The Voice Recap: Once More, With Stealing!

de'borah the voiceNot since Jesus Christ turned water into wine has there been as miraculous an upgrade as what we saw during the first set of Battle Rounds on Season 3 of The Voice.

What once was an exercise in frustration — watching the coaches pair up their team members in head-to-head sing-offs, then too often sending the wrong contestants home — became something that was equal parts thrilling and satisfying with the addition of “The Steal,” in which competing coaches can hit a button and add a total of two Battle Rounds losers to their teams before the live shows begin.

I’m so stoked by this development, in fact, that I’ve written a celebratory ditty to the tune of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” And it goes a little something like this…

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Tonight’s the night the Battle Rounds stopped sucking
Great singers they stopped pushing to the side
We still remember cool Rebecca Loebe
And Jamie Lono‘s exit made us die

But now they’re stealing, reeling
The unjustly booted squealing
A brand new button, for rebuttin
I just can’t get enough
This ep did not move slow, you surely know

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it
They flipped the Battles upside down and I think I like it
I’m so excited, The Steal delighted
And who knows, who knows, who knows, who knows what they’ll do

I know, I know…that was cheesy, and not even Cee Lo pressed his button. So let’s break down each individual battle — ranked from least- to most-promising winner:

Team Cee Lo: Diego Val defeats JR Aquino | It’s important to keep in mind that the coaches still have to look forward to the “Knockout Round,” during which they’ll pair their 10 contestants who’ve survived the Battle Roundds in another set of head-to-head matchups. Instead of tackling duets, though, the Knockouts will feature each contestant performing a solo number of his or her choosing, and then the coaches declaring five separate winners who’ll serve as their team for the live shows. In other words, while Diego certainly outperformed “YouTube sensation” J.R. (who finished his big notes with all the strength of a newborn baby’s sneeze), the Peruvian dude (who suffered from a “he didn’t prepare enough in rehearsals” edit) has the look of definite future cannon fodder. I mean, why else would Cee Lo force these cats to sing “Jessie’s Girl”?

Team Blake: Terry McDermott defeats Casey Meussigman | Blake may be the least “spectacle-oriented” of the Voice‘s coaching lineup, but here’s hoping he stages a full-scale hair intervention before Terry has another chance to terrorize America with his shaggy, straggly mullet. (Fun “fact”: A similar ’80s-era scalp, attributed to Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, was appraised as being worth nearly $7,500 on a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow.) All kidding aside, though, the evening’s first Battle Round was also its least suspenseful: As Blake’s advisor Michael Bublé noted, Terry’s full-throttle wailing — and occasionally daring choices with the melody of Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” — were reminiscent of “an awesome ’80s rock singer,” leaving Casey’s solid-but-unspectacular pipes as nothing more than dust in the wind.

Team Blake: Gracia Harrison defeats 2Steel Girls | Xtina said she’d give Gracia the edge because she showed “a little more playfulness,” but let’s be honest, a death-row prison guard probably looks less menacing than the younger half of 2Steel Girls did on this performance of “Sin Wagon.” (Why the face?!) Gracia, for her part, didn’t nail her vocal quite as precisely as she did in the blind auditions, but in her defense, there’s not much room to bring the yodel on the Dixie Chicks’ rollicking, rapid-fire ditty. Plus, her final glory note had more power behind it than her mother-daughter competition combined.

Team Adam: Bryan Keith defeats Collin McLoughlin (Collin stolen by Blake Shelton) | To be fair, Bryan pretty much wrapped up the win over Collin the moment Adam assigned to the duo Sublime’s “Santeria,” a boast of a song with a cool, islandic tempo that seemed completely at odds with the latter singer’s acoustic-strumming earnestness. Collin’s attempts to get his swagger on — “you came out with beastly intentions,” was how Adam described it — seemed as natural to me as Jim Lehrer moderating a debate between Kim Kardashian and that tree stump she married (and split from) last year. Which is why I sort of understood Blake and Cee Lo pressing their “Steal” buttons on Collin’s behalf, even if his performance seemed inauthentic. I mean, doesn’t he deserve half a chance to prove himself on a song he might actually choose in real life? Blake, meanwhile, said he noticed a couple of pitch problems in Bryan’s performance, but I thought the dude’s vocal was spot-on — and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still in the competition well after Election Day.

