The Voice Battle Rounds Recap: Gwen Stefani and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Fun fact: My all-time favorite jam from The Voice coach Gwen Stefani is 2004’s tragically under-appreciated “What You Waiting For?”

Yes, I realize that matters about as much as the brand of bottom-shelf vodka in Blake Shelton’s coachin’ cup, but I bring it up because its refrain — “What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting forrrrr?” — mirrors the exact words I screamed at my TV as two of Season 9’s most promising contestants got flushed down the same gutter into which Christina Milian’s Sprint Skybox interviews disappeared prior to Season 5.

Seriously, Gwen could’ve had a legit country contender or a middle-aged rock god on her sorely-in-need-of-help squad, but instead wound up pounding her “Steal” button for a cute but inconsequential teenager who dissed the No Doubt front-woman in favor of Blake Shelton anyway.

Even worse news for Gwen? Two of her six battles received the dreaded “Montage Treatment” on Tuesday night — compared to one for Pharrell thus far, and zero for Blake and Adam this season — meaning viewers will likely be less emotionally invested in her team members once voting gets underway. (Side note: But Jeffery Austin’s audition was soooo goooood!)

If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect exec producer Mark Burnett & Co. feel no sense of urgency to have a female coach finally take home the crown in Season 9 — or are perhaps even working hard to thwart that from happening. Granted, Gwen bears at least half the blame — “I’m Just a Girl” is not a fully formed argument for her coaching prowess — but I’m still stuck with the sinking feeling of “What might have been?” had Gwen (or any of the coaches) done the right thing and saved Krista Hughes and/or Manny Cabo to fight another day.

OK, OK, before I’m start chanting “this s–t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s,” let me get to ranking tonight’s Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising winner:

3. Team Pharrell: Sianha Im defeats Ivonne Acero on “You Keep Me Hanging On” (Ivonne stolen by Blake) | Neither Sianha nor Ivonne brought enough emotional heft to the performance to convince me that either one had ever experienced the kind of romantic turmoil found in the lyrics. (No, passing a note to a cute boy during recess doesn’t count.) Even in terms of vocal horsepower and uniqueness of tone, these teenage cuties fell short. Wouldn’t it have been kinder had Pharrell sent ’em both back home (to focus on school work) and cleared an extra spot on his team for Krista or Manny or even Night 1’s tragically eliminated Celeste?

2. Team Blake: Chris Crump defeats Krista Hughes on “When I Get Where I’m Goin'” | I wasn’t a huge fan of Chris’ breathy, Backstreet’s-back delivery, but he didn’t miss a single note and landed a couple rock-solid glory notes. For my money, though, Krista’s haunting, hypnotic instrument made her the clear choice to advance, but can Pharrell, Gwen and Blake all be wrong? (Based on this example, I have to say “Mmm-hmm, yes.”)

1. Team Adam: Keith Semple defeats Manny Cabo on “Baba O’Riley” | In rehearsals and in the Battle itself, the opening verse was simply pitched too high for Manny’s range. But while he kinda whiffed by altering the melody to his comfort zone, I found Manny’s fuller, muscular tone more pleasing to the ear than Keith’s slightly tinny one. Don’t get me wrong: The Irish dude has impressive pipes, too, and no shortage of charisma, but if he’s good enough for the Knockouts, surely there should’ve been a spot reserved for his rival, too.

Shown in a Brief Montage:
Team Gwen: Jeffery Austin defeats Noah Jackson
Team Gwen: Kota Wade defeats Alex Kandel
Team Pharrell: Madi Davis defeats Sydney Rhame

OK, your turn. What did you think of Night 2 of The Voice‘s Season 9 Battle Rounds? Who were your faves? 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. Christian says:

    My thoughts:
    – WHY DIDN’T KRISTA GET STOLEN? Seriously, the guy who went against Ellie got stolen and not her.
    – Now that Krista is gone, it leaves the door open for either Emily or Morgan to be the country girl on Blake’s final 5.
    – Wished we saw Jeffery on “Can’t Feel My Face” because in the few seconds we saw, he sounded great.
    – I am starting to come around Keith now.

