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'The Voice' recap: Battles end with a steal, not a whimper

October 23, 2013|By Amy Reiter
  • Carson Daly hoists Olivia Henken's hand as she is declared winner in a battle against Stephanie Anne Johnson on "The Voice."
Carson Daly hoists Olivia Henken's hand as she is declared winner… (Justin Lubin / NBC )

As "The Voice" battle rounds, with their exciting coach steals and boasts about the bestowal of second chances, wrapped up Tuesday and the anticipation kicked in for next week's knockout rounds, we got some interesting news: This season, the knockouts, in which coaches will again pair up their team members – this time to individually sing a song of the contestant's own choosing – will also include coach steals. Each coach will have a single treasured steal to use, and presumably coaches in pursuit of the same available singers will have to make their cases and hope to be chosen. That should zazz up the proceedings.

On Tuesday, Cee Lo Green, the only coach to begin the short evening of battles with an unused steal in his pocket, paired his two military dudes -- rocking, longhaired Air Force veteran Jonny Gray and Army Sgt. Shawn "Big Sexy" Smith -- on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Refugee." Blake Shelton thought country guy Smith had won. Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera preferred Gray. Aguilera confessed that she regretted not having turned for Gray during the blind auditions, telling him she found his "whole vibe," "energy," "look" and "background" to be "intriguing." Green apparently found him the more appealing of the two as well, picking Gray to move forward because his voice "cuts through" and he could see a clearer path ahead.

In Levine's final pairing, soul singers Barry Black and Preston Pohl squared off on the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain." Black, you may recall from the blinds, is the guy from American Samoa who captured attention by making a fluegelhorn noise with his mouth. Pohl is the singer whose arresting, exhilarating "Electric Feel" was one of those rare blind-audition highlights you find yourself watching over again days after it aired. Or at least I did. 

Though Levine said Black was the sort of singer who could "really surprise us," he worried about him cracking out his fluegelhorn gimmick again. Black was firm, saying the faux fluegel was "kind of my thing." Pohl, on the other hand, had a voice that could "convince you that he is a famous soul singer," Levine noted.  Shelton loved the fluegelhorn and found everything about Black to be "cool." But Green and Aguilera were clear in their preference for Pohl.

"You have the kind of voice, Preston, that you can't buy with vocal lessons. You just kind of have to have it," Aguilera said. "It's kind of like your voice comes from a different era.… It just draws you in. For me, it was a definite Preston win."

For Levine, too. Pohl was declared the victor, and though Shelton urged Green to steal Black, Green kept his hands off his button and Black and his invisible fluegelhorn were sent home.

After brief glimpses of Holly Henry, another standout from the blinds, advancing over Cilla Chan, and Brandon Chase over Emily Randolph, for Team Blake, and Green moving Tamara Chauniece along at the expense of Keaira LaShae, we were shown the final battle of the season. Aguilera pitted pretty blond country singer Olivia Henken against bubbly cruise-ship entertainer Stephanie Anne Johnson. The song she gave them, "Done" by the Band Perry, seemed tipped to give Henken the advantage, but Aguilera noted that there were hints of Aretha Franklin attitude in the song as well, which would suit Johnson.

In fact, Green and Levine thought Johnson took the match.  Shelton preferred Henken, though he sidestepped Levine's suggestion that it was because she resembles his wife, Miranda Lambert, "a little bit." Aguilera sided with Shelton, moving Henken forward and making Johnson available for Green to steal, which he did, happily.

"She's remarkably talented. I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do in the future," Johnson's new coach said of her.

And so we shall. On to the knockouts, when the knockers will be separated from the knockees. Or something.

Any favorites heading in?


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