“You don’t even get these performances at award shows,” Kelly Clarkson exclaimed during her first-ever night of Voice Battle Rounds on Monday. And yes, there were a couple of surprising moments with Emmy or Grammy potential. But what was most surprising was that team Kelly’s Jackie Foster, the wannabe rocker whose audition left me totally unimpressed two weeks ago, rose to the occasion and earned a rare triple Steal.
In the standout Battle, Jackie squared off with rock ’n’ soul showman D.R. King on Harry Styles’s “Sign of the Times” — and the two sounded superb together. D.R.’s falsetto was fantastic, and his voice overall was more distinctive, but Jackie amazed with a wild wail at the end.
It seemed everyone had expected D.R. to prevail, so I wondered if Kelly had initially set Jackie up as fodder. “I’m just going to say this: I couldn’t take my eyes off you Jackie,” Adam Levine said. “D.R. no disrespect, because I think everyone here knows how good you are — but the real revelation today for me was Jackie.” Blake Shelton added: “I agree with Adam. Jackie is the discovery here for me.”
So, Adam and Blake, along with Alicia Keys, all tried to steal Jackie. Blake compared Jackie’s possible trajectory to that of last season’s champion, Chloe Kohanski (whom Blake stole from Miley Cyrus), but ultimately it was Adam’s typically hyperbolic enthusiasm — “When you do win this thing, they’re going to go back to this moment,” he told Jackie — that sealed the deal.
Honestly, I don’t think Jackie can win this show. But after that Battle, I’m beginning to think she’s a real rock chick after all.
Not all of Monday’s Battles were this epic, but some others did, for better or worse, culminate in (single) Steals. Let’s take a look.
TEAM ALICIA: Jamai vs. Sharane Calister, “Mercy”
Jamai the singing-telegram man seemed to think he was doomed once he learned he would be battling Sharane, and I can’t say I blamed him. The woman is a powerhouse. But Jamai held his own in the ring. In fact, he was the one who held my attention. Sharane may have had the bigger voice, but Jamai had the bigger personality. The dude was a rock star. I was astounded that, when Alicia picked Sharane, no one stole Jamai. Three Steal attempts for Jackie and not one for Jamai? That just wasn’t right.
TEAM KELLY: Brynn Cartelli vs. Dylan Hartigan, “Ready for It?”
OK, Dylan was the contestant that seemed truly doomed tonight. Despite being only 14 (seven years younger than Dylan), beast-on-the-mic Brynn easily overpowered one-chair-turner Dylan’s weak, boy-band voice. She also was a natural onstage, while Dylan was corny, with his bro-y attitude and awkward “KC” shoutouts. I assumed this was a TKO. But then … Blake stole Dylan! Why?? Because he looks like Danny Zuko? What a waste of a Steal.
WINNER: Brynn/Dylan moves to Team Blake
TEAM BLAKE: JessLee vs. Kyla Jade, “One Last Time”
I didn’t have high expectations for this Battle, considering that JessLee’s audition had been montaged and Kyla’s audition was underwhelming. And unfortunately, my expectations were not surpassed. Maybe it was because the Ariana Grande song was outside their wheelhouses, but despite their being big belters, the Battle lacked energy. (Seriously, the entire thing could’ve been montaged and I would’ve been OK with that.) Kyla was the stronger of the two, however, so I don’t think this was the “tough decision” Blake claimed it was.
TEAM ADAM: Rayshun Lamarr vs. Tish Haynes Keys, “Sweet Thing”
This Battle exuded so much exuberance it was more like a duet. Rayshun and Tish’s voices complemented each other perfectly, and they had great chemistry and give-and-take onstage. The other coaches chided Adam for being so “stupid” as to pit these two against each other, but Adam reasoned that his decision ultimately made for good TV. “That moment that just happened could not have happened for the both of you without you being together,” he told Rayshun and Tish. The Chaka Khan song was more suited to Tish, so I was surprised that she didn’t survive this showdown. But it was no surprise when Kelly swooped in for the Steal, as she’d already proclaimed, “I would love both y’all on my team.”
WINNER: Rayshun/Tish moves to team Kelly
TEAM ALICIA: Shana Halligan vs. Christiana Danielle, “Use Somebody”
I knew there’d be some tough cuts this season, because Alicia’s team is so strong. But I was disappointed to see one of Season 14’s most unique voices leave the competition this soon. I thought witchy woman Shana’s ethereal take on the deconstructed Kings of Leon song was much more captivating. Christiana was shaky and struggling at first — she’s better in her higher range — while Shana brought the drama throughout. I was fine with Christiana winning this Battle, as she’s been one of my favorites, but this was another lost opportunity for a Steal.
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