    • Trent says:

      Seriously though? Not even so much as a steal for Celeste, Sydney, Manny or Krista, while Ivonne had not one but TWO coaches trying to steal her?! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?!

      • davmon says:

        Exactly. Celeste last night. Krista, Sydney, and Manny tonight. We do not even know why Madi beat out Sydney, nor why she was not saved. But we get every hint that Gwen and Blake have eyes for each other, real or scripted. Editing and production choices are suddenly cannibalizing the show’s integrity and value.

        • TJ says:

          But we don’t know the order that these battles were actually filmed…. in other words, we don’t know if there were any steals available when this battle was recorded. Since this round isn’t live, we have no idea. I get the impression that the steals were used up early in filming.

          • Tyler says:

            Very true, TJ. Actually, I found Krista’s performance last night to be blah so I’m not surprised no one stole her. And how many viewers are going to vote for a 45 year-old rocker??

    • bobsaccamanna says:

      If I were a cynical man, and I am, I would say that Krista wasn’t chosen by Blake or given a steal because she is not quite the cute blonde cookie cutter country girl(Danielle Bradbury) that this show seems to fawn over. So now a girl with a uniquely interesting and true country voice is gone along with Celeste, while the cantaloupe girl, who is mediocre at best, moves on, with two people actually trying to steal her. I couldn’t agree with Michael more, last night was a disaster.

      • Linda says:

        It was a disaster. I was really upset with Blake and Brad for giving a song that only a male could sing. That little girl has better voice than all the contestants combined. Shame on you Blake.

        • LIzzie says:

          Might have been nice for Krista to get more chance with the melody – she could have sung those same sections as her competitor.

      • bern says:

        But that girl with glasses was also not cookie cutter cute – and she was stolen. And she was just meh.

    • jr. says:

      The Voice judges should be forced to each save one of their saves until they have heard all of the singers, and learned who has one. Then at the end of all the battlerounds, the judges could save a contestant they think deserves it. The contestants who go last now, are least likely to get a save, because the judges too quickly push the save in the begining. They should have to hear all of them sing, and see who really deserves it ( i.e. a save ). IMO

      • T.J. says:

        That’s what I’ve been thinking for a while. I’ve also been waiting for a judge to push his own steal/save button to see what happens.

        • LIzzie says:

          I thought Pharrell was going to do it once last year, and I also would like to know if they can press their steal button on their own contestant. They’re in the wind at that point, so why can’t they choose them again?

      • kyriosity says:

        Good idea!

  2. Nemma says:

    I was pleasantly surprised by Keith. While Manny is a beast, I thought Keith brought his A-game tonight. He could go far in this competition. So now at least we’ll have a rock & roll representative (other than the usual pop, r&b/soul, indie, and country artists) in the lives (I’m already assuming Keith will advance to the lives). :) I welcome variety!

  3. Florence+TheMachineRules!!! :) #MariahSlays says:

    I am still shocked in how krista was not stolen? Her TONE. First Celeste now krista, huh? Well, at least we still have regina, ivonne, and ellie. I’m still looking out for shelby, Korin, Darius, and Andi & alex

  4. Andres says:

    Not that great of an episode

    • davmon says:

      Neither was last night. And coaching choices have been curious. Adam started strong this year. Yet, after Blinds, I had Pharrell with 8 of 12 as strong singers, Adam with 7, and Blake and Gwen with one each (Maybe they are more into each other). But Pharrell has already matched up 6 of the 8, so that he lost two to elimination (Celeste & Sydney) and one (Ivonne) stolen; of 8 there is now 5, leaving Amy and Evan still to go this round… Adam already matched up four of his 7; losing Regina to stea., Manny to elimination. [He should avoid matching up Shelby, Viktor, and the twins.].. Gwen stole Regina; and with Ellie, she now has two. Meanwhile, Blake did steal Ivonne, but let Krista get away to elimination–so he still has only one….Of course, this is my taste…But it is odd how Pharrell and Adam had a huge edge–and could be 6 strong after battles plus any steals, but self-sabotage by matching singers to songs instead of saving the best talent. Still, with decent steals, they could edge back up to six or more for next round. Those two also have the heavy hitters remaining–Amy, Shelby, and the twins.

