The Voice Recap: Ish Just Got 'Steal'!

Troy Ritchie, Menlik Zergabachew

“Push your belly out — like as if you’re gonna go take a poop.”

That may be the most alarming piece of advice dispensed by a guest mentor in seven seasons of The Voice Battle Rounds, but I’ll be darned if Alicia Keys’ prescription for hitting a challenging high note didn’t pay off for Team Pharrell member Taylor Phelan. (Wait, is this what musicians mean by putting some stank on it?)

Scatological humor aside, though, didn’t all six of tonight’s contestants perform the living crap out of their songs? In fact, I’d say that the four singers who ultimately advanced to the Knockout Rounds during this fast-paced one-hour episode — not counting the three who were relegated to the dreaded montage treatment — were superior to each of the nine vocalists who survived Monday night’s proceedings. (OK, maybe Luke Wade is on par, but nobody else!)

With the quality of performances so high, I wouldn’t have objected to an additional ‘Steal’ — or even two — but it seems like our coaches are using their second-chance opportunities verrrry conservatively. (Which, I suppose, is better than wasting ’em capriciously.)

Also, because I love a good conspiracy theory, how is it that over three hours of Battles, we’ve only seen a single matchup from Team Blake? I know the dude is ridiculously popular, but at this rate, I’m worried the producers will lock him in a steel cage with just a small opening for his eyes and lips to mute his vote-generating charm in future seasons.

Bonus observation: Pharrell consoling Adam’s ousted child contender with a firm-but-gentle pep talk makes him the obvious choice to occupy the far left chair when Adam inevitably sits out Season 9 or 10. (C’mon, Adam simply has to sit out a cycle at some point, yes? Somewhere, Xtina is raising a Gospel hand to that idea.)

But enough about my reality singing competition flights of fancy! Let’s get to the very challenging business of ranking tonight’s trio of Battles in order from least- to most-promising winner.

3. (Team Adam) Alessandra Castronovo defeats Joe Kirk on “Stay” by Rihanna ft Mikky Ekko | Adam was right that Alessandra’s got the Big Diva Gestures — and accompanying vocal spotlessness — down pat. But he was so effusive about his bro-connection to young Joe that I actually felt mid-performance rage that the sweet, but slightly too-nasal teenager was going to win. And I doubled down on the bad vibes when Blake inexplicably told Joe he’d given “one of the most perfect vocals” in Voice history. (Ummm, was dude asleep during Amber Carrington’s epic Season 4 “Stay”?) Thankfully, though, raw talent prevailed over Y-chromosome ownership/One Direction-level hair, making Alessandra a true Season 7 dark horse. If Blake really believed what he’d said about Joe, though, how come he didn’t press his button for a steal? Could it be some of his homespun feedback is a wee bit contrived? #gasp

2. (Team Pharrell) Taylor Phelan defeats Jordy Searcy on “Breakeven” by The Script | Two acoustic troubadours, one big breakup anthem and not a single note out of tune. I ultimately wound up understanding guest mentor Alicia Keys’ rehearsal fear that these two fellas kind of blended together in too perfect harmony to stand out, but there’s a touch of star quality — and a slightly more invested delivery — that Taylor brings which made him the correct choice to advance.

1. (Team Gwen) Troy Ritchie defeats Menlik Zergabachew on “Maneater” by Hall and Oates | I was a little obsessed with the fullness and grit in Troy’s tone right from his underhyped audition, and the innate sense of rhythm and effortless phrasing he brought to “Maneater” only makes me more excited about his prospects as a true Team Gwen contender. Dude is so good, I actually forgot to write anything in my notepad the first time through the performance. That said, Menlik’s explosive growth from Blinds to Battles took me by complete surprise; his ability to add reggae inflections without every grazing the edge of cheesiness is pretty potent stuff — and with Pharrell in his corner, I’m genuinely excited to see what he does next.

Shown in Montage (No Singing)
(Team Blake) Grant Ganzer deafeats John Martin
(Team Blake) Tanner Linford defeats Justin Johnes
(Team Adam) Rebekah Samarin defeats Clara Hong

Your turn. What did you think of Tuesday’s Battle Rounds? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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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  1. Andres says:

    Troy was AWESOME!

    • Scott Bryan says:

      Yeah, he’s great. I’ve been a fan since his blind, great talent, but I also love he chose a Fitz and the Tantrums song.

    • JM says:

      Yes, I loved Troy. To me, he won that battle, no question. Menlik did come out of his shell a little, but he still looked and sounded stiff to me. I wish he had picked Adam, because now, Pharrell has no more steals.

