The second round of battles on "The Voice" was shaping up Tuesday as one for the dark horse contestants, as singers who'd gone relatively unnoticed all season earned praise from the coaches -- and in Morgan Waller's case, a coveted steal, too.
But the higher stakes of the second battle round also meant that some of the show's most widely praised singers got the unceremonious boot, as their teammates had Monday.
Team Blake had to jettison one of its two powerful middle-aged singers, infectious R&B classicist Biff Gore or Celine Dion vocal director Sisaundra Lewis. The pair's fearsome duet on "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" won them both equal plaudits -- but Blake chose Sisaundra as the winner, citing her otherworldly vocal abilities.
That meant Biff, who'd had the coaches fighting for him on their teams at blind auditions, was heading home to his wife and six kids.
Next, two very different young pop singers from Team Shakira -- low-key but mature-voiced teen Déjà Hall and bubbly, expressive-voiced lounge singer Ddendyl -- took on the Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World ballad "Say Something." They tackled the torch song from very different creative approaches, and although Déjà had struggled in rehearsals to connect with its mature emotional themes, Shakira selected her as the winner.
She was faced with another tough choice when she paired country singer Kristen Merlin and soul singer Emily B. on the Dixie Chicks' "I Can Love You Better," but she declared Kristen the winner based on her "unique tone." That meant Emily was heading home, like Ddendyl before her.
The night's final battle yielded its only steal, when Team Usher's two soulful rockers Stevie Jo and Morgan Wallen faced off on an unusual song pick given their styles: One Direction's hit "Story of My Life." Though Usher and his fellow coaches declared the battle a close one, with Morgan keeping pace with Stevie, Usher picked Stevie Jo as its winner.
That gave Adam, who'd seen something great and very coachable in Morgan, the chance to use his one remaining steal. He pushed his button at the very end, grabbing Morgan for his team.
That means that only Blake has a steal left heading into the final night of the second battle round next week, before "The Voice" heads to its live playoffs.
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c.