The Voice: Tension Mounts During the Battle Rounds - Colon, Nakia, Robinson, & McClellan

By Karen Moul

The VoiceThis week's episode of The Voice continues with the battle rounds – two artists sing the same song and one goes home. If the blind audition was stressful, the battle rounds escalate the tension to a new level as the contestants battle each other head-to-head.

Tyler Robinson says "It's a whole different game with the battle round. Now that everyone can see you it's still about the voice, but it's [also] about performance quality, it's about your look, it's about everything now.

"And the performance quality just has to be really high because that's how you're going to win something like this."

Javier Colon, an early favorite to win the entire contest, is also feeling the pressure. "You have to have your game at a raised level basically at all times," he says. "You just have to give your 100% to 110% every single time you step on stage. It's game time and you know that you could go home at any point. So you just have to make sure that you are your absolute best."

During taping, the contestants lived together in a hotel for five weeks. After forming close bonds, they say the hardest part of the competition is battling a friend.

"You know, it sounded like a pretty easy idea from home," says rocker Beverly McClellan. "And then you get there and you meet all of these wonderful artists, now artist/friends."

"We really and truly came out of the blind auditions with some serious friendships," adds Nakia. "When you get to see the battle round, it becomes a lot more tough for us to watch each other go through that don't want to see someone go home. But at the same time you want to do well and you want to succeed. So you have to put that aside for that time while you're performing and really turn on your game."

Javier feels the same way. Competing against a friend, he says, is "definitely a nerve-racking thing for sure. But the only thing that you can control is what you do on that stage and not necessarily what the other person is going to do on that stage.

"So you just have to really go out there and make sure that when you walk off the stage you feel good knowing that you gave your 100%."

"We are all there at the end of the day for the same thing, says Beverly. And our friendships are lifelong regardless of what the outcome of whatever happens on stage. It is a hard thing."

But "we are not iron men and women," she adds. "We're human and we feel those things for sure."

Javier, Nakia, Tyler, and Beverly recently talked with reporters about their music careers, working with the coaches, and what scares them most about the competition. The Voice continues Tuesdays at 10 pm on NBC.

The Voice
Conference with Javier Colon, Nakia, Tyler Robinson, and Beverly McClellan

May 9, 2011
11:00 am CT

QUESTION: My question is for Javier. You were one of the two contestants in that first round who was selected by all four judges just like Jeff Jenkins was.

And I asked him this last week what made you select Adam as your coach?

Javier ColonJAVIER COLON: You know, I honestly, you know, I would have been absolutely just, you know, ecstatic to have just one person turn around and then stay in the competition.

But the fact that all four turned around was just it was awesome. I was very flattered. And the reason that I picked Adam was because going into it I, you know, being the way the competition is set up your coaches are the ones that keep you in the competition or they send you home, you know, for these first rounds.

So I just wanted to, you know, if I was lucky enough to have, you know, my choice between a, you know, several judges or coaches I wanted to make sure that I picked somebody that I thought was, you know, enthusiastic and, you know, just really adamant about having me on their team.

And Adam, you know, he was almost, you know, distracting me during the song because he was just so animated and so into the performance which really, really meant a lot to me and which is one of the main reasons that I chose him.

QUESTION: This question is for Tyler...On the show you basically came out to your father on national TV before taking the stage. Did you warn him before the episode aired that he was going to be hearing that or was that his first time hearing the news when we all heard it?

TYLER ROBINSON: You know, I think that - like during the show was the first time he'd actually heard it out of my mouth. Because I don't have the best relationship like I said. And I haven't physically seen it my dad in about three years.

And so when I was talking in my interview I didn't really - I didn't realize that I hadn't told my dad.

And that's why if you could see my tone it was almost like flippant just because I've been so out and so casual about it for these past two years that I didn't realize that there was still people in my life that didn't know. And was even a surprise for me. It was like oh I didn't realize that I didn't tell my dad all these years.

And it was just one of those things that fell into place at the right time.

