Category: The Voice

'The Voice' recap: Four singers say 'So long'

The Voice

Four singers were sent home Tuesday night on "The Voice's" first live elimination show of the season: Charlotte Sometimes and Naia Kete from Blake Shelton's team and Sera Hill and Moses Stone from Christina Aguilera's group. On the bright side, though, four members of Team Blake and four from Team Christina advanced to sing another day.

It was a solemn affair, really, even though Gym Class Heroes, accompanied by members of Team Adam, kicked off things with a lively rendition of their song "A** Back Home," in which Neon Hitch strode the stage wearing what appeared to be part of a shabby-chic vintage bed frame.

Carson Daly led with the results of the audience vote. In no particular order, he announced, America had voted to save Team Blake's Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul and RaeLynn. Willett exclaimed that she was shocked by the news, but RaeLynn seemed even more startled, mouthing a phrase viewers might not have expected from a button-cute 17-year-old aspiring country singer.

INTERACTIVE | 'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice' -- Who's the best?

That left the bottom three — Sometimes, Kete and Jordis Unga — to vie for their coach's save.

Team Christina, fresh from hanging out with Jay Leno and jamming on "The Tonight Show" (Shelton's team got a measly visit to a country radio station), received the news from Daly. Saved by the audience were Jesse Campbell, Lindsey Pavao and Chris Mann. That left Hill, Stone and Ashley De La Rosa in jeopardy.

The bottom three on each team appeared with new songs to compete for their coach's save. Kete performed a laid-back "If I Were a Boy," leaving Shelton craving her trademark reggae. (She said she hadn't been given that option.) Sometimes sang an emotional "Iris," looking more than sincere on lines like "And I don't want to go home right now" and "I just want you to know who I am." And then Unga gave what may have been her best performance, a clear, compelling "Wild Horses."

Aguilera waffled between Sometimes and Unga and then seemed to select Unga as the most worthy. Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine were clearer: "Without question, I think this goes to Jordis," Levine said. 

Shelton, the vote that counted, said that while he loved all three and it was hard to compare apples to oranges, "If I have to base my decision on what I just saw there, I gotta go with Jordis."

Later, he told both Kete and Sometimes how "sorry" he was and also how "proud." "It's not the end of the road by any stretch of the imagination," he told them.

As for Team Christina, De La Rosa stirred the audience with a rousing "Paris (Ooh La La)." Hill showed off her vocal chops with "Visions of Love." And Stone tried to display his range with "Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)." Green liked Hill's performance, but Levine and Shelton picked De La Rosa "absolutely" and "for sure."

Aguilera said she loved all three of the performances, but said ultimately "I have to go with my instinct and my gut and my heart, and that's telling me Ashley."

And so eight singers advanced and four went home wet-eyed and empty-handed.

Team Blake
Advancing: Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, RaeLynn, Jodis Unga
Eliminated: Naia Kete, Charlotte Sometimes

Team Christina
Advancing: Jesse Campbell, Lindsey Pavao, Chris Mann, Ashley De La Rosa
Eliminated: Sera Hill, Moses Stone

Do you think the right people advanced?

INTERACTIVE | 'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice' -- Who's the best?

"Idol" vs. "The Voice" Times music and television writers, including Amy Reiter, are ranking the five best performers each week, regardless of venue. Readers are invited to cast their votes too. See who made the top five last week at Who do you think stood out this week? Use the poll below to make your picks. Check back Thursday afternoon to see if your favorites made the cut. The poll closes Monday at noon.


Full coverage of 'The Voice'

'The Voice' recap: The live shows kick off

'American Idol'-'Voice': Do Elise Testone, Pip, Heejun Han rate?

— Amy Reiter

Photo: Ashley de la Rosa, Sera Hill, Moses Stone, and Carson Daly. Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC.

'The Voice' recap: The live shows kick off

'The Voice' contestant Naia Kete with host Carson Daly.With the battle rounds at its back, "The Voice" kicked off its live shows Monday night. The members of Team Blake and Team Christina -– with six singers apiece -– each took the stage solo to vie for viewers' votes. If I understood Carson Daly correctly (this is my first season watching "The Voice"), it sounds like we'll vote three members of each team through to safety, and then the coach of each team will be able to choose one member of his or her bottom three to rescue and send through as well.

