It's that time on The Voice: the battle rounds are back.
Just in case the details are fuzzy, the battles are where teammates go head-to-head in a vocal duel and one is eliminated on the spot. But even if they get the boot, there's still a chance one of the other coaches could steal them. (Each coach gets two steals for the entire round.)
Kicking things off was wedding singer Grey versus flamboyant Nic Hawk from Adam Levine's team (who worked with OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder as an advisor this week). Singing Jessie J's "Domino," they both possessed strong voices – hers smooth, his spunky – so the choice seemingly came down to style and personality. Grey exuded the typical singing-competition confidence, and she looks the part – a pretty but nondescript brunette. Nic, on the other hand, had a spastic energy and uncommon appearance for this type of show, rocking a pompadour and pierced septum.
In the end, Adam picked Grey to stay on his team because of her "effortless" vocals. But when Nic started to cry while preparing to leave the stage, Blake Shelton pulled the first steal of the season, saying, "Oh, Adam, you screwed up so bad" before calling himself and Nic "an odd couple." And it's indeed an interesting choice for Blake.
Blake quickly blew through his second steal when he also picked up Briana Cuoco, sister of Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco. Briana lost her spot on Christina Aguilera's team after falling short in her battle against Jacquie Lee on the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun." (Advisor for Team Xtina was English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.)
Despite an unimpressive showing so far with sharp notes and garbled words, Briana somehow got both Blake and Cee Lo Green interested in stealing her. If Big Bang weren't on CBS we'd be inclined to think it was all a ploy to cross-promote shows, but The Voice airs on NBC, so the enthusiasm for Briana is just plain baffling. According to Blake, she's a "dark horse." But unless Big Bang viewers jam the phone lines, we think he wasted his last steal.
That's OK though, 'cause he's got plenty of other acts to fall back on, including 21-year-old pageant girl-turned-country singer Shelbie Z., who Blake kept around following an intense duet with opponent Justin Chain. After getting some tips from advisor Cher, who seemed to have a hell of a time speaking through her taut mouth, the pair performed a fiery yet tender rendition of Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson's "Don't You Wanna Stay." While Shelbie isn't the typical size zero that America has been conditioned to vote for, Blake stuck by her, leaving Justin to fall by the wayside.
The only other steal of the night came when Christina nabbed show choir kid Anthony Paul from Team Cee Lo (whose advisor was Miguel, in case anyone's keeping track). It was another questionable choice, considering how unremarkable Anthony was during his battle against shy girl Caroline Pennell. In his defense, though, Cee Lo didn't pick a great song for either of their voices: Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me." Caroline's lilting, Lilith Fair-like voice got completely lost in the shuffle of the song, but Cee Lo still chose to keep her over Anthony because she "encourages me to dream with my eyes open."
Rounding out the night, Christina also kept 17-year-old Amber Nicole on her team, cutting 15-year-old Timyra-Joi – who surprisingly didn't get stolen by anyone.And Adam Levine chose Asian Jamaican Tessanne Chin over Tina Turner sound-alike Donna Allen, who also did not wind up on another team.
While it's too early to tell who has the best team, it seems like Adam has made the safest choices so far. But does that necessarily mean "the best?"
Previous recap: Coaches Gang Up on 'Cocky' Blake Shelton