It's a new week of battle rounds on The Voice, with only two steals left to save hopeful artists who don't win their head-to-head matchups.
A shortened Monday night show - just one hour instead of two - opens with Team Cee Lo: it's Alexis Marceaux versus another returning singer, Daniel Rosa. Cee Lo has given them Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me," which Nakia performed in season one, and he knocked it out of the park back then, so these two have no small quest in front of them. Advisor Rob Thomas cautions Alexis to relax on her diction, and notes Daniel's "confidence issues." The latter trouble persists into the final rehearsal, concerning Cee Lo before he sends Daniel into the ring.
There's no time to regroup, though: the battle is on, and this is a completely different take on the song than the one we heard the first time around. It lacks the edge that Nakia brought to it, replacing that with something more desperate. Alexis has more power to her voice, but Daniel has a certain unique sound to his voice.
What do the coaches think? Adam praises Daniel for singing "with all of your soul" and picks him, while Blake comments on how unique both artists are and chooses Alexis. Christina encourages Daniel to engage more with the audience, and votes for Alexis as well. That brings it back around to Cee Lo, who says that he saw improvement in both artists before naming Daniel the winner of the battle round - which completely bewilders Daniel. "I think he's going to go pass out," Adam remarks, before Daniel stumbles off-stage looking dazed, and who can blame the guy? Alexis goes home, although in retrospect Blake wishes he'd have used his final steal on her.
Next to compete are Team Adam's Nicole Nelson and Samuel Mouton, who receive the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" from Adam (who announced Maroon 5's 2013 tour this morning, and there's a commercial for it, in case you didn't notice). Their coach is convinced they'll make a great duet, and they impress him and advisor Mary J. Blige right out of the gate. All they need is a little more practice, and in Brandon's case, a little more confidence. "He's an incredible talent," Adam tells the audience. "He just needs to believe more." So Adam and Mary pull Brandon aside and give him a pep talk.
In their final rehearsal, Nicole and Brandon work on the last little things before their performance. Adam notices that "Brandon took all my notes" from the previous meeting, and tells them both "I can't wait to be a proud coach." Everyone's smiling. It's another one of those warm and fuzzy moments The Voice has given us so many of.
After that, it's time to take the stage, and this duo does not disappoint. Even compared to the high standards of the legendary original, this is an amazing rendition, perfectly capturing the same energy of the original but giving it a sound that's just different enough to stand on its own. What's more, Brandon and Nicole seem to really be enjoying themselves on stage together, and that just takes the performance to the next level. Nicole has a little more stage presence, but Brandon holds his own with her, and it all adds up to a wonderful duet - just as their coach predicted.
All the coaches seem to agree that it's a close call. Blake calls Nicole a "diva" and selects her, while Christina calls it "a perfect song choice" and selects Nicole "just as far as consistency," and Cee Lo selects Brandon. In his feedback, Adam points out that Brandon rose to the challenge set in front of him, and tells him that he's proud of him, before moving on to Nicole, whom he congratulates for giving him what he wanted to hear from her as well. It takes Adam a moment, but he ultimately picks Nicole as the winner of the battle, before getting out of his big red chair to hug both of his artists for a job well done.
While Nicole reflects on her win backstage, Brandon thanks Adam for the time spent with him, and it is a jaw-dropper that neither Christina nor Blake steals the talented young man. That leaves Adam "confused," but Christina and Blake both remark to camera that they're being very selective with their steals.
Two more Team Adam battles get the 'edited down' treatment right afterward: Adam matches Brian Scartocci with Loren Allred, and chooses Loren, whom he calls "a world-class singer" at the end of the battle. Joe Kirkland and Samuel Mouton get the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give," and Joe takes the battle. Adam's singers aren't the only ones to get reduced airtime: Team Blake also pairs Ryan Jirovec and Cassadee Pope on Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You," and Blake goes with Cassadee. No one is stolen from this trio of battles.
Team Christina's Devyn DeLoera and MarissaAnn get the next call up, making them the last folks to battle for Christina's team. She's given them En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," hoping to make use of Devyn's "growl" and MarissaAnn's "crazy upper range." Advisor Billie Joe Armstrong encourages the girls to complement each other even though they're competing, and later in a post-rehearsal talk he and Christina tell MarissaAnn that her relative youth shouldn't be held against her.
In final rehearsal, Christina tells Devyn to pick her moments and thinks the battle is going to come down to both ladies "picking the right ad-libs at the right time so it doesn't turn into overkill." After that, it's game on, and this is definitely a Team Christina battle, with strong women who also have strong vocals and plenty of spunk. When it comes time for coaches' feedback, Cee Lo doesn't believe MarissaAnn is fifteen and picks her, while Adam sides with Devyn for the extra experience that comes with age, and Blake conversely selects MarissaAnn for her youth. It's Christina who has the final decision, though, and it's Devyn who nabs the win. Don't feel sad for MarissaAnn, though, because she gets swiped by Blake before she can even finish a sentence. Christina thanks her fellow coach for using his last steal for her.
Alexis Marceaux, Brandon Mahone, Brian Scartocci, Samuel Mouton, and Ryan Jirovec left the competition tonight, while Team Christina's MarissaAnn migrated to Team Blake. Only Christina has a steal left, and there's only one more segment of battles for her to use it in.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the final installment of battle rounds - and then next week it's on to a new phase of competition: the knockout rounds!
For more from Brittany Frederick on The Voice, visit Big Red Chairs and follow me on Twitter (@bigredchairs).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.