Last night's episode was the beginning of the most intense part of the competition. Going into the Battle Rounds, each coach sends in two players from their team to compete head-to-head, and prove they are worthy to move on to the next round.
While tonight is the first night for elimination, it is also a night for redemption. With the return of the steal, each coach has two chances to steal a player up for elimination from another team, and bring them to their team for a second chance to compete.
Team Adam: Amber Carrington vs. Sasha Allen, "Try" by Pink
In the opening battle of the night, resident country superstar Amber Carrington faces the soulful mother of two Sasha Allen.
With the help of Hilary Scott, Adam puts two of his best competitors with completely opposite sounds together. While both contestants had a little issue with connecting with the song during rehearsal (Amber not enough, Sasha a little too much) it's what happened on the stage that counts. With both girls receiving rave reviews from each judge, the tough decision comes from their coach himself, when he chooses Amber in the "hardest decision of his life." As Sasha prepares to say goodbye to her coach and "The Voice," both Shakira and Usher turn around for the first steal of the season.
After a lot of powerful persuasion, and audience support, the first steal of the night goes to Shakira, as Sasha went with her gut, and declined Usher's chance to "take her all the way in the competition."
Team Shakira: Garret Gardner vs. J'Sun "How You Like Me Now" by The Who
For her first shot at the battle rounds, Shakira and mentor Joel Madden put together a duo, with completely opposite sounds and singing styles in a battle that showcased one of her stronger competitors against one of her favorites.
A "young Jim Morrison" (Garret) goes head-to-head with R&B powerhouse (J'Sun), who shows us he can take any sound, while adding his own flare to it. After the duo's performance of The Who's "How You Like Me Now," Shakira is faced with a tough decision. (Which wasn't as tough for us, due to how we think J'Sun dedicated most of the battles to his Michael Jackson-esque ad-libs versus adding just a little of his flare to the song.) Ignoring the suggestions from her peers, Shakira sticks with Garrett, sending J'Sun home in her team's first elimination.
Team Blake: Holly Tucker vs. Michelle Raitzin "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood
Putting together a duo who can bring "good music and a good riff," according to Coach Blake Shelton, the country musician enlisted the help of Sheryl Crow to compose a duo that would blow the audience and judges away.
The soft spoken Holly Tucker faces Michelle Raitzin, who according the Sheryl Crow, could "sing the phonebook and still sound good." The duo performs Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away," a song dealing with abuse from a father, which delivers a powerful message. The song requires a powerful sound to match.
Holly and Michelle leave their coach Blake feeling "sick to his stomach (in a good way … if that is possible) and with a tough decision to make. After asking host Carson Daiy if he can keep both, and being politely declined, he chooses 19-year-old Amber Carrington to advance to the next round of competition.
Team Usher Jess Kellner vs. Taylor Beckham "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse
With the help of music mogul Pharrell Williams, Team Usher puts together broad voices to go against each other in the battle round.
Jess Kellner and Taylor Beckham take on an Amy Winehouse classic. During rehearsals Usher unveiled his new practice method in which he asks the two members of his team to draw him closer to them with their voices. While it was hard for the duo to do so in practice, when it came down to competition, Usher believes Jess was able to do so, more than Taylor.
As a tearful Taylor prepares to say her goodbyes, Blake hits his big red button and grabs her with the steal, allowing Taylor to have another chance to advance in the competition and Blake to put his excellent strategy to use.
Team Blake: Christian Porter vs. The Swon Brothers "Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty
It's two-agains-one, as the guitar-slinging Swon Brothers go head-to-head with Christian Porter.
While Christian delivers with energy throughout the performance, and receives rave reviews from the other judges, the Swon Brothers were the "Swinners" of this part of the competition. With the chance to have someone steal him in the hopes of advancing in the competition on another team, there was no luck for young Christian Porter, who had to say goodbye to the judges and "The Voice."
Sidebar: For the record, Christian is not a novelty act, and should come back next season to compete. Or he should just put his amazing cover of "Sexy and I Know It" online.
Team Adam: Judith Hill vs. Karina Iglesias "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown
It's the battle of the century! Adam Levine puts together two of the competition's best players, who also happen to share the same team.
Judith Hill, who once sang back up for Michael Jackson, faces music teacher Karina Iglesias. The duo battle it out with strong vocals and stellar performances. They both prove that it indeed is a woman's world on this episode of "The Voice." Earning a standing ovation from all of the coaches (plus a freak-out from Blake) and the audience, the fate of both ladies is now in the hands of their coach. Adam is truly left with the hardest decision of the night. However, he decides to go with Judith Hill.
Never fear: Karina was also a winner as Shakira claimed her in the final steal of the night.
The Battle Rounds have already proved an amazing start of the competition. We look forward to seeing what Tuesday has to offer. Who are some of your favorites? Who is your favorite team so far? And have you decided which coach has the chance of winning this whole thing?