The Voice Recap: In a World Made of Steals, Made of Tone

We’ve only got one hour left of The Voice‘s Season 9 Battle Rounds, and thus far, five out of seven “Steals” have been used with the kind of common sense and good judgment you’d expect from Kim Davis officiating at a same-sex wedding.

OK, OK, maybe I’m being a tiny bit melodramatic. But when Blaine Mitchell’s lifeless “Old Time Rock and Roll” scores him a second chance at Sawyer Fredericks’* crown and sash, while Cassandra Robertson’s effortlessly elegant “Nobody Knows” gets her bupkis, then it’s high time to break out the hyperbole — if not the brickbats and torches. (*Speaking of rioting in the streets, where the hell is the Season 8 champ’s major-label debut single? Or should we assume Mark Burnett has sent him to the corn field alongside Jermaine Paul, Craig Wayne Boyd and Javier Colon?)

If I’m forced to find a silver lining to Monday’s episode — which may go down in history for Gwen Stefani’s dimmest life decision ever — it’s that Battles and Knockouts are always a time of gruesome bloodletting — as the field of 48 gets hacked and bludgeoned down to just 20 in advance of the Live Playoffs.

In other words, wailing and gnashing one’s teeth over an egregious Battle Rounds ouster would be akin to starting a letter-writing campaign to HBO to protest the death of Wildling No. 47 during Game of Thrones‘ “Hardhome.”

To that end, let me stop tearing my garments for Chase Kerby and Lyndsey Elm (this is why Gwen never wins a four-chair turn!) and get to ranking tonight’s Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising winner:

6. Team Gwen: Braiden Sunshine defeats Lyndsey Elm on “No One Is to Blame” | Braiden may or may not be totes adorbs (sorry for devolving into Gwenspeak), but cute-kid aesthetics aside, he got utterly decimated by Lyndsey in terms of stage presence, uniqueness of tone, pitch and emotional connection. This Battle result proved so infuriating, I’m ready to start a petition calling for Gwen to be immediately evicted and replaced by Cher or Jill Scott or Reba (excellent previous Voice advisers, all) going into the Live Playoffs.

5. Team Blake: Blind Joe defeats Blaine Mitchell on “Old Time Rock and Roll” (Blaine stolen by Adam) | This cover of the Bob Seger jam voted Most Likely to Get My Mom on the Dancefloor at a Wedding had all the urgency of a half-glass of tap water you forgot to empty and put in your dishwasher before bedtime. And I’m not wasting any more nonsensical metaphors on either of these fellas, since I strongly suspect they’ll both get booted in the Knockouts.

The Voice - Season 94. Team Adam: Viktor Király defeats Cassandra Robertson on “Nobody Knows” | This matchup of slick, soulful professionals reminded me of the kind of Amanda Brown-Trevin Hunte showstopper that used to always snag The Voice pimp spot. For every melodic twist or soaring glory note one of ’em hit, the other would counter with something equally lovely. I’d have given the edge to Cassandra — who took bigger risks and showcased a more interesting tone in the process — but Viktor’s no slouch, either. Too bad Cassandra’s fate was sealed the second Carson reminded the judges she was 48 years old. (Yes, the days of Beverly McClellan have long since passed.)

3. Team Adam: Andi & Alex defeat Chance Peña on “Wherever You Will Go” (Chance stolen by Blake) | It’s always tough judging a duo-versus-soloist Battle, so in this case I just pressed pause on my critical ear and tried to enjoy the simple, sweet arrangement that allowed Andi & Alex to showcase their airy harmonies and gave Chance a chance (sorry) to prove he’s got a far sturdier instrument than his Blind Audition indicated. Finally, a Steal that didn’t make me want to hurl the remote through the TV screen!

The Voice - Season 92. Team Pharrell: Evan McKeel defeats Riley Biederer on “Higher Ground” (Riley stolen by Gwen) | Evan may have followed Stevie Wonder’s template pretty faithfully, but what he lacked in creativity he more than made up for with a display of impressive vocal dexterity and pitch perfection (all while moving and grooving across the stage). Riley hit a couple of hinky notes in her attempts to “stankify” the melody, which, along with her penchant for interrupting her mentors, made it a little surprising when she got Gwen to drop her hip into the Steal button.

