The Voice
The Battles, Round 1 Premiere

Episode Report Card
Carla Sparks: A- | 5 USERS: A
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Duet To It

Just as the Blind Auditions wore out their welcome, it's time for the Battle Rounds. This is my personal favorite time on The Voice because most of the wheat has been separated from the chaff (most of it, mind you), we know the contestants a little but not well enough to be sick of them, and I love duets. Most of my favorite moments from this show have happened in Battle Rounds. Also, the coaches get to steal and there's guest mentors. Really, what's not to like?

Still, this show allows itself to be predictable enough to where we can still feel like we're good at it. If someone with an end-of-the-night blind audition is going against someone who got montaged over, we can make a pretty safe bet on who's going home.

The mentors, as ever, make little to no sense with their coach pairings. Shakira has picked up country star and wife of Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert. Adam is working with Aloe Blacc, who is the best and I love him. The Band Perry, the entire band of three, is advising alongside Blake. That seems like a bit of an unfair advantage, or too many cooks in the kitchen. Usher wisely picked up Jill Scott, who is also great. I am rooting for Team Usher, now and forever, and against that twee duo from Austin. I don't even remember whose team they are on.

The first battle of Season Six comes from Team Usher. It's that pastor Biff Gore against T.J. Wilkins, who grew up in actual Los Angeles and chose music as a way to escape a dangerous life of maybe crime. We got to know both of them, so thus far the battle is even. For these two, Usher has chosen "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by The Temptations. It's a great choice and a great pairing.

In rehearsals, it seems that Reverend Biff Gore is kind of driving it home and TJ is a little bit more hesitant. Jill Scott calls them "the smooth and the rough." She is flawless. She says trying to choose between them is like trying to choose air or water. In the final rehearsal, Usher asks them to sing and beg at Jill, who is wearing a stunning pair of glasses. He asks them each to be more desperate and they both have experience to draw from. Now I want one of them to get stolen because I like them both so much.

We're going a little harder on leather jackets this season than we did last season. They start off alternating verses and are pretty equally matched. TJ is a little easier to watch, because Biff is reading his note to be more "desperate" as "look around a lot." They are both pretty damn smooth. TJ is also dancing a little, in the style of The Temptations, and I would award extra points for that. The harmonies are tight, too. Adam seems to get a kick out of Biff Gore doing a wide and deep squat in the middle of the battle ring, and it reminds me that Biff is that guy who decided high kicks would be his thing. This tips the scales in TJ's favor. Sure enough, Biff gives a high kick at the end of the battle round. He's going to ride that gimmick into the ground.

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The Voice

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