The Voice
'The Voice' Season 8 judges Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton preside over the final Battle Rounds of the 2015 competition. Reuters

The competition on “The Voice” Season 8 is really starting to heat up as the judges solidify their final teams going into the Knock Out Rounds. Heading into last night’s episode, there was only one thing standing between the remaining contestants and fame: the Battle Rounds.

Each celebrity judge had to say goodbye to at least one more talented performer last night. However, the one exception to that rule came when Pharrell Williams used the final steal of the competition – but we’ll get to that.

The night kicked off with a bit more backhanded rivalry chatter from the judges. Knowing that Williams was sitting in the most powerful position of the night thanks to his remaining steal, Blake Shelton approached him at the backstage Starbucks stand (which is a real thing and not just an excuse for product placement). Shelton confessed that he doubted his ability to win the competition for a second year in a row and requested William’s help in making sure that his principal rival, Adam Levine, didn’t end up on top in Season 8.

Luckily, before the “Happy” singer could make his decision, Levine approached the backstage Starbucks stand (which, again, is totally real), and broke up the conversation. Sorry Shelton, but this competition is all about the talent, not the games.

That actually ended up being a running theme throughout the show as the judges were forced to make some pretty tough elimination in the final six battles of the competition. First up was U.S. Army soldier Jeremy Gaynor versus Rob Taylor. The two sang a sort of gospel/soul rendition of “Animal” by Maroon 5 for judge Christina Aguilera. The song was definitely more in the range of Taylor, who demonstrated a falsetto that will knock your socks off during his blind audition.

However, despite going up against a vocal range he couldn’t compete with, Gaynor brought everything he had to the song and actually kept up with his opponent quite well. Unfortunately, in the end, only one could stay and Aguilera went with the one who had an easier time, Rob Taylor. While Pharrell’s hand was poised over his “steal” button, he never pressed it, sending the military man back to West Point.

Following them was perhaps the best performance of the night, if not the competition to date. Team Pharrell stepped up to its final battle with the soft-voiced 17-year-old Noelle Bybee against 15-year-old farm boy Sawyer Fredericks. Together, with the help of their coach and guest mentor Lionel Richie, they performed a slow and deep rendition of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The young duo was obviously nervous going into their performance, particularly Sawyer who needed a brief pep talk from his coach before taking the stage. While the nerves were visible, the performers didn’t even make it past the first verse before clearly realizing that they were in the middle of something special. The song hit the audience and the singers on a deeply emotional level. It was almost hard to spot but, at one point, the two opponents looked at each other and exchanged a smile that can only be translated to “We’re killing it.”

Their coach even commented on what an incredible piece of music they made together before, ultimately, choosing the unique voice of Fredericks to continue to the Knockout Rounds. In the end, the competition is called “The Voice” and, while a remarkable talent, Bybee sounded too similar to people who are already advancing forward.

From there, it was on to a montage of performances that the at-home viewer wasn’t privy to. First up, Team Xtina moved Koryn Hawthrone forward, leaving Vance Smith out of the next round. Team Blake put Brooke Adee against Bay Brooks, which only ended well for Adee. Finally, Team Adam sent home Bren’nae DeBarge in favor of Lexl Davlla.

While it was a good show filled with stellar performances, the real meat of the competition didn’t start until the final battle of the evening. Team Blake put country crooner Corey Kent White up against young pop vocalist Jacob Rummell. Together they sang “I Want Crazy” by Hunter Hayes.

The song choice really showed off Blake’s talent as a coach as it married two very dissimilar styles into one incredible cover. In the end, all four judges were split over who Shelton should choose. Deciding to play it safe and go with what he knows, Shelton advanced the country-leaning White to the Knockout Rounds.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you can probably guess what happened next. With the last battle of Season 8 finished and Pharrell Williams sitting on a steal, Jacob too was given the chance to advance to the next round of the competition, this time working with a new coach.

With the teams now solidified for Season 8, next week will see the beginning of the Knockout phase of the competition, which will give the singers a solo stage and the ability to choose their own songs.