The Voice Battles: Gwen Sends Wrong Singer Home, Blake Sets Another Up for Failure

You’re never going to win this show if you’re sending your best singers home!

There is always heartbreak when we hit the Battle Rounds on “The Voice,” because inevitably the Coaches pair two of their best singers against one another, meaning we’re all about to lose someone amazing.

It gets even more head-scratching when the Coaches do this and then send home the better singer, which is exactly what Gwen did this week. On top of that, both Blake and John seemed to set up their own team members for failure.

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There are all kinds of different singers, but some should never be paired together. You would never put a singer/songwriter up against Mariah Carey in a singing competition because more often than not, the flashiness of her power and range is going to win.

Those gentler singers, though, are just as valid and bring much-needed diversity in style and approach. At least Blake had the decency to acknowledge that he’d probably made a terrible mistake with his pairing. John just let a really special singer go.

Basically, it looks like they stacked their match-ups on purpose to weed out the singers they maybe weren’t so enamored with. Honestly, there probably is some of that in play, but it’s gotta be tough for the artist who probably kind of suspects that’s what going on, too.

But at least they were keeping incredible talents. We can’t say the same for Gwen’s head-scratching decision to send home what certainly seemed the stronger of the two — and a real contender on this show.

As always, Gwen is an inexplicable Coach who can be really hard to read at times when it comes to the decisions she makes. She certainly forges her own path artistically, but it remains to be seen if her unexpected creative choices as a Coach will ever net her the win.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Blake Shelton. And just for fun, I’m going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are.

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Desz vs Joseph Soul

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(“If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes) First of all, Kelly should have never paired these two together because they are both incredible. Interestingly, just as in rehearsals, they both had some minor pitch problems, but more than made up for it with incredible runs and overall tonal quality. It helps they were given a showcase classic to really shine on. Desz offered more power overall, but Joseph showed a really impressive grit in his chest voice, while his head voice has a very sweet quality to it.

Kelly’s Winner: Desz [Joseph Soul Stolen by Gwen]

My Winner: Desz

Jim Ranger vs John Sullivan

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(“Good as You,” Kane Brown) Considering his storytelling roots, John surprised us with how hesitant he was in his approach to this song, almost as if his nerves were taking control early on. Kane was right in hearing a bit of Chris Stapleton in Jim’s vocal approach, which he makes sound so effortless. He has an incredible quality to his voice that draws you in immediately. And even as he reigned in his self-proclaimed oversinging, he managed to overshadow John’s more straightforward approach. Flash isn’t always the best solution, but John’s hesitant take left us hesitant as well. This was a mismatch from the start.

Blake’s Winner: Jim Ranger

My Winner: Jim Ranger

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Tanner Gomes vs Skylar Alyvia Morton

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(“Whiskey Lullaby,” Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss) We only got a few seconds with each of these singers, but in those moments it was clear that Tanner was the more confident vocalist, while Skylar felt a little wobbly even in her bigger notes.

Kelly’s Winner: Tanner Gomes

My Winner: Tanner Gomes

Chloé Hogan vs Lain Roy

(“Adore You,” Harry Styles) Chloé seemed a little off pitch and lacking in conviction when she performed, whereas Lain really belted it on this one in a way that we could feel emotionally. To connect in the few seconds we saw is a testament of his talent and versatility, whereas Chloé just sounded like she’s still a little green. The tools are there and she has clear intent, she just needs to grow in confidence and strength.

Gwen’s Winner: Chloé Hogan

My Winner: Lain Roy

John Holiday vs Julia Cooper

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(“Summer Soft,” Stevie Wonder) John clearly had a lot of faith in this pairing as he gave them an incredibly intricate and complex song to tackle. Stevie Wonder is no joke on his simplest tracks and this isn’t one of those. For some reason, those special qualities that made Julia so memorable in the Blinds faded away, as she felt more than a little out of her comfort zone, though she was making intricately interesting choices. She also was put in the impossible position of taking her chill vibe and putting it up against John’s incredible range, power and unexpected choices. She’s very cool, but wasn’t quite cool enough head-to-head here.

John’s Winner: John Holiday [Julia Cooper Saved]

My Winner: John Holiday

“The Voice” airs Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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