Team Cee Lo: Trevin Hunte defeats Amanda Brown (Amanda stolen by Adam Levine) | I wish there was a symbol on my keyboard that could accurately sum up the intense display of holleration Trevin and Amanda gave on “Vision of Love.” I mean, come on, this duo treated Mariah Carey’s very first hit like it was an Olympic volleyball match: They lobbed it, they spiked it, they served it hardcore. My favorite part of this pairing was the way Trevin and Amanda clearly respected and admired what the other one was doing from rehearsals all the way to the final run of glory notes right there in the Battle Rounds boxing ring. (Bonus points to Trevin for cheering backstage as Amanda found herself courted by all three of Cee Lo’s competitiors.) A close runner-up was Adam reassuring the pair right away that he planned on hitting his “Steal” button no matter which one Cee Lo rejected. Most importantly, though, the addition of the “Save” meant that we Voice fans didn’t have to endure what Cee Lo himself admitted was a foolish move: Not realizing Amanda’s ability to ride a ballad like those blue folks on the giant bird creatures in Avatar, he treated her like cannon fodder to clear the way for his clear favorite Trevin. “I shouldn’t have paired ya’ll together. I’m mad,” he admitted, once Amanda tipped her enormous instrument during rehearsals. Now that both singers are advancing, though, we can find out if they’ll be aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaa-aaaaa-aaaa-lllll that they’ll turn out to bee-eee-eee-eee-eee-uhh-ohhh-uhhh-eeee-uhhh (or something like that).

Team Christina: De’Borah defeats Nelly’s Echo | Good editing job by The Voice producers, who ramped up the suspense and had me believing that church singer De’Borah, with her lack of knowledge about secular hits, would self-destruct trying to nail “Message in a Bottle” — and disappoint Xtina and her adviser Billie Joe Armstrong. Both pros gave De’Borah solid advice: Xtina advising her to figure out how exactly she wanted to attack the melody, then learn to be consistent doing it, and the Green Day singer sagely telling her that even her mistakes in rehearsal sounded pretty good. Once she hit the stage, though, De’Borah took the Police composition in new and unexpected directions, adding some crazy-good ad libs and an avalanche of soul. (I may or may not have let out a “work, woman!” as she hit the chorus.) The dubiously named solo act Nelly’s Echo, meanwhile, tried way too hard to put his own stamp on the track — and stamped his own chances into the ground in the process. (Uff da, those opening high notes were rough.) As if De’Borah’s win wasn’t satisfying enough, we also were treated to shots of her super-enthusiastic/tearful dad going wild in the audience for his little girl. She’d better bring him to the live shows: The guy has to be worth at least a few thousand votes, no?

And with that, let me turn things over to you: Who were your favorites from The Voice‘s initial Battle Round of Season 3? Did you dig The Steal? Were there any moments that made you blind with fury? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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58 Comments
  1. AJM says:

    I LOVE the steal. I think it’s a great concept, and it really makes the show move along. Although I can’t figure out what this show’s obsession is with Collin.

    • Rain says:

      I’m baffled by the Colin obsession as well.

    • Alienate says:

      The Steal is GREAT!
      It solidifies The Voice as my number 1 singing show.
      1. Voice
      2. Idol ( close second )
      3. X-Factor ( distant third )

    • Tina says:

      LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! The Steal, Sooo much better that the dreaded good-for-nothing, dumba$$ Judges Save on AI. It seems so predetermined who they’re going to use it on when the live shows begins. The steal however, was so spontaneous and in the moment, based on what just happened. And forced the coaches to sell themselves all over again. It made the Battle Rounds so exciting. Just wish it was around last year, we wouldn’t have seen Jamar and Juliet saved and going head to head on opposite teams til the end. Oh Well, looking forward to tonight.