So how'd they do? Well, some battle-round favorites didn't quite meet expectations. And some contestants favorably surprised us.

Nothing, however, probably surprised us as much as Cee Lo Green's hair -– both on his head and on his chest, the latter plainly visible beneath his low-cut, fringy red shirt.

INTERACTIVE | 'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice' -- Who's the best?

"There's a little something different about you tonight," Daly noted (how could he not?) at the top of the show. "What are you doing? Who are you? Where is Cee Lo?"

"Well … Adam cut his hair off, so I figured I'd grow mine out," Green said, referring to fellow coach Adam Levine's newly short 'do.

Quipped Levine of Green's lush Little Richard-esque locks: "That actually is my hair."

Honestly, I'm just happy to see Christina Aguilera in a different (lower-key and notably softer) outfit -– and without that silly disc-hat on her head.

If the live shows had brought us nothing more than a costume change for the coaches, I'd have welcomed them. But they also brought us a chance to get to know 12 of the contestants a little better.

Team Blake kicked things off with Jermaine Paul, the talented Alicia Keys background singer who wants to step into the spotlight as a solo artist. "It's my time, it's my chance, and I'm ready," Paul told us. For some reason, though, he chose to sing "Livin' on a Prayer," by Bon Jovi. Aguilera was pretty much spot-on when she said she "didn't see the connection with the song choice at all" but that Paul milked what he could from it.

Next we got Team Christina's Chris Mann, the classically trained opera singer from Kansas who's trying to make his cancer-battling mom proud by finding mainstream success. He turned in a powerful, note-perfect "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" that the judges and Daly called "amazing." As technically admirable as it was, it struck me as a little schmaltzy.

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'American Idol'-'Voice': Do Elise Testone, Pip, Heejun Han rate?

"American Idol's" Elise Testone
After "American Idol" voters sent home Heejun Han on Thursday night, he was asked which "Idol" singer he'd be rooting for. His answer: "I'm just gonna watch 'The Voice.' "

Somehow that seems appropriate given that we're taking all the singers from both shows and putting them head to head each week. I will be choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton — and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.

Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, and to view the performances, click here.  

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

1. Elise Testone ("American Idol"): A rock star was born on "Idol" this week. It wasn't just the full band, the flashing lights and the fog machine. When Testone tackled Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," her ridiculously agile voice felt like its own sort of mind-blowing special effect. The stutter, the scream, the strut around the stage in Steven Tyler's sparkly pants all blew me away, but my favorite moment was when, just before wrapping things up with "Way down inside …" she tossed the audience a sweet little smile that showed just how much fun she hoped we all were having. That moment made me feel a whole lotta love for Testone.

2. Phillip Phillips ("American Idol"): "I think he's going to be very famous, and that's because he has a certain magic, and you cannot deny it," guest mentor Stevie Nicks said of Phillips on Wednesday night. She also called him "gorgeous" and posited that, back in the old days, Mick Fleetwood would have asked Phillips to be a part of Fleetwood Mac. Can I top that praise? No, but I will say that Phillips slayed Jonny Lang's "Still Rainin'," singing and strumming with the passion he brings to all his performances, and he could have been at the very top of this list had Testone not elbowed him out at the last minute.

3. Orlando Napier ("The Voice"): Facing off against Karla Davis on the Commodores/Lionel Richie song "Easy," Napier's voice had a suppleness, surety and soulfulness that commanded attention. I can understand why someone might opt for Davis, with her sweet clarity and smooth vocals, over Napier, as Levine did, but I probably would have made a different choice, going for excitement over ease. Napier may be off "The Voice," but I hope we haven't heard the last of his voice.

4. Jessica Sanchez ("American Idol"): Sanchez's "Sweet Dreams," by her idol Beyonce, was beautiful and far from a nightmare. She again proved she has complete control of her remarkably mature voice and can make it do wonderful things. In some spots, she gently caressed the notes; in others she swooped into a powerful attack, mesmerizing us as if, yes, in a dream. Everything from the dress to the red door she walked through to the comfort Sanchez exuded onstage just seemed totally tour-ready. How is it possible that she's only 16?