QUESTION: In your blog on the Web site you said that you actually tried to cancel your voice audition. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

JAVIER COLON: Yes. Okay so the Thursday before the auditions in New York basically I woke up and I was not feeling very well.

I was doing a couple of college shows. I was actually in San Francisco. I woke up that morning and I almost had no voice.

And I, you know, I knew that the audition was on a Saturday. And I said you know what, I don't think I'm going to be able to make it and I don't think I'm going to sound good.

You know, I probably just, you know, I don't want to go and make a fool of myself. So I'm just going to, you know, call my manager and ask him, you know, to see if there's any other day.

But I'm probably I'm just going, you know, probably cancel it because I don't think I'm going to sound good.

And he - I talked to him on Thursday. He said - I said you know what, you probably should cancel it. I'm not going to feel better by Saturday.

And he said okay, you know, if that's how you feel then that's what I'll do. And then he tells me that he didn't forget but he forgot to call and cancel on Friday.

So then Saturday came and I was actually feeling a lot better than I thought I would. And I called him and I said hey, listen don't cancel that audition. And he said you know what? I completely forgot. And I said well great well then I'm just going to go.

So I flew in to Hartford, Connecticut where I live. I flew to Connecticut and I drove to New York just in time for the audition.

SCIFI VISION: My question is also for Javier. You've been I guess had a music career for a long time. But now you find yourself the father of two young children.

And your official bio on The Voice Web site says that you have considered maybe leaving music behind is that it might be best for your family.

And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what The Voice means and kind of what your plans are and just address that comment?

JAVIER COLON: Yes absolutely. You broke up a little bit there but I think I got (unintelligible) of your question. You know, basically, you know, yes I did have, you know, I've been doing music for a long time.

I did have a record deal with Capitol Records at one point. You know, we released a couple albums with them that unfortunately, you know, they just - unfortunately it didn't work out and I ended up getting dropped.

And I (spent) five years' time to get a new record deal. Nobody wanted to sit down with me. Nobody wanted to talk to the guy who basically, you know, already had a record deal and - it was unsuccessful.

So, you know, trying to get a new deal was as close to, you know, was proving to be, you know, really, really difficult.

And, you know, at this point, you know, I was running around doing a lot of college shows, doing, you know, some club shows and things like that.

But, you know, there was times where, you know, it was getting really tight to where you couldn't pay bills and you had to borrow. You had to kind of maneuver to figure out how things were going to work.

And when you have two kids, you know, that rely on you and obviously and your wife that rely and you too, you know, to bring home some solid income, you know, the music thing, you know, if it wasn't - if I didn't change something soon then, you know, basically I was going to have to leave it behind because, you know, as a father I would have to do anything that is necessary to make sure that my kids are taken care of because they're first and foremost.

And this opportunity, you know, came along, you know, this actually a month after another rejection from another record label that I thought we were going to sign with and it didn't work out.

And, you know, I'm very thankful for the opportunity because, you know, if it didn't - if, you know, we'll see what happens but, you know, so far it's been great. And I'm hoping it means that I can continue to do music a little longer.

QUESTION: This question is for Beverly...You have such a distinct style that we've just seen a glimpse of so far. How are you open to just changing that as Christina kind of molds you and shapes your style? Or do you are you pretty set in what you're doing and your message that you're putting out there?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: I just like to sing man. So what so whatever she throws at me I'll sing it, you know, pretty much.

QUESTION: And about just being very out and everything that seems like just a natural part of you. Was that ever a question about...



QUESTION: (Unintelligible).

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Yes definitely without a doubt.

QUESTION: Hi. My question is for all the contestants. I was wondering about the rivalry between the coaches...and when they're trying to convince contestants to choose them and did it intensify when the battle round began?

NAKIA: I think, you know, with me in particular watching Cee Lo and Blake go head to head and try to convince me that I should be on their teams Blake definitely was playing dirty and, you know, by making comments about Cee Lo.