1. Team Gwen: Korin Bukowski defeats Chase Kerby on “Samson” | I know Chase hit a few rough patches in his transition from falsetto to chest voice, but there was something so ethereal in his delivery that I’m planning on enthusiastically scooping up all his post-show releases just to hear where his crumbling, emotional falsetto takes him next. That said, I can’t argue with Gwen giving the win to Korin, whose tone was — at once — feather delicate and iron strong. Ms. Stefani may have the weakest team in Season 9, but it only takes one contestant to make it to the finale — and if she allows Korin to play left-of-center with her song choices, a long and successful run is a definite possibility.

OK, your turn. What did you think of Night 3 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. Angie_Overrated says:

    The judges are totally phoning it in. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a lazier critique than Blake’s tonight for the Hungarian pop dude: “She was amazing, but I have to give it to you for reaching her level of amazingness.” Jeez Louise. So you’re going to give the win to the person you didn’t expect to reach the amazingness of his competitor? This season… man… this season.

    Other than Korin and Evan, this episode (and season) is a dud. Hungarian pop dude is pretty good too, which usually isn’t enough to do well in this competition. However, that being said, in a weaker field like this one, having a good voice might take him far. There aren’t many good “sangers” this year, so a bland pop vocalist who is technically proficient might do ok. Last season he’d have been dead on arrival.

    • JM says:

      Hey Angie, hang in there. Some may grow and surprise you. Didn’t ‘hot pants’ Chris blossom late in his season? And he ended up getting my vote (and yours, I believe) for the win over Matt and CWB.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I can see myself getting behind a few of these people. As a whole though, it’s Bleak House, to borrow a Dickens title.

        • Angie Its great to see that you have a sharpei. I dont know too many other people that do. I have 2 of them. Love the breed soooo much! I know its off the subject of music, but had to throw that in. You posted about your dog in one of the other comment sections and I saw it.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Yay! Another shar pei owner! Not the most popular breed indeed. I think the whole time I’ve lived in NYC I’ve only seen one other shar pei.
            Ours is almost 8. Wonderful dog, but man are they a handful to train! She’s a sweetheart now, but it was a long road to sweetheart-dom. Well worth the effort though. She and the English bulldog are best friends, with benefits even. Turns out they’re lesbians. Go fig.

          • My dogs are mother and daughter. I have had a few litters and they sold very quickly over here in Oregon. I had a guy drive all the way from Montana and he was 73 years old, to get one of my pups. But I still dont see many sharpei walking around. Its the dog with the face only a mother could love LOL Oh Bulldogs are sooo cute also. I dont have one of those!

        • davmon says:

          Hard Times comes to mind (1854, a year after Bleak…) especially for Gwen (If she does not steal some talent, she only has Korin.) and Blake (Not choosing Krista has done him in.). But Pharrell and Adam have lost some real talent from their embarrassment of riches in first round due to matching up their best talent. How stupid is that!? Tonight, only the twins Andi & Alex really shined.

    • Ginger Snap says:

      I’m with you Angie. This is a weak field . I don’t think my attention will be there in November.

    • analythinker says:

      Adam on Blaine: “I don’t know what it is, but I know that I want to figure it out.” Eh.
      I guess Blake meant to say she was amazing vocally but not special otherwise? Eh again.

    • akillesheel says:

      I’m hoping Darius

      a) doesn’t get montaged
      b) gives the season a little life.

      But still, that’s like 5 contestants this season I’m even a little excited about: Darius, Korin, Amy, Mark, and Evan. This early in the season, that’s pathetic.

    • Timmah says:

      I don’t know, tonight might have turned it around for me. Korin and Evan were great, and there were a few others I saw that have potential in the hands of a good coach (i.e. not Adam). Throw in Jordan and Cole, and I’m starting to believe in this season. Or maybe I just want to believe!

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

    Korin, Andi & Alex, Chance, Lyndsay, Viktor, and Cassandra really shinned. Still bummed out that lyndsay and Cassandra left early. But my favorite tonight was between KORIN and Andi & alex. I mean both artist are AMAZING!!! Regina specktor YASSS!!! 😍😍😍 chance and Viktor are real contenders to. Still waiting for Shelby Brown!!! 😍😍😍

  3. Andres says:

    Is it ok to say that letting Lyndsey go in the battles is almost as bad as Gwen choosing Ryan over Bryana and Ricky in season 7. I cannot figure out how Braiden beat Lyndsey. not only that but the steals were not even good.
    I agree with you in that Korin was the best. I was however surprised by Evan and Riley. They are one to look out for.