5. Justin Hopkins ("The Voice"): The battle round between Hopkins and Tony Vincent was like a face-off between a lovable mutt and a carefully groomed show dog. Cee Lo Green went with the show dog (Vincent), finding him "enigmatic" and "ambiguous." I admired the show dog's showiness and careful grooming, but the lovable mutt (Hopkins) stole my heart. He was all energy and grit and tail-wagging eagerness to please. I'm sad Cee Lo sent him off to go fetch a new dream.


'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

'The Voice' recap: Battle rounds are over

'American Idol' recap: Heejun Han heads home

— Amy Reiter

Photo: Elise Testone of "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

'American Idol': Did the top nine out-sing 'The Voice' finalists?


"American Idol's" top nine took on the songs of their musical idols Wednesday night.

America's verdict -- and the judge's decision whether to issue a reprieve -- comes during Thursday's elimination show.

That's not the only unanswered question of the week. It remains to be seen whether NBC's "The Voice" tops "Idol" in the ratings for the 18 to 49 demographic, considered highly desirable by advertisers.

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

Last week, "The Voice" was sandwiched in second place in that age bracket between the "Idol's" Wednesday and Thursday editions. NBC's upstart rival singing competition had scored ahead of the venerable Fox franchise in a number of previous weeks.

Enough about numbers: How does the talent stack up between the shows?

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'The Voice' soars, but NBC still can't shake ratings blues

Blake Shelton confers with Kelly Clarkson, left, and Erin Willet on 'The Voice'

"The Voice" is putting the heat on "American Idol." But so far, the singing contest hasn't been able to lift NBC out of the ratings cellar.

For the week ending Sunday, "The Voice" was sandwiched in second place between the Wednesday and Thursday editions of Fox's "Idol" among adults ages 18 to 49, the demographic most advertisers care about. And "Voice" is up 22% this season in total viewers, while "Idol" is down by a comparable amount, according to Nielsen.

But NBC remained mired in fourth place among 18-to-49-year-olds and total viewers, because beyond "The Voice," the network has no other show in the top 20. Things are so bad that NBC is running dead last for the entire season to date, even though it earned record-breaking results with its Super Bowl telecast.

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

Meanwhile, CBS' regular lineup continued to dominate. The network had four of the top 10 programs in viewers last week, led by No. 1 "NCIS" (19 million). CBS easily leads in viewers for the season so far and could even grab the 18-49 crown away from Fox if "Idol" continues to decline.

The top show on basic cable was ABC Family's Saturday premiere of "The Blind Side" (4.7 million).


"The Voice": Battle rounds conclude

What's behind "American Idol's" ratings fall-off?

Super Bowl 2012 most-watched TV show in history

--Scott Collins (

Photo: Blake Shelton confers with Kelly Clarkson, left, and Erin Willet on "The Voice." Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC



'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds conclude

'The Voice': Click here to vote.Phee-yew! The battle rounds on "The Voice" have finally come to an end. Each of the four coach/judges, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine, has trimmed his or her team to just six contenders. And next week, the live shows begin and the competition spreads to two nights, Monday and Tuesday.

Monday night saw Green moved to tears -- twice -- by songs sung by the "artists" on his team. It also saw a few lackluster performances and one or two sharp ones. And I hope it means we've also now seen the last of Aguilera's sparkly disc hat thingy.

Here's who went home and who stayed:

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

Team Cee Lo
Pairing: Boston body shop worker James Massone vs. retro R&B singer Wade
The song: "True Colors"
Thoughts going in: You had to figure Wade would take it, given the way Green said how much "closer" to him he felt, the fact that his mentor Babyface compared him to Al Green and Luther Vandross, and the deficit of self-confidence Massone seemed to be struggling to overcome.
The performances: In fact, neither one of them sounded all that great. Both displayed an uneven grasp of pitch, and while Massone's tone is a bit nasal for my taste, Wade seemed to be gesturing more passionately than singing.
The response: All three other judges opted for Massone, whose voice Adam said "grabs" him. But the choice was Green's, and after admitting his original bias and dashed hopes for Wade, he opted for …
Winner: James Massone

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'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Which singer is best of all?