And then at the end of the day it actually kind of cost him me being on his team because he spent more time talking about why, you know, what was wrong with Cee Lo as a person instead of why I should be on his team.

So for me I think as we got into the battle rounds the coaches seemed to be a lot more supportive of each of their choices.

And the rivalry though seems to be a lot more heated because now the closer that we get they really, really want their team to win the show. So the further we go along I think you'll see that the rivalry is definitely heating up.

QUESTION: What's scaring you the most about this competition, you feeling any fear? What terrifies you about this?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Not being able to find Mountain Dew in LA. I'm just kidding, I'm kidding. It was a joke. It was a joke.

It's all scary. It's all very new for all of us. I think I can speak for us all that it's all - all of this is something none of us has ever been through.

But it's also a blessing too, you know? That's what I think. It's just my personal opinion. This is Beverly.


TYLER ROBINSON: Okay Tyler. Well I was - throughout this whole process I've just learned a lot about myself.

And I've realized that we're all here to sing and we're here to do what we're good at. And that's perform and sing in front of a lot of people.

And there's not enough time to worry about being scared. You just have to put yourself out there and hope that people take you in the way that you want them to.


[MAN]: Yes I completely agree with that Tyler. There's - you know, in this situation where, you know, we've been given this opportunity, you know, Tyler's absolutely right there is - I mean granted I mean I definitely feel some fear, you know, at times right before you're about to go on stage, some nerves for sure.

But if this is what we want to do for a living then this is the moment that we have to seize and step up to the plate and really, you know, show everybody what it is that we do because this is - because this is probably the best shot we're ever going to have at getting to, you know, having the opportunity to prove ourselves.

And if this is what we want to do then there's no time to really be scared. You just got to know what the task at hand is and just go out and attack it and do it.

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: But there are still nerves definitely.

We are not iron men and women. We - we're human and we feel those things for sure.

QUESTION: My question is kind of open for each of you...You're each getting trained or directed by your stars. Do you know how the other teams are working?

[MAN]: We really don't.


NakiaNAKIA: Not really no. This is Nakia. You know, I really only know what's going on with Team Cee Lo and, you know, how I'm interacting with Cee Lo and what direction I'm getting from Cee Lo.

Or in the case of during the battle rounds you know, when he's brought in, you know, special guest, you know, Monica -- that sort of thing -- that's the interaction that I am dealing with.

And to be quite honest it's really the only interaction or coaching that I think that I would want to have to deal with.

I'm glad that I only have one coach and I would - I don't want to worry about what's going on on the other teams because I need to focus on what I'm getting directed to do and how that's going with me.

[MAN]: Right. Everybody agree?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: (Unintelligible) with that.


[MAN]: Yes absolutely. Yes we don't spend a lot of time. You know, we spend a lot of time with each other but not necessarily, you know, we don't see each other with our - you know, with the other's coaches and things like that.

We basically spend time with our own coach, you know, working on what we have to do.

And I agree with Nakia, I mean I think it's better that way because honestly, you know, we're all kind of competing within our own teams until it gets to the final episode.

So really the only people you're competing against at the moment are the people that are on your own teams.

And then at the end is when the four teams will, you know, have one representative to go for the title.

So I think it's better that way because honestly I mean, you know, we can only, you know, change - we can only basically control what it is that we're going to do. And that's, you know, to be the best that we can be in (everything) that we step on stage. So yes, I guess that's it.

QUESTION: My question's for Beverly. You know, since everyone comes to the show with various levels of experience can you talk about what you feel you bring to the table that the others don't?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: I'm old. No I'm just kidding. No I'm just I would say I'm older. I've been doing, you know, performing live and, you know, doing live shows for a little over ten years, you know, more than ten years here so and up and down the coast.

I just performing I think is, you know, and knowing tons of songs that I've gotten, you know, tips thrown at me to know.

I mean other than that that's - I think performing live and doing things like that is what I've done most, you know? So that salted with a little bit of age I mean that's what I bring.