    Also on a side note check out Sydney Rhame song “Jack Johnson.” its really good.

  4. Kim Moores says:

    I literally watch the battles to talk as much sh*t as humanly possible to make this entertaining.
    It’s bad enough I’ve always found the battles to be the most excruciating part of the show (they haven’t been overall great since season 5), but wow I was bored tonight.
    I’ll really have to see how the knockouts go before I really say this season sucks.
    I blame Gwen, who let her sing?

  5. Matt says:

    This Voice season is like seasons 9 (minus Mamasox) and 12-14 of Idol… #forgettable #wasteoftime

  6. JM says:

    I liked Evan, Korin, Chance, Viktor and Riley of the winners. I liked Chance’s rendition of ‘I See Fire’ – glad to see that he had more in him.

  7. Kaba says:

    Don’t fret, you guys. In the blink of an eye this season will be over and we can look forward to Christina Aguilera to make this all better. I’m dead set on believing the quality of the season absolutely fizzles w/o her on it.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I just occurred to me that Jill Moy is no longer with us. Honestly I’d rather have a good season with her around, but I’ll take this consolation prize in lieu of that.

      • Michael Slezak says:

        She Who Shall Not Be Named!

      • bobsaccamanna says:

        I’m still not removing the tin foil from underneath my doors until the season ends, I’m subscribing to the theory that the only things left standing after the nuclear holocaust will be roaches, Keith Richards, and Jill Moy. The Kim Davis line made me spit out my coffee lol. I don’t even know what to say about the saves this year I just know that there are now more good singers eliminated than are left on the show.

  8. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Thought Chance was the surprise of the night. He improved a ton from Ba. His tone is both interesting and gorgeous. As a side note, Gwen needs to chill. Its 5 oclock, do you know where your teen age son is?

  9. Brian says:

    Wait, someone performed “Wherever You Will Go?” By The Calling?

    Are you kidding me?


  10. Beth says:

    No Lyndsey on the poll? She was robbed all the way around.

  11. This season is so bad! Not very many outstanding singers. Some of the good ones went home and were not stolen! Evan is pretty good though!

    • Just one more thing, is anyone watching Empire? i absolutely love the music on that show and the show itself. It kind of makes up for the bad voice season we might have. LOL Lets hope Evan stays around and also the guy who did Chandelier (cant remember his name).

  12. Timmah says:

    Korin was great, but when I re-listened to the battle I started to hear some of the subtle and interesting things Chase was doing. It’s really a shame that no one stole him, given some of the duds like Blaine that made it through to the next round.

    • safado says:

      He had the most outlandish song choice of the night, obviously geared for the female voice he was competing against. It seemed like deliberate sabotage. I suspect production didn’t like his personality. (He came across as a little smug. )

  13. katedfw says:

    Halfway through the show last night, I deleted my recording. I found I just didn’t care anymore. The judges only want young contestants and again Adam cut his over 40 singer. They are relying a little too heavy on the “quirky” independent contestants this year and it is just not to my taste. I really think they should only do one season per year..the coaches are getting burned out and it shows in their critiques.

  14. liame says:

    So now it’s age discrimination, (AGAIN)! Thanks.

  15. Spencer Wiley says:

    Slezak, I’ve ready your commentaries for Idol, SYTYCD and The Voice for 5 years now. You are by far my favorite, most verbose, sarcastic and humorous reviewer of these reality shows. I wish you had a Melinda Doolittle partner-in-crime for each show. I am amazed that you haven’t pulled out every single strand of your hair from constant frustration and emotion!

    This season ain’t bad at all. I still, after all these years, find the banter hilarious, especially with Adam’s recent bald head. I’ve learned never to take the judging seriously, nor treat this like a singing show. It is entertainment, and it’s a good break at the end of the day. (I usually just watch the recorded show late at night.)

    The people who frequently comment here are so jaded and pretend to be musical elitists. I wish we could just focus on the fun and surprises rather than comment on the voice quality, or gush over Christina Aguilera’s technical proficiency. It’s just another Burnett show, after all, and there has never been a winner that made it big in the business, so this is not about making singing stars… it’s just reality TV. And I am enjoying it. Keep on wordsmithing, Michael! You are the best.

  16. Slendah says:

    How are you giving us a poll and then leaving half of the choices off your list?