  2. Angie_Overrated says:

    Soooooooo much better tonight. All three winners were actually good. Phew, it’s not turning into AI Season 13. Not yet at least.

  3. LADY_in_MD says:

    Agreed with all the winners tonight
    I will say I am sick of the montage treatment I can’t imagine cutting out the stupid preview of what’s coming up next even though we will see it in 2 minutes and some of the behind the scenes wouldn’t allow for showing atleast two of those battles
    Taylor was awesome and Troy really surprised me
    Gwen is being really unique about Her song choices for each battle

  4. Jeff Marley says:

    Can’t wait for the battle with Danica vs Toia!!! 😃 Who do think will win? 😃

  5. Rowan says:

    Troy, Taylor, and Menlik were my favorites from the blinds! Imagine how thrilled I was to see they were all in the same episode and each advanced. I loved Taylor and Jordy together…mostly because they nearly sounded exactly the same. The duet sounded gorgeous together. I loved the harmonies. Jordy surprised me. I think Menlik has such a naturally great voice, with some polish he’ll be awesome. I thought Alessandra was lackluster. Typical. Boring.

    • HTGR says:

      lackluster? Man she has the most insane effortless voice top to bottom and was connecting too. She didn’t get mumbly or weak even during the low parts and just a silky tone up and down the range.
      Anyway, no surprise, the attractive girl gets the least love from the forums and viewers and the cute guys get it all. That’s how these shows go and what it looks like across the forums again.

      • HTGR says:

        Actually looking at the rest of the comments she is getting some decent support here, if maybe a bit weak in the poll and from Michael, considering how utterly effortless and silky smooth.

  6. Scott Bryan says:

    Adam not picking Joe was a nice surprise, seemed like an Adam in the making. I just couldn’t comprehend all the praise given to him, he sings out of his nose, so dang nasally. Glad Alessandro won.

  7. lizzieB says:

    Taylor Phelan FTW!!! Also I don’t know if they did this last season, but they’re making the battles available on Itunes now as actual duets! YES.

    • Scott Bryan says:

      Sweet! They haven’t done that since season 1, I remember because I loved Dia and bought her battle and had to endure freakin Serabee on the track as well. Also, in season 2 I was so excited to get Erin Willett and Gwen Sebastian’s “We Belong” but they only had Erin’s version.

  8. Scott Bryan says:

    Also Blake saying Joe’s performance was “one of the best vocals I have ever heard,”…..WTF?

  9. Andres says:

    Also where did Grant and Rebekah come from cause they beat Clara and John without a musical explanation.

    • Scott Bryan says:

      They both got montaged in the blinds as well. NBC doesn’t want us to see something.

      • Andres says:

        I can see those two as knockout cannon battle foder

      • Tom22 says:

        The Voice has built enough trust in me that they’re actually trying their hardedst to make the contestants look good. Of course we can all play 20/20 hindsight and point to mistakes made… their producers and coaches will makes some mistakes along the way like anywone will.
        What I’m getting at is , I really believe if we aren’t seing something it just wasn’t very good…one or both of the performers messed up to the level that it just didn’t belong on prime time TV.
        All performances should be great .. it is a musical entertainment show after all..we tune in to hear people sing…the better the performances (singer, band, song and arrangment all part of that) the better the show ! Yay!
        So, when they’re in these early rounds they really don’t need to show us the stuff that didn’t work…and by the time they get to the later rounds the ones left are unlikely to blow anything too badly.

        • Andres says:

          I do agree with you on the fact that the best of the best should be shown. However I feel that getting a montage does suck cause there is a possibility that a singer who had both there blind and battle round montaged and advance to the live rounds, it puts them at an disadvantage when it comes to getting votes. I see the battles, blind and knockouts as a opportunity to show the viewing public what each contestant are capable of doing. So by adding these montages to the show you are taking away that opportunity.

          • thejewishguy says:

            They did that with Kristin Merlin last season. She had a montaged battle, and then in Round 2 of the battles, she was theb only montage\

  10. Chris says:

    I feel like Allesandro is a potential dark horse. Also what up with Rebecca and garret getting montoged on both of their preformances.

  11. José says:

    I’m so freakin tired of montages… Poor Grant and Rebekah. Anyway, my favorites tonight was Alessandra and Menlik :)

  12. Kaba says:

    I saw the last battle and liked it more than all of last night. Well aside from Luke v griffin. So far Pharrell and Gwen have members I’m interested in

  13. S says:

    Troy was awesome, but I was so upset that Adam didn’t pick Joe Kirk AND that no one used a steal on him. Mythical Adam, picking the hot girl.

