The night’s soulful finale, pitting Team Usher‘s Orlando Dixon against Ryan Innes made for a rousing and inspired finish. The competitors, matching Innes’s blues prowess against Dixon’s technical mastery of R&B, left no doubt that winning season 4 will be tough.
Singing Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the men put on an impassioned show, featuring dueling runs, falsettos and raw emotional power. After much deliberating, Usher chose Innes, praising his conviction and depth, calling him “powerful.”
But Dixon, who ended up in tears as he told Usher that he and his family were struggling financially, had already dazzled Levine, who quickly hit his button for the steal – as a grateful Usher stood up to applaud.
“You are an exceptional talent. I couldn’t allow you to walk off this stage,” Adam said. “Anybody who wants it that bad always has a chance of winning.”
It was not the only steal of the night. Shakira put preacher’s son Luke Edgemon up against Monique Abbadie, a former child star, picking Lady Gaga‘s “Yoü and I” for their duet. Their rock synergy made for a powerful performance and both shined equally.
Levine praised Edgemon, calling him “a big revelation,” while Blake Shelton was also impressed.
“Luke, you put soul into the song and what you did showed me something totally different about you as a performer,” Usher said. “You’ve got a career ahead of you, buddy.”
In the end, Shakira chose Abbadie, who seemed blown away by the decision. Blake was delighted and quickly tried to make a steal. But so did Usher. Edgemon, who said he was thinking strategically, moved to Team Blake.
The night’s other tight all-male duet came from New Orleans’s C. Perkins, a stocker and cashier at a grocery store, and Kris Thomas of Memphis. Both R&B singers, they battled on the Bruno Mars hit “It Will Rain.”
At the end, the judges felt both held back. “I still feel like we haven’t seen everything that either one of you can do,” Blake said. Shakira, who eventually picked Thomas, agreed.
But all was not lost for Perkins. At the last minute, Usher provided major drama when he hit the steal button. “I really feel like that he has talent we’ve yet to see,” Usher said.
In other battles, Houston teen Savannah Berry beat Team Blake’s ballerina-turned-musician Jacqui Sandell from Oakland, Calif., singing Little Big Town’s “Little White Church.”
The quirky accordion-guitar duo Midas Whale topped Beale Street power singer Patrick Dodd, who dazzled in a tight contest that showed off his rasp and heart. “It’s like he gargles with broke glass,” Shelton said, calling his decision “one of the hardest ones I’ve had to make in four seasons.”
Vedo, an Atlanta soul singer whose appearances have been inspired by his mother who has stage four lung cancer, won a tight battle for Team Usher against Jessica Childress of Lancaster, Calif., singing Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.”
And the battle rounds continue Tuesday on The Voice.