Eliminations, steals, screams, tears and lots of crazy, on-stage facial expressions -- the Battle Rounds of "The Voice" left me clapping my hands and scratching my head these last two episodes.
In typical network TV tradition, the most shocking steal was revealed during the very last minute when 17-year-old Ivonne Acero shut down Gwen Stefani and joined Blake Shelton's team. I didn't see that one coming. I'd understand if Blake's reasoning was as heartfelt and flattering as Gwen's plea, but his response was as fluffy as the skirt that Ivonne was wearing — pointing out that he also plants cantaloupes and they share the similarity of being on the show this and last year. I guess that was enough for the young, returning artist.
Besides Gwen's jaw drop, Blake seemed pretty shocked as well. He admitted to feeling a little bad about it but it's probably safe to expect that artists usually have a coach in mind when they're stolen in the Battle Rounds. As for 15-year-old "Sassy Siahna," her firecracker performance seemed to surely lock her into a spot on Team Pharrell.
Another surprise came when 45-year-old Manny Cabo was the first to go home last night after singing "Baba O'Riley" against 35-year old Keith Semple. For someone who claims to have no vocal experience, Manny can definitely sing. We even got a glimpse of Adam playing the air drums during their performance. Still, Keith's stage presence and effortless range drove him to the knockout rounds. His beautiful accent probably didn't hurt either. Unfortunately for Manny, his hairstyle was the only thing stolen by his own coach last night.
During the battle between two artists who've previously turned all four of the judges' chairs, Chris Crump and Krista Hughes, Blake didn't let his bias for country singers get in the way when he chose to keep Chris, the pop artist on his team.
Despite the changes their mentor, Brad Paisley, made to his own song, "When I Get Where I'm Going," Krista wasn't able to keep it consistent like Chris. Nevertheless, I still got shivers listening to the artists during both their rehearsals and on-stage performances. If there's one thing coaches are really harping on this season, it's the importance of a performer's ability to show raw emotion and connect with the audience on a deeper level. Inspired by the loess of his grandfather, Chris was able to make his performance exceptionally memorable.
With eight eliminations, four steals and a batch of artists still awaiting their fates in the Battle Rounds, we'll see who's still in the game next week. On Adam's team, Dustin Monk and Manny Cabo were sent home while Dustin Christensen became a new addition. On Blake's team, Krista Hughes and Tyler Dickerson left, and Ivonne Acero was the new steal. On Gwen's team, Alex Kandel and Noah Jackson said their goodbyes and Regina Love was saved. And on Pharrell's team, Celeste Betton and Sydney Rhame went home and Tim Atlas earned a steal.
Next week: It's the Knockout Rounds.