      • Andres says:

        Also Adam got rid of Manny who could have gone far. Also I would include Jeffery one of Gwen best singers and lyndsey in the middle.
        Let’s pray that no one else that is good leaves

  5. JM says:

    Keith sounds like the lead singer for Rush
    Manny and Krista def. deserved steals over Ivonne.
    Montaging two of Gwen’s battles??

    Keeping this short because my long comment didn’t post. Wish they’d fix this.

  6. Ana Andrade says:

    I’m super upset that Sydney got eliminated :( She was one of my favorites. I would have loved to have seen her battle as well as Jeffrey vs Noah. I’m surprised that Adam picked Keith and that Blake picked Chris. I was expecting it to go the other way for those battles. I’m surprised that no one stole Krista, but not really surprised that Manny wasn stolen. I’m happy that Siahna won and that Ivonne was stolen, but I think that she should have picked Gwen.

    • LIzzie says:

      Sydney is way too old school, and we’ve heard it before. She is a lot better than that horrible bald woman screecher from last season, though.

      • LIzzie says:

        Whoops sorry, Sydney is the young girl with long hair. I was thinking of the older woman who is a radio personality and already had a record contract once before – same old big soul singing that is really good, for sure, but not going to pull a lot of record sales.

  7. Angie_Overrated says:

    This might be the worst episode I’ve ever seen at this stage of the game. This is so sad. I had to fast forward through the second half of that “rocker” battle, was wincing through the country song, and ended up muting the two little girls awkwardly prancing around the stage in the their mothers’ heels. Yikes.

    • Timmah says:

      Ha, yes I completely agree. The only one that I (just barely) could stand was the Irish guy. And I say Thank God for the montages because these battle rounds tend to drag on for too long anyway.

    • analythinker says:

      I haven’t watched. So I gather from this recap, your two dark horses are gone??

    • analythinker says:

      Ooops apparently I didn’t read through the end. I see Jeffrey is still here. Let’s just hope in the Knockouts the contestants really bring out their all.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        It’s such amateur hour this year. One thing I love about this show relative to Idol is that they have professional quality singers and performers who haven’t necessarily had their breaks yet. Nothing against Idol; I know many people like to see the transformation of an amateur into a professional, but I like to hear amazing singing and am less interested in a growth arc.

        • Timmah says:

          I usually prefer watching the amateurs, but even they are not that compelling this time around, with the exception of one or two of them. I’m not giving up on this season yet, but it sure does look bleak.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            To each his/her own. I can’t claim that what I like is a universal preference. But I think more generally speaking, Idol is much better equipped to handle amateurs. Typically the people who go deep into this competition are anything but amateurs.
            And yes on the bleakness. It’s making me sad. I really do love this show, but this season is shaping up to be perhaps their worst.

        • analythinker says:

          Exactly. And I couldn’t care less about the coaches, but more about the coaching. The advisors this season don’t seem to be much helpful, except maybe Missy.

  8. Taylor P says:

    I think her name is Krista Hughes, not Krista Allen (thinking of Kris Allen, perhaps, Michael?). And it’s insane that she’s gone already.

  9. Fifi Lahkay says:

    The fact that Krista isn’t making it further is just plain wrong. Blake did the same thing to Cody Wickline, the other WV country artist.

  10. JT says:

    Truly sad results tonight. Manny lost only because he is 45. The fans don’t care, but the record company does. Blake made a big mistake cutting Krista — her tone is so distinctive while her opponent is so generic. Sure she needs work, but isn’t that what the show is supposed to be about?