    • Kaba says:

      Joe Kirk was dismal

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I second that assertion. That girl was surprisingly quite good. I was worried Adam would make the wrong call on that one. Joe sucked.

      • The Beach says:

        Agree. Joe’s voice is not only nasal but very thin and reedy. Alessandra had this amazingly rich, full tone that I was not expecting. I fully expected Adam to go with the kid,,,big shocker. Well done, Adam.

  14. Kaba says:

    Loving Pharrell. Glad he’s back next season along with Xtina. 2/4 of my dream team coaches so far. Just need Usher and Gwen to join the panel with them season 9

  15. They’ve been disproportionately montaging Blake’s contestants for a couple of seasons now–after he won his 3rd trophy in a row. Montaging is frustrating period, but excessively hitting one team is totally unfair, we don’t get time to connect with contestants.

  16. CRM says:

    Pharrell is an awesome coach. But I would like to see someone new (Ryan Tedder maybe?) replace Adam

  17. analythinker says:

    Gotta say I love the Breakeven arrangement!

  18. Lilli says:

    I love Menlik’s voice! So glad he chose Pharrell!

    • The Beach says:

      Gotta say it did bother me a little when Pharrell, after stealing Menlik, that he was going to make every song Menlik sings into a reggae song. Bad idea. He has to continue to show he’s not a one-trick pony.

  19. Kaba says:

    Pharrell undermining Adam regularly is going to be a past-time for me this season. The icing on the cake will be Team Pharrell regularly beating his members in insta-votes on results nights. Loooooooooooooool.
    Two steal that Adam wanted, Pharrell got both. Perfect.

    • JM says:

      Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can say ‘no’ to Pharrell.

      • Kaba says:

        Well with Xtina back next season that’s the only reasonable reason. Otherwise…nope. Why say no when Pharrell wants to possibly turn your voice into cash?

      • Timmah says:

        If the contestants were smart, they’d say no to Pharell knowing that his teams are going to be more competitive and harder to get through to the next round.

  20. antisocialbutterflie says:

    I may be alone here, but it seems to me that Pharrell is a horrible coach. In the “training sessions” the singers are all choking on his song choices and it’s Alecia Key who suggests the thing that makes the performances awesome. I vote they swap him out for Alecia next season.

    • antisocialbutterflie says:

      *Alicia* – sorry, late night posting.

    • Timmah says:

      Agreed. I also don’t need to be reminded every 5 minutes that he’s a producer. He seems pretty full of himself.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Two things here.
      First, we don’t know exactly what’s happening in these coaching sessions. We’re seeing a one-minute snippet. In those one-minute snippets, I do agree with you that Alicia Keys had the more actionable advice.
      Two, he’s a producer, not a singer (yes, yes, I know he sings sometimes, but c’mon, he’s a producer). Singing isn’t his forte, and I’m perfectly ok with him relying on the vocal expertise of someone else like Ms. Keys to fill in the gaps.

  21. Cagney says:

    Michael, thank you for mentioning Amber Carrington- she remains my favorite contestant from all the seasons.

  22. Timmah says:

    A vast improvement from last night, but I still don’t think we’ve seen the winner yet.

  23. Tyler Kohrs says:

    The two performances that I was waiting all day to see, were not even shown. I wanted to see Rebekah and Clara’s battle and I wanted to see John Martin’s battle round. It made me disappointed

  24. Rather ticked off they didnt show all the battle rounds because I was very curious to see if little Tanner improved at all. He wasnt that great the first time. So I was hoping to see what song blake gave him and how he did ,so I guess we just get to wonder? LOL Yah how are we supposed to connect with the artists if some of them are skipped on tv?

  25. Kiki says:

    Jordy!!! He was so awesome!!! That was the best battle round I’ve ever seen, and I can’t believe no one is mentioning what a travesty it was that Jordy wasn’t picked up in a steal. I couldn’t see what Adam was talking about with stage presence with Taylor. Heck, from my TV screen, Jordy had just as much if not more. My entire household was shocked at that outcome and it made us so mad, we turned off the TV. I was sure I’d wake up today to see Michael being very upset about it…so I’m tres confused!!!

    • Timmah says:

      I knew Jordy was going to lose that battle going in. Taylor is just way more polished, maybe even too polished for my tastes. But I think Jordy has a lot of potential and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him turn up next season.

