-hop jiving during Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” had all the awkwardness of two teens at their first high school dance. Which, in a way, they sort of were. Fifteen-year-old Aliyah and 18-year-old Dawson were adorable, or adorkable, but also very young and green — and definitely not too cool for school. Why Blake would give any contestant a corny song like this, in 2017, was beyond me.
Still, the kids were charming and guileless enough to almost pull it off. Even Aliyah’s little yelp at the end was kind of cute. She possessed the better voice of the two and received the more effusive compliments — Gwen called Dawson “theater” and Adam likened Dawson to “a young Russell Crowe,” which may not have been compliments at all, come to think of it — so Blake eventually kept Aliyah. Surprisingly, Alicia stole Dawson, but as long as she gives him some more current, less hokey material (and no cover songs by Russell Crowe’s terrible rock band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts), he might have a chance going forward.
WINNER: Aliyah Moulden / STOLEN: Dawson Coyle moves to Team Alicia
Come back next week for more Battles — and, unfortunately, probably more montages. See you then!