On Monday’s episode of The Voice (Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV TWO), the North American edition of the reality show followed its Australian and UK counterparts by featuring the Live Cross Battle round for the first time ever, which was essentially the equivalent of getting picked by the teacher to present in front of the class, except the class is millions of people watching at home. Some singers rose to the challenge and delivered their best performances of the season, while others crumbled under the pressure. Like we said, millions. Speaking about the War of 1812 in front of 30 kids doesn’t seem so scary now, does it?
Monday’s Live Cross Battles featured eight pairings, with all four coaches, including Blake Shelton, John Legend, Adam Levine and Kelly Clarkson seeing their teams represented. Each battle began with the coaches choosing one of their own singers to battle and then challenge a coach, who would get to pick their own singer for the battle. Tuesday’s episode will show the results of the battle as chosen by the audience at home, with each coach given one save and one steal. This round of the competition will cut the number of contestants down from 32 to 24 artists, with the potential that entire teams could be wiped out. It’s unlikely, but what is likely is that each team will finish with a different number of artists from the rest, giving some coaches an advantage when heading into the Live Performances.
We’re only one night in, but so far we’re split on the idea of the Live Cross Battle. Giving the viewing audience more control over the fate of who moves on in the competition has pros and cons, with the US’s recent track record of elections not leaving us with much faith that the right decision will be made. Starting the live shows this early in the competition is also a mixed bag, with Monday night revealing that some artists thrive under the pressure, while other frontrunners cracked and needed that extra round of pre-taped performances.
On the other hand, weren’t the Knockouts essentially the same thing as the Battle Rounds? At least this round is legitimately different from the last.
While we get the push towards keeping the stakes of a reality show as high as possible to encourage viewers to tune in, we do worry about the psychological effects of forcing amateur singers to sit on stage and wait for their name to be called live on national television. We’re not fully buying the angle that the coaches don’t know which singers they’re going to pick or which team to challenge (gotta have those music cues ready), but leaving the contestants in the dark? Yeah, we could see that.
Monday night featured the most extreme collection of performances we remember seeing in The Voice history, with some contestants giving what we could easily argue are the best performances in years, while others gave some of the worst performances we’ve seen to date. We’re not going to call those ones out, but it did seem as though the pairings were all evenly matched, with the battling contestants either both delivering or both faltering.
Instead, we’re just going to focus on the good, because the singers that were good on Monday night, were so good. Like, ZOMG so good.
The only thing, and we mean the only thing, because OH MY GOD THIS WOMAN IS A STAR, that could stand in Maelyn Jarmon’s way of winning The Voice is her coach, John Legend. He may be an EGOT winner, but he’s a terrible hype man. We lost count of how many times Adam was unfit for television on Monday night with his comments, but he does know how to talk up his singers. John, take note, because OH MY GOD.
BEST ROCK MOMENT
Singers can live and die on the stage with poor song choice. We see it every episode. We saw it a lot on Monday night. Like, a lot. Admittedly, we were nervous when rocker Betsy Ade was introduced by host Carson Daily, who announced Betsy was performing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” People often think that because a song is well known, it’s easy to sing. Nah uh. But Betsy may be one of the few people on the planet who can perform the mid-1990s anthem with the same intensity, angst, and heartbreak as Alanis. It was so freaking powerful and rock and roll that we barely even recoiled when Betsy was forced to change the line to “Make out in a theatre.” You oughta know which line we mean. Dave Coulier, that jerk.
BEST TEEN MOMENT
The Voice loves their teen singers and this season has enough underclassman to fill study hall. The strongest teen on Monday night, and possibly this season, was undoubtedly Presley Tennant, who performed Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain.” Her coach Kelly said that Presley is one of the few singers who performs even better in front of a live audience. And Kelly said that Presley is 16-years-old. She said it about 10 times. We don’t really care how old Presley is, we just care that she saaaang that Rih Rih song.
We love a good underdog story and this seasons’ underdog is definitely Lisa Ramey. After failing to get a chair turn during her first season auditioning, Lisa came back in Season 16 and got a solo spin from John Legend. The professional singer gave her best performance of the season on Monday, looking and sounding like the pro that she is with “It Hurt So Bad.” Go on with your bad self, Lisa.
This one was a toss-up because all three country artists, including Rod Stokes, Andrew Jannakos and Dexter Roberts delivered huge performances on Monday night. But our pick is going to Andrew Jannakos, with the hipster cowboy earning the title of the most improved singer who continually shocks us. After their incredible auditions, we expected Rod and Dexter to be pitch perfect and they were. But Andrew? And that high note? Damn, cowboy.
Watch The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV TWO. Catch up with new episodes online the day after broadcast.