After an opening episode that was sometimes great and sometimes underwhelming, and featured entirely too little Chris Martin given how much we heard about his advising debut, The Voice is back on Tuesday with more second-round battles. Here are the results of the action.
1. Team Blake: Sisaundra Lewis vs. Biff Gore, "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World"
Probably one of the more obvious pairings on the board, this is another case of Blake whittling down two similar artists to just one spot on his team. They get to choose between Otis Redding, Eruption and James Brown for their battle song, and after one of the more analytical discussions between partners, select the James Brown tune. Not that we expected them to choose anything else, really. "Can you do it again just for fun?" Chris Martin asks after their first run-through, adding, "I feel like if James Brown saw that, he would feel great." Talk about endorsement!
After a battle just as powerful as you think it was, Usher votes for Biff (after pointing out that Biff used to be Team Usher). Shakira is just baffled. Adam believes Sisaundra may not be human (in a good way). Blake selects Sisaundra as the winner, and Biff is not stolen a second time, but somehow we think he'll be okay.
Winner: Sisaundra Lewis
2. Team Shakira: Deja Hall vs. Ddendyl, "Say Something"
It's the matchup of the young female pop artists, again not really a surprise. Shakira urges both ladies to find their confidence and comfort zone. We don't know what songs they got to choose between, but they ultimately pick the hit from A Great Big World. (One wonders what Christina would think, were she here.) Chris Martin makes a One Direction joke. Shakira wants tighter harmonies. We once again break out the "microphone stand as physical assistant" concept. It all seems to hinge on which performer can connect with the song, and therefore with the audience.
We're going to recuse ourselves from offering an opinion on this battle, because we've heard the original, pre-Christina version of this live when A Great Big World opened for Maroon 5, and it's a tearjerker. As Adam points out, the song also was performed by the duo and Christina on The Voice last season, too. He doesn't offer Shakira a real opinion, though, and neither does Blake. Usher says that Deja would be his pick, because he thinks there's so much to discover with her. Shakira agrees with him.
Winner: Deja Hall
3. Team Shakira: Kristen Merlin vs. Emily B., "I Can Love You Better"
These two ladies get an abbreviated version of their battle over this Dixie Chicks song, which is frustrating because Kristen got montaged in the last battle round, too. What does she have to do to be on our TV screens for more than a minute and a half? Aside from our general dislike of editing, one wonders if that puts her at a disadvantage for live shows, when she'll need to have a connection with the audience - one that's harder to make when we hardly have seen you in action.
Winner: Kristen Merlin
4. Team Usher: Stevie Jo vs. Morgan Wallen, "Story Of My Life"
Stevie and Morgan happen to have become friends, which makes this round just a tad bit awkward. However, from NBC's hyping of a steal being used tonight and the knowledge that it hasn't happened yet, we can easily deduce that both these guys are still going to be here in 15 minutes, so it's not quite so bad. Usher has constructive criticism for each artist, and he's looking to see which one of them improves the most. Their choices are The Script, Collective Soul and One Direction, and they opt for the British boy band. Chris doesn't have another joke about them, but he does have some good advice for the guys.
Who will stay on Team Usher and who ends up on either Team Blake or Team Adam? Both artists have clearly filled that 'cute guy the girls in the studio audience shriek over' void this season, but more importantly, both of them occupy the same general musical space, too. Shakira calls Morgan "another member of One Direction" and Adam is surprised at how Morgan put up a good fight against Stevie. Blake echoes Adam's sentiment, while he favors Stevie. Everyone, including Morgan, is surprised that he has a falsetto. "I just found out," he admits, while Adam quips, "Good timing." After Usher sticks with Stevie, Adam decides to see what else Morgan can do that we don't know about.
Winner: Stevie Jo and Steal: Morgan Wallen to Team Adam
It's worth noting that with only four battles in this episode and an entire hour to get through them, we still couldn't escape without another TV cut-down. What's up with that? Anyway, with only Blake having a steal left, it really is pretty much win or go home as we narrow things down to the Top 20. Live shows are just three weeks away!
The Voice continues next Monday at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.