    • nurul says:

      Yes, I agree with you. Jordy was great and he should have been saved. But to me, Taylor was better. His stage presence is good. When he performs, you can see that he really gets lost in his performance. It was efortless. And that’s why I admire him. Yes, this is ‘The Voice’ and their voices is important but after the blinds, their stage presence counts. If you want to be a star, you have to know how to deliver a song vocally & performance wise. I rest my case.

  26. Coal says:

    NBC wasted a 2 hour “best of the blinds” episode to show us non-singing montages ? Were is the logic in that ?

  27. Danielle day says:

    I think Adam is falling in love with pharrell, he is always hanging by his chair during the breaks. Pharrell better watch out for blake, he wont be happy about that lol

  28. Lloyd says:

    3. Both looked soooo uncomfortable and nervous. Blake saying Joe’s voice was one of the most perfect he has ever heard was laughable.
    2. I loved Alicia’s mentoring – although I don’t think you push your belly out when you go take a poop. O.o Both guys sounded kinda unpleasant while singing high notes, but Taylor a bit more so. Despite that, Taylor still left me with a better overall impression.
    1. I prefer Menlik’s tone, but Troy is obviously more experienced of the two. Still would have chosen Menlik.

  29. Viajero says:

    I agree with Michael that the battles in this episode were all very good and the three winners were as good or better than everyone from Monday night, with the possible exception of Luke. But if I had to pick a favorite for the night, I think it would have to be Alessandra. The richness and effortlessness of her vocals were stunningly good for rank amateur who works in her family’s restaurant. Having said that, both Taylor and Troy were among my favorites coming out of the blinds and did not disappoint.

  30. Kim says:

    Agree with you 100% yet again. Betting for Troy to win this season.
    Taylor Phelan’s style isn’t my cup of tea but I can see why he’d appeal to others.

  31. Abi says:

    Is Reality Check actually going to happen for this season of the Voice? I have been eagerly awaiting those videos, yet they have not shown up yet.

  32. PatD says:

    If Blake really believed what he’d said about Joe, though, how come he didn’t press his button for a steal? Could it be some of his homespun feedback is a wee bit contrived? #gasp

    Jeez, Michael, you’d think after all this time you’d know better than to sell Blake short like that. The guy is really very smart, and I’d bet the ranch he was just building up Joe so Adam would pick him and Blake could steal Alessandra (not -dro). Watch his face when the camera pans to him during while she was singing. He definitely would have stolen her given the chance.

  33. Tom22 says:

    Looks like my compliment to you MS didn’t get published. I wanted to let you know and encourage others by saying that your tone was really enjoyable. You were able to poke fun selectively (and they were funny spot on jetsts !) without taking an overall tone of injustice or disappointment.
    I think your approach of mentioning criteria judges might have had different to your own and over-all positive expression of things to enjoy leads to more enjoyment of the show and more a more enjoyable tone of conversation in the comments. (people over-all were very polite without holding back from explaining what they didn’t enjoy.. fun stuff !)
    I mean… if we’re going to watch and talk about it we should be either finding things to enjoy or just not watching at all ? we’re not trying to torture ourselves !. Good job everyone in making the show that much more fun by discussing it..

  34. Carola says:

    Troy is my favorite! So much potential with that dude. Rooting for him!

  35. I definitely loved Joe Kirk’s performance better than you. I was in tears with anger about Blake’s comment and the inability to steal someone who would have grown in the competition and would have been a true dark horse.

  36. HTGR says:

    Alessandra Castronovo was just phenomenal!!!! Wow, not sure I’ve ever heard such a silky and effortless voice like that. And she hit the low notes perfectly too, not a sign of marble mouth or fade out. Just top to bottom, silky smooth and effortless. Wow. Not over the top either. The real deal and despite her shyness had the stage presence down too. I actually liked this pairing #1 for the night.
    Joe Kirk was so good too. It’s frustrating, since as always, you know a few who get cut during this round will be better than many who “Stay” and he is one of those.
    I’m glad Adam took Alessandra and I was getting mighty nervous there, but Joe was one who deserved to be saved.

  37. HTGR says:

    The new judges are working out well. Really cool. Very serious and into it. Gotta say I’m liking Pharrell even more than Usher. The judges just work together so much better and come across better than on Idol.

  38. HTGR says:

    Very good night all around.

  39. maryzentz says:

    Cant believe troy and taylor were paired. Loved them both. Sorry no one stole troy after knockouts. Felt he could have gone all the way. Forgave him his song choice.