The Voice Season 13 Battle Rounds continued apace Tuesday, zipping by with no time to spare thanks to this episode being a mere hour long. As a result, no contestant was safe from the threat of getting montaged — not even a former pro football player, a YouTube sensation with 50 million-plus views, or two of Team Miley’s superstar ladies.
Yes, Tuesday’s show was quick, but let’s keep with that theme and get right to the recap. Here’s what went down…
TEAM J.HUD: Davon Fleming vs. Maharasyi
Based on the Blind Auditions alone, Baltimore soul dynamo Davon is my favorite contestant of the season. It seemed like his coach, Jennifer Hudson, felt the same favoritism, since she chose a Whitney Houston for this Battle — remember, she and Davon bonded during the Blinds over their love for the late Whitney, and even performed an “impromptu” (sure) duet of “I Will Always Love You.” Obviously, J.Hud will always love Davon. (“You just exude a joy of singing, and your love for Whitney, it shines through,” she told him later.)
However, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” wasn’t an easy song for either Davon or Indonesian pop singer Maharasyi. It’s wordy, fast, choppy, and in a high register, which makes it especially challenging for a male vocalist. During rehearsal with adviser Kelly Rowland — who revealed that she actually auditioned for Destiny’s Child with “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” and presumably knocked that “Blind Audition” out of the park — Davon sounded shrill in the pre-chorus.
Still, once these two got in the ring, it was obvious that Maharasyi, while a strong and capable singer, wasn’t going to be able to change her underdog status. Even in a gorgeous creampuff of a red-carpet-ready yellow dress, she didn’t exhibit a fraction of Davon’s swagger or star quality. Maharasyi is a wedding singer, and that’s how she came across. Either that, or her performance was very American Idol Season 2; pick your analogy. Davon, on the other hand, made the chorus pop. His wailing was worthy of a J.Hud shoe-toss! And he did Miss Rowland proud.
While Miley Cyrus loved the “entertainment factor” of both contestants, and Adam Levine loved Maharasyi’s dress, Adam also correctly described Davon as a “force of nature.” I agreed. And, unsurprisingly, so did Jennifer. Davon was Jennifer’s baby tonight.
WINNER: Davon Fleming
TEAM ADAM: Brandon Showell vs. Hannah Mrozak
Adam described Hannah as a “Kelly Clarkson type,” presumably to pimp Kelly’s upcoming appearance this season as the Knockout Rounds’ mentor and her full-time arrival to The Voice as a coach next season. But those were some mighty big words, because, of course, there is only one Kelly Clarkson.
Hannah was a classic singing-show diva, sure, but I favored likably nerdy English teacher Brandon. As the two sang “Cold Water,” I felt his distinctively pretty tone, creative runs, and tasteful adlibs took the Major Lazer song to a new place. I had expected Hannah to connect more to the ballad about “being in a dark place,” because she said it reminded her of her brother, who committed suicide last year. I wanted more fragility from her, given that backstory, but her performance seemed like an act. It felt … actress-y.
Both contestants did a respectable job, but I was drawn to Brandon. However, Adam was not. Adam kept Hannah, and no one stole Brandon. That decision left me cold.
WINNER: Hannah Mrozak
TEAM ADAM: Dave Crosby vs. Dylan Gerard
TEAM BLAKE: Esera Tuaolo vs Rebecca Brunner
TEAM MILEY: Chloe Kohanski vs. Ilianna Viramontes
Ah, the first montaged battles of the season. I knew these were coming, but I was surprised that the producers opted not to air full performances by Dave (the doting dad behind those adorable YouTube duets with 4-year-old daughter Claire) and Esera (the openly gay ex-NFL star). I can only guess that, going by the unexciting nanoseconds shown of Dave and Dylan’s “Doctor My Eyes” and Esera and Rebecca’s “This I Promise You,” these performers did not show much promise in the ring. (Maybe Dave would have gotten more screentime if he’d brought Claire back to the set.) Of these three clips, Chloe and Ilianna’s “I Am Woman” seemed the most interesting, but we didn’t get to hear them roar.
WINNERS: Dylan Gerard, Esera Tuaolo, and Chloe Kohanski
TEAM BLAKE: Dennis Drummond vs. Mitchell Lee
For the night’s final pairing, we had two Nashvillians: Dennis, the lanky guitar-slinger who plays for Season 10 runner-up Adam Wakefield, and sexy dental school dropout Mitchell. I immediately thought Dennis was cooler and quirkier, but I knew Blake Shelton, a shrewd strategist, wouldn’t want to dump this season’s answer to Barrett Baber (a.k.a. the country heartthrob who’ll attract that all-important cougar demographic). The best I could hope for here was a Steal. And hey, since Carson Daly had been spoiling all night that there would be a Steal (WHY DOES THE SHOW KEEP DOING THAT???), I knew Dennis would be safe. Phew.
“I refer to these guys as East Nashville-type artists — it’s that hipster music that’s really taken off,” said Blake, sounding about 83 years old. Then he gave Dennis and Mitchell “Mr. Jones” by those incredibly hip No Depression favorites, Counting Crows. OK, then. Anyway, onstage, Mitchell sure looked the part of a Sam Hunt-style country idol, and there’s no question that he was the superior singer of the two. But he exhibited a Ken-doll slickness and smugness that I just did not like. “Mr. Jones” is an angsty song, and handsome Mitchell was not convincing singing, “Man, I wish I was beautiful.” I felt nothing.
Miley rightfully praised Mitchell’s “pitch-perfect” voice, but Adam told Dennis, “You’re a totally different kind of artist, and you did your version of it. … You are definitely a wild card, and you’re just super-unique. And you got cool taste in guitars.”
So, as we were forewarned by Carson before every cliffhanging commercial break, Adam stole Dennis, and all was right with the Voice world. Despite Dennis’s professional connection to a onetime Team Blake contestant, Team Adam was where he belonged all along. “That was a great call, times 1,000,” Miley assured Adam.
WINNER: Mitchell Lee / STOLEN: Dennis Drummond moves to Team Adam
Tune in next week, when the Battles, and probably the montages, continue.