      • Trent says:

        Tina, the Jamar vs Juliet battle was EXACTLY what I was thinking of during this episode! LOVE the Steal and agree that it makes the judges much more involved during the Battle Rounds (and keeps us more interested as well). I just wish someone had tried to steal Nelly’s Echo — as much as I loved De’Borah, Nelly had a great voice and sounded uncannily like Sting on that song (at least during the rehearsal footage). I’m LOVING The Voice this year!

  2. Forwarddad says:

    Trevin all the way followed by Bryan Keith

  3. sara says:

    I was shocked no one snatched up Nelly’s. Don’t get these judges at all. Trevin was amazing. Love him.

  4. Aria says:

    Love the Steal, but don’t get too excited… there’s a “knockout” round before the live shows where each team is narrowed down to five.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I like the idea of the knockout round but I sort of wish this is when we took over and voted the top 5 instead of the coaches.

  5. Julie says:

    Trevon vs. Amanda was a religious experience.

    Aside from Trevon vs. Amanda and De’Borah vs. Nelly’s Echo, the performances were pretty lackluster

  6. Snsetblaze says:

    What was interesting was that Ceelo just about admitted that he set Amanda up as cannon fodder. Her initial audition was only ok but she was fantastic tonight.

    • Ty says:

      I thought her initial audition was fantastic. Go back and listen to her runs and tone, it was spot on, she did not falter or lose the melody, like AT ALL. She is an astonishingly good singer, anyone who did not like her original performance probably has issues with the song valerie itself.

      I was surprised that cee lo was the only one that turned around for her, she is consistently underrated. Even better for her though, she is confident in what she is singing. She just launched into effing mariah carrey like she was freaking walking down the street, no strain, no wild and flailing melody, spot the f#$k on. I don’t worry that she will lose the melody or forget words or hit off notes anywhere near as much as some others, including Trevin… That guy conjures shadows of Jacob Lusk in my head. It has never gotten bad like him, but I worry it will burst out of some unholy seam, and it scares me.

      Michael Slezak would understand my fear.

      • Snsetblaze says:

        You know, you may be right. It was not the right song for her. I did go back and listen. I remember liking her the first time and was glad that someone took her but I don’t remember being amazed by her like I was last night. I do remember thinking at the time that since only one turned for her that she was cannon fodder. And again, Ceelo basically admitted that. And I get the Jacob Lusk thing as well. I was impressed with Jacob’s first audition but Trevin’s was not my favorite. I did like him last night. I thought she was better.

      • Trent says:

        Ty, I liked Amanda’s original audition as well, and was surprised that Cee Lo was the only one who hit his button. But like him, I was STUNNED when that huge voice came out of her at the rehearsal. As you said, she didn’t strain or oversing, just hit that difficult melody like she was heading to the deli for a sandwich. I don’t know who “Jacob Lusk” is, but if he’s as good as Trevin then he must be a great singer. That Trevin/Amanda battle was EARGASMIC.

    • Leila says:

      She is classy, elegant and professional, and was totally underrated during the blind auditions. I guess it was due to her song choice.

      • TheBeach says:

        I totally agree with all the above. I think she’s the whole package and her experience showed last night with inexperienced Trevin. I really am not a fan of the song”Valerie”…don’t know why, but just don’t like it much…and it did her no favors in blind auditions. I’m so glad she got to shine last night.

  7. Michelle says:

    Seeing the embedded video of Reality Check makes me realize that we haven’t seen a new one in a few weeks. I’m going to assume Melinda was very busy with her show the past couple weeks and now that it’s over, you will both return to your ever-amazing recaps! Thanks! :)

    • Maj says:

      If I’m not mistaken Michael tweeted today there would be no RC this week either but it should be back next week. Can’t wait! :)

  8. Amber says:

    Love the steal! It makes the battle rounds so much more fun!

