DaNica Shirey and Toia Jones steal the night by honoring their late fathers with the song
What a way to make their dads – up in heaven – proud.
Two powerhouse female vocalists delivered a stunning performance during Monday night’s penultimate battle rounds on The Voice, tearing up Beyoncé‘s “Halo” as a remembrance of the fathers they both lost.
In a happy ending, DaNica Shirey won the sing-off, while Toia Jones was saved by a delighted Adam Levine. Both earned praise from the judges for their emotional surrender to the song’s lyrical elegy – a perfect fit for their own life stories.
“Doing a Beyoncé song is literally like trying to slay a dragon. You guys slayed the dragon and then slapped it in the face to make sure it was dead,” Levine gushed. “There were two winners up there. There really were.”
Blake Shelton was equally blown away by the duet. “That performance was on 10 the whole time,” he said.
Pharrell Williams praised both women for letting go, but lauded his winner, Shirey, who stopped performing for more than three years after her father, who had managed her singing career, passed away.
“You don’t expect that voice out of her,” he praised. “She went out there, and she just shed her skin.”
Also dazzling the coaches was indy rocker Matt McAndrew, a New Jersey guitar teacher, whose duel with music minister Ethan Butler on Team Adam made for an touching, melodic moment as their harmonies melted together on Coldplay’s heartbreaking “Yellow.”
“You guys approach this like your own concert,” Shelton said after they finished. “You guys could be a duo, you work that well together.”
At the end, Levine sat rapt, breathing heavy as he took in their moment. He noted that the song worked for both singers but that McAndrew, who ultimately won the battle, had that special “it” factor, his voice haunting as its melancholy rolled into the crowd.
“There is something about what you do that goes beyond having a great voice. It’s something that is intangible,” Levine told the moppy-haired and bespectacled McAndrew, who dreams of a musical career to give his mother a better life.
Levine later added: “This guy could be a big deal.” Williams agreed. “That kid Matt – is a star.”
Williams, who was joined by helpful mentor Alicia Keys, put his money on the show’s youngest contestant, Katriz Trinidad, just 15. He paired her with New York City singer Blessing Offor on Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do.”
Even though the tune is technically set up for a male singer, Trinidad heeded Williams’s call not to be intimidated by something more suited to Offor’s soulful style.
“You’re more than a balladeer,” Williams encouraged the teen, who turned in a mature outing opposite Offor, whose range Williams called “freaky.”
Both performances were “shocking for different reasons,” Gwen Stefani said. “You’re like a beautiful porcelain doll with this acrobatic voice,” she told Trinidad. Of Blessing, she noted: “Your tone is so rich and thick. It was effortless and natural.”
After Williams picked Trinidad, telling her he was investing in her “potential,” Offor quickly had Stefani and Levine vying for a steal.
Levine pulled the Stevie Wonder star card to maximum effect. “I got to sing with Stevie once. You have part of that spirit in you,” he told Offor.
Blessing remained alive on Team Adam, as Levine continued the compliments. “Blessing just has a natural ability to sing the lights out,” he said. “He just knows what he’s doing.”
Levine also held on to another fiercely talented soul artist, Los Angeles-based TSA agent Damien, who proved stronger than former Texas teacher Kelli Douglas as they opened the show with Eddie Floyd’s 1966 classic (and the Amii Stewart disco-era hit) “Knock on Wood.” “He killed it, and that’s the mark of a real pro,” Levine said of Damien’s explosive voice.
Also moving ahead Monday were Team Blake singer Taylor Brashears of Nashville, who turned on some confidence and righteous anger singing Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” opposite a more nuanced and classic singer, Bree Fondacaro.
Handsome Virginia native Ryan Sill remained alive after winning his Team Gwen duel against 18-year-old Jessie Pitts from Birmingham, Alabama, in a Glee-inspired pairing on Ellie Goulding’s “I Need Your Love.”
The two maximized their youthful passion on stage in what Williams described as the “most dramatic performance we’ve seen so far.” He noted: “I was like, ‘Wow, are they totally going to make out?’ It was such a dramatic moment.”
Pitts, who gave a tearful and sweet speech after her loss, was all smiles again after she was rescued by Shelton, who used his last save on her. He also pledged that he would “solemnly swear to learn who Ellie Goulding is.”
“You’re so unique. I think you could win this whole freakin’ thing,” Shelton told Pitts, earning him a big kiss from Stefani for keeping her in the contest.
The Voice‘s battle rounds conclude Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.