The final week of The Voice‘s round 1 battles kicked off Monday showcasing the star power of some of Season 6’s teen artists.
Although she’s just 17, Bria Kelly once again closed the show with strength far beyond her years, taking on Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” for Team Usher in a closely matched battle with former NFL cheerleader and student Tess Boyer, 21, who surprised the coaches by stepping up her game.
The wholesome Kelly rocked it out hard with a sound that belied her sweet looks, earning praise all around. Usher chose Kelly, but Boyer of Glen Carbon, Ill., caught the eye of Blake Shelton who wasn’t about to let her leave the show just yet.
“I think Tess came out of nowhere on this thing,” Shelton said after Shakira called her voice “amazing.”
It was an emotional Glee-inspired sing-off between Provo, Utah, natives Madilyn Paige, 16, and Tanner James, 19, who attended the same school but who had never met until the show.
Singing Taylor Swift‘s “Everything Has Changed,” the teens projected innocence and young love as Paige rose to the moment to feel the song’s heart and to project more as Usher had instructed her to do in rehearsals.
Jill Scott, Usher’s mentor this season, was rapt. “Her voice is like china, so it’s fragile. It can break,” Scott said of Paige, and urged the pair to “be starry-eyed, be in love, be an actor as well as a singer.”
“That was like watching Golden Retriever puppies frolic through fields of leaves through the sunset,” Adam Levine vamped. “Cute overload.”
In the end it was Paige who remained as Usher called his decision “complicated,” but not before he praised the handsome and boyish James as a “heartthrob.”
“Madilyn, I felt like you arrived,” Usher said.
Also shining was 16-year-old Deja Hall of San Antonio, a high school athlete who shared the stage for Team Shakira with Music Box – real name Ayesha Brooks – a 28-year-old single mom from Seattle, who admitted she had stage fright but showed off determination and stage presence.
Their battle on the Bangles hit “Eternal Flame” seemed mismatched in rehearsals, with Music Box appearing the stronger vocalist. But Hall captivated with her peaceful charm during the performance.
“There is so much potential in you Deja. You are far beyond your years,” Usher told her. But Shelton liked her opponent more. “Miss Box, you’ve already developed a very unique sound that is all your own.”
Shakira ultimately picked the younger Hall. “I think your voice is so angelic and it accompanies your personality,” she said.
But Usher wasn’t about to let Music Box go home just yet and used a steal to bring her aboard to his team. “I think you were a bit anxious and those little things we can dial back, but your voice is incredible. You have the potential to go very far in this competition, but you just need the right coaching.”
Also moving ahead Monday were Kerrville, Texas, native Josh Murley, 30, who lost his Team Adam battle round to Austin, Texas, duo Dawn & Hawkes but who remains in the competition after he was stolen by Shakira.
Father of three Josh Kaufman of Indianapolis beat Austin Ellis of North Beach, Md., to remain on Team Adam, while Philadelphia’s Audra McLaughlin, 21, headed off a challenge from Oklahoma teen duo Alaska & Madi to move ahead on Team Blake.
The Voice‘s final round 1 battles continue Tuesday (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.