And my own style, you know.

I hope that answers it for you.

QUESTION: I have a little bit for each of you but my question first with Nakia.

You're one of the few people, couple of people that selected a song to sing that was one of the judge's own song.

I just wanted to find out what was your strategy going into it selecting a Cee Lo song? Were you hoping he was going to pick you or did you possibly think that that could derail your chances of getting picked? What were your thoughts about selecting a Cee Lo song?

NAKIA: Well one I chose Forget You first and foremost it's because Forget You is an instantly recognizable, wildly, accessible song all over the world.

Anybody who hears those first four bars of dah, dah, dah, you know, that, you know what song it is. And so my thinking was that sure it's great that Cee Lo's in the audience, but at the same time the American audience, the people watching at home will recognize that song and connect with that song thereby connecting with me because that may - what happens if no one does turnaround?

I still needed the opportunity to connect with America in that one moment. So yes I chose it because, you know - or I knew choosing it was a risk because Cee Lo was in the audience.

But having Cee Lo turnaround, I mean that in itself was hugely validating for me as an artist for him to say you know what you sang my song and that, you know, I think that you did a great job and I think I could do something more with you.

So to me it was not only a risk but at the same time it was also a chance for me to connect with, you know, the viewing public at home.

QUESTION: For Tyler and Beverly I'll go with Tyler first, what is it about Blake? What has he taught you or what have you learned from Blake?

And then Beverly, what have you learned from Christina as a judge? How are they as judges and what have you learned from them? And we'll start with Tyler...What have you learned from Blake? How has he been as a judge to you and what have you learned from him?

And then has Christina been as a judge and what have you learned from her?

TYLER ROBINSON: Okay so like I was saying Blake really taught me something that I found really special. And he taught me to really I don't have to risk every time I get the opportunity to.

And he just - he made me aware of it is what it was. He told me, you know, you don't always have to risk when you have the opportunity to.

And it really made me take a step back and look at what I was doing before I sang. And so I just was a little bit of editing.

I took my music from - the - I took it from one level to the next level just by doing one little thing and making sure that (unintelligible).


QUESTION: And Beverly how has Christina been as a judge for you and what have you learned from her?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Well now my coach I've been learning from since she was a young child, started way before this competition. She has been singing it dirty for quite some time.

And I'm just honored to be on her team and singing it dirty for her now. So you know that feels good. That feels great. And she just more than anything she encourages me to bring it. So, you know, and also gives me advice on how to do that.

It - she is awesome. That's all I can say. They all are but I'm so excited to be on Team Christina for sure.

QUESTION: Now that the blind auditions are over how much does look or image factor into the challenge that you have to take into consideration now?

Tyler RobinsonTYLER ROBINSON: You know, it's a whole different game with the battle round now. Now that everyone can see you is still about The Voice definitely but it's about performance quality, it's about your look, it's about everything now.

It just went from one part of the competition to the next part. And we just took it up a few levels. And it's so exciting to see where this will take people in many different directions.

Because me personally I mean in my battle round you'll see my outfit change a little bit but still a lot of myself.

And the performance quality just has to be really high because that's how you're going to win something like this.


QUESTION: Now I'm going to ask Javier. What do you think you need to do to raise your game in competition as compared to the blind audition?


JAVIER COLON: You know I think honestly, you have to have your game at a raised level basically at all times, you know, on this show.

I mean, you know, for the blind audition you had to go and give it your absolute 100%. And you also have to do the same, you know, in the battle rounds.

I mean it's - I mean both, you know, if you don't - if you basically don't give your 100%, you know, in either portion you could be going home.

So, you know, and whether it's competition or not, you know, I know it's, you know, a lot's, you know, being said about the battle rounds and how you're going against another person and it's definitely a nerve-racking thing for sure.

But the only thing that you can control is what you do on that stage and not necessarily what the other person is going to do on that stage.

So you just have to really go out there and make sure that when you walk off the stage you feel, you know, you feel good knowing that you gave your 100% and that you did everything that you could to do the best that you could. And that's really all that you can do.

