The second night of The Voice Season 11 Battle Rounds brought some surprises and delights: a tag-team keyboard duet, the first sanctioned Pink Floyd cover in the series’ history, and some truly divine mentoring from guest advisor Bette Midler. But, since the episode was only an hour long, it also featured something not so delightful: a dreaded six-contestant montage.
Let’s get to the recap.
TEAM MILEY: Lane Mack vs. Sophia Urista
I gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus: Her Battle song choices have been impeccable so far. On Monday, she assigned Ali Caldwell and Courtnie Ramirez some Odetta; then, on Tuesday, she somehow convinced cantankerous Roger Waters and company to let NBC use Pink Floyd’s “Money.” (Miley is besties with Wayne Coyne, and Wayne’s Flaming Lips have covered The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. Also, Miley’s beloved, famous deceased dog was name Floyd. Coincidences? Maybe not…)
Anyway, Cajun roots musician Lane and NYC burlesque hostess Sophia didn’t seem to have much in common at first — but, united by their love of rock ‘n’ roll (and by “I Love ‘N’ Roll” guest advisor Joan Jett) and Floyd’s “Money,” they formed a pretty awesome twosome. “Money,” it’s gas, indeed! Gravelly, gritty Lane delivered the stronger vocal, and “came out swinging from the beginning,” according to Blake Shelton. But Sophia exhibited true star quality, and her voice did improve as the performance went on. (Adam Levine said Sophia was “a tweak or two away from being a runaway smash on this show.”) So my ears were on Lane, but my eyes were on Sophia and her very meta dollar-sign sweater the entire time.
Miley ultimately based her decision on “who I feel like I want to be a guide for”: Sophia. I am sure this will be a controversial choice. I know Lane had fans out there, and maybe he could have even built up an Adam Wakefield-like following. But I must admit, Season 11 would have been a lot less interesting without Sophia. So, since she’s staying, can Miley get Pink Floyd to clear “Hey You” for the Knockout Rounds? That would be, as Blake likes to often say, badass. Perhaps Wayne Coyne can put in a good word.
WINNER: Sophia Urista
TEAM BLAKE: Courtney Harrell vs. Ethan Tucker
Bette Midler once again proved that she’s Season 11’s most valuable player. Seriously, her mentorship on The Voice so far has felt like one very convincing audition to be a Season 12 coach (kind of like when Harry Connick Jr. was a fantastic mentor on American Idol four years before he permanently joined that show’s panel). During Courtney and Ethan’s rehearsals of John Mayer’s “Gravity,” the Divine Miss M gave solid, actionable advice — like raising the song to a more comfortable key for Courtney, or helping the two contestants connect by making them hold hands while they sang. It all worked. The pair’s once-nonexistent chemistry was impressive once they got in the ring, with Ethan even passionately dropping to his knees in front of Courtney at one point. Team Bette for the win!
Big-voiced Courtney was a major standout in the Blind Auditions, so I was surprised that Ethan totally upstaged her in the ring this Tuesday. Courtney had some pitch problems and sounded old-fashioned (although she looked like a modern, superstar fashionista). Ethan’s warm, husky, sexy voice — the “voice of an angel,” Adam raved — on the other hand, just drew me in. He had what they call in this biz a “recordable voice.” I could listen to Ethan in my headphones all day.
Alicia Keys loved Ethan’s “undoneness,” and Miley called him “unique.” It’s no wonder, then, that when Blake ultimately chose Courtney, even Courtney looked a bit shocked. I was more shocked that no one stole Ethan. That man deserved a Steal! Oh well. Maybe we will see him in the Bring Backs, or some other sort of Season 11 “twist,” when the Live Playoffs come around.
WINNER: Courtney Harrell
TEAM ADAM: Elia Esparza vs. Ponciano Seoane
TEAM MILEY: Josette Diaz vs. Charity Bowden
TEAM MILEY: Khaliya Kimberlie vs. Maye Thomas
Ugh. More montages. And poor Charity got montaged twice, which meant her months of work on the set got distilled down to about 47 total seconds of airtime! That’s not so charitable, is it? The poor girl. Speaking of poor girls, I was also surprised that two of this week’s montaged Battles involved Miley contestants, especially since both Josette and Maye “Gothic Dolly Parton” Thomas got the deluxe edit treatment during the Blinds. But I was probably most upset over the fact that two Team Miley montages meant… a whole lot less Joan Jett advisor footage. Boo. To loosely quote Joan, sometimes I hate myself for loving the Voice.
WINNERS: Ponciano Seoane, Josette Diaz, and Maye Thomas, respectively
TEAM ALICIA: Dave Moisan vs. Michael Sanchez
“Valerie” was originally by Liverpool band the Zutons — not by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson, as many assume. #TheMoreYouKnow. But anyway, Dave and Michael did neither version. Instead, they did a skronky, slow-jam remake that was truly their own. Or Alicia’s own. I credit all of this to Alicia, actually, because she was a total boss lady in rehearsals and musically-directed the entire thing. (I barely noticed that her rather under-Midler-like team advisor, Charlie Puth, was even in the room.)
Alicia came up with the “crazy” idea to have the two singers alternate playing the same keyboard during this Battle. She was either trying to do something radical and cool, or NBC just slashed the show’s budget and couldn’t expense two pianos. It was cute — Michael and Dave had a sort of Chromeo/Capital Cities buddy act going on — but to be honest, this staging gimmick was a little awkward, with the frequent switch-ups distracting from the vocals. However, Michael’s smoky voice still held my attention. How was this dude only a one-chair contestant, while the less exciting Dave was a four-chair auditioner?
Michael was the clear victor in this round. “What you just did, performance-wise, was my favorite performance of the day so far, because I didn’t see it coming. In my opinion, you just won that Battle,” declared Blake. “The big surprise was Michael. You had a rich, soulful, incredible tone, and I was really blown away by just how you carried yourself,” added Adam. But when Alicia picked Michael, Adam stole Dave. I actually think Adam should have stolen Ethan when he had the chance, but what’s done is done.
WINNER: Michael Sanchez
STOLEN: Dave Moisan moves to Team Adam
See you next week, when we’ll get more Battles, more Steals, and hopefully more Joan Jett. And maybe even more Pink Floyd covers!