The Battles began on season 14 of The Voice, with the coaches all tapping a celebrity mentor to help prep their teams for the next stage of the competition. Julia Michaels joined Team Adam; Trace Adkins joined Team Blake; Shawn Mendes joined Team Alicia; and Hailee Steinfeld joined Team Kelly. Each coach gets two steals during this round.
The first battle matchup was Jamai and Sharane Calister from Team Alicia. Keys had them sing Mendes’ own “Mercy.” Both were very powerful singers, and they sounded great together. “They blew the roof off this whole place,” Keys said after their first rehearsal. This season showed battle stage rehearsals, and Calister and Jamai both seemed ready in theirs, exhibiting confidence.
In their battle, both Jamai and Calister showcased impressive performance skills and delivered on the vocal front, too. They were very evenly matched, leaving Keys with a hard decision. The coaches all seemed stumped as to who the frontrunner was, but Keys picked Calister as the winner, and no one opted to steal Jamai.
For her first battle ever, Clarkson paired former boy band singer Dylan Hartigan and the 14-year-old artist Brynn Cartelli. She had them sing an edgy arrangement of “Ready For It” by Taylor Swift that suited both of their voices. Steinfeld and Clarkson worked with them on figuring out how to move on stage. Clarkson said they did their homework for their stage rehearsal.
In their performance, Hartigan and Cartelli were well matched, too. They had strong chemistry on stage, and together they transformed the song into something totally new. “You’re a star,” Levine told Certelli, adding that even though Hartigan’s energy was infectious, he thought Cartelli was the winner. Clarkson chose Cartelli, and just when it looked like Hartigan might go home, Shelton stole him.
Team Blake was up next, and Shelton paired former competitive bodybuilder JessLee with experienced backup singer Kyla Jade. Shelton said he wanted to give them something outside of their respective genres, so he had them sing “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande. Jade realized in rehearsal that she needed to find a more aggressive approach since she was reverting back to being backup. In their stage rehearsal, Jade had improved in asserting herself and making sure she was taking up enough space.
Though it was a strange song choice for both artists, they ended up delivering a fun battle that allowed them to showcase their technical abilities. Keys praised JessLee’s versatility and said Jade still needs to work on opening herself up. Shelton chose Jade, and JessLee went home.
Team Adam was up next, with Levine pairing Rayshun LaMarr and Tish Haynes Keys. He had them sing “Sweet Thing” by Chaka Khan. Michaels said she can feel that LaMarr, who overcame cancer, has been through a lot when she hears him sing. LaMarr said he was nervous to battle Keys because of how “flawless” she has been so far. In their stage rehearsal, both artists were at the top of their game. It was bound to be a killer battle.
LaMarr and Keys indeed brought the heat in their final performance, and both struck that ideal balance between working together but also striving for their own edge. Clarkson said Keys reminded her of Aretha and said she would probably pick her, but Shelton said it was equal. Levine surprised by choosing LaMarr, but it seemed inevitable that Keys would be stolen. Clarkson went for it, scooping up Keys for Team Kelly.
Team Alicia was back up, this time with a battle from Christiana Danielle and Shana Halligan. Keys had them sing “Use Somebody” by Kings Of Leon. Keys compared Danielle’s voice to Ella Fitzgerald’s and praised the indie quality of Halligan’s voice. Their coach came up with a lovely, indie folk arrangement of the song to suit both of their voices. Mendes said he was drawn to Danielle’s tone in rehearsal.
Their final performance was gorgeous and emotional. It can sometimes be harder to pull off a battle with more subtle, slow arrangements like this, but Danielle and Halligan found ways to make it just as dynamic and engaging as the more upbeat song choices. Halligan occasionally struggled with her enunciation, but there’s something special about her voice. “The moments that were powerful were very, very powerful,” Levine said. Shelton said he would pick Halligan, but it was ultimately up to Keys. She chose Danielle, and Halligan went home.
Team Kelly closed out the night with a battle from D.R. King and Jackie Foster. Clarkson had them sing “Sign Of The Times” by Harry Styles, a song choice that fit both of them well. “They are incredibly big singers,” Clarkson said, adding that she thought they could handle it. They definitely did, already sounding strong in their first rehearsal. Clarkson was specific with her coaching, and it paid off, pushing King and Foster to new levels.
Foster and King closed out the night of battles powerfully, both showing off their huge voices without ever oversinging. They are both powerhouse singers, and they made it difficult for Clarkson to choose a winner. “That was honestly my favorite battle to date,” Keys said, adding that the situation “sucked” for Clarkson. But she had to choose, and she went with King, leaving Foster on the chopping block. But all three coaches swooped in for a chance to steal Foster, who chose to join Team Adam.
The Battle Round continues tomorrow night on The Voice.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.