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On The Voice: Let the Battles Begin

Season 10 of NBC’s The Voice returned a few weeks ago but I think it’s safe to say the actual competition started tonight! After weeks of blind auditions (and a few more tonight) Monday’s battle rounds set the bar so high I don’t know if the rest will be worth watching. Ok, maybe not that high but I had some serious stank face watching tonight and it’s early.

To recap quickly, we had a few spots to fill before the battle rounds could begin. I’m not sure I understand why this hour of filling teams couldn’t have happened last week prior to the two-hour “best of the blinds” special. But nobody asked for my help in programming at NBC. So tonight Adam needed one, Blake needed one, Christina needed one and Pharrell needed two to fill the teams.

In the first hour, we heard from more no-chair contestants than I think we’ve heard about to date. Also, these five contestants:

Jared Harder is a 22-year-old from Joplin, Missouri. He did a boy version of Merry Go Round by Kacey Musgraves and I was nervous at first but I didn’t look at Jared (I was cooking) and I liked his voice right away. He had a calm, mature tone and he did Kacey proud. Blake was the only chair turned for Jared so #TeamBlake it is. With that, Blake’s team is full.

#TeamBlake

  1. Paxton Ingram
  2. Mary Sarah
  3. Angie Keilhauer
  4. Adam Wakefield
  5. Brittany Kennell
  6. Peyton Parker
  7. Trey O’Dell
  8. Brittney Lawrence
  9. Justin Whisnant
  10. Jared Harder
  11. Gina Castanzo
  12. Teresa Guidry

Moushumi, a  22-year-old from New Jersey, left behind a career in the medical field to follow her musical dream. Her rendition of Wicked Game was flawless and Christina and Adam turned first but Pharrell took his time and asked about her nationality and said he had never heard a person from India sing the way she did. Moushumi (I really don’t appreciate one named people) joins #TeamPharrell but we’re not done yet!

Up next is Katie Basden, a 23-year-old from Durham, North Carolina. Her backstory is super sad and I’m not sure I know if her ailing father is doing better or not but I’m sure Katie made him proud tonight. The irony here is that Katie performed Midnight Rider, is from Nashville and Blake’s team was full. Oh, the drama of it all. Katie chose #TeamAdam but I think we can all see the writing on the wall with this one (hint: Blake steal). Adam’s team is now full.

#TeamAdam

  1. Mike Schiavo
  2. John Gilman
  3. Caroline Burns
  4. Laith Al-Saadi
  5. Katherine Ho
  6. Natalie Vacovazzi
  7. Nate Butler
  8. Owen Danoff
  9. Lily Green
  10. Matt Tedder
  11. Ryan Quinn
  12. Katie Basden

Jonathan Hutcherson (I tweeted to see if he was related to Josh but no response) is a 16-year-old from Kentucky that looks a little bit like a younger version of Sam Smith. His family of brothers is adorable and he sang One Direction and kind of looked like a cleaner-cut version of a boy band singer. Pharrell turned his chair and completed his team with Jonathan.

#TeamPharrell

  1. Caity Peters
  2. Nick Hagelin
  3. Joe Vivona
  4. Abby Celso
  5. Emily Keener
  6. Johnathan Bach
  7. Hannah Huston
  8. Maya Smith
  9. Jessica Crosbie
  10. Brian Nhira
  11. Moushumi
  12. Johnathan Hutcherson

The last audition of the night had me in tears before the poor girl even sang. Ayanna Jahnee lost her mother to cancer but she has a sparkle and a deep, powerful voice that hopefully her new coach can work with. Christina was impressed with Ayanna’s version of Skyfall and her team is now full.  Then Christina did a weird sing-along to My Team is Full which had of a lot of great runs but was overall foolishness.

#TeamChristina

  1. Bryan Bautista
  2. Alisan Porter
  3. Shalyah Gearing
  4. Lacy Mandigo
  5. Kata Hay
  6. Malik Heard
  7. Kristen Marie
  8. Chelsea Gann
  9. Daniel Passino
  10. Tamar Davis
  11. Joe Maye
  12. Ayanna Jahnee

I have to say that Team X-Tina seems to be stacked to win this year. If she doesn’t make any crazy decisions, she should be set to finally take home the crown or whatever they get for winning. My early favorites are Owen Danoff and Mike Schiavo from Team Adam, Mary Sarah and Justin Whisnant from Team Blake, Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, Tamar Davis and Daniel Passino from Team Christina and Malik Heard from Team Pharrell. I have a feeling Pharrell will pull some amazing vocals out of his team but none of them stand out a bunch for me at this very early point. So no shade intended there…just a bad memory.

At some point in the next hour, there was a bit where Adam took Blake’s phone and gave it to Christina who hid it for much of the show. These crazy kids sure are entertaining.

In the next hour, the battle rounds kick off with Team Adam’s Ryan Quinn and newest team member Katie Basden. Ryan has an awesome vibe and he makes the funniest faces. I also really like his backstory which seems important on The Voice so they know how to call you out for the battle rounds. In this corner, the music teacher with traumatized children from New York…ok, bad joke. You know what I mean. Anyway, Ryan is up against country girl Katie who couldn’t be on Blake’s team because it was full. The pair performed “Maybe I’m Amazed” which is a Paul McCartney song that has been done on The Voice more often than I remembered. They were pretty evenly matched but Adam chose to save teacher/hipster Ryan which I totally get. Besides, now Blake can steal Katie and all is right with the world. Both are safe and Katie is now #TeamBlake.

Next up is Paxton Ingram and Brittney Lawrence, Blake’s two pop singers. Oddly enough Blake sings country music but his new girlfriend sings pop music. Blake’s mentor for this season is none other than Gwen Stefani who helps Blake guide the pop kids. Point of order, NBC apparently doesn’t enjoy exploiting children as much as other reality shows. I think the average age on The Voice is around 25 if I were to guess. Anyway, this was a great duet to “I Know What You Did Last Summer” which I will admit (old) I don’t know. Paxton has energy and stage presence and I was completely entertained by him. Brittney had a beautiful voice and the duet was great but Brittney is one of those girl singers that needed something to stand out from the crowd of good girl singers and she didn’t really have anything that memorable. Blake wisely chose to keep Paxton and we say goodbye to Brittney.

Finally, Christina chose to pair Malik Heard and Bryan Bautista on “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” and I’m serious when I say it might be one of the best performances I’ve seen on a reality singing show. Ok, I have a short memory but it was seriously that good. Malik, college freshman from Dallas, is a skilled singer. He is adorable but mature and I’m not sure his sound is current but I’d listen to whatever he is putting out. Bryan, arena usher and returning voice artist, has a few years of experience on young Malik but together they worked it OUT. Oh, and Bryan’s got a falsetto that doesn’t even start to annoy me. This was really tough but I kind of figured Christina would keep Bryan and she did. The coaches were pitching their steals before Christina had decided who to let go and after a three chair steal round, Malik landed on Team Pharrell where I think he will soar.

I was sort of meh on this season but now is when I start to realize how much more talented or better produced the singers are on this show. Maybe it’s that they choose not to focus on 15-year-olds but I continue to be impressed with the vocal talent on The Voice. Oh, and Blake finally found his phone.

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