The blind auditions of The Voice just ended on Season 23, and all of the qualifying singers now move onto the heated battle rounds.
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Coaches Blake Shelton, Niall Horan, Kelly Clarkson, and Chance the Rapper have all assembled their dream teams. The battle rounds now begin the process of downsizing those teams into potential show winners. The first battle round took place Monday night, March 27.
During the extended broadcast, Shelton coupled Tasha Jessen and EJ Michels for the first battle. The longtime country music coach said Jessen’s wide vocal range and Michels’ electrifying voice would make for an exciting Voice battle.
For the show, Shelton arranged a cover of “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. During rehearsals, Shelton emphasized tightening up some notes and drilling down on the lyrics. Before the performance, Shelton admitted that he dreaded cutting either performer, since he truly believed both could win the competition.
Once on stage, Jessen and Michels crushed their performances. Jessen wore a satin green suit, paired her look with a Pakistani headpiece. Michels, meanwhile, wore a tan blazer and white undershirt. During the first verse, Michels showcased his tenor vocals. Jessen added harmony during the chorus and then unleashed her unique pop vocals on the second verse. Both singers allowed the other to shine, but Shelton still had to make a choice.
This Voice battle was so good that it prompted not one but two judges to hit the ‘steal’ button after the performance
“That was so good. I’ve got to say, EJ, you came out here, and I was afraid for her because I was like, ‘He’s really good,’” Clarkson commented. “Tasha, then you came in with your tone, and it was incredible. It felt like it was evenly matched.”
“I thought it was an award-show-level performance,” Chance the Rapper added. “I agree, Tasha. You have an amazing individual tone, but I would go with EJ just because I think your stage presence is something that this competition could use.”
Horan agreed, saying, “Guys, that was absolutely insane. The two of you really brought that song to life. Tasha, I am still glad I turned for you. I’m still sad I lost you, EJ, I must’ve had ear plugs in that day, or something, because I never turned. This is regret. You were phenomenal, dude.”
Coach Blake knew he had a tough decision to make: “Tasha, I love hearing everybody talk about your tone and how special it is. There truly is something special about you. It starts with the sound of your voice. When my back was turned to you, you just go, ‘Wow. I want to be in the Tasha business.’ EJ, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more shocked with somebody from the blinds. It’s just like, where the heck did this guy come from? I mean, this is crazy. You came in swinging, and it made for just a great duet. That was a great performance.”
Shelton eventually declared Jessen the winner; but don’t shed a tear for Michels. He received not one, but two steals, with Chance the Rapper and Horan hitting their red buttons for him. Michels decided to continue competing on The Voice on team Horan.