The Voice: Final Battle Round is Full of Surprises

By Karen Moul

The VoiceThe Voice's final battle round made headlines for The Kiss. Emily Valentine stunned the judges and the audience by sharing a romantic smooch with competitor Curtis Grimes.

"Neither of us have ever sung a duet before," says Valentine. "And by 'singing a duet' I also mean 'kiss on stage.' "

She says the feelings between her and Grimes are real, but the kiss was part of the performance. "We kind of thought about well, how can we utilize the best of this opportunity?" she explains.

"Curtis and I are very like-minded in the business sense of our careers and recognized that it was such a unique experience," battling each other after growing so close. "And at the ninth hour," continues Valentine, "Curtis was like 'Let's just do it. Let's do a kiss at the end of our song.' And I was like 'Oh my God, I can't believe this is going to happen!' "

Cherie Oakley got a surprise of her own when coach Blake Shelton introduced her to Reba McIntyre.

"I wrote this song [called] 'Turn on the Radio' shortly after the flood happened in Nashville," Cherie tells Scifi Vision. "And everything with my record deal started to crumble at the same that Reba heard the song and wanted to sing