Just a baby step away from the live rounds (which start next week), the coaches continued to cut their teams in half by pairing off teammates to perform against one another, choosing one to stay and one to go.
But in a new twist this season, each coach got one final steal – which could be used to get someone back who had been given the boot in the battle rounds. And that’s exactly what Adam and Xtina did. (Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton had used their steals the previous night.)
The first to execute the mind-boggling switch was Christina, who stole back cruise-ship singer Stephanie Anne Johnson from Cee Lo after he dumped her in favor of gospel singer Tamara Chauniece. A win-win for everyone involved, but it seemed like Xtina eked out a better deal.
While Tamara may have come across sexier and more marketable in a slinky outfit, Stephanie was the superior performer – despite what the coaches had to say. While they lapped up Tamara’s reggae-tinged version of Alicia Keys‘ “No One” (Cee Lo called her a “young Anita Baker”), her awkward arrangement, over-enunciation and fake Jamaican accent made for an off-putting performance. On the flipside, Stephanie wasn’t perfect, but she came across as more genuine with her simple, guitar-driven rendition of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.”
After Christina seemingly jumped on the Tamara bandwagon (“you blew the roof off”), the pop star pulled a fake-out on Stephanie – dramatically leaning over her button before going in for the steal. Had she used reverse psychology to get what she wanted?
Later, Adam followed suit by stealing back his own former contestant, hipster Will Champlin. The son of Chicago guitarist Bill Champlin went head-to-head with rocker Matthew Schuler in a battle for the last spot on Xtina’s team. While Matthew mopped the floor with Will with his intense, pitch-perfect performance of “Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine, allowing him to stay on Team X, Will did just enough with Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” to make Adam want him back. Another win-win.
But that steal-back wasn’t the only surprising stunt Adam pulled. It was pretty questionable when he let 16-year-old whiz-kid Juhi go in favor of Rivers Cuomo look-alike James Wolpert.
Losing the thick-rimmed glasses and Revenge of the Nerds-inspired wardrobe, James transformed into generic singer Number 267 to grace the Voice stage when he busted out a pitchy, screechy rendition of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” Meanwhile, Juhi’s bouncy, rock-tinged version of Marvin Gaye‘s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (by way of Creedence Clearwater Revival) had its own problems, but her unique voice and cutesy personality gave her the edge. Or should have. But Adam chose James, “based on the fact that in my own career I’ve faltered and come back from making mistakes.” When the other coaches raised their eyebrows at the pick, Adam once again defended James, saying he was just having “a bad day.”
A cutesy singer who did make it through was 17-year-old shy-girl Caroline Pennell, who beat out Romanian-American R&B singer George Horga Jr. for a spot on Team Cee Lo. Picking the absolutely perfect song to showcase her voice – “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson – Caroline proved she could be a real contender in the competition. Blake summed it up nicely, saying, “Caroline makes me want to get a cat and a pink blanket and a little fire going in the house and curl up with a cup of hot chocolate.”
Other singers making it through to the next round included former Christian rocker Preston Pohl, who beat out model-turned-singer Lina Gaudenzi on Team Adam; 16-year-old vocal powerhouse Jacquie Lee, who overtook show choir kid Anthony Paul on Team Christina;and single dad Ray Boudreaux and bearded singer-songwriter Austin Jenckes, who bested actress E.G. Daily and the non-descript Brandon Chase, respectively, on Team Blake.
With the teams fleshed out with five members apiece, the show moves into the live rounds next week – and it’s anybody’s game, as each coach has a mixed bag of contestants and one or two standouts. Ones to watch include Asian Jamaican Tessanne Chin on Team Adam, plus-size country girl Shelbie Z. on Team Blake, Schuler and Carrie Underwood knockoff Olivia Henken on Team Christina, and teens Amber Nicole and Pennell on Team Cee Lo.
Previous recap: Cee Lo Green Disses Blake Shelton’s Team