The coaches can now save an artist on their team without having to wait for the Knockouts.

Season 17’s Blind Auditions came to a close Monday night on NBC’s The Voice, and the Battles began. Coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton each tapped their own advisors for the Battles: Normani, Usher, Will.i.am and Darius Rucker, respectively. This season, the coaches were able to use one save to keep one of their artists during the Battles.

In the first hour, the coaches filled their teams with their final Blind Audition picks. The first to sing was one of the standouts of the last slew of auditions. Zoe Upkins sang “Angel of Mine” and got turns from Clarkson, Legend and Shelton. Legend pulled out his own voice during his pitch again, and she became his final team member.

Matthew McQueen’s performance of “Someone You Loved” got the attention of Clarkson and Shelton, and he landed on Team Blake, which was an unsurprising choice. Team Blake was full.

Young country artist Gracee Shriver got turns from Stefani and Clarkson, who were likely happy that Shelton was finally out of the running for a promising country singer. She picked Clarkson, who definitely has more country experience than Stefani.

That left Stefani to make her final pick. She did not turn for Ty Mauro, but she ended up scooping up 16-year-old Caroline Reilly after her impressive rendition of “Somebody yo Love.” Reilly was drawn to rock, making her a good fit for Team Gwen.

With the teams full, it was time for the Battles. This is the first season where the coaches will have a save during this round, which adds an extra layer of strategy. The coaches would be smart to pair their two top artists in the round so they can keep them both by using the save.

The two artists who made Legend sing during the Blinds this season — Upkins from Monday’s episode and Khalea Lynee from the previous week — delivered the first Battle. Given their impressive auditions, it came to no surprise that it was also one of the best Battles of the night. They sang “The Boy Is Mine,” and Usher and Legend both pushed them to do more with their vocals in rehearsal. It paid off, and they both had huge runs and range in their Battle. But they also still sang it like a duet instead of overpowering each other.

The other coaches were split on who the winner was, but Legend chose Lynee as the winner and then used the opportunity to utilize his save right away, so he likely did pair the two together on purpose. Legend did have some competition, though, because Clarkson and Stefani also hit their steal buttons. It made for a dramatic start to the Battles, but Upkins stuck with Team John.

Shelton paired Josie Jones and Kat Hammock. Jones is a classic country singer, while Hammock doesn’t really consider herself a country singer at all, yet Shelton picked an explicitly country song for them: John Denver’s “Country Road.” The song choice definitely favored Jones genre-wise, but Hammock proved to be versatile and had unique tone. 

Monday’s Battles closed out with a duet from Team Kelly’s Shane Q, who was a four-chair turn, and Melinda Rodriguez. She had them sing Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes,” and they were equally matched. Sure enough, Clarkson wanted to keep them both. She picked Shane as the winner, but she opted to save Rodriguez, and Legend also threw his hat in the ring by pressing his steal button. Rodriguez decided to stay with Team Kelly, so no one has successfully stolen an artist yet this season.

The Battles continue Tuesday night.

This article originally appeared in THR.com.




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