    It’s the Cory over Cody mistake all over again. Come the live rounds, Chris will fade just like Cory did…

    • Timmah says:

      Manny didn’t lose because he’s 45. He lost because he was terrible. I do agree though that Krista should have won, her opponent was so bland I can’t even recall his name. Kris Kringle or something?

    • Blake doesn’t tend to give you very many chances when he tees up a battle for the favorite and the favorite flubs it. Chris isn’t going anywhere probably but if Krista couldn’t beat him…she wasn’t going anywhere either. PS. Blake bussed Corey (still not really over it).

    • Allie says:

      Manny just wasn’t good last night. Regina got in at 51 so I’m not buying that he was eliminated because of his age.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Ironically enough, Krista and Cory not only know each other, but have performed with each other. Look it up on youtube.

  11. Ezequiel Malta says:

    hey, koryn hawthorne battle was montaged too, so it may not be that bad

    • LIzzie says:

      Koryn Hawthorne should not have stayed as long as she did last year. The montage is really tough for the contestants, because we don’t get attached to them and hearing a blip of their performance when others have their whole backstory laid out for the umpteenth time, and the whole practice set and then the actual performance, is a huge advantage for the contestants that get more coverage at this point. Except with people like my husband who won’t watch until the live shows.

  12. What the heck? Manny and Krista just gone? I agree with Slezak. Why did Gwen only turn around for the girl in the glasses? She didnt get her anyhow! I have to admit the little girl in the red dress is too adorable. But it does seem like this year is underwhelming for talent! Keith and Chris and Jordan are some of my favorites of what we are left with after they sent some of the good ones home!

  13. Polarvortex says:

    I can’t believe they montaged Jeffrey! And after all the fuss the judges made over Krista she gets eliminated just like that??? Honestly the only thing that made me smile were Blake”s repeated jabs at Adams bald head and even that got boring after a while

  14. Dave from Oregon says:

    How could you not keep Sydney, best singer of the group.

  15. Why don’t Adam and the other judges learn? If they want a really strong country singer instead of taking a third-tier one from the blinds, STEAL one from Blake in the battles and knockouts? PS. Adam stop trying to make Keith into the new Terry.

  16. Ana says:

    Manny cabo off the show? The voice not worth watching anymore!

  17. AS says:

    It’s starting to look as though The Voice is losing its’ luster. If a contestant gets the dreaded montage, then Mark Burnett has already made the “Not in it to win it” cut. When 45 year old rockers or 51 year old soul divas make the show, it’s just for sentimental value…not real competition cause we all know they can’t win. When the final pimp spot is given to two 15 year olds who can’t emote any real feeling, then I guess the talent level is pretty low. Disappointing…and not a word of regret or even discussion of a steal when Angel From Montgomery front-runner from the Blinds was dumped. Everyone wants a country star, but apparently not one that Blake can part with so easily.

  18. katedfw says:

    Note to the older contestants…never pick Adam for your coach! He will fall all over you, promise to take you to the finals and then not choose you in the Battles. Every year it’s the same thing. They only want the 15-25 yo’s!

  19. Puzzled says:

    I have tried to learn not to get too invested in my favorites on the Voice, because none of them have ever made it past the top 6. However, I am so so sad Krista Hughes did not advance, and Blake picked that “slick willy” guy (sorry can’t remember his name). Her voice was a beautiful, country diamond in the rough with so much potential. I really don’t think Gwen or Pharrell want to seriously coach a country artist, because they don’t know how and can’t pick appropriate songs. That’s why they don’t steal someone like Krista. Gwen probably only stole Craig Wayne Boyd, so he could be her little style/science project 2 seasons ago. OK rant over and another Voice travesty goes into the books!

    • lab1283 says:


    • This year is tough because there are more good singers than before, and I agree with you that Krista was great. But maybe you need to forget your personal favorites and think more like a judge. I have picked the winner for at least the last 4 or 5 seasons, even though I didn’t personally like them the most.

      • Puzzled says:

        I am not a Vegas gambler! I watch and listen to the Voice for the singers I like not trying to predict who will win.

