It's time for "The Voice"'s version of March Madness, with a month of head-to-head battle rounds that will narrow the field from 48 to 24. Like last season, some of the battles were tough, some weren't. Here's a look:
Team Adam: Tony Lucca vs. Chris Cauley, “Beautiful Day”
This actually was much closer than expected. Tony, the former Mouseketeer, has a much more powerful voice and a wider range, as well as years more stage experience. However, Chris had a good performance, a sweet quality to his voice and may have been a bit more likable on the U2 song. That wasn't quite enough.
Should have advanced: Tony
Team Blake: RaeLynn vs. Adley Stump, “Free Fallin'”
Was there really a chance that Blake Shelton wouldn't have picked RaeLynn? He told his wife Miranda Lambert that RaeLynn reminded him of young Miranda on “Nashville Star” and he's right. RaeLynn has star quality and a distinctive voice and the 17-year-old has still learning. Poor Adley – good, but not great – never had a chance.
Should have advanced: RaeLynn
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Team Christina: Monique Benabou vs. Chris Mann, “The Power of Love”
Probably the best pairing so far, Monique had emotion on her side, while Chris had his thrillingly powerful voice. In many ways, Chris is the one to beat in the whole competition. He could easily be the next Josh Groban. It's just a question of whether he will beat himself, which also seems to be possible.
Should have advanced: Chris
Team Cee Lo: Cheesa vs. Angie Johnson, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Man, this was close. Nerves hurt Cheesa at the beginning, but her voice is warmer and far more expressive than Angie's. By the end, they were both nailing the song, which is incredibly hard to sing. Cheesa's ability to bring her personality into her singing is what set her apart. (Also, is Blake picking the weaker singer in these pairings on purpose to confuse his fellow judges?)
Should have advanced: Cheesa
Team Blake: Jordis Unga vs. Brian Fuente, “Ironic”
The first blowout of the night. Even though Jordis was clearly pitchy and nervous at the beginning, she still stomped Brian, who sounded completely lost on his verse. His approach seemed confused and his execution was even worse, both surprising considering his steady audition.
Should have advanced: Jordis
Team Christina: Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell, “If I Ain't Got You”
This was the closest battle of the night. Both Anthony and Jesse have powerful, expressive voices, though Jesse has way more swag. In the end, the swag put him over the top. Anthony needed to believe in himself a little more. Sometimes, “fake it til you make it” is a valid performance strategy.
Should have advanced: Jesse