"American Idol" vs. "The Voice": Click to see the performances and the judging
"American Idol" and "The Voice" attract legions of viewers every week, but how do the performers of each show stack up against each other? What would happen if you took all the singers and put them head to head? That's what we're going to do each week. I will be choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton — and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.

Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, and to view the performances, click here. 

1. Phillip Phillips ("American Idol"): What do I love about Phillip Phillips? Nearly everything. His earnest smile, his scruffy good looks, the way he punches out each word to every song with his whole body, his humble confidence and solid grasp of who he is (real) and what he stands for (music), the way the fripperies and pressures of the competition seem to roll off him, and the way he stomps like a mad bird and wails when he really gets into a song he's playing on guitar. All of those qualities came through loud and clear this week when Phillips moved in — growl and all — on Billy Joel's "Movin' Out." He imbued the song with the raw genuineness and originality that may be exactly the two qualities I find most captivating about this double-named son of a pawn broker.

INTERACTIVE | 'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

2. Jessica Sanchez ("American Idol"): After a semi-stumble last week on her birth-year song, "Turn the Beat Around," Jessica Sanchez came back strong this week with Billy Joel's "Everybody Has a Dream," showing both power and restraint. She also proved she could control her vibrato, holding it in check and singing with a sweet clarity and then unleashing its fury at just the right moment. And since we're supposed to pay close attention to styling this season, now that Tommy Hilfiger is dishing out fashion advice, I'll note that Sanchez also looked elegant, youthful and gorgeous in her lacy, low-waisted, high-necked dress. As one of the judges said, "Perfection."

3. Jermaine Paul ("The Voice"): Stepping out from behind Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige, for whom he has been a backup singer, to forge a solo path via "The Voice" (auditioning for the show had been his young daughter's idea), this beautiful fellow proved in this week's battle rounds he was — without a doubt — fully worthy of the spotlight. Facing off against the irritatingly named ALyX on Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car," Paul took a mediocre '80s pop song and used it fully to his advantage, giving more voice, energy and personality to the tune than many of us probably thought it was worth. I think Adam Levine spoke for many of us when he marveled that Jermaine had taken the song and kicked its … you know. I expect a lot of "Voice" voters will be ready to clamber into his backseat — and help power his ride to the big-time — when the live shows begin.

4. Elise Testone ("American Idol"): Elise Testone has seemed like the Rodney Dangerfield of "Idol" this season. Last week, with Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," she earned some serious respect from the judges and mentor Jimmy Iovine yet still landed in the bottom three. This week, with "Vienna," which she opted to sing over the objections of Iovine and guest mentor Diddy, she showed a vocal nimbleness and onstage confidence we had not yet seen from her and finally — finally! — got some respect from the voters too. If Testone keeps this up, she could turn into this year's Haley Reinhart, toying with the bottom three just long enough to end up in the top three overall.

5. Colton Dixon ("American Idol"): To be honest, though I can appreciate Colton Dixon's musical talent, his performances generally leave me pretty cold. There's something about his vocal tone I just find … unintriguing, and a bit remote, no matter how hard he's selling a song. But, I have to admit, sitting at that shiny red grand piano this week, Dixon slid into Billy Joel's "Piano Man" as if it were a bespoke hipster jacket with military-ish details  (and natty buttons on the sleeves). Iovine kept telling us Dixon had an advantage this week — he plays piano and sings; Joel plays piano and sings — but the ivory-tickling "Idol" hopeful deserves credit for taking that edge and using it to cut his way, if not to the very top, certainly closer than he's been.




The top 10 take on Billy Joel

'Idol' vs. 'The Voice': Who's the best?

'American Idol' recap: Erika Van Pelt departs, leaving nine

— Amy Reiter

'Dancing With the Stars' has lowest premiere, but wins night

Monday’s premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” brought in impressive scores for the couples — no one landed under a 20! But when it came to viewership, below 20 was what it got: opening modestly to below 18.5-million viewers — an all-time low for the show but still enough to win the night in overall audience.

The veteran hoofer returned for its 14th season and nabbed a 3.5 rating in the adult demo, down more than 30% from last spring but less than half that from last fall. (And it was able to help 10 p.m.’s “Castle” climb 14% from its Feb. 27 episode with 16.3 million, 2.4.)  