    • LIzzie says:

      Unfortunately for Krista, the slick willy guy (Chris) was given the primary parts of the song along with most of the melody, and he did sound good. I think it was a set up for him to lose, and in the end he did better than the one that Blake was positioning the performance for – Blake gets that whipped puppy moment where he’s in a panic because the one he wanted isn’t doing as well, and he has already decided he can’t stand by them because they aren’t going to do well in the battle or knockout.

      • Puzzled says:

        I found it so bizarre that she wasn’t singing as much of the melody…I thought it was just me, but others have made the same comment here. There are so many male/female duet songs out there in country land why not pick one of them. If they want to show case a Brad Paisley song because he is a mentor, give it to a couple of guys to sing.

  20. Cindy says:

    After the blinds, I thought Krista could win it all!! What the heck happened??? If the Voice really wants to become relavent again, they should bring her back with a new “twist” of some sort. Celeste was also heads and tails better than the cantelope teen. Just hope some music producer out there sees the gold mine in Krista and signs her pronto!!!

    • Puzzled says:

      I hope she gets signed too. Maybe Brad Paisley will go to bat for her…fingers crossed!

    • lab1283 says:

      It almost seems like Krista was set up to lose. Her opponent got a bigger, better part to sing. She got ripped off and would have killed the bland guy in an equal battle. What’s that about? And then no one steals her?

  21. ara says:

    You can listen to the studio recordings of the montaged battles on Youtube. Search for TheVoiceStudioRecordings

  22. sue says:

    Manny was an excellent singer. I’m not sure why he wasn’t stolen. Really to bad for him. Along with being an awesome singer he needed the break

  23. gg says:

    Angie’s comment says it all “…the two little girls awkwardly prancing around the stage in the their mothers’ heels. Yikes!”. Those kids need to finish school {as Sawyer is doing right now)
    Put them on America’s Got Talent instead of competing against 40 or 50 year old voices.

  24. Linda says:

    I was really upset with Blake and Brad because they picked a terrible song choice for the young lady. She really didn’t even get to sing much so Blake picked the guy instead and it was his song choice that got her off the show. Blake needs to bring her back for a second chance due to it being his and Brads fault.

    • LIzzie says:

      Something about that really went wrong for Krista, because her vocal ability is so good. She may not be a fast study on new material, and they switched her part up as it went, and that may be enough to throw her off her game. The guy got the melody and all the emoting opps, and he played it in a really believable manner. I think Blake was surprised that Krista struggled, but she did.

  25. bern says:

    Krista wasn’t stolen. The not so great girl with glasses (don’t remember names when they are forgettable) WAS stolen….so irritating. Why can’t we at least see the battles that they deem unimportant – online? Or can we? I too like that Jeffrey, and would like to hear him.

  26. Pat says:

    Slezak, you have interviews with the producers of this show and Carson, right? Can you please let them know that the fans of this show hate the f’cking montages. They are the WORST!

  27. Donna says:

    I have no favorite advancing artist because they sent him HOME!!! So now I really don’t care who stays or goes. So the season is over for me. Middle aged rock god- I like that one and yes, we all need one.

  28. kyriosity says:

    This is the episode that makes me want to quit watching. Might as well hire Helen Keller as a coach if that’s the kind of discernment we’re going to get from the current lot. I was looking forward to hearing Krista all season, because, obvious to anyone *other* than Blake, Adam, Gwen, and Pharrell, her voice is magical. To lose her after just two performances is nonsensical.

  29. Glenda says:

    Manny Cabo would have been in the Finals & took home the Mirror Ball. They just flat out blew it bad. Just going thru the motions now.
    Much like Adam Lambert on Idol. He was they Star then & still is now. I thought these shows were about talent & not B. S. 🍀

    • Jim says:

      Well said Glenda. 45 years of knowing how to do it all right. Manny is an artist in so many ways that he must be a threat to the judges. Check him out. He is totally devoted to art & music & perfection. It is obvious that he puts puts his money where his mouth is & then some.