‘The Voice’ Judges Get Sticky Fingers As Battles Begin

Judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton become the first to 'steal' contestants during the first battle round.

Let the stealing begin! “The Voice” returned this week to kick off its first round of battles. The most exciting twist in season three of the singing competition lies in one word: steal. The coaches now have the capability of stealing the “loser” of the other coach’s battle, with a maximum of two steals per coach.

After weeks of auditioning, the coaches were ready to start the real competition. To prepare their teams, the coaches brought along from very talented friends to mentor their singers. [artist id="1350855"]Adam Levine[/artist] raked in the queen of hip-hop [artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist], [artist id="509026"]Christina Aguilera[/artist] brought along [artist id="988"]Green Day[/artist]‘s Billy Joe Armstrong, [artist id="1163841"]Cee Lo Green[/artist] invited Rob Thomas of [artist id="746"]Matchbox Twenty[/artist] and [artist id="1164298"]Blake Shelton[/artist] showed up with [artist id="1233884"]Michael Bublé[/artist].

Despite all the star-power in the house, it was all about the battle. The night’s most memorable battles included some epic nabs and entertaining tactics, while the singers with the most character found themselves triumphant.

To Swag or Not to Swag?
Technique doesn’t always ensure a win on “The Voice.” There’s something to be said about “swag.” Team Adam’s Bryan Keith and Collin McLoughlin came from similar styles of music but two very different approaches; Keith harbored a raspy, cool sound while McLoughlin a more pristine, smooth tone. From the rehearsal stage, McLoughlin was urged to “feel more” from guest mentor Mary J. Blige and Keith was directed to nail the nuances in one of Levine’s favorite songs. When the pair took to the stage, Green and Aguilera praised Keith’s “swag” and laid-back approach, while Shelton noted McLoughlin’s impeccable pitch. It was no surprise that Levine selected Keith to move on and as McLoughlin began to deliver a heartfelt speech to his coach, he was interrupted with the first surprise of the night. “Blah, blah, blah,” Shelton said, as he and Green both pushed their buttons to steal the newly freed young man. After a little sparring, Shelton gained a talented new member.

T.K.O.
Culture and the Church came together in the pairing of Nigerian crooner Nelly’s Echo and gospel misfit De’borah. In rehearsal, the smooth-sounding Nelly, who had more experience with the song, asked his coach Xtina and mentor Armstrong if he could experiment with some of the melody, while De’borah was finding it hard to find the right tone. It seemed all but in the bag for Nelly until the two got onstage, at which point De’borah surprised the judges heightening every note better than the last. “You were like a boxer in there,” Shelton said, praising De’borah’s steep ramp up. Although Aguilera praised both singers’ “heart,” she opted for De’borah, noting that Nelly changed the song just a little too much for her liking.

Soul Winners
When Cee Lo paired soul singers Trevin Hunte and Amanda Brown, we all thought the same thing: Why? The ridiculously talented duo lived up to every expectation. During rehearsals, the young Hunte seemed to struggle with a lack of confidence in the face of the more seasoned Brown, but all of that fear was left off the stage. The pair took a Mariah Carey song to new heights, harmonizing with power and passion that had the coaches on their feet, with Levine standing on his chair. “I don’t care who he picks because whoever doesn’t win, I’m committing to right now,” the Maroon 5 frontman said. A tortured Green chose Hunte, and the other coaches didn’t hesitate a second before all three pushed their buttons for the free Brown. They gave their sales pitches, but Levine’s spiel about different genres coming together struck a chord with Brown, so off she went into the hands of a new coach.

Recap (winner vs. loser):
Team Blake: Terry McDermott vs. Casey Muessigmann
Team Adam: Bryan Keith vs. Collin McLoughlin (stolen by Team Blake)
Team Christina: De’borah vs. Nelly’s Echo
Team Cee Lo: Diego Val vs. JR Aquino
Team Cee Lo: Trevin Hunte vs. Amanda Brown (stolen by Team Adam)

What was your favorite battle of the night? Leave your comment below!