VOICE OVER: The Battle Rounds Begin on NBC's The Voice!


On NBC's The Voice, tonight, October 8, marked the start of the battle rounds! The last two weeks were the blind auditions in which singers auditioned, the coaches decided whether or not they wanted the singer, and the performers themselves chose which team they wanted to join. So now, it's almost a completely different show. Now it's about each artist competing against another awesome singer to stay on the show.

So here's how it works: each team has two singers at a time who go head to head, singing together, but simultaneously trying to shine. After they finish, it's up to their coach to decide which one should remain on the team. As mentioned last week, this season has a slight twist called a steal. Each coach is allowed two steals, meaning that when a coach lets a mentee go, one of the other coaches has a chance to claim that singer for their own team. This gives the coaches the opportunity to keep the very best singers on the show and even pick up people who they had wanted at the auditions. If more than one coach tries to steal at a time, it's up to the singers to decide who they want as their coach.

So the first battle of season three was on Team Blake with the help of Michael Bublé as an expert coach. Casey Meussigman and Terry McDermott sang, "Carry On Wayward Son." Scottish rocker Terry seemed to have a more trained voice, while country singer Casey Meussigman definitely had to adjust his country voice to the style of this song. However, Casey was not at all short on confidence. He told Michael Bublé that he thought he could win the whole competition and that he had no qualms about making Terry a, "casualty on my way to success." Both of these guys really brought everything they had to the table tonight as they battled it out to see who would stay on with Blake. In their rehearsal before the performance, Blake told them, "Casey, you won't back down from anything. Terry, you're a B.A. Singer. You have your work cut out for you." Later, Blake also commented, "Casey has shown the most growth. They've both worked hard, and they've both decided to win." Their duet was an amazing performance, but it seemed clear that while they were both talented performers, Terry shone just a little brighter than Casey. After they sang, Blake said, "Terry, the challenge for you is I'm a country guy, and I can relate to country artists more. You both have a great voice with a lot of power." To Casey's surprise, Blake chose to keep Terry. Though Christina told Blake that he had a tough decision and that both of the guys really brought it, and CeeLo told Casey that he sounded great, no one stole Casey to keep him in the show.

With Mary J. Blige helping Team Adam, Collin McCloughlin and Bryan Keith prepared, "Santeria" by Sublime. Adam told his mentees, "I think this song is a common thread for you both. It's a dark song." Interestingly, Adam found a pitch problem with Collin, but not because he was off-key. On the contrary, he said, "Collin, you have maybe the best pitch I've ever heard, but you need that imperfection too. Put a little more danger into your performance." It's hard to tell whether that is technically a compliment or not. At any rate, this kind of constructive criticism proved very useful to both of these guys as they prepared to battle it out to retain their spot on The Voice. Bryan had more of a rocker voice, which made him a natural as he and Collin sang on stage. The former was clearly comfortable performing, having full confidence in his voice and style, while Collin seemed to have trouble adjusting the almost bad-boy style of the song. Both of them were clearly challenged to do their absolute best with this selection. After their amazing performance, each coach commented on their performance, with the consensus being that Bryan was the better, more comfortable one. Blake was the only one to say he would have chosen Collin. He told them, "That was a lot of fun. You both have completely different types of voices, but there's a laid-back, fun side to what you do. There were no pitch things at all for Collin. I would go with Collin." Adam told them, "Collin, you came up with beastly intentions. It comes down to who interpreted the song in the way that makes me want to take this person forward. The winner of this battle is Bryan." A dejected Collin started to give Adam his final remarks, but Blake and CeeLo both pushed their buttons for a steal. Blake was quick to remind Collin that CeeLo had only minutes before said he would choose Bryan. And with that kind of logic, Collin couldn't help but pick Team Blake.

The third battle of season three was on Team CeeLo. Rob Thomas, of the band Matchbox 20, teamed up with CeeLo to coach YouTube sensation JR Aquino and Peruvian Diego Val in a new spin on an '80s favorite, "Jessie's Girl." Right off the cuff, Diego was unsure of himself, having not grown up in America speaking English, and therefore not knowing this song. Between that and not practicing very much before coming in to work with his coaches and his duet partner, it was hard for Diego to conquer the elements of this tune with confidence. However, it was clear after the final rehearsal that he had every intention of immersing himself in this song until it was time to perform. CeeLo said in contrast that, "JR has really impressed me because he's been working so hard." Multiple times, he told Diego that JR was looking better, and that there were a lot of issues with Diego. However, neither of these guys was particularly awesome. While JR seemed to desperately want this, Diego gave off an air that suggested he took his talent for granted, with or without rehearsal. This made an odd combination when they were performing. Unlike every other battling couple tonight, who clearly were having a great time singing together, they did not appear to want to make this a joint effort in any way. They sang together, but there seemed to be no unity, which hurt each of them. The mentors were split between JR and Diego, but of course CeeLo's opinion was the only one that really mattered. He reassuringly told them, "You both did an excellent job… It's a tough decision. I'm gonna go with Diego. Diego has a lot of room to grow." So the guy who admittedly struggled immensely through the rehearsals got a spot on Team CeeLo and will get another chance to show why he should win this competition.

