Beginning tonight, the 64 contestants who made it through the blind auditions on “The Voice” will slowly get whittled down to one. But first, it’s the battle rounds, and there are a few questions that need answering. How have the teams shaped up? Which contestants will benefit from “the steal”? And will the coaches FINALLY change their clothes?
Before the games begin, here’s our take on where Team Adam, Team Blake, Team Cee Lo and Team Xtina rank in the competition thus far. Of course, these rankings are subject to evolve as the teams do—the new “steal” gimmick means when one contestant loses a battle, another coach can snatch him or her for themselves. So who gets a passing grade, and which coach gets a fail? Read on.
Adam Levine may have played it safe over four weeks of blind auditions in little more than wrinkled gray t-shirt, but the Maroon 5 frontman was the boldest coach when it came to pushing his button. Often the first to spin his chair, he won over contestants almost without fail with his impassioned pleas to join his team. Using that technique, he made some major scores, including the very first guy to get all four coaches to spin, raspy Bryan Keith. Another amazing catch was Nicole Nelson, the self-described hippie from Vermont, who belted out an emotional “Hallelujah.” Brandon Mahone stood out with his Temptations cover, bringing doo-wop to modern day. Melanie Martinez won Adam over with her indie-affected spin on Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” And Alessandra Guercio, recognizable from Hollywood round on “American Idol” two years ago, is a Broadway-calibre high schooler, who completes Adam’s must-watch list.
Grade: A-: With speedy spins and a much in-demand roster of team members, Team Adam is the one to beat. But that means that going into battles, he has the most to lose when the other coaches steal his cast-offs. Will Adam get another win?
Watch an Extended Sneak Peek From Monday Night’s “Voice” Battle Rounds:
Blake Shelton dressed like he knew he wasn’t going to change for a month, wearing a stain-hiding black button-down shirt under a black blazer. Not the most imaginative, nor were his choices for contestants. Mostly sticking to his country wheelhouse, Blake acquired country grandpa Rudy Parris, long-legged Liz Davis, wrestling cowboy Casey Muessigmann, yodeler Gracia Harrison and mother-daughter duo 2Steel Girls. But a rivalry with Adam encouraged Blake to make some pretty passionate pleas himself, leading him to pick up a few out-of-the-box team members—mariachi singer Cesar Castillo, Stevie Nicks-esque music teacher Suzanna Choffel, and strong-willed Terisa Griffin. Probably Blake’s most intriguing score is Cassadee Pope, a pop-band frontwoman who reached some success with her group Hey Monday.
Grade: B+, with extra credit for creativity: Blake may have mostly played it safe, but he still showed he was willing to think outside the box, most exemplified by going after a mariachi singer. If he can shed most of his blonde and leggy country girls in the battles and nurture his more interesting and memorable contestants, he might just make it to an A+.
Team Cee Lo:
White satin pajama suit? That’s just another work outfit for Cee Lo. Oh yeah, and let’s not overlook the giant pink cockatoo on his shoulder for an accessory. Cee Lo proved to be one of the more thoughtful coaches this season, to a fault. He took his time pressing his button, choosing to first take in the audition before committing. That often cost him contestants, when other coaches could snag them with their expediency. Luckily, Cee Lo got one of his best contestants on a last-minute push, the final of the blind auditions round, Cody Belew. A rodeo singer whose heart is in soul (he says he was an elderly black woman in his past life), Cody is one to watch in the upcoming battles. Other success stories for Cee Lo are passionate wailer Trevin Hunte, outstanding 16-year-old pop singer with four spins Avery Wilson, and smooth falsetto-happy Mycle Wastman. But his most memorable win was Daniel Rosa, the huggable repeat auditioner who tried out last year and didn’t get any spins.
Grade: B-, room for improvement: Despite slacking at the push-button, Cee Lo pieced together a pretty rad team. Just imagine what he could do if he put his mind to it. Let’s see some improvement on the motivation factor, and maybe Cee Lo could leave “The Voice” with his first win.
Christina Aguilera made sure she reminded us that she was the only female coach on the panel, wearing a sparkly white blazer with very little underneath—except for what God gave her, of course. And Christina went for girl power with her team members, which were three-quarters female. Of those, look out for De’borah, a gender-bender with a gospel church background, Jordan Pruitt, a former Disney star a la Aguilera, and Egyptian dance music singer Sylvia Yacoub. Other memorable auditioners were Nigerian refugee Nelly’s Echo, and husband-and-wife duo Beat Frequency.
Grade: C-: This popular girl opted to vie mostly for other girls like her, forming a clique of pop wailers led by Queen Bee Xtina. Her judging was the least sincere of all the coaches, and she seemed to prefer style over actual talent. Looks like this team will have to study hard if it’s going to bring up the grades.