'The Voice' Season 6, episode 7: The battle rounds begin

the-voice-season-6-battle-rounds-night-one-recap-nbc.jpgOn Monday (March 17), Season 6 of "The Voice" left the blind auditions behind and moved into the battle rounds, with coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and Shakira -- alongside mentors Aloe Blacc, The Band Perry, Jill Scott and Miranda Lambert, respectively -- pairing up two of their team's artists for the next hurdle: Two artists enter the stage, one artist leaves. Unless, of course, the infamous steal comes into play. So who advanced, who went home and who was lucky enough to be stolen? Let's get to it.

First Battle: Biff Gore. vs T.J. Wilkins (Team Usher)
Song: "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" (The Temptations)
Usher's paired these two up on a classic R&B record, seemingly looking to slim his team down to just one powerful soul dude. During rehearsals, Usher went back to his Season 4 coaching tactics, pushing the two artists into uncomfortable areas by demanding they get desperate on the song while fighting over Jill's attention. In the battle itself, both guys commit themselves well and it's a perfectly lovely performance. There isn't much to critique, so Usher's choice certainly couldn't have been an easy one.
Winner: That said, the coach goes with T.J. because "of the fight that was there." Seems to me Biff had plenty of fight too, but this show always tends to favor the younger artist in the battle rounds.
Steal: In the nick of time, just as it seemed Biff's road has come to an end, Blake stole the powerhouse singer. Long live Biff and that high kick!

Second Battle: Jake Worthington vs. Lexi Luca (Team Blake)
Song: "It Goes Like This" (Thomas Rhett)
It's the battle of the country kiddos, with Blake giving these two a song from a young country artist who represents where the country scene is at right now. His rationale? They need to prove they can make their mark on the scene with what's current. Lexi struggles throughout rehearsals in terms of harmony and confidence. She's certainly the weaker voice here. That said, Jake doesn't look entirely comfortable playing the love song opposite the pretty girl. When it comes time to perform, both hit the stage having made major strides. The biggest surprise here is just how much Lexi improved from that rehearsal footage. Jake still comes out the victor in my book, but Lexi more than held her own.
Winner: After pointing out that Jake fumbled the lyrics more than once at the top of the song, Blake goes with his gut and keeps the comeback kid around.
Steal: No one steals Lexi. Goodbye, Lexi.

Third Battle: Dani Moz vs. Deshawn Washington (Team Shakira)
Song: "My Kind of Live" (Emeli Sande)
This is a bit of an odd pairing, but Shakira says she thinks Dani's pop stylings and Deshawn's retro delivery will make an interesting moment. AKA, she didn't know what to do with either of these. Dani seems to have the edge during rehearsals, but Deshawn could pull it out. There's something about his pronunciation that feels odd to me, though. Not sure it's my favorite thing. It's turns out to be a pretty great battle, with Deshawn really stepping up to the plate and proving his worth. For that alone, it's hard to argue against him.
Winner:  After expressing her regret over pairing these two against one another, Shakira gives Dani the win, saying she thinks she can do so much more with her going forward.
Steal: After all that love for Deshawn from Usher and Blake, neither of the coaches go for the steal. Bummer.

Fourth Battle: Kat Perkins vs. Patrick Thomson (Team Adam)
Song: "Whenever I Call You Friend" (Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks)
Adam paired these two because of the classic qualities in both their voices, wanting to pit them against one another on a "classic" duet. During rehearsals, Patrick struggled with the notes in his upper register, while Kat had to be coached to tone down the intensity and keep her eyes open. It wasn't until the full battle that I remembered what a weird song this is. It's structure is just so absurd. Anyway, the performances are good but Patrick's raspy voice still struggles at the top of his upper register. With that in mind, I'd give the edge to Kat, who just handles the whole thing pretty flawlessly.
Winner: After some hemming and hawing about his regret over putting these two together, Adam says he has to go with his gut and hands the win to Kat.
Steal: In another moment where it seems as though Patrick is getting the boot, Shakira reaches for that button and steals Patrick. Good for him.

Fifth Battle: Paula Deanda vs. Sisaundra Lewis (Team Blake)
Song: "Do What U Want" (Lady Gaga feat. Christina Aguilera)
This pairing is tough because they're both pretty great singers who both ought to go far in this game. Right off the bat, Sisaundra hits everything in rehearsal with her energy turned up to 11, while Paula performs technically great, yet fails to offer any standout moment. Both are warned to focus on their respective issues with "moments" and Paula better step it up because, if she doesn't, Sisaundra will run all over her. Unfortunately, she doesn't really. Despite from seeming behind the beat at times, Sisaundra just owns this thing. Paula isn't bad, not by any stretch of the word, she just can't live up to it.
Winner: That note in the bridge from Sisaundra all but seals the deal with Blake sticks with the powerful singer. As if there was any doubt.
Steal: No one steals Paula. Ah, oh well. She'll always have her memories of opening for Rihanna that one time.

Sixth Battle: Jake Barker vs. Stevie Jo (Team Usher)
Song: "Higher Love" (Steve Winwood)
Usher paired the two R&B studs on this classic song because he needs to know they can stretch themselves. They fall apart a bit during rehearsals, but Jill and Usher do all the can to put them back together again. It'll be a battle between Jake's smooth Timberlake-esque voice and Stevie's metal-influenced power. But, really, it's anyone's game. Before we talk about the battle, kudos must be given to Jake's hair dresser who managed to get him to look just like JT. Nothing subtle about that. Now about the battle: They're both just great. For me, Stevie's power is more interesting, but Jake's falsetto is no joke. Tough call here.
Winner: Usher waffles for bit, but ultimately decides to stick with Stevie. 
Steal: No loss for Jake here, as both Adam and Shakira go for the steal immediately, with Blake right behind. With the power back in Jake's hands, he goes Team Adam. It's not a bad choice. 

Did the right artists make it through? Or was your favorite sent home too early? Sound off in the comments below.
Photo/Video credit: NBC