The Voice is giving us a second helping of battles, with a side of Chris Martin (ironically as the Coldplay singer's personal life is making headlines). Are more battles better than the knockout rounds? Does Martin bring anything to the table that previous advisors Aloe Blacc, The Band Perry, Miranda Lambert and Jill Scott didn't? What's it like when four teams have one advisor? So many questions, only two hours to answer them in. Let's get battling.
1. Team Blake: Audra McLaughlin vs. Megan Ruger, "The Climb"
Unlike the first battle rounds, Carson doesn't give us a handy introduction to the pairings, so you get to figure them out for yourself. Blake matches these two ladies because he believes they both occupy the same space on his team, and he only needs one of their type of singer going forward. He hands them a short list of three songs and they must mutually agree on which one to perform, so there goes the artists having full creative control. Audra and Megan settle on "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus, and they're going to have to work to make it better than Justin Rivers' performance of it.
"Does she twerk in that song?" Chris asks when he finds out about the selection. "When she performs it these days, probably," Blake quips. Blake thinks both ladies have performed better than what he hears in their first rehearsal. Chris suggests that they fill the stage space better, and perform outward more.
And that's all the rehearsal time we get; instead, time is filled with footage of the artists meeting with their families, similar to how we saw them confer with their coach before their last round. One thinks we could use more actual competition, and less filler, even if it is nice filler.
Audra and Megan find a nice vocal middle ground, and seem to have taken Chris's note about filling more of the stage, except for at the end a little bit. Usher - who must be trying to one-up Pharrell in hat choices - votes for Audra. Shakira agrees, saying that she connected more with Audra. Adam calls Audra "one of the best singers on the show" but argues that Megan held her own. Blake offers constructive feedback to both his artists, before keeping Audra.
Winner: Audra McLaughlin
2. Team Usher: Cierra Mickens vs. T.J. Wilkins, "Get Here"
Usher wants to match one of his strongest artists, T.J., aganst Cierra, whom he stole from Shakira last week. Out of his three choices - one of which is Maroon 5's "One More Night" - they decide on "Get Here" by Oleta Adams (although the original artist was, in fact, Brenda Russell in 1988; Adams' cover was in 1990). This is one of the great soul ballads in music history, and proves to be a pretty good choice, though Chris wants them to "work together a little more." He does call the song a duet, though, which it's not; we're going to guess he meant the performance is a duet.
Being longtime Brenda Russell fans who've actually heard her perform this song live, we're biased when it comes to evaluating this particular battle round. We get what Chris means, though, as both Cierra and T.J. seem to be performing more toward their respective sections of the audience than to each other during large parts of the song, which given that this is a love song, is a missed opportunity for them to really move us with the music. They're technically great, but a little more performance would've made them even better.
Shakira calls this battle "perfect." Adam is surprised by how Cierra rose to T.J.'s level. Blake uses the word "perfect" again in reference to Cierra. With nobody actually having chosen a favorite, Usher and his furry hat are on their own here. He sticks with his original artist, though Cierra gets a farewell hug from each of her coaches.
Winner: T.J. Wilkins
3. Team Blake: Tess Boyer vs. Jake Worthington, "Have A Little Faith In Me"
Blake matches up two artists who are on their second chances: returning singer Jake Worthington, and Tess Boyer, who was stolen from Team Usher. We don't get told what their song choices are, but they settle on John Hiatt's "Have A Little Faith In Me." Blake tells them that they've got a lot of power, but some pitch issues on certain words. "It's just about making us as an audience believe in what they're singing," Chris tells us.
Maybe it's because of the battle that preceded it, but we're particularly conscious of how Tess and Jake are performing together, almost more to each other than the audience. They clearly enjoy each other's company and earn a standing ovation from all four coaches, so you can guess how the feedback is going to go. Usher compliments both artists; Shakira calls Tess "a revelation," and Adam declares this an "A-level" performance that wouldn't be out of place at the CMAs or Grammys.
With nobody else offering a strong opinion, Blake worries about his liver, before he picks Jake - which he stresses is through no fault of Tess's, but strictly out of loyalty, because Jake is an original Team Blake artist. Although Usher, Shakira and Adam all want her, Tess moves on to her third coach, Shakira. We're not sure, but that could make her the first artist to be part of three different teams. So congrats, Tess, you may have just made history.
Winner: Jake Worthington and Steal: Tess Boyer to Team Shakira
4. Team Adam: Christina Grimmie vs. Sam Behymer, "Counting Stars"
Why does Adam keep matching people that we like together?!? Anyway, Adam sees room for improvement in both these young ladies. Although we have no idea what their other song options were, these two select OneRepublic's "Counting Stars," which is definitely not an easy pick and, as Adam says, an interesting call for them. Initially, he thinks they're "a little all over the place," and wants more control; as he points out, this song is all about rhythm. Can they stay in the pocket and keep themselves together on such a fast-paced, wordy song? Well, we're about to find out.
Maybe it's because this was originally performed by a man, but it takes awhile for the ladies to find the power that makes this track so addictive. Once they get there, though, the whole thing seems to come together and overcome the very slow start. Plus, you have to give them credit for not tripping over any words, too. Blake sides with underdog Sam; Usher likes both performances; Shakira calls Christina the more mature and confident artist. So basically, it's a wash before we get to Adam, who is faced with another hard decision, one so difficult he signals for the studio audience to quiet down while he deliberates. His gut tells him to choose Christina, and we weep because we really liked Sam, too.
Winner: Christina Grimmie
5. Team Shakira: Patrick Thomson vs. Josh Murley, "Run To You"
It's the battle of similar dudes both stolen from Team Adam who both hate to watch themselves on TV. Patrick and Josh prefer this Bryan Adams tune over...whatever other options they had, and Shakira thinks it might favor Josh more. Chris believes that Patrick and Josh need props - in this case microphone stands - to get the best out of their performances. They have to bring conviction to their words. (Meanwhile, Nate from The Voice Band is just shredding on the drums as usual. This man is superhuman behind the kit.)
Patrick and Josh could just form a duo and stay in the competition. That's a valid idea, right? No? Ah, well. Because they seem like a pretty good match, and we give them bonus points for using the mic stands but not staying stationary behind them. Adam, who watches the whole thing like a proud parent, refuses to have an opinion since he's already had to cut both these guys loose before. Blake thinks it's really a matter of taste for Shakira, but he likes Patrick. Usher and Usher's Hat give us sophisticated analysis but no actual decision. Shakira elects to stay with Patrick and his fabulous hair.
Winner: Patrick Thomson
6. Team Adam: Delvin Choice vs. Josh Kaufman, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours"
Once again, NBC spoils that there will be a steal, so we know this is a no-lose battle before it even starts. These two were expecting to be paired together. Everyone also seems to have a fondness for sweaters, and Josh may also be the one person who likes watching his first battle. We do get to see the three options Delvin and Josh have, which are all classics from the Righteous Brothers, the Doobie Brothers, and of course Stevie Wonder, which the guys agree on. While Adam and Chris both are impressed from the go, they offer a few minor suggestions to the pair.
Are we sure these two aren't secretly related? Maybe one of them is adopted? Because they just fit together musically, both of them hitting some crazy notes. We get our second standing ovation of the night afterward. After Blake hits on everyone except Carson, he votes for Delvin, who is probably the Comeback Player of Season 6 thus far. Usher praises both artists, and Shakira admits that she expected Josh to win before she was so shocked by Delvin. But we know it's all good, as while Adam keeps Delvin, Josh gets picked up by Usher.
Winner: Delvin Choice and Steal: Josh Kaufman to Team Usher
The Voice continues its second battle rounds tomorrow at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC.