'The Voice' recap, It's time for battle

For The Baltimore Sun

Finally, the night has arrived ... the most intense part of the competition ... the part of the show where it's all or nothing … the battle rounds.

First, a refresher: Each coach picks two members from their team to go head-to-head in a song battle. Whoever wins the battle advances to the knockout rounds; whoever loses ends his or her time at "The Voice." However, if another coach is impressed with the contestant who didn’t make it to the next round, they have the chance to hit their big red button and steal the player, giving them a second chance at their dream.

If that wasn’t pressure enough, the coaches have famous mentors helping them this season. R&B sensation Miguel is working with Team CeeLo. On Team Blake is the legendary Cher, and Team Adam gets Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder. Team Christina gets a boost from pop superstar and leader of the A-Team, Ed Sheeran.

Team Adam: Grey vs. Nic Hawk “Domino” by Jesse J

The night’s first battle was the battle of the opposites: Shy wedding singer Grey faced boisterous Nic Hawk. The duo put all of its energy into the Jesse J hit “Domino.” In rehearsals Adam and Ryan encouraged both performers to control their voices, and not outshine each other, and during the show, no one was to be outdone. In the end, Adam decided to go with Grey, but at the very last second, Blake hit his button and grabbed Nic Hawk in the oddest steal in the show's history.

Team Christina: Amber Nicole vs. Timyra-Joi “Listen” by Beyoncé

For two of the competition's youngest talents, Amber Nicole and Timyra-Joi blew the roof off of the building with their performance of “Listen.” Christina and Ed wanted to make sure the girls had a song that would showcase their big voices, and by the opening note it was clear "Listen" did. While the coaches  agreed Amber took control of her voice more, no one could deny the talent that Timyra-Joi showed, making Christina’s decision even harder. The winner of the round was Amber Nicole, and in an upset,  Timyra-Joi was sent home.

Team Blake: Justin Chain vs. Shelbie Z “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean & Kelly Clarkson

It was the outlaw vs. the cowgirl in Team Blake’s first battle. Justin Chain and Shelbie Z had to put their voices together and not only battle, but duet (in a song their coach is quite familiar with). Blake and Cher made sure the duo knew what it meant to sing the song together and harmonize, without out-doing each other. At the end of the performance, each judge felt Justin and Shelbie would make the perfect real-life music duo, but ultimately Coach Blake picked Shelbie Z as the winner.

Team CeeLo: Anthony Paul vs. Caroline Pennell “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber

Team CeeLo’s contestants had quite the act to follow after Team Christina set the bar high for all of the younger contestants in the competition. The outgoing show choir boy Anthony Paul faced the shy and quiet high school student Caroline Pennell. CeeLo and Miguel chose a song that both were familiar with, but complemented Anthony’s singing style more. However, during the battles, each contestant made the stripped down version of the song his own, blowing the coaches and the audience away. With the tables (or chairs) turned, CeeLo chose Caroline, the girl with the untraditional voice, and sent Anthony home, but only momentarily. Team Christina picked Anthony up after the steal.

Team Adam: Donna Allen vs. Tessanne Chin “Next to Me” by Emeli Sande

In the most epic battle of the night, Team Adam’s (and the competition's) biggest voices Donna Allen and Tessanne Chin performed “Next to Me.” During rehearsals Adam and Ryan agreed that Donna would have to cut down the intensity of her voice, and Tessanne would have to turn hers up just a little to have a fair competition. When it came time to perform, both women found their voice and pulled through with the performance of a lifetime. Tessanne won the battle, sending 54-year-old Donna Allen home.

Team Christina: Briana Cuoco vs. Jacquie Lee “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals

In the final battle of the night, personal assistant Briana Cuoco faced off against teen R&B singer Jacquie Lee. Coach Christina and mentor Ed Sheeran decided the girls would do a classic song that would match both of their voices, while challenging the two. After much excitement about making the song a little more “sassy” and meeting Ed Sheeran (It's OK, Jacquie, we would have fan-girled, too) it was time for the girls to take the stage. Both girls wowed the coaches but it was Jacquie who won the spot on Team Christina. Briana ended up on Team Blake after a steal.

After the first night of the battle rounds, anticipation is growing. With more battles and more chances for  coaches to steal, it’s already looking like this may be one of the show's most intense battle rounds.

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