  9. Leila says:

    I liked that rocker Terry won over the country guy who was going all Toby Keith on him. AndTerry’s family is adorable.

  10. emily says:

    When are you updating Reality Check

  11. Taylor says:

    Why the hell did Ceelo pick Diego over JR? That fool didn’t even get the lyrics right. He had time to prepare. And JR was all around just better than him. So disappointing.

    • Addictedtobadtv says:

      Two words. Cannon fodder.

    • Rain says:

      This is the one that upset me the most. Diego was TERRIBLE! JR might not have been the best of the night, but he was 100 times better than Diego.

      • Ehyeh says:

        lol, no way JR was a 100 times better than Diego. more like Diego was a 100 times more interesting than JR.

        i’m looking forward to the “stranger” things CeeLo has planned for Diego, it could be for the better or for the worse like an epic trainwreck, either way it’s a win-win for me

    • Pearl says:

      Honestly, I just was surprised that Corey’s version of the song was much better and peleasant to hear. When an actor (that is not Broadway suited) sounds better than you do, you’re in serious trouble!

  12. Leo says:

    De’Borah’s still the best for me.

  13. Phill says:

    the rehearsals still drags the show a lottttt theres TOO MUCH backstory.

  14. MB says:

    Loved tonights battle rounds. The save made it so much better. The Voice usually lost me at the battle rounds because I found them so frustating. This new twist made it so much more fun. Also I have to say I like the judges behavior so much better than last season. They must have listened to the fans disgust and decided to play nicer. I couldn’t stand Christina last season but she is redeeming herself by not acting like such a spoiled bi__h. I also think they have stronger talent this year.

  15. Kathy says:

    By far, Amanda and Trevin was the best! I love the steal. As Adam said himself, Ceelo was an idiot pairing Amanda and Trevin and was first to say whoever Ceelo chose; he would steal!!! I am so glad Amanda is staying on and on Adam’s team.

  16. Louise says:

    OT, but what happened to “Reality Check?” I don’t keep up with any talent shows anymore, but I adore Michael and Melinda.

  17. ET says:

    I love the new “steal” addition to the battle rounds!! This show now ROCKS!! It is SO much better than X-Factor that there’s no use even trying to compare the two. And no one on The Voice forgets the notes…..

  18. Tedatbent says:

    Love, love, love, love, love, love, love Amanda. A real singer/stylist, instead of just a glory note singer. Tevin is good, but every line of the song is NOT a glory note. He needs to learn the meaning of the word nuance.

  19. DQ says:

    I REALLY, REALLY, enjoyed the show last night. I loved all the battles and agreed with all the winners and steals. The steal is the best thing since sliced bread–saving great singers from early demise.

  20. Rain says:

    Terry is def. my favorite and he was fantastic on Carry on my Wayward Son (which happens to be my ringtone)! That was a great start to the battle rounds. Like everyone else on here I think the steal addition has made the show so much better. I really wish the viewers voted during the knockout round – some of the judges picks (I’m talking about Diego) leave me scratching my head as to what they’re thinking!

  21. Dayz says:

    I love the voice..but the choice of songs were boring. Hope better choices in round 2——otherwise im out.

  22. davey says:

    I loved Amanda. Her look and her voice. I actually like Colin voice. He will do better in solo performance if he is given the chance.

  23. Yo' says:

    That was good television! Very entertaining. Loved Deb-orah, who did a far better job than in her original audition.

  24. TC says:

    I like the idea of the steal, but I think it will benefit only the early singing groups since each coach can only steal twice. Those scheduled to sing near the end of the Battle Rounds will be SOOL!!!