“DWTS” was up against NBC’s “The Voice,” which brought in 11.8 million — down 13% from the previous week but still earning in a whopping 4.5 rating. “Smash” saw a smaller dip from the previous week, down 4% with 6.7 million, 2.3.

"Dancing With the Stars" opens to modest ratings

And the “Two and a Half Men” experiment with Ashton Kutcher continues to hold its own in the reality fray, bringing in 11.3-million viewers but earning a 3.8 in the 18-to-49 demo. It served as a tentpole for the network’s programming with the 8 to 9 p.m. comedies — “How I Met Your Mother” (8.2, 3.4), “2 Broke Girls” (9.2 million, 3.4) — steadily rising before things took a dip with “Mike & Molly” (9.8 million, 3.2) and a steady showing for 10 p.m. drama “Hawaii Five-0 (9.1 million, 2.5).

Over on Fox, retiring drama “House” dipped 17% (5.8 million, 2.0) while rookie drama “Alcatraz” saw another slip, bringing in 5.1 million, 1.5.


'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds, Part 3

'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Stepping out in style

 — Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Jaleel White and partner Kym Johnson wowed the judges with their moves on the premiere of "Dancing With the Stars." Credit: ABC

'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds, Part 3

'The Voice' contestant Erin Willett"The Voice" went into its third night of battle rounds full of bluster but ended on a quiet note, with one contestant's solemn dedication to her father.

Erin Willett had told us during blind auditions that she was giving her all to "The Voice" for the sake of her dad, to whom she was very close and who had just been diagnosed with cancer. (He was the guy who, while watching on a monitor backstage as his daughter performed, hollered for the "chickens" to press their buttons. Now that's a dad.)

Unfortunately, just before she was set to face off against teammate Gwen Sebastian, Willett received news that her dad was near death. She knew he'd want her to continue, she tearfully told her coach, Blake Shelton. So she did.

But Willett wasn't the only high-stakes performer on Monday night's show. Some were doing it for their kids, or to justify the decision to put off having kids. Others were doing it for their dreams of stardom or for the opportunities stardom could bring. Whatever the motive, all the contestants wanted to get a chance at the live shows. But alas, only half would make it.

Here's how it all broke down:

Team Adam
Pairing: The always nattily dressed 19-year-old Pip versus former competitive swimmer Nathan Parrett
The song: Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good"
Thoughts going in: Pip's eyebrows are a little distracting, but it's hard not to notice that, although Adam Levine is encouraging Parrett, Pip is still the front-runner.
The performances: They both sang strongly, and Parrett managed to get through the song without nervously shoving his hands in his pockets or crossing his arms, as he had done in rehearsal.
The response: Shelton praised Parrett's "clear" and "strong" voice but said he leaned toward Pip because Pip seemed like a singer who "can do everything." Christina Aguilera also liked Pip's stage presence, saying he seemed like someone who might have done Broadway. Cee Lo Green liked Parrett's "effortless cool," which he said reminded him of Winehouse, and thought he stole the performance. But Levine, the only vote that mattered went with …
Winner: Pip

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'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds, part 2

'The Voice' battle roundsWhat "The Voice" lacks in judge-wardrobe excitement (How many nights must we be subjected to Christina Aguilera's absurd small, circular, sparkly hat-like object? Probably as many weeks as there are battle rounds, right?), it makes up for in heated, high-stakes vocal interplay and surprise conclusions.

The second night of battle rounds saw a few unexpected pairings take the stage, with some interesting results, and a couple of choices on the judges' parts that I, for one, didn't totally see coming. Talented singers were sent packing, along with some who'd inarguably stumbled, but those who moved on had, by and large, proved their mettle in the ring.

The night made it clear, if it wasn't already, that the ticket to surviving the battle rounds is having not only the voice but also confidence, swagger and, more than anything, the ability not to fall to pieces while the cameras are rolling.

And if you're ever on "The Voice," whatever else you do, make sure you don't (A) let them hear your voice crack (and certainly not twice); (B) look like a total deer trapped in headlights during rehearsals (particularly when your opponent is lighting up the room with her easy wit); (C) let on that you haven't heard the song you're singing in 10 years and don't really remember much about it (especially when your opponent has already made it clear that she knows the song inside and out and is already making it her own); and (d) get mercilessly outsung in the ring by whomever you're matched with. 

Just a few helpful pointers. Here's a breakdown of who could have used them on Monday night and who was just fine as it was, thank you very much:

Team Christina
Pairing: Power-voiced, sunglasses-sporting soul singer Geoff McBride versus power-voiced hotel worker Sera Hill 

The song: Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools"
Thoughts going in: McBride's voice is so powerful, it blasts mentor Lionel Richie clear across the room, but Hill seems to have solid command of her vocals and might be able to connect better emotionally, especially with Aguilera, who, you'll recall, got up onstage to duet with Hill as blind auditions wrapped. Will McBride lose the sunglasses, which he wears for medical reasons, as Richie has advised him to do?

The performances: McBride, who has indeed swapped his sunglasses for clear-lensed specs, looks cool and sounds cooler, but Hill puts on a little more of a show, strutting around and (oh, well) making better eye contact. 

The response: The judges are of different opinions as to a winner: Cee Lo Green likes McBride. Blake Shelton goes with the contestant who most turned him on: Hill. And Adam's seduced by McBride's clear glasses. But Aguilera's pick — the only one that counts — is …
Winner: Sera Hill

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NBC reveals 'America's Got Talent' return date‎, Tuesday lineup

"The Voice" extends to Tuesday

NBC is doing some spring cleaning and scheduling: The network gave "America's Got Talent" a May premiere date and has a new Tuesday lineup structured around its hit series, "The Voice."

The series will kick off its new season (which includes Howard Stern taking a seat on the judges’ panel) with two-hour episodes starting Monday, May 14, and Tuesday the 15th.

The network's hit show "The Voice," meanwhile, will extend into Tuesdays as it begins its live episodes. Singers will perform live Mondays, starting April 2, with the live elimination episodes airing Tuesdays. It will all lead to this season’s winner being announced in a two-hour live finale May 8.

With "The Voice" as a tent pole, NBC's Tuesday lineup (beginning April 3) will consist of a slimmed down "The Biggest Loser" at 8 p.m., leading in to an hour episode of "The Voice," followed by "Fashion Star" -- which makes its debut a few weeks ahead on March 13 at 9:30 p.m. before settling into its new time slot.


Howard Stern gets nice(r) as 'America's Got Talent' auditions begin

'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds begin

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: "The Voice" judges -- Blake Shelton, left, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Gree and Adam Levine -- with host Carson Daly, center. Credit: NBC

'The Voice' recap: The battle rounds begin

Let the battles begin! With the blind auditions at its back, "The Voice" pivoted to focus on the battle rounds, in which each of the four coaches –- Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton -– pairs up members of his or her team of 12 to go head to head in a duet, bringing in celeb mentors Alanis Morrisette and Robin Thicke (Levine), Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert (Shelton), Babyface and Ne-Yo (Green), and Jewel and Lionel Richie (Aguilera) to help along the way.

Then, two by two, song by song, the paired-off contestants square off, the competition perhaps spurring them to reach new vocal heights or tap into deeper emotions. Afterward, the other coaches weigh in, but ultimately, the singers' own coach must choose which of his or her two handpicked team members to take through to the forthcoming live shows, and which to send home with little more than a hug and a few memories. When all the battles have been fought, each judge will emerge with just six players.

"In the battle rounds, you start with great singers and you end up with the best there are," Shelton said at the outset of Monday night's show.

Here's how the first pairings went down:

Team Adam
Pairing: Former Mouseketeer Tony Lucca v. Chris Cauley, whose music career is inspired by the memory of his bluegrass-playing grandma
The song: U2's "Beautiful Day"
Thoughts going in: Lucca may have had the edge in terms of experience, but Cauley came across as more gracious, if somewhat less articulate, saying he respected his opponent "as a dude and as an artist."
The performances: Cauley, who'd been concerned more about his onstage style than his voice, gave a compelling performance, but Lucca looked cooler and more confident, that early experience paying off.
The response: The judges were split on who emerged victorious, but only Levine's vote mattered.
Winner: Tony Lucca

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