Paulina and Dez Duron sing it out on "The Voice." (Tyler Golden/NBC )
It was another night, another batch of battles on Monday's "The Voice," as more talented singers faced off. Some promising vocalists were unexpectedly sent home, and some were surprisingly saved.
Here's how it all went down:
Pairing: Hardworking mariachi singer Julio Cesar Castillo vs. fiery 42-year-old Terisa Griffin
Thoughts going in: Castillo has a boyish Latin charm and solid vocals to boot, while Griffin can belt with the best of them. But would he be able to conquer the words? Would Griffin overpower not just her coach, but the song as well?
The performances: The singers did their best with a tough-to-tackle song, but the way the coaches Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine were laughing at their efforts made me almost feel like Blake Shelton had set them up.
The response: "For the first time on this show, I'm kinda speechless," Aguilera said. Levine echoed her sentiments, noting, "Blake, you've really outdone yourself on this one." CeeLo Green, though, appeared to genuinely enjoy both performers. Shelton thought they both did "awesome," but ultimately picked Castillo because it seemed he'd "probably put the most work into it."
Winner: Julio Cesar Castillo
Steal? Yes! Green, who in blind auditions had compared Griffin to every woman in his life (mother, sister, ex-wife), decided he had room for one more spitfire and snapped her up. "That connection with people," he said, "you can't pretend that."
Pairing: Cute second-chancer Dez Duron vs. sassy 16-year-old Paulina
Song: "Just the Way You Are"
Thoughts going in: Something about Paulina irritates me – it might be the way she said she'd never heard another voice quite like her own, or the way she seemed irked by Aguilera's suggestions. Duron, on the other hand, just seems humble and hungry … and did I mention cute?
The performances: Paulina's vocals came off as affected and occasionally pitch-challenged, while Duron's seemed solid, if not stellar.
The response: Green, Levine and Shelton all said nice things about Paulina (she's 16, after all), but gave the match to Duron. Would Aguilera break from the pack and choose the pretty girl over the pretty boy? Nope, she too gave the win to Duron, crediting his "consistency."
Winner: Dez Duron
Steal? No. (Phew.)
Pairing: Former race-car driver Benji vs. bar manager Sam James
Song: "Shot Through the Heart"
Thoughts going in: James has vocal strength and a certain charm, but Benji has that scream and that smooth swagger. Seemed as if the match could go either way.
The performances: James hit his lane and stayed there, while Benji built in intensity as the song went on. Not sure there was a clear winner.
The response: Levine's fellow coaches were impressed by Benji's trademark rock-and-roll scream. Shelton thought Benji was either willing to explore a little more or had a better range, and Green contended that both those things were true and that Benji emerged the winner. But Levine's was the vote that counted, and he picked James' vocal control over Benji's theatrics, calling the latter an "unpolished diamond."
Winner: Sam James
Pairing: All-around unusual faithful family man Nicholas David vs. clear-voiced expectant dad Todd Kessler
Song: "She's Gone"
Thoughts going in: It was sweet that these bearded Midwestern dudes, both with babies on the way, had become friends, but unless David deliberately threw the competition his pal Kessler's way, you had to figure the match was going to be his. So much soul in that guy's voice, and he's fascinating to watch.
The performances: Both singers sounded terrific, and especially great together. But David is a glinty, glinty star. You couldn't take your eyes off him.
The response: After giving Kessler props, the coaches all marveled over David's "unique" style. Shelton even compared him to both Barry White and Jesus. Green said he appreciated both singers equally, but maybe his appreciation wasn't completely equal, because he picked "Saint Nick."
Winner: Nicholas David
Steal? No, but Kessler reassured us that he's "not going home brokenhearted," which was thoughtful.
Pairing: Lelia Broussard vs. Suzanna Choffel in an indie-singer-songwriter matchup
Song: "Dog Days Are Over"
Thoughts going in: Choffel was one of my favorites in the blind auditions, but she seemed to be struggling to define herself as a performer. Broussard has her own musical intensity. Still, I couldn't help but root for Choffel.
The performances: Both terrific and a nice blend, but Choffel seemed to have gotten over her timidity, delivered well, and emerged with the edge.
The response: The coaches liked both performances, but generally preferred Choffel. That included Shelton, who said, "I think Suzanna won this battle."
Winner: Suzanna Choffel
Steal? Surprisingly, no.