“The Voice” season 16 introduces new “Cross Battle” feature

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After last season’s controversy regarding winners too ill to perform, young performers and other issues, the high-ranked performance show returned earlier this year. With a new judge, John Legend, and a new feature, “Cross Battle,” “The Voice” might prove it has the ability to move beyond its past controversy.

Previously, “The Voice” has gotten a lot of use out of the footage showing contestants as they prepare for the battle rounds. The battle rounds are still in use. However, contestants knew whom they were going against, and what song his or her opponent was singing. In the cross battles, there is none of that. The most important aspect has been that the performers do not know their opponents beforehand. Thus, on Monday night, singers were as surprised as viewers to find out who their opponents were. The cross battles managed to show the range and diversity of contestants on a show that has been criticized for having little of either.

“The Voice”: Cross battle surprises

On Monday, April 15, 2019, “The Voice” proved that it had not used all of its ability to surprise. Certainly, there are jaded viewers who will pretend to be underwhelmed by the entire process no matter what the judges or producers, or even singers, come up with. However, it is difficult to believe that anyone would have believed the first pairing in the cross battles: a rapper and a rocker. Respectively, Kim Cherry (Team Blake) and Betsy Ade (Team Kelly). Cherry’s song choice was a bit of a surprise, as she chose Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” Cherry isn’t just a rapper – – she can sing, too. But the rapping helps in a song that mixes singing and rapping. Ade, did not disappoint. Hailed as “the rocker,” she belted out an admirable version of Alanis Morrissette’s “You Oughta Know.” Without a rubric, or even a precedent of some kind, it was difficult for viewers to predict. With this pairing, there was literally a 50-50 shot to correctly chose the winner.

Tonight’s results proved that Cherry was the winner, but Ade was picked by Adam Levine, and so survives at least another week or two on “The Voice.”

Soulful crooners Matthew Johnson and Domenic Haynes represented another battle with a difficult to pick outcome. In the end, Johnson won, but Haynes was saved by coach Levine. As other critics have noted, it is early in the competition, and Levine has used both his save and his steal.

With the save and steal options, it might seem as if no contestant would ever get voted off. However, that awkward distinction belonged to Kayslin Victoria from Team Legend. She lost against Presley Tennant from Team Kelly. The rules of the cross battle decree that the losing singer has 10 seconds to say something while the judges/coaches decide if they want to steal or save. No one saved Kayslin Victoria.

Two other singers would also go home on Tuesday night: Team Kelly’s Karen Galera and Team Adam’s Andrew Jannakos.

This week’s eliminations were not the season’s first, and as veteran viewers of the show understand, there is a long way to go to pare down the remaining singers.

The other concern is will the cross battle feature, along with the comeback stage and diversity among contestants be enough to keep “The Voice” on top in the ratings race. On Monday night, “The Voice” had to compete directly with “American Idol” starting at 8 p.m. Time will tell if that scheduling impacts ratings for “The Voice.”

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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