Did anyone realize that Blake Shelton had a steal left? He’d only reminded his fellow Voice coaches at seemingly every free moment, so tonight’s “dramatic” conclusion to the Battle Rounds was telegraphed right from the top of the show.
Nonetheless, the fourth night of inter-team pairings went out with a bang, as Team Adam Levine’s DeAndre Nico and Nigerian-born Funsho tackled New Edition’s stormy 1989 Number One “Can’t Stand the Rain,” which Levine chose based on both men’s love of Bruno Mars. Nico showed off his power and rich, rounded tone, while Funsho came off as more silky and spry. Calling it “one of the best Battle Rounds of the season,” Levine chose Nico to stay on. That left Shelton free to use his steal on Funsho, deriding Levine’s decision to pair the two men as one of the “great bonehead moves.”
Elsewhere, the other coaches had easier choices by pairing singers with obviously contrasting styles. On Kelly Clarkson’s team — assisted by guest coach Thomas Rhett — 15-year-old Sarah Grace took on Erika Zade, singing Alice Merton’s 2017 hit “No Roots.” The blues-friendly melody was a more comfortable mode for Grace, who shined with a confident series of growls and blue notes, even as Zade did her best to keep up. Clarkson, who admitted she loved Grace’s blues-singing “stink face,” chose to keep her around for at least one more week.
Shelton’s team battle between Kameron Marlowe and Kayley Hill was also a study in contrasts, though it made for a more difficult choice at the end of the performance. With their slowed-down, groove-heavy take on Hootie & the Blowfish’s “I Only Wanna Be With You,” Marlowe got to emphasize his gritty, emotive delivery as he revved up for a big second verse, while Hill displayed a touch of Ashley Monroe’s mountain soul in her nimble, upper-register runs. Marlowe’s decision to perform without guitar — encouraged by guest coach Keith Urban — may have been the right call, as Hill was forced to stay in place while he moved around the stage. That boded well for Marlowe, as Shelton reluctantly chose him after Levine tut-tutted both performers for having been “brainwashed” enough to join Shelton’s team in the first place.
A handful of other hopefuls didn’t get the full video package treatment this time around. Clarkson’s team members Claire DeJean and Josh Davis sang JP Cooper’s “All This Love,” with DeJean getting to move ahead. Team Blake’s Caeland Garner squared off against Kirk Jay on David Nail’s “Let It Rain,” with Shelton choosing Jay to remain. Jennifer Hudson’s team members Kennedy Holmes and Lela threw down on Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield,” but Hudson felt Holmes was “more ready” to continue in the competition.
The Voice returns on October 29th, when it shifts to the 15th season’s first night of Knockouts.