Reality Rocks

‘The Voice’ Final Battles: And Then There Were 32

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Preston Pohl didn't need to be so worried this Tuesday

This Tuesday's "Voice" Battle Rounds episode featured the last six showdowns of Season 5, before the season moves on to yet another phase of the competition, the Knockout Rounds. Will we ever finally get to the live shows? Yes, eventually, but some contestants will get there having received a lot less screentime than others. Because this Tuesday's episode featured yet more….dreaded montages.

Booo. Can we please get this to trend?: #montagessuck

Seriously, "The Voice" is so popular now, NBC is airing a Battles rerun this Thursday to fill one of the network's new programming holes. NBC couldn't have added an extra hour this Tuesday, so that Holly Henry could get her due? Sheesh. Maybe NBC could slapp together a Battles outtakes show to run this Thursday, so that all of this season's montaged contestants could finally be shown. It's just a thought. Let's hope Mark Burnett is reading this and rushing back to the editing bay now.

Anyhoo, despite my displeasure with all of this montaging, I was pleased overall with how this Tuesday's Battles panned out, and with how at least two of the teams are shaping up so far. Read on to find out why…

TEAM CEE LO: Jonny Gray vs. Shawn "Big Sexy" Smith
Tom Petty is one of the coolest people in the history of people (see evidence here), and when Jonny and Shawn covered Mr. Petty's "Refugee," it was Jonny who embodied the man's damn-the-torpedoes coolness. Jonny was born a rebel, indeed. Meanwhile, Shawn sounded like he was shouting the entire song. (Stop yelling at me, Shawn! Simmah down now.) There was no nuance to Shawn's performance, just a whole lot of unmodulated growling. The dude just couldn't figure out how to use his indoor voice. Jonny was way more interesting and vibey. Thankfully, whatever malformed, evil part of CeeLo Green's brain made him give up Juhi in Monday's Battles wasn't functioning this evening, so he made the smart choice this time and kept Jonny. Sadly for Big Shouty — um, I mean Big Sexy — there were no more Steals left in play for the other coaches. But let's be real: I don't think anyone would have stolen Shawn anyway.

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TEAM ADAM: Barry Black vs. Preston Pohl
Vegas entertainer Barry came to "The Voice" with a unique (and potentially annoying) gimmick: his "mouth-horn," which sort of made him the singing-show version of "Police Academy's" Michael Winslow. During this sing-off of "I Wish It Would Rain," Barry tried to set himself apart by making his snorty kazoo noises again, but he didn't have the truly distinctive old-soulful sound of Preston, one of the best vocalists of "The Voice" Season 5. Preston was just so…Preston. I didn't think he sounded like anyone else, although CeeLo compared him to the great David Ruffin. This was an easy call: Adam Levine declared Preston the victor, and CeeLo, the only coach who still had one Steal left, let Barry and his mouth-horn go.
WINNER: Preston

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TEAM BLAKE: Holly Henry vs. Cilla Chan
TEAM BLAKE: Emily Randolph vs. Brandon Chase
TEAM CEELO: Tamara Chauniece vs. Keaira LaShae
Ah, more montages. Booo! I felt so bad for poor Emily, Cilla, and Keaira, whose first auditions were montaged as well — which means they invested just as time and energy as Jonny or Preston into "The Voice" (possibly leaving behind families, jobs, school, etc.), and all they got out of the experience was maybe one minute of combined airtime, literally, before exiting the show for good. (They probably didn't even get even get "I Tried Out For 'The Voice' and All I Got Was This T-Shirt" T-shirts, I bet.) Of all these blink-and-you'll-miss-'em Battles, I was most upset about the first one, since Holly was one of my favorite Team Blake contestants and I was excited to see more from her. But, from what I could discern from the snippets here, the right three singers did win these Battles, so maybe I should be more outraged that this 97-second montage robbed viewers of two opportunities to watch Cher mentor Blake Shelton's four contestants behind the scenes. Booo, again! Oh, if I could turn back time, indeed.

WINNERS: Holly, Brandon, Tamara

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TEAM XTINA: Olivia Henken vs. Stephanie Anne Johnson
I'm not sure why Christina arranged it so that her last two Battlers would be this woefully mismatched pair: an Underwood-wannabe country Barbie (Olivia) and a gritty rock 'n' souler (Stephanie). I also don't know why Christina would stack the deck in Olivia's favor by assigning these singers a country-pop song, the Band Perry's "Done," which Stephanie admitted she'd never heard before. Stephanie really struggled here, which was too bad, since her first audition had glimpses of real potential and was certainly more interesting than what the capable but unoriginal Olivia had to offer. It looked like Stephanie was "done," for sure…but heyyyyy, whaddya know? CeeLo still had that Steal burning a hole in his red leather pocket. So Stephanie got deserved a second chance, and the show wrapped up neatly, just in time for next week's Knockouts. Let's just hope for Christina's sake that she makes wiser decisions then, because I think setting herself up to lose Stephanie was a bad move.
WINNER: Olivia
STEAL: Stephanie moves to Team CeeLo

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So now we are down to 32 contestants, eight per team. Next week, the Knockout Rounds will pare those 32 down to 20 (not the usual 16, since this season, each coach also gets one Steal during Knockouts), and then we'll finally be ready for the Live Playoffs. Got all that? Good. But until then, let's take a look at where all the teams stand right now. Below I've ranked the teams from strongest to weakest (in my not-so-humble opinion), with the individual contestants ranked within each list:

James Wolpert
Preston Pohl
Tessanne Chin
Ashley DuBose
James Irwin
Lina Gaudenzi

Jonny Gray
Kat Robichaud
Caroline Pennell
Cole Vosbury
Stephanie Anne Johnson
Monika Leigh
Tamara Chauniece
George Horga Jr.

Ray Boudreaux
Nic Hawk
Holly Henry
Shelbie Z.
Briana Cuoco
E.G. Daily
Brandon Chase
Austin Jenckes

Matthew Schuler
Will Champlin
Amber Nicole
Jacquie Lee
Anthony Paul
Destinee Quinn
Josh Logan
Olivia Henken

Yes, Adam and CeeLo still seem to have the teams to beat, despite some of their questionable decisions earlier this week. Will they still be on top after the Knockouts? Tune in next week to find out.

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