  17. shenelletriplett says:

    Is anybody else appalled by and embarrassed for Gwen?? She’s so ditzy, immature and superficial. It seems as if she only cares about how a person looks. I also can’t believe she expected a blind man to know the direction she was pointing in. I loved her before I saw her true personality on The Voice.

  18. Jazznfla says:

    Evan, Korin, Blind Joe (he got soul) and Victor stood out for me. I was a bit stnned that Gwen didn’t choose Lyndsey. I guess everyone has a few early favorites. Mine was and still is Evan McKeel and a couple others.

    • Timmah says:

      In Gwen’s defense, she already has strong female indie singers like Ellie and Korin on her team, and I think she just wanted to diversify a little.

  19. MamaLis says:

    Slezak, dear, I KNEW you’d be pontificating over the loss of Cassandra. Was she stellar? 100%. But you’re still too predictable in your battles over… the battles. I might add you breezed right by Evan first pass – who I’ve adored since I saw him. Lastly, Blaine isn’t THAT bad. I think he’s got a lot of charisma and I don’t mind his voice. So .. there! xx

  20. Nz says:

    Did anybody else notice Riley ask Evan “who is that” when she saw Missy Elliot? He was in the process of freaking out and she had no clue. I had to go back and rewatch it to check but I swear it happened.

  21. Michael Slezak! Omg you crack me up, mentioning Kim Davis LOL. Did you see that Saturday night live with Miley Cyrus singing with the Kim Davis in the background, hands waving in the air with that ridiculous smile? I never laughed so hard. Then they had to throw in that dentist (cecil),and the lady who pretended to be black for so long. LOL and several others we dont want to see for the next year! LOL SNL So Good

  22. Don says:

    My top 5 performances of this episode were:

    1. Lindsey
    2. Andi & Alex
    3. Evan
    4. Korin
    5. Chance

    It was never more apparent that Gwen’s decision making is downright horrible. She’s basically sabotaged her own team. It’s bad enough that neither of her two steals has a chance of going anywhere and that in choosing them, she’s letting some real talent go home. But what really sealed it for me was when she picked Braiden over Lindsey, who both sang and performed circles around that kid.

    Finally, I really did not like the way Blind Joe kept shouting over Blaine’s lines. That might be fine if they were playing in a bar somewhere, but it was definitely not kosher in these circumstances. I almost wonder if Adam stole Blaine because of this. But of course getting Blaine does mean that Adam now has someone to pit against Keith in the next round.

  23. pdamico says:

    I couldn’t wait to come here and post about how much I enjoyed the performances, almost across the board (that tired, old reality show Seger song choice excepted) on Monday night. Man, talk about a buzzkill. The standouts for me were: Cassandra, Korin (who was handed absolute song choice perfection by Gwen), Chance (totally did not see that one coming from the BA’s), Viktor, Evan, Riley (Blake was right; She has an instantly recognizable voice and I see huge potential in that girl), and, of course, the twins.

    I heard scintillating moments from Lindsey, but her tendency to swallow the end of her phrasings was distracting.

    I don’t often get all bent out of shape about the losers anymore, because I believe this particular singing competition gets more right than wrong over any of the others. But as a huge music fan, I feel downright gypped by the show, and the coaches, because I’m not going to get to see/hear Cassandra anymore. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so moved by a voice. I truly hope one of those coaches gets her some solid off-show work.

    I don’t get all the Gwen bashing, either. I’ve never been into her music, and I’m not a fan of her fashion sense, either, which I think actually detracts from her attractiveness. But, jeeez, has she blossomed this season. Yes. Her steals are still head-scratchers, but overall? The acuity of her commentary is way, way better than Michael’s cherry-pickin’ quotes, her song choices have been much more thoughtful (just ask Korin), and she is eons more comfortable in her skin, unselfconscious, and personably cool this year than last. She’s giving better coaching, too.

    Adam is still doing that thing where he alternates great song choices with truly abysmal ones, I hope Pharrell digs deep for some unique selections for Amy, and Blake seemed to have finally woken up from his domestic nightmare while watching Monday night’s performances.

  24. Luis says:

    Am I the only one that LOVEDDDDD Viktor’s voice? I loved both Viktor and Cassandra, but dang! that guys tone and voice were amazing!

  25. George says:

    Seems like America picked all white men and the team captains also went with white ppl. Tell me again why Braiden Sunshine advance? Racist America..should have known