The Voice debuted a new round of competition on Monday night: the Live Cross Battles.
It works like this: Singers from the rival teams, formed by their coaches, battle each other, with viewers at home voting for the winner. The battles begin with each coach selecting a team member to perform and then choosing another coach to battle. That opposing coach selects one of their team members to perform for a head-to-head battle.
The Live Cross Battle results will be announced Tuesday night. Each coach has one steal and one save each.
Blake Shelton's team was up first. Blake said he was "coming in strong," picking rapper/singer hybrid Kim Cherry, who performed "Poison," by Bell Biv DeVoe. But first, Blake had to pick another coach's team to challenge: Team Kelly Clarkson.
Kelly, who wanted to match Kim's rap with a little rock & roll, selected Betsy Ade, who performed another 90's hit, "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette. The coaches all agreed "a battle of the 90's" was a great way to kick off the new round of competition. They felt Kim and Betsy were evenly matched, with John Legend adding, "there may be a steal in somebody's future if they don't make it after the results come in."
Next, it was Adam Levine's turn to pick an artist to perform and a coach to battle. He led strong, choosing Mari, whom he views as a potential star with a style of voice he says "gives me Beyoncé." She performed "My My My," by Troye Sivan.
Adam maintained his playful, long-running feud with Blake by issuing a challenge to Blake's team. After a few jabs back and forth, including Blake ribbing Adam about his new Mohawk haircut, Selkii from South Africa was chosen by Blake to perform "Torn," by Natalie Imbruglia.
Team Legend's first performer of the night was former season 15 contestant Lisa Ramey. He challenged Kelly's team, specifically bilingual singer Karen Galera, whom Kelly chose to sing "Unfaithful," by Rihanna. Afterward, John said Lisa's performance justified his faith in her. Adam and Blake agreed, giving Lisa the edge.
Kelly went with a "beam of sunshine" for her next artist selection, picking powerful singer Matthew Johnson. She issued her challenge to Team Adam, and Adam decided to match power with power, selecting the raspy-voiced Domenic Haynes.
Matthew performed The Jackson 5 classic "Who's Loving You" with the warmth and energy he's become known for on the show. Domenic, a former track athlete, embraced the competition, singing "Damn Your Eyes," by Etta James, with his eyes locked on Kelly for most the performance. Adam called Domenic a honest, raw, emotional singer and John agreed, noting that while Matthew has better range, Domenic's voice at the end of notes "sounded like crying."
The next battle was between the two youngest singers in the competition. Kelly picked 16-year-old Presley Tennant and then issued a rematch with John, who picked another 16-year-old, Kayslin Victoria. Presley performed another Rihanna song, "Love on the Brain," and Kayslin sang the Zedd & Alessia Cara tune "Stay." The coaches were pretty undecided afterward, with Blake noting how much growth he could hear in their voices over the course of the season, in such a short amount of time.
There was little doubt which team Adam would chose to oppose next. After picking his artist, the stylish 17-year-old Celia Babini, he again challenged Team Blake. "Here's the thing about the challenge thing...why would I ever not challenge Blake?" he quipped.
To battle the unique quality of Celia's musicianship, Blake chose neo-soul artist Oliv Blu, whose jazzy quality "sets her apart." Celia continued to shine in her performances, this time with her cover of "1,000 Years," by Christina Perri.
So far this season, Oliv's performances have been, perhaps, easier to overlook, but not this one. Her rendition of "Gravity," by John Mayer, went over particularly well, not only with her fellow contestants but with the coaches and audience as well. Blake called it Oliv's best Voice performance "by far," adding, "you literally just charmed America."
Blake Shelton next selected old-school country crooner Dexter Roberts and then challenged "Team you suck Adam." Adam chose one of his country singers, Andrew Jannakos, setting up a battle between old vs. new country.
Dexter belted out "Believe," by Brooks & Dunn, a song Blake referred to as "sacred ground." Afterward, Blake called his pitch "perfect" and was impressed that Dexter managed to make a Ronnie Dunn song sound his own. Andrew sang the Russell Dickerson hit "Yours," which John said wowed him.
The last battle of the night began with John selecting the singer he perhaps most admires on his team: Maelyn Jarmon. He chose to do battle with Team Adam after some coaxing by Adam himself, who admitted that he loves getting challenged in the new format. Adam picked country singer Rod Stokes.
Rod's performance of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," by Michael Bolton, filled up the room: "You took the house down," said Adam. But it became clear what John meant when he said he loves the choices Maelyn makes with her songs during her performance of "Mad World," by Tears for Fears. Her voice floated over the song's haunting lyrics. "So many subtle, intelligent, stylistic choices that you're making," admired John.
The Voice returns Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC with more Live Cross Battles, as well as results from America's votes for Monday's performers, with an opportunity for coaches to save or steal.
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