It all comes down to Gwen using her Save on one of her contestants only for Blake to follow up and use his Steal. Now, the choice was up to the singer to decide if they wanted to stay with Gwen or go with Blake. How could he do this to his wife? And what would the singer do?
Carson Daly couldn’t let it go, either, asking the couple if this fight was going to carry on into their home lives. It became a running gag that Carson, who officiated their real wedding, was now trying to instigate their divorce.
Once again, the Coaches’ had their celebrity mentors with Blake welcoming Jimmie Allen, Gwen working with Sean Paul, Camila Cabello partnering with Charlie Puth, and John Legend and Jazmine Sullivan keeping it real together. We definitely appreciate seeing these segments because you do get a sense of the real coaching that goes on, and these contestants are getting some world-class advice.
That advice culminated in some stunning Battle Round performances, with one pair elevating their game to the point they reinterpreted a Justin Bieber hit into something completely new. The result was one of the all-time best Battle performances in the history of this show.
We also had to say some heartbreaking goodbyes as we found ourselves at odds (again!) with the Coaches on the majority of the decisions they made as to who won the Battle and who to send home. If they keep this up, all the best singers will be sitting on their couches watching this season play out.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Blake Shelton, Camila Cabello, Gwen Stefani, and John Legend. And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first and then see how they do as the season progresses.
(Team Camila - “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper) Grace was a little too technical and Reina -- well, Reina is only 13 years old. Both were told to let the emotion carry them in this performance, and it looks like that was a bit of a struggle. During the live performance, Reina lost the timing, and was probably grateful the band was performing live and could adjust to match her. As for Grace, she swallowed the end of an entire line to set up a big belting moment, but that pause actually exposed that she didn’t have her breath right. Both of those pulled us right out of the piece, too, which is a shame because we were enjoying the performance. Reina has such assurance at her age and a really mature tone, while Grace has a richness in her voice. But we also felt that Grace was trying a little too hard to show off in ways that weren’t natural to the song or this duet, which made it ring as if she was a bit scared. We’d give Reina the edge on this one because their voices are very similar, but we found ourselves more enjoying what Reina did with hers.
Results: Reina Wins
Emma Brooks vs. Nia Skyfer
(Team Legend - “she’s all i wanna be,” Tate McRae) Nia is a wild child who sings with a free and unfiltered spirit. Contrasting that completely, Emma is a technically proficient singer who apparently hasn’t really had a lot of emotional turmoil in her life. As such, her biggest struggle was trying to figure out how to connect with the heart of this song. As Jazmine pointed out, hitting the notes is only part of the story. You need the audience to feel connected with your connection with the lyrics. So here’s the difference in the final performance. Nia took to it like you would expect at a rowdy concert venue. Emma’s was the version you’d hear if they ever make a Broadway musical from Tate’s music. Neither is automatically better than the other, but they were tonally so different in approach and presentation. Emma’s voice is so pure and strong and on point, while Nia was a little wild in places, but utterly compelling in every moment she had the mic. We’d have to give Nia the edge for this moment.
(Team Camila - “Rocket Man,” Elton John) Camila and Charlie came through with some solid advice, including the notion to practice singing on the treadmill and over-extend the notes. If you can do it there, when you bring it back into range for the actual performance, breath and quality will be a breeze. We loved the support these two showed each other, with Orlando definitely doing his part to keep the teen grounded and confident. What a beautifully unexpected duet. Their voices don’t really complement one another, but they made it work. Orlando’s secret weapon is in his grit and the sheer power he has, while Ava’s is the tenderness of her voice and that crazy range. While she looked completely out of sorts in the beginning before she started singing, Ava really stepped into herself and owned her moment, showing a lot of different capabilities in those few moments. It was a mismatch and very close, but Ava gets our edge as someone who could really grow into something really special on this journey.
Results: Orlando Wins
Justin Aaron vs. Destiny Leigh
(Team Gwen - “No More Drama,” Mary J. Blige) Gwen and Sean both agreed that Destiny needs to gain confidence in the notes she’s hitting because when she isn’t, she pulls back from them even as she’s singing them. So she needs to find her pitch and then believe herself that she did. They were also warned about going too Mary with the runs when trying to harmonize, because that creates a dissonance that no one can enjoy. It’s also one of the hardest songs to cover, so Gwen really challenged them. On the live stage, Destiny sounded shaky at the start, while Justin brought that effortless power from the first note. Justin had a better grasp on the drama, so to speak, of the original song and tackled it more authentically. Destiny was in her head throughout, overthinking a lot of the decisions she made on the fly and it hurt her performance. Justin owned this moment.
(Team Gwen - “Leather and Lace,” Stevie Nicks & Don Henley) Gwen advised Jay to tone it back as he tends to come at things so hard and aggressive, but when he shows a tender side, it’s really special. Plus, that makes the gut punch even more impactful. For Cara, she suggested sticking to the melody through the first verse to get the trust of the audience before straying from it. All of the advice worked because by the time they came together, this was a much stronger performance. Their harmonies were in perfect sync almost throughout (Cara belted a bit harder than she needed to toward the end). Gwen was definitely right about Jay because that tenderness in his voice created a warm hollow for our hearts to nestle inside of and fall in love. It was truly a gift and what a note for him to carry forward as he continues to hone his talent. Both of them came through, but Jay had the bigger impact. But then, after Gwen didn’t choose him to win but instead chose to Save him, Blake swooped in with a Steal and Jay opted to switch teams to the country lane.
Results: Cara Wins (Gwen Saves, Blake Steals) [Jay joins Team Blake]
bodie vs. Jaeden Luke
(Team Blake - “As Long as You Love Me,” Justin Bieber) Even Jimmie couldn’t understand Blake pairing up two singers with such individual artistry. Right away, they shared how they’d taken the time to rearrange this song to suit their individual styles and their duet in this moment. That’s a level of awareness that’s really special for an artist still trying for their big break as it shows they’ve already figured out who they are. When you find that and you let them do their thing you can suddenly find yourself with a truly impossible situation. bodie had so much strength in his voice, but it was controlled throughout. Jaeden came in with a gentler, whispering tone but it lured you in. They were both complete masters of what they do and they discovered the perfect way to blend their different vocal approaches to create a masterpiece performance and one of the best Battle vocals of all time. We went back and forth as to who won throughout it and we’re still not sure. Jaeden had a few more tricks, so we might give it to him -- by a single cell.
Results: bodie Wins (Camila, Gwen Steal) [Jaeden joins Team Camila]
“Now I’m realizing I feel sorry for the one person I make eye contact with.” --Camila (offering advice to Ava about performing live)
“I’m glad we chose the better half.” --Jay (to Gwen)
“Yes! Did you hear that, Blake Shelton?” --Gwen
“You guys should cover that song. Who’s leather and who’s lace?” --Camila (to Blake and Gwen about “Leather and Lace”)
“I wonder.” --Blake
“She’s both leather and lace, I feel like.” --John
“I knew that I wanted to Save Jay.” --Gwen (after hitting her button to Save)
“What if somebody Steals Jay?” --Blake (hitting his button to Steal)
“Jay Allen may cause a celebrity divorce.” --Carson
“Gwen, are you mad at him?” --Carson
“Yes, I’m shaking. I’m so mad.” --Gwen
“Camila was able to play the ‘I’m-single-come-whisper-that-song-in-my-ear’ card. And thank god Gwen didn’t play that card, that would have been really embarrassing for me.” --Blake (after Jaeden chose Team Camila)
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.