  25. Geo says:

    I really love what they did with the steal, and agree that it upleveled the Battle Rounds quite nicely. Doesn’t hurt that the round themselves were more evenly matched this time. As for Bryan… I noticed him go flat twice, and I’m not a master with these things by a longshot. I still think he deserved the win because he has a distinctive style and let’s face it, the match was heavily bent in his favor with the song choice. Still, I think Colin deserved to go on.

    And with Diego, I got an underdog edit, more than a fodder edit. But who knows, right?

  26. AlyssaGs says:

    Love the steal! Love Amanda! Though I thought Amanda should have chosen Christina. Adam’s frequent spiel about working outside genres is rendered null and void by the fact that his past two finalists have been two guys with guitars. I fear for Amanda’s chances amidst Adam’s alt- friendly team.

    • Brenda says:

      So happy about the new “steal” option…I’ll save the excitement until I see how wise & sparingly it gets used. If they actually use it to save the best voices, it could be great.
      Not many rock fans here, huh? The Scottish rocker had me with his Teenage Wasteland audition and Blake made an excellent choice with Carry On Wayward Son. Terry McDermott has such a great range, clear tone and that growling in that upper register…grrr! Loved It! Didn’t even mind the mullet.I’d prefer a mullet to all these hairy mugs anyday…shave that mess, lol.
      Also, glad Blake went with Gracia over the 2 Steel Girls & great song choice. Would love to hear her do “Blue”, and glad he stole Collin…he needs a better song! Not at all believable that he’s gonna go “cap” anyone.
      Was really shocked that Cee-Lo pitted Trexin against Amanda and was glad to see she got saved. I think she over-sang that song but certainly proved her point, so good for her. Incredible battle.
      Great talent this year…excited for this season of the Voice. Have already quit X and not sure I’ll be up for Idol, so, yea voice! :))

  27. Leela says:

    De ‘Borah for the win – love that girl!

  28. I just love music and I love the voice, I love all the coaches, this show is so much fun to watch, its exciting, upbeat, it just makes my whole week.

  29. Sir Anthony says:

    the daughter in 2 Steel Girls reminded me of Lady Edith

  30. ys says:

    Kudos to the creators of this show. Thanks for not insulting your audience with the rubbish that the other two shows are still doing i.e. allowing crackpots and weirdos their fifteen minutes. Love the camaraderie of the coaches, love the constructive criticism that they give without being unkind. I hope this show evolves, incorporating what works, and shedding what doesn’t.

  31. courtney says:

    slezak, i cannot for the life of me, understand this hold that deborah has over you. she’s not bad, but i have a feeling if she doesn’t win this whole thing (which she won’t), she’ll just go back to whatever she was doing. she’s not bad, but she’s not different. and i still can’t believe that cee-lo was the only one to turn his chair for amanda. i thought her audition was great, and as soon as i saw that he had paired her and trevin together, i was like wtf? why would you pair two amazing singers together? but i guess now it makes sense since he basically admitted he was going to choose trevin all along, and had no idea she was that good. i also felt that way about the bryan vs. colin battle. they’re both quite good. why apir up two great performers? at least colin and amanda will now be on teams where their talent is appreciated. love the steal concept!

  32. nhf7170 says:

    Loved, loved, loved Deborah. She’s got this Jill Scott/Michelle Ndege O’cello/India Arie kind of thing going on, and more than anyone else, she interpreted the song. If given a chance, she’d probably make an album worth listening to from beginning to end. I kind of had a feeling about Amanda before her audition even started. She just looks like someone who has her s**t together. Her song choice was a miscalculation. I think she wanted to position herself as a more cool left-of-center kind of artist, but that voice is 100% pure diva. Cee-Lo putting her with Trevin (even though it was for the wrong reason) gave her the opportunity to put it to use. Together, they gave a better duet than either one of them would have paired with someone else. Those side-by-side runs gave me chills. Now that Amanda and Trevin are on different teams, there’s a decent chance they could be facing off again in the finals.

  33. Sean D says:

    Mike, when are we going to get another Reality Check segment with you and Melinda?

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