QUESTION: So basically...


QUESTION: ...just keeping your foot on the gas you're saying?

JAVIER COLON: Yes I mean you've got to. You have to keep your, you know, you just have to like you've got to give your 100% to 110% every single time you step on stage.

It's game time and you know that you could go home, you know, at any point. So you just have to make sure that you are, you know, your absolute best.


QUESTION: My question just basically goes out to everyone as a general question.

What's it been like to live in Hollywood these days living out your dream, you know, leaving your house and coming all the way out here just to with your dream?

NAKIA: This is Nakia. You know, I think that it's - it is really very surreal. So it is very much like a dream.

You know, there - for those of us who've never done anything like this before being surrounded by camera crews and celebrity coaches who are not just there for a paycheck but are really invested in us as artists and really making an effort to connect with us and mentor us and help shape us into what they hope to be superstars is very surreal.

But at the same time it is a huge blessing and it's very gratifying for me as an artist for someone who's been doing this for so long struggling to try to make it to have that validation that I've been chosen and that I'm on this - on team Cee Lo and I have the opportunity to do this.

SCIFI VISION: My question is for Beverly...I understand Beverly that each of your many tattoos has sort of a really important meaning. And I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about them?

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Oh they're all little journeys that I've taken. And I plan to take many, many more journeys. I love tattoos. I'm highly allergic to the sun so this is my sun. This is my color.

So I just pick things that mean the most to me. You know, I have some of my Indian heritage tattooed on me as well, a microphone because I love to sing, my guitar. It - they're all personal journeys.

SCIFI VISION: So we can expect you to maybe add another one for The Voice?


[MAN]: At the light, at the next one here.

SCIFI VISION: Great. Thank you very much.

BEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Seeing how it's changed my life. Thank you.

QUESTION: This question is for each of you. If Nakia's still on the line we'll start with him since he's got to leave soon.

But I was curious to know The Voice obviously is structured very differently from a lot of other competitions like American Idol.

What is it like for you guys to have to compete against other more directly, like you're pitted against each other in your own - within your own team?

Would you have preferred something more straightforward where you're singing for America's vote every week like American Idol?

How was - and how are you adjusting to this format of this thing? And are you able to maintain friendships with each other without - even though you're very much competitive with each other? So we'll start with Nakia if you're still there.

NAKIA: That's a great question. And I think that one of the main things that I'm taking away from this experience is the cherished and treasured friendships that I've made with the other artists on the show.

And I think I can speak for everybody when I say that without exception that, you know, all of us have a deep love for each other and that we really and truly came out of the blind auditions, you know, with some serious friendships.

Even the people that went home we had bonded with. So that was very tough. But when you get to see the battle round, I mean I think that it becomes a lot more tough for us to watch each other go through that process because we have formed those relationships and we have bonded so much.

And it definitely becomes harder because you don't want to see someone go home. But at the same time you want to do well and you want to succeed.

So you have to put that aside for that time while you're performing and really turn on your game, you know?

QUESTION: Javier how do you feel about this format versus a straightforward format like American Idol?

JAVIER COLON: You know what? It said - it makes it difficult like Nakia said -- thank you -- because, you know, you make some really strong relationships through strong friendships, you know, just being, you know, on the show.

It makes it hard when you have to go into a battle round knowing that one of you is going to advance and one of you is going to go home. It's just a - it's a very difficult situation.

But, you know, it leaves room, you know, after the battle round obviously it goes to live shows where it does get to that point where basically America, you know, will be, you know, will be choosing a, you know, who they like and so forth.

So I think it's kind of the best of both worlds. You know, you get to, you know, show a really - I mean it's really exciting TV to, you know, to watch for sure.

I mean, you know, the tension is high and the emotions are just, you know, running rampant. So it's going to be exciting to watch for sure.

QUESTION: And for Tyler I mean as Javier said it's exciting TV. But is it difficult for you Tyler to compete against someone that you have a friendship with and have to sort of knock them out of the game?

