'The Voice' Recap: Season 9 Battles Begin With Mentor Selena Gomez
With the Blind Auditions finally over, the heated Battle Round began on The Voice tonight, with coaches Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton tapping four celebrity advisors to come and get their respective artists ready for the next stage of the competition. Levine invited Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty; Stefani invited popstar Selena Gomez; Shelton invited country music sensation Brad Paisley; and Pharrell invited rapper and producer Missy Elliott.
Team Adam was up first, with Jordan Smith -- whose rendition of “Chandelier” stole the show in the Blind Auditions -- facing Atlanta radio host Regina Love in the ring. They sang “Like I Can” by Sam Smith. In their final rehearsal with Fogerty and Levine, they both brought it on the emotional and vocal fronts, and it looked like it was going to be a very close battle. Going into the battle, Love considered her life experience to be her strongest asset over Smith. As expected, it was a powerful performance, and Smith got to show off his impressive range. As Levine said while stalling his decision, they both command attention on stage. He probably made a mistake by pairing them. Ultimately, he chose Smith as the winner. Stefani went in for the steal, and Love remained in the competition. “You deserve to be on this show,” Stefani told Love.
Next, Shelton paired Tyler Dickerson and Zach Seabaugh, who quit football to pursue music, for the first Team Blake battle of the season. Paisley noted that Seabaugh has the more traditional country voice. Going into the battle, Seabaugh sounded the strongest in rehearsals. They sang “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” by Travis Tritt, and both artists delivered, but Seabaugh pushed harder than Dickerson, who still had some pitch issues. In what was a pretty clear decision, Shelton picked Seabaugh as the winner.
Over on Team Gwen, Stefani matched Ellie Lawrence and Tim Atlas, who both proved to be very creative artists in the Blind Auditions. Stefani gave them “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood. Gomez complimented Lawrence’s vocal control, and Stefani highlighted Atlas’s rhythm as one of his strengths going into the battle. Lawrence looked a lot more comfortable on stage, but both sounded great during the performance, and Stefani and Gomez made the right call by telling Atlas to ditch the guitar. Stefani crowned Lawrence as the winner, and Pharrell immediately stole Atlas.
Next, Pharrell and Missy Elliott prepared Celeste Betton and Mark Hood for battle, giving them “Ain't No Mountain High Enough.” Hood pulled out some stunning runs in their first rehearsal. Both artists actually moved Elliott to tears with their initial rehearsal, so it was clear right away that something special would come from this incredibly even matchup. Hood got the performance started, and Betton matched his electrifying energy. They were quite the dynamic duo, and it was unfortunate that only one could walk away the winner. “That was my favorite battle that I have ever seen,” Stefani said. Pharrell was left to make the toughest decision of the night. He eventually chose Hood, who he thinks could go on to win the whole season. The rest of the coaches made a mistake by not stealing Betton.
Team Adam’s James Dupre and Dustin Monk were up next, and Levine gave them Fogarty’s own “Fortunate Son” to sing, so the pressure was on in rehearsals, but the two artists handled the song well and managed to impress their advisor. Monk took more risks with his performance but had a few pitch problems. Dupre played it safer, but his technical skills were more precise. Adam picked Dupre as the winner.
The final battle of the night paired Barrett Baber and Dustin Christensen from Team Blake. Shelton chose “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn for their song, and both Baber and Christensen had very similar sounds. The biggest thing for Christensen to work on was getting his energy up to the same level as Baber, which he still struggled with in the final rehearsal, but by the time of the performance, he looked a lot more comfortable. It was a solid performance to end the night on, and Levine said it was another very close matchup. Pharrell said if it were his choice, he would probably crown Baber the winner, and Shelton agreed, picking Baber over Christensen. It wasn’t the end of the road for Christensen, however, as Levine and Stefani both swooped in for a multi-button steal. Levine and Stefani re-pitched Christensen, who ultimately joined Team Adam.
The Battle Round continues tomorrow night on The Voice. What was your favorite performance of the night?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.