'The Voice' Recap: The First Battle Round - Rolling Stone
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‘The Voice’ Recap: The First Battle Round

Blake fails while the show half-succeeds

Patrick Thomas and Tyler Robinson perform.

Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Coming off The Voice‘s pitch-perfect first two weeks, last night was definitely the hangover, stumbling around in a mild haze of how great things used to be. In this round, the judges let out two singers from their teams like attack hounds to duet in a fake boxing ring. The coaching took too long and the payoff wasn’t quite long enough, but there were some insightful moments, like when Blake Shelton showed himself to be a terrible judge of alternatives in the face of a stereotypical country voice. Here’s a rundown of how things went:

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Frenchie vs. Tarralyn:
Christina assigned Frenchie and Tarralyn “All the Single Ladies” and told them to “attack” it, which Christina demonstrated by singing lots of random words together. “I never worry about the words,” she said. Sign this woman up to sing the national anthem, quick! It seemed like Tarralyn had it in the bag, coming off a stellar critiquing session with Christina and guest mentor Sia. Plus, she was aggressively diva about everything, basically snapping her fingers in a “Z” formation every time Frenchie opened her mouth. But despite tending to sing flat, according to Sia, Frenchie took the win. Ladies and gentlemen: American Idol‘s and now The Voice‘s Frenchie Davis!

Tyler vs. Patrick
From the moment Blake first glimpsed Tyler, he seemed disappointed, saying Tyler looked like Drew Carey and insisted it was a compliment, even though there’s not even a slight resemblance and it probably wasn’t a compliment. It seemed possible Blake couldn’t tell people who wear glasses apart. Then last night, Blake all but blood-oathed Patrick “Texas” Thomas (not his real nickname) to fight hard against Tyler’s vocal tricks as Reba McEntire sat in silent approval. No way of telling if they were as forthcoming with Tyler, since the show didn’t bother showing us that critique. In the final showdown, the boys came at Elvis‘ “Burning Love” from different angles – Patrick was boring and Tyler was great. Tyler won by a landslide with the other judges, but not with his own. “Y’all have no idea how hard it is to make these decisions,” Blake tweeted to the masses before picking Patrick. R.I.P., Tyler. If only you’d gone with a cowboy hat instead of glasses as your first-impression accessory.

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Tim vs. Casey
Adam brought Maroon 5 musical director Adam Blackstone in for a mainly silent guest mentorship stint, guiding Casey through “Leather and Lace” for the first time. She and Tim took the stage with little internal drama and sang with lots of color in their voices, as J. Lo would say. Casey showed shades of Stevie Nicks and Jewel despite a squeaky speaking voice, a nice match for Tim’s vocal androgyny. Christina called it a “lovely” duet. But in the end, Adam passed over the guy he’d hoped was a girl for the real deal. “There’s just something about Casey Weston,” Adam said.

Niki vs. Vicci
Not clear if Cee Lo paired the tiny singers because their names rhyme, but whatever his logic, it was a brilliant, if stalematey match-up. Niki and Vicci worked beautifully together, high-fiving when Cee Lo called them sisters, and singing their hearts so far out they kept guest mentor Monica in a constant state of club-face. The highlight was the much-promoed snatch of chorus on Pink’s “Perfect.” When the lines surfaced from the boxing ring, it sounded like the work of a single voice. But in its solo moments, Vicci’s rich, husky contralto gave her a leg up. “There’s this gut-wrenching effect you have on me,” Cee Lo told her. Here’s to the continued wrenching of Cee Lo’s guts. Now can we reinstate the Dr. Claw chair, pretty please?

Last Episode: The End of a Two-Week-Long Era


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