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!