TYLER ROBINSON: Absolutely. You know, it was definitely something that was hard to do. We - just because we did become such good friends. We were stuck in a hotel with these people for five weeks and we're sort of forced to become friends with them.

And it was all good. And then you get put up against someone and you just have to put your differences aside and be like you know what? This is a competition.

And in the end we're all there for one thing. And so we both - you both sing your heart out and it's crazy to see it - how a lot of these battles go down.

It's very exciting. And I think the format is wonderful and so exciting and new. And I think it's just a great idea.

QUESTION: For Beverly I mean as we're all saying it's difficult. Did you - were you aware of this format before you signed up to do the show?

And what did you feel when you first heard about it that you'd sort of be making relationships with people but then also competing against them to knock them out of the competition?

Beverly McClellanBEVERLY MCCLELLAN: Well, you know, it sounded like a pretty easy idea from home. And then you get there and you meet all of these wonderful artists and, you know, now artist/friends.

And, you know, we are all there at the end of the day for the same thing. And our friendships are lifelong regardless of what the outcome of whatever happens on stage.

Because that is - that's just business and something that neither one of us as contestants can - or any of us can, you know, it's just - it is a hard thing.

But like you said you make really good friends and you've met some wonderful artists. And, you know, it's a hard thing to do yes. That is the real - that's the reality of the show not versus any other but I'm just saying as far as me personally living it is I have a newfound respect for reality TV.

QUESTION: My next question is for Javier. My question is I loved your arrangement of "Time after Time."

And I wanted to know was that your particular arrangement or did you just borrow it from bits and pieces of other arrangements that you had heard because it really stood out?

JAVIER COLON: Awesome, thank you. I - it definitely was an arrangement that I had been doing in my shows and things like that probably for the last year or so.

And I definitely had heard other artists cover that song. There's a great version that Sarah McLachlan does with Cyndi Lauper as a duet which I heard that really, you know, really spoke to me. It's very acoustic like I do it.

Also there's a wonderful artist named Eva Cassidy who also covered that song that you just, you know, just also a great rendition of it.

I mean I definitely try to put my own spin on it in the way that I sing it. And the way that I play the chords and stuff is sometimes a little different.

But I mean everything that I do for the most part or at least what I've been doing for the last five years or so has been very acoustic soul I guess is what I call it.

And I just kind of, you know, put a little bit of how I sing into just, you know, what I think is just a classic, classic, classic song that is just, you know, just an amazing song.

QUESTION: Yes well you did a beautiful job with it. Thank you very much.

JAVIER COLON: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

SCIFI VISION: Hi. I'll address this last one to Javier also. In the blind addition you guys chose songs from a list although as you say you were able to do your own arrangement.

In the battle round do you guys have any influence on what song is selected and how are they arranged or is your coach, you know, is Adam saying you're singing this and I suggest you try it this way and how is that going to work?

JAVIER COLON: Well in the battle rounds I think everybody can I guess can speak for this one. But in the battle rounds basically you are told who you're battling against.

And you also are also told the song that you're singing. We don't have any choice or any say in the selection process of the song.

The coaches so basically they look for a song that will suit both artists, you know, and they just try to find something that will work, you know, great for both artists to be able to shine.

And as far as the arrangement goes, you know, they also, you know, as part of what they do as coaches is, you know, just trying to come up with an arrangement that sounds great that you both can really, you know, stretch and do what it is that you do on. So yes I - yes I guess that answer's your question.

SCIFI VISION: And just to follow-up real quick do you know what the rules of the game will be if you are lucky enough to make it to the final four? Will you guys get to...choose then? Do you guys know what the rules are yet for that?

JAVIER COLON: I don't believe - do any of you guys know? I don't know if we'll get to...


JAVIER COLON: ...choose the song at the (unintelligible).


[MAN]: I think (unintelligible) that's a little bit further ahead than what we're here to talk about today.


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