"The Voice" Gets Its Fiercest Battle Yet

The knockout rounds start next week, and the coaches won't be able to steal.

By Sam Schulz
|  Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013  |  Updated 10:49 PM CDT
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"The Voice" Gets Its Fiercest Battle Yet

Trae Patton/NBC

Cathia battled Mary Miranda on a song penned by their very own coach, Shakira — and while Mary won, Cathia was saved by a steal from Usher.

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Battle rounds on "The Voice" wrapped up Tuesday night with a few more stunning performances and one last-second steal before next week's high-stakes knockout rounds.

First up were two Shakira team members with serious rock and roll sensibilities: 45-year-old Nashville veteran Shawna P, tired of putting in her dues, and 19-year-old college student and troubled kids counselor Brandon Roush.

Shakira paired the two on a cover of the Janis Joplin classic "Piece of My Heart" — a challenge for each, with Brandon hampered by his inexperience and Shawna needing to learn to make the song her own. Their performance, though, impressed their coach.

"I feel like I have eagerness on this side and experience on the other one," Shakira said. She chose experience, and Brandon headed home, asking Shakira to keep in touch.

Next up were two very different performers from Team Adam, Hawaiian crooner Duncan Kamakana and music student Sarah Simmons, whom the Maroon 5 frontman paired for the Lady Antebellum song "Wanted You More" — with Lady Antebellum frontwoman Hillary Scott as their guest mentor.

Despite her undeniable talents — she had prompted all the coaches to turn their chairs during blind auditions — Sarah struggled in rehearsals with keeping control of her voice, tending to trail off at the ends of the song's lines, Hillary Scott noticed. Adam warned Duncan not to overcompensate for his laid-back attitude in their duet.

But onstage, the chemistry the pair had lacked in rehearsals was there in spades, and they shared a hug of relief after they finished their song. That hug was for good reason, given the coaches' enthusiasm.

"You're one of my favorite singers I've ever heard in my life," Blake told Sarah, praising the ease with which she moved between a clear tone, a falsetto and a rasp.

In a tough call, Adam chose Sarah as the winner and forecast great things in her future. "Sarah is probably one of the better singers this competition's ever seen. She could win this whole thing," he remarked.

In another Team Adam battle, singer-pianist Amy Whitcomb bested Agina Alvarez at "Heartbreaker."

Also Tuesday, Michelle Chamuel beat out Carmen M with a take on "Titanium" for a chance to stay on Team Usher.

And on Team Blake, the Morgan Twins proved two heads aren't better than one, at least not when they're up against country singer Justin Rivers singing "Easy."

But a final epic battle — and another last-second steal — were still to come Tuesday night, with two Shakira protégées battling each other on a song by their very own coach, "Antes De Las Seis."

Shakira wanted to see which of her two young aspiring Latin pop stars, Bronx-bred 19-year-old Cathia or Havana-born teen Mary Miranda, could put the most heart and personality into a song she knew all too well.

Despite studying the song more intently than Mary, Cathia got tripped up on some of the song's other details — and blamed Mary, who had been singing on a chorus when she wasn't supposed to.

The pair's ego clash in rehearsals was one befitting of the divas both wanted to become, and it led to one of the battle rounds' most dramatic showdowns on stage.

Blake said he would have gone with Cathia, while Adam said he preferred Mary's performance. But it was Shakira's opinion that counted.

"I like you both equally. I enjoyed your performance from top to bottom," she told the young performers, before declaring Mary the winner, calling her "extremely charismatic."

Cathia headed off the stage battle tears, but she got an unexpected reprieve when Usher hit his button to steal her, ensuring that she'd be hearing back to "The Voice" next week in the knockout rounds.

"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesday at 8/7c on NBC.

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