Call them Baby Beyoncés.
Their youth and sheer talent on the first night of the show’s battle rounds brought coach Christina Aguilera to tears.
“If I was up and coming on the scene I would be scared of you guys right now,” Aguilera told Houston’s Amber Nicole, 17, and San Diego’s Timyra-Joi, 15.
In the end, Aguilera chose Nicole, saying, “I went with Amber because she was a little bit older and more developed.”
The battle rounds premiere also featured new mentors to help the coaches perfect their duets – Shelton paired with Cher, Aguilera with Ed Sheeran, Levine with One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and Green teamed up with Miguel.
Green had his own youthful conundrum as Anthony Paul, an 18-year-old from Ohio who put college on hold to compete, competed against shy and quirky New Jersey native Caroline Pennell, 16.
Their unique turn on Justin Bieber‘s “As Long As You Love Me” refreshed the R&B hit as Paul’s smooth soul paired perfectly with Pennell’s lilting delivery.
“You killed the performance,” Levine told the pair. “Caroline, you took it and put it into something that I could see becoming a very popular version of this song.”
Aguilera had high praise for Paul: “You worked the loud and the soft. You knew when to pull back. I am very impressed.”
Green had big love for both, calling Paul “a natural talent,” but in the end, he chose Pennell. “There is something so surreal about your voice,” he told her. “It encourages me to dream with my eyes open.”
Paul, however, did not get sent home. Aguilera used one of her two steals to add him to her team.
Aguilera also faced a tough decision with another teen, New Jersey high school junior Jacquie Lee, 16, who battled with Briana Cuoco, the sister of actress Kaley Cuoco.
Their rock and soul styles worked well on the 1964 Animals’ classic “House of the Rising Sun.”
“I’ve seen so much growth in Jacquie. You tell her something once and she comes back ready,” Aguilera said as she chose Lee.
But Cuoco wasn’t going home – both Green and Shelton staged a steal-off, prompting a shocked Cuoco to say: “You guys are both my saviors right now.” In the end, she went with three-time winner Shelton.
Others moving forward were Jamaican artist Tessanne Chin, 28, who jammed hard on Emeli Sandé’s “Next to Me” alongside Miami’s Donna Allen, one of the show’s strongest singers.
“It was epic,” Shelton said of their performance, but Levine, who called them both “world-class singers,” finally settled on Chin.
Chin was elegant in victory, praising Allen, 54: “She made me a better singer.”
Musical theater enthusiast Nic Hawk lost his battle for Team Adam against Florida singer and Berklee College of Music grad Grey, 25. But their fun turn on Jessie J‘s “Domino” was so inspired that Hawk was saved by Shelton, who turned on his typical folksy charm.
“Oh, Adam, you screwed up so bad,” Shelton warned his nemesis before turning his attention to the singers. “Both of you have broken my heart on the show, because Grey passed on me as her coach and Nic didn’t hit on me as much as he did Adam,” he said.
“It’s not too late,” Hawk teased, earning Shelton’s admiration for his engaging stage presence. “He’s got his one little disco going and it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in that,” Shelton said of the steal.
In the end the former child beauty queen and hairdresser won out, but Shelton, who’s performed the song alongside Clarkson, praised both contestants, saying their version more than held up to the original.
“Justin would have kicked the hell out of me compared to what I did,” Shelton said. “Holy crap, Shelbie Z. delivered what Kelly did. When that kind of chemistry is happening, it’s like containing lightning.”
The Voice continues its first week of battle rounds Tuesday.