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The battle for Provo: Utah teens face off on ‘The Voice’

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Provo pop singer Madilyn Paige survived Monday night’s episode of “The Voice” after squaring off against fellow Utah County resident Tanner James. Paige and James, who both elected to join Team Usher during their blind auditions, were assigned to sing “Everything Has Changed” by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

In the “battle round” — the second round of NBC’s hit singing competition — members of each team (coached by musicians Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton) face off against each other, singing a duet of a popular song. After the performance, their coach must choose one artist to advance, leaving the other vulnerable for elimination. During this round, opposing coaches each have two opportunities to “steal” the contestant who is not selected by their coach to advance to the next round.

In a conference call Tuesday morning, Paige described her experience working with James for the battle round.

“I think it really helped us build a chemistry because we kind of come from a similar background and I think we had pretty good chemistry from the very beginning, which was really cool,” she said. “I think it made my performance better because we just had so much in common and I think it really worked to our advantage, so it was really cool.”

In preparation for their battle, Paige and James were able to work with Usher and Grammy Award-winning singer Jill Scott, who both helped the teens prepare for their performance.

"I want both of them to grow more comfortable as performers and trust their instincts,” Usher said during Monday’s episode. “If they do that, I think both of them will be success stories.”

Scott had positive feedback about both artists. "Madilyn has a tenderness in her voice,” she said during the rehearsals. “Her voice is like china, so it's fragile. It could break."

She was also impressed by James, who she said had a lovely voice.

After moving audience members to their feet with their performance, which host Carson Daly described as “the most adorable battle ever,” Paige and James received praise and feedback from the four coaches.

"That was like watching golden retriever puppies frolic through fields of wheat during the sunset,” Levine said. “That was like cute overload.”

“It was so sweet and so believable,” Shakira added. “You're both amazing, charismatic, have beautiful voices, just amazing singers.”

“I know for a fact that Madilyn is adorable, but apparently Tanner is, too,” Shelton chimed in. “I guess he's cute!"

When the time came for Usher to make his decision, he congratulated Paige and James for their performance. “Kudos to the both of you for coming out here and doing exactly what I hoped you would and executing your romantic moment for very unique reasons,” he said.

In the end, Usher picked Paige to advance. “I felt like you've arrived and there was something incredible about this performance,” he told the pop singer. “There were these moments where you just took the liberty to go outside of what your comfort zone was and allowed your personality to come out. There is a playful, yet aggressive lady inside that I hope will come out within your time here on 'The Voice.’ ”

Though James was available to be stolen by another coach, Shakira and Shelton decided to keep their final save for later in the competition. Levine had already used both of his saves on other contestants.

“I hoped that I could tap into the beautiful emotion of this song and really just open my heart — and it looked like a lot of people felt it,” James said. “I won on so many different levels for myself. I got to work with the biggest icons in music, so I’m happy.”

The Hollywood Reporter broke news last week announcing a change in the competition’s format going forward. Beginning March 31, the remaining artists, including Paige, will be paired off to work with their coaches and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who will serve as a universal mentor for all four teams. The singers in each pairing will be assigned a song to work on then asked to perform their own rendition of that song in a sudden-death battle, similar to this week’s battle round. In previous seasons, this stage, formerly known as the “knockout round,” allowed singers to choose separate songs before performing for the coaches.

"The Voice" airs Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC.

Email: achristensen@deseretnews.com

Twitter: atownmania