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As The Voice’s Season 23 Battles continued Monday, another trio of contestants said goodbye to their chance to follow in the bootsteps of Season 22 winner Bryce Leatherwood, and another twosome said hello to the Playoff Pass (which allows them to skip the Knockouts). Who got good news, who got bad? Read on, and we’ll discuss.

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Team Kelly: ALI (Grade: C+) defeated D. Smooth (Grade: B+) on “Unaware” — D. Smooth awarded the Playoff Pass by Kelly | After rehearsal, Kelly anticipated her decision coming down to which of her team members seemed more comfortable on stage. I, on the other hand, didn’t think that there was any comfort level that ALI could have reached that would have made me prefer her singing, impressive as it was (especially considering that she was born deaf), to her opponent’s. D. Smooth did a magnificent job of emphasizing the “Smooth” in his name and demonstrated the charisma and presence of a seasoned pro. “I haven’t heard a dude sing like that since the ’90s,” marveled his coach.

Team Blake: Grace West (Grade: B+) defeated Carlos Rising (Grade: C) on “I Told You So” | Oh, Carlos. He went into this Battle at a serious disadvantage, what with never having sung country before. But he didn’t let it hold him back. Before rehearsal was through, he and Nashvillian Grace were harmonizing like they’d been doing it together for years. On stage, though, there was no competition. While he reminded us of the appealingly lived-in quality of his voice, Grace sang like an absolute dream. Listening to her felt like my ears were reading a love note. Not hard to imagine her scoring a win for her coach in his last season.

the voice recap nariyella chloe abbott battlesTeam Niall: Kate Cosentino (Grade: C) defeated Tiana Goss (Grade: C+) on “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” — Tiana stolen by Chance | Oof. The duo’s rehearsal of Cyndi Lauper’s ’80s classic set off my karaoke alarm in a big way. And once the spotlight fell on them, oof again. Same. The super-chill intro showed both Tiana and Kate off to great effect — they sounded beautiful. But as soon as the song turned peppy, it also turned into a pretty mediocre vocal showcase for them. If one of the two came off better than the other, it was Tiana, whose tone has a richness that frankly her teammate’s does not. Not for nothin’, but Blake added that whenever he heard a part of the number that was in the pocket and on pitch, it was Tiana.

Team Kelly: Holly Brand (Grade: B+) defeated Katie Beth Forakis (Grade: B-) on “Lady Like” | From the start of Holly and Katie Beth’s rendition of Ingrid Andress’ smash, the former Miss Mississippi seemed to have it in the bag. Katie Beth has a super-pretty, ethereal voice. But Holly has a really memorable tone and the ability to not only go big but also to make a big impression when she goes small. The coaches went on and on about Katie Beth, but c’mon. The Voice is (supposed to be) a singing contest, and Kelly set up a David and Goliath scenario that David was never going to win.

the-voice-recap-nariyella-chloe-abbott-battlesTeam Chance: NariYella (Grade: A) defeated Chloe Abbott (Grade: A) on “I Want You Around” | Speaking of David-and-Goliath sitches… this Battle pitted a one-chair turn (Chloe) against a four-chair turn (NariYella). But although the Blinds gave the impression that Chloe was a much softer singer, she absolutely rose to the challenge of matching NariYella’s intensity on their Snoh Aalegra cover. (Well-selected, Chance!) I always hate it when the coaches insist that they can’t pick a winner, but in this instance, I couldn’t. NariYella is a showstopper, for sure, but Chloe demonstrated pretty breathtaking control of her instrument. And both of them served stage presence for days. 

Team Niall: Michael B. (Grade: A) defeated Ryley Tate Wilson (Grade: B+) on “Heartbreak Anniversary” — Ryley awarded the Playoff Pass by Niall | Though Michael was intimidated to be going up against a four-chair turn, especially having only inspired one himself, he needn’t have been. Michael didn’t so much sing notes as hurl them across the room — big, rich, round ones. And he was mega-engaged. Maybe kinda smiley for a sad song, but… still. He was in it. There was a lot to like about Ryley’s performance, too, but there were also moments that his developing voice let him down a little. 

Who gave your favorite performance of the night? Vote in the poll below, then hit the comments with your observations and reviews.

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