Monday’s episode of the NBC singing competition marked the first Battle Round of the season and the gloves were off. The contestants and coaches both came out swinging. But first, the veteran coaches offered Ariana Grande some friendly advice.
“This is your first time doing Battles so you have to use your save… and your steal wisely,” John Legend said. “This is the hardest part of what we do… Get ready to cry.”
Blake Shelton quipped, “I’m ready to see you guys cry.”
Here’s how it works: Each coach pairs up two singers on their team to duet a song of the coach’s choice. The singers then battle it out and only one is dubbed a winner. Each coach has one save and one steal during this round. (More on that later.)
Team Grande’s Bella DeNapoli, 22, and Katie Rae, 35, entered the ring for the first head-to-head of the night for a powerful rendition of Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer’s “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).”
Despite the song title, there were lots of tears shed. Not only did the duo make Team Grande advisor Kristin Chenoweth cry, but Grande was moved to tears. It was a chain reaction. Seeing Grande cry made Clarkson cry: “How your voice breaks when you cry is like what the hell, stop.”
“I don’t want to get too emotional, but I adore you both so much,” a weeping Grande said. “This song means a lot to me. My mom and I sing it in the car all the time and hearing it like this was so special. I’m proud of you both.”
Then came what everyone warned Grande about: Picking a winner. “I hate this so much,” Grande said. “I literally talked to my therapist about this.”
She crowned Rae the winner, but quickly used her only save of the Battle Round on DeNapoli, her “Italian sister.”
Throughout the night, no other coach tried to steal DeNapoli from Grande. “We can’t steal now, you were crying,” Clarkson said. “We’re not heartless.”
But, Shelton proved he’s the heavyweight of cold-hearted coaches following the “four mic drop” worthy performance from Team Clarkson’s Kinsey Rose, 35, and the Girl Named Tom trio, composed of siblings Bekah, 21, Joshua, 24, and Caleb, 26. The singers performed Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road.”
Clarkson dubbed Girl Named Tom the winner because of their “family harmony” and she quickly hit her save button for Rose, who she still “wants on (her) team.”
She wasn’t alone. Legend, Shelton and Grande each hit their steal button, marking the first time a contestant earned three steals and a save during “The Voice” Battle Rounds.
“This is the first time in Voice history that we had four button pushes in the Battles and that just shows you the power of Kinsey’s voice,” Shelton said, who used a car crash analogy to try to win over Rose.
“If you were to narrowly escape a terrible bad car accident and you look back and go, ‘Wow, I’ll never do that again.'” Shelton said. “(Clarkson) was the person driving the other car. This is your turn to escape something tragic.”
Grande responded, “Are we saying picking Kelly Clarkson is like picking a car accident?”
Rose ended up staying with Team Clarkson, who did a victory dance: “I’m really happy. All the steals in the world couldn’t remove her from my grasp.”
Shelton soon realized his pitch was a wreck itself. “It probably didn’t help, my pitch about the car crash thing,” He reflected. “It kind of became it’s own crash on itself.”
The Battle Rounds continue Tuesday on “The Voice” (NBC, 8 EDT/PDT).