Team Christina enlisted the help of Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong as they coached De'Borah and Nelly "Nelly's Echo" Emokpae. They chose, "Message in a Bottle," and both singers experimented by putting their own spin on their portions of the song.  Billie Joe Armstrong had high praise for Nelly's Echo: "He's got a great voice. This could be the best performance of the night." Also, Christina cautioned De'Borah, who clearly doubted herself during rehearsals, against being too forced. However, those problems did not show much during the performance. When they sang, they were very much together, and it was clear that they were both having a blast. All four of the coaches had high praise for these two singers. CeeLo said, "You blew me away," Blake told De'Borah, "I really got caught up in it, De'Borah. I would pick you for my team." Their coach Christina told them, "You guys came to play today. I love how experimental you were. You both took this song and made it your own." But as far as who would be on her team, she said, "It's De'Borah."

Another pair from Blake's team got to battle it out tonight, with country mother/daughter pair 2 Steel Girls facing Gracia Harrison. Gracia seemed unsure throughout rehearsals, voicing concern, "I feel disadvantaged because I'm going up against two singers. I'm going to prove to Blake that I'm powerful enough to beat both of them." Bublé told all of them, "The better you are as a group, the better you are." Blake said during the rehearsals that he didn't think 2 Steel Girls were good at working together as a pair, so they needed to step it up. The three sang "Sin Wagon," and it was a powerful country face-off. Blake told them, "I don't think we've ever seen anything like this on the show before, with a throw-down country song. You 2 Steel Girls sound great together. And you'd never believe Gracia was shy during rehearsals with that voice." Adam was desperately hoping the whole time that Blake would drop Gracia so that he could steal her, because he had really wanted her during the blind auditions. But he was complimentary of all of the performers, "That was so much fun to watch. Gracia, I think you're phenomenal. Blake can't go wrong with whatever he decides." Christina said she liked Gracia's performance the best as well, but CeeLo stood alone, saying he favored 2 Steel Girls. In the end, Blake did what Adam called the smart thing, chosing Gracia. And sadly, there was no steal for the 2 Steel Girls.

The last performance of the night was definitley the best. Another CeeLo duo, soul singers Amanda Brown and Trevin Hunte faced off. The two sang "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey. While Amanda was comfortable singing as a performer, Trevin had many strong, almost crippling doubts about himself throughout the process. Going into the last rehearsal, he was extremely nervous, and it seemed like his performance would end up being a self-fulfilled prophecy. Rob called him his own worst enemy, and CeeLo did caution him by letting him know that Amanda was really bringing it in a big way. However, both performers absolutely hit it out of the park. The song started out deceptively quiet and gentle, but then it quickly became an insanely awesome soul power-house party up there. There was an enormous amount of epic-ness, and itwas just brilliant. All of the coaches gave a standing ovation by the end. Adam even stood on his chair, then said, "Whoever he doesn't pick, I'm going to pick you right now." All of the coaches clearly thought the same as Adam, hoping to snag whoever could not stay with CeeLo. They naturally dished out the profuse praise of the performance, or, as Blake did, of their extremely attractive looks. CeeLo had a ridiculously hard decision to make. He said, "Trevin, tonight you impressed me as usual. It's disheartening for me when you're not sure of yourself. But I want to help you on your journey. Amanda, your voice impressed me greatly." In the end, he felt like he could be the greatest help to Trevin who was still figuring out his identity as a singer. So that made Amanda up for grabs. All three judges told her they were blown away, wanted her to help them win, but Adam probably brought the greatest praise, "I hold few singers in such high regard. Aretha, Christina, Mariah… And I think that you're one of them. I don't need to teach you how to sing." Amanda told him, "I want to reach outside the box, so I'm going to pick Adam." Adam, as usual was an obnoxious, yet endearing winner, jeering at the other judges by saying, "I know how to steal. I'm a good thief."

With that outstanding performance, the first night of the battle rounds wrapped up. So did the coaches make the right decision? We'll see how these singers do, but for now, tune in Tuesday on NBC at 8/7c to see the more battle rounds! For a recap of the past singers from the blind auditions this season, click here

Visit www.nbc.com/the-voice/artists/ to view the full list of mentees, plus their stories, videos, and more. You can download your favorites from tonight's performances at www.iTunes.com/thevoice, or watch their performances on The Voice's YouTube channel: www.Youtube.com/NBCthevoice. Keep up with The Voice through the week and while the show on Twitter: @NBCTheVoice, #TheVoice.  

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