‘The Voice’ Blind Auditions End, Battle Rounds Begin

There’s just a precious few spots left, so the coaches are getting more picky when it comes down to who makes the cut on The Voice. Tonight we break down the two hours between the filling out the rosters and the first batch of Battle Round performances. So let’s get to it.

The night gets underway with Jared Harder from Joplin, Missouri. This pastor’s kid sang at the age of 3 and picked up drums, keyboards and guitar. He stopped music after the tornado of 2011, but he’s now back to trying to make his dreams come true. He chooses Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” for his choice. Blake Shelton fakes as if he’s going to press in, but doesn’t. Eventually he can’t resist and turns. Adam Levine looks as if he wants to, but doesn’t punch in. Christina Aguilera says this couldn’t be a better match, and Blake says he loves the voice, the big note and his song choice. And with that, Blake’s team is full.

Next up is Moushumi, a 22-year-old vocalist from Edison, New Jersey. Her family is from India and she gets her love of music from her heritage. She went to be a doctor, but still felt the desire to perform, so she took a year off to pursue music and is giving this a chance. During her performance, she delivers a stirring rendition of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Blake tells the other coaches to ring in after hearing her opening note. Adam and Christina comply almost immediately. Pharrell Williams waits, but gets in as well. Christina says she waited for someone truly special. Pharrell says he loves the way she navigated around the song and made it her own thing. Adam says her voice is unique and classy and wants to help her succeed. She chooses Pharrell.

Katie Basden is a 23-year-old from Durham, North Carolina. She was raised on classic rock and attended the Belmont School of Music in Nashville. She moved home after her father suffered some health issues, but she’s back to pursuing music again. She picks the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider” for her performance. She’s got a powerful voice and Adam jumps in immediately followed closely by Pharrell. Right at the end of the song, Christina gets in too. Pharrell says he liked her voice from the start, and says he would like the opportunity to coach her to the best of his ability. Adam says he has one spot left and wants her to consider him. Christina says she’s a soul singer, but also has worked in country. Blake hilariously points out Christina and Pharrell’s interest in country, while Adam has never expressed an interest in country ever. Despite Blake’s protestations, she picks Adam, finishing out his team.

Kentucky-based teen Jonathan Hutcherson lives on a farm and he’s hearing impaired. But that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing music and he’s adapted to singing with a hearing aid. He sings at church and school. For his audition, he chooses One Direction’s “You and I.” He hits the tender notes well, and once he starts to show more power, Adam urges Pharrell to get in. He does, making Jonathan the final member of Team Pharrell. Pharrell tells him he held the bar throughout and he’s thrilled to have filled his team with him.

That leaves Christina with the only slot left open, and she reserves that for Ayanna Jahnee, a 20-year-old singer from Nashville. Her mother was a costumer for theatrical productions, which introduced her to music. For her performance, she swings for the fences with Adele’s “Skyfall,” showing off her deeper register. Knowing Christina’s love for powerhouse vocalists, this is the perfect fit. She tells Ayanna that she had been holding out something special and they celebrate by doing a soulful back and forth pronouncing Christina’s team is full.

Before we get to the Battle Rounds, let’s reflect on the rankings for tonight’s Blind Auditions.

5. Jonathan Hutcherson (Team Pharrell)
4. Jared Harder (Team Blake)
3. Ayanna Jahnee (Team Christina)
2. Katie Basden (Team Adam)
1. Moushumi (Team Pharrell)

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: Moushumi Chitre -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” — Pictured: Moushumi Chitre — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

As the second hour starts, it’s now time for the Battle Rounds. Adam introduces his special advisor Tori Kelly. Katie Basden, who we just saw as one of the final Blind Audition additions, squares off against Ryan Quinn. Adam chooses Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” for them to sing, expressing how much the song means to him. Adam says he thinks Ryan is the frontrunner, but that Katie can give him a challenge. Tori thinks Ryan’s tone suits the song, while she also loves Katie’s rasp and Katie admits she’s under the weather. Tori points out that Ryan needs to watch his eye contact, connecting with the crowd and his partner.

When it comes time for the performance, Ryan comes off smooth, but Katie has a fuller sounding voice. But given that the song was original sung by Paul McCartney and Ryan has a higher register, his parts seem more in line with the original. But that’s not to discount Katie, who matches him in power as they reach the end of the song. Blake says it is so good. He says Ryan’s voice gets thinner as he hits the higher notes, where Katie’s voice sounds full throughout, so he says he’d pick Katie. Christina says she figured Ryan would take it, but Katie is making it a tough choice. Pharrell credits Ryan’s soul and says Katie’s voice is limitless. Adam says he wishes he could climb into a hole. He picks Ryan. But Katie’s performance earns “steals” from Christina and Blake, and she picks Blake, breaking Christina’s heart for a second time.

Team Blake is up next and he has Gwen Stefani as his advisor. He pairs up Brittney Lawrence and Paxton Ingram, two of his more pop-leaning artists on his team. They get to sing on the Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello song “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Blake thinks it’ll be a challenge and he tells Brittney to watch her pitch. Gwen calls out Brittney for not feeling the emotion of the track. During the final rehearsal and it’s infinitely better. Gwen says Paxton is so comfortable and Gwen tries to work with Brittney and confidence. But while they want more comfort level out of Brittney, they also want to see Paxton hit a bigger note.

During the performance, Brittney hits the bigger notes, but Paxton is just smoother and more in tune with the nature of the song. Christina says they had lots of energy and while they have different voices, it worked for the song. Christina picks Paxton. Pharrell says Brittney matched every note thrown at her, but could have used more dynamics and he gives his backing to Paxton as well. Adam says the only area where Paxton has her is the way he attacked the song. He says it’s not a matter of better or worse, but a preference of taste. Blake says Paxton is a vocal ninja. He ends up choosing Paxton.

The final battle of the night is from Team Christina. She introduces her legendary team advisor Patti LaBelle to Bryan Bautista and Malik Heard. The two soulful singers get a chance to take on James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Patti shares stories about James Brown and calls out both singers for enunciation. She also suggests they sing together and give respect to one another and it will make them shine. Christina suggests they show some variation on the song as well to put a stamp on it.

When it comes to the performance, quite simply both guys kill it in what is one of the best Battle Round performances to date in the history of the show. Bryan and Malik trade line after line, matching each other and when they combine on harmonies, it’s perfect. And the fun begins when the coaches begin to speak. Pharrell points out that everyone was standing up and admits that either guy will get stolen, while Adam says he feels like he’ll be somebody’s coach. He points out that he doesn’t have anyone on his team that compares to what either guy does and that he won The Voice last year. Christina says they’re both amazing and she ends up picking Bryan, feeling that he was more cool, calm and collected. But as expected, all three coaches punch in for Malik to steal. Adam thinks Malik has the opportunity to get to the top. Pharrell says he would like to empower him. Blake says he has the potential to win it all, and says if he wants to be different he should go with him. Malik ends up going with Pharrell.

So how does it look after the first hour of the Battle Rounds?

5. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake)
4. Katie Basden (Team Blake)
3. Ryan Quinn (Team Adam)
2. Malik Heard (Team Pharrell)
1. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina)

Come back Tuesday night as The Voice returns at 8PM ET/PT on NBC with more Battle Rounds competitions.

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