On night three of The Voice Season 21’s Battle Rounds, coach John Legend referred to one of his contestants, soul singer Shadale, as a “Beyoncé Jr.,” and compared another Team Legend member, Joshua Vacanti, to Freddie Mercury. Meanwhile, Team Ariana preteen singer Hailey Mia was basically declared a baby Amy Winehouse. But it was Team Blake’s scene-stealing, 17-year-old bluegrass prodigy Carson Peters who best channeled another young icon, when Kelly Clarkson amusingly described him as a “country Patrick Swayze.”
A farm-raised kid known as “Fiddle Boy,” Carson was playing on The Tonight Show and with Ricky Skaggs at the Grand Ole Opry when he was just 7 years old. His Blind Audition of “Tulsa Time” a few weeks ago earned a four-chair turn, although of course Carson anti-climactically picked Blake Shelton to be his coach. This week, Blake had Carson do the Vince Gill song “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” and he exhibited so much natural charisma that his generic bar-band-singer Battle partner, Clint Sherman (one-chair turn whose audition was montaged), didn’t stand a chance.
In fact, Blake’s team adviser, Dierks Bentley, compared Carson to someone even more legendary than Patrick Swayze, saying, “His voice has got the bluegrass stuff and the country stuff, but it has almost an Elvis kind of harder-edged tone.”
And so, Carson understandably won this Battle, with Blake explaining, “He’s just got a few different gears he can go to as a vocalist. … Also, we haven’t yet heard him play fiddle! I can’t wait for that!” That fiddle just may be the not-so-secret weapon that gets Carson past the Knockout Rounds and off to the Live Playoffs. In the meantime, these were the other Battles of Monday night:
TEAM LEGEND: Keilah Grace vs. Joshua Vacanti, “Good 4 U”
This Olivia Rodrigo bop seemed like good a choice for both singers, allowing 15-year-old Keilah to unleash her inner pop princess and Joshua to vamp it up and tap into his theatrical skills. The performance was expectedly energetic and youthful, but the manic tune also unfortunately revealed both contestants’ weaknesses. Joshua was selling the drama during the verses but went off-the-rails screechy in the chorus, and Keilah conversely was strong in the choruses but held back too much in the beginning. Their vocal blend was also unpleasant, and the arrangement sounded messy. That being said, Joshua was the more vivacious all-around entertainer, with the “additional little sauce” according to John — which is why he prevailed. If Joshua does a better job of picking his moments going forward, he’ll have a shot at making it to the Lives.
WINNER: Joshua Vacanti
TEAM KELLY: Holly Forbes vs. Wyatt Michael, “Sunny”
Holly received so much screentime and hype during the Blinds, it was downright baffling that her Battle was montaged. I can only assume this was because wannabe-Bublé dinner-theater crooner Wyatt dragged the performance down, based on this brief snippet — because Holly sounded as sublime as always. Kelly diplomatically explained, “I ended up going with Holly just because there was something so magical about her tone, and my heart was kind of pulling me a tiny bit that way,” but I am pretty sure it was a lot more than just a “tiny” bit. Anyway, I look forward to enjoying a full Holly performance in the Knockouts.
WINNER: Holly Forbes
TEAM ARIANA: Jim & Sasha Allen vs. Sophia Bromberg, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”
This was another unexplained montage, but from what I could discern, Sasha, the younger Allen in the father/son duo, truly stepped it up, exuding much more energy and personality than he had in his first audition. Hopefully he’ll continue that upward trajectory when we get to see more of him and papa Jim in the Knockout Rounds.
WINNER: Jim & Sasha Allen
TEAM ARIANA: Raquel Trinidad vs. Hailey Mia, “Car Wash”
This Rose Royce disco soundtrack hit might have seemed like an odd song choice, but it totally worked, because these sassy girls were referencing the poppy Christina Aguilera/Missy Elliott version. Raquel, a seasoned performer and American Idol alumnus, was the standout here, but 13-year-old Hailey showed so much potential: Ariana Grande said she sang like “an old lady at a jazz bar” (this was a compliment), and Ariana’s adviser Kristin Chenoweth even compared her to Amy Winehouse. However, Ariana said Hailey was only operating at “60 percent” due to her lack of experience. Well, hopefully Kelly can get Hailey closer to 100 percent — because she impulsively decided to go in for the Steal. “I will say my surprise today was Hailey. There’s something that’s just super kind of magical about the fact that you’re 13 and you just did that,” said Kelly.
WINNER: Raquel Trinidad/ STOLEN: Hailey Mia moves to Team Kelly
TEAM KELLY: Gymani vs. Aaron Hines, “Working”
Both of these singers were four-chair turns, but Aaron, who admitted that he struggles with nerves, was still the underdog going against a supreme stylist like Gymani, whose phrasing and runs were impeccable and inventive. Gymani is basically a vocal gymnast, and on Monday she gave a gold-medal performance. However, Aaron did hold his own, and he probably would have won a Battle going up against almost anyone else on Kelly’s team. I do wonder if Kelly regretted this pairing. I also wonder why no one stole Aaron. He now seems like Season 21’s “one that got away.”
TEAM LEGEND: Sabrina Dias vs. Jack Rogan, “Cardigan”
During rehearsals, John and his adviser Camila Cabello warned Sabrina not to over-sing, and she thankfully heeded that advice. Once she got in the ring, she sounded so bright and so sparkling that she easily outshined Jack — without having to try so hard. “Sabrina, I’m so intrigued by you, because hearing your voice shred the way it does, I want to see you sing some rock ‘n’ roll. I was thinking about Pink when I was watching you perform, and Pink has that way of straddling pop and rock, and I just feel like you have so much energy. It’s very attractive, and it’s very magnetic,” raved John, whose decision was obvious.
WINNER: Sabrina Dias
TEAM LEGEND: Shadale Johnson vs. Janora Brown, “One Last Time”
Of all of Monday’s montages, this one made the least sense, because both singers sounded fantastic here. Ariana herself said this Battle made her “really re-fall in love” with her own song, and Shadale, according to John, gave off a “little Beyoncé Jr. vibe.” I really wish I could have seen and heard the whole thing. But based on this little tease, I think John made the right call.
TEAM BLAKE: Wendy Moten vs. Manny Keith, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You”
Wendy is Season 21’s MVP, a four-chair turn and caped crusader who has sung backup for Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, John Oates, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Tyler, Alice Cooper, Buddy Guy, Michael Bolton, Michael McDonald, Al Jarreau… and even Team Blake adviser Dierks Bentley (who recognized Wendy right away when she entered the rehearsal room, because she is a star in her own right). It’s no wonder that Manny was intimidated, and he probably thought he was a goner. But he surprisingly wasn’t overpowered by Wendy onstage; this was another case, like Aaron, of someone who would have been a shoo-in under any other circumstances. But unlike Aaron, Manny will be moving on to the Knockouts, because Ariana stole him at the very last minute. I’m glad he’s getting another chance to show what he can do.
WINNER: Wendy Moten / STOLEN: Manny Keith moves to Team Ariana
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