When we last left The Voice Season 21 Battle Rounds, on Monday, Team Kelly’s Jeremy Rosado had just beaten Jermika Maple, leaving the latter singer, a seeming frontrunner, available to steal. Kelly Clarkson’s rival coaches John Legend and Ariana Grade then eagerly swooped in, and the episode climaxed in a cliffhanger as Jermika pondered her fate. The Battles resumed Tuesday with Jermika choosing to join Team Legend. And then it was time to find out the fate of another contestant who was more of an underdog, but just might turn out to be Season 21’s dark horse — or dark cheetah, if you will.
Fifteen-year-old rocker chick Hailey Green tried out for The Voice unsuccessfully on Season 19, but she returned this year after having undergone quite a badass glow-up that included a side-shaved platinum hairdo, nose ring, and even a tattoo. “Not only did my voice change, but I found my style. … And I changed mentally too,” she said, realizing in retrospect that it was a good thing that she didn’t get a turn last year. Still, only Blake Shelton turned for Hailey this season — and at the very last minute. So this week, when Hailey went up against a 28-year-old professional country singer, Lana Scott, on Maren Morris’s “Girl,” it still seemed like the odds were against her. “I’m not used to singing pop-country, and Lana has a powerful country voice,” admitted Hailey.
But Hailey has been playing football since age 5, so she definitely had that fighting, competitive spirit — and the “attack,” as Blake put it, as he told Hailey, “You kind of sing like you play football!” Perhaps the Maren song, about women helping and uplifting other women, uniquely spoke to Hailey, since she is only female player on her high school team back home and she hopes to inspire other young girls.
“You were a cheetah, like someone was just taming you or trying to hold you back. I’m so interested in what the cheetah has to offer,” said Kelly. “Hailey literally plays outside linebacker for her high school football team. Now you know why she sings like that. You can’t hold back the cheetah!” explained/exclaimed Blake, before somewhat surprisingly choosing Hailey over the more seasoned cruise ship entertainer and “songbird,” Lana.
“The thing that intrigues me about Hailey is she’s so young and her voice is so powerful. From a coaching standpoint, she has all the elements. She just needs to know how to approach and actual performance and have some dynamics,” explained Blake, who had noted that even when he advised Hailey to “dial it back,” her “intensity level was still on 10.” Of course, Blake also saved the quieter and sweeter Lana, so both the cheetah and the songbird will move on to the Knockout Rounds. Blake later joked that he’d always planned to keep both singers, but he knew Hailey would better handle the “30-second broken heart” when his initial verdict was announced. That is how tough this lady linebacker is.
These were the other Battles from Tuesday night:
TEAM BLAKE: Libianca vs. Tommy Edwards, “Save Your Tears”
I was surprised that this was a montage, since artsy Cameroonian chanteuse Libianca’s audition was so hyped this season (Ariana was crushedwhen Libianca didn’t choose her), and ’90s-style soft-rocker Tommy was Blake’s final recruit during the Blinds. Apparently neither lived up to their early promise, or maybe Blake just made a big mistake by giving them a Weeknd song that probably didn’t play to either of their strengths. Anyway, based on both contestants’ previous performances and the tiny snippet seen here, it seems like Blake at least made the right call about which singer to keep.
TEAM KELLY: Carolina Alonso vs. Xavier Cornell, “Telepatía”
OK, I completely understand why this Battle was not shown in full. This was a hot mess, pure chaos. Neither contestant sounded pleasant singing solo, and they also didn’t interact at all, disjointedly singing all over each other as if they didn’t even notice another person was onstage. There was no chemistry, no harmony, no vocal blend. Xavier prevailed, for now, but I doubt he will survive the Knockouts — and he may get montaged in that round too.
WINNER: Xavier Cornell
TEAM ARIANA: Vaughn Mugol vs. Katherine Ann Mohler, “Dilemma”
This was an unusual song choice for The Voice and one of new coach Ariana’s most intriguing decisions so far: a deliberate “curveball” to push both singers out of their comfort zones. At first, it seemed like the mild-mannered Vaughn was more up to the task, excitedly declaring, “This is my moment to shine!” and displaying a lot more swag than I’d expected; Ariana even called it a “completely new persona.” On the other hand, Katherine, a great technical singer, was too “mathematical,” and her perfectionism was hurting her. She just didn’t seem to be feeling it, or feeling herself, or feeling Vaughn; the twosome’s chemistry was nonexistent, and Ariana complained that their interaction was too “polite.” However, by the time rehearsals were over and they got in the ring, Katherine was a changed woman, unexpectedly sassy and quirky, and she easily stood out. “You really surprised the hell out of me tonight,” Ariana told Katherine, describing her as “such an incredible student for music.”
WINNER: Katherine Ann Mohler
TEAM LEGEND: Brittanybree vs. Samara Brown, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”
Samara, like Hailey, was another contestant with something to prove, as her sister, Season 3 top 10 finalist Amanda Brown, was one of the greatest contestants in Voice history. (Amanda’s “Dream On” is still the stuff of Voice legend.) “The stakes are so much higher. … I’m trying to prove that I deserve to be there,” Samara proclaimed. Of course, she had the added pressure of going up against one of this season’s greatest vocalist, Brittanybree. So at first, Samara was trying too hard, deviating too far from the sultry Aretha ballad’s melody with all these unnecessary, showoff-y runs, riffs, and adlibs. Luckily, she took John and guest adviser Camila Cabello’s direction well and practiced some restraint onstage. Meanwhile, Brittanybree faced her own challenges, since never performed secular music in public before. But she too rose to the occasion, after John pointed out that Aretha Franklin herself started out, like Brittanybree, as a church-raised gospel singer. By the time both women went into Battle, they were at their best, and we all knew this was going to end in a Steal. In fact, Ariana had her hand on her buzzer beforeJohn even announced his decision, and Kelly also went in for the Steal once John saved Brittanybree and Samara became available. I personally think John was foolish to pit these contestants against each other in the first place, but I bet he hadn’t expected Samara to hold her own like she did. He’s lucky that he still had a Save in play, and that Samara was loyal and didn’t hold a grudge.
WINNER: Brittanybree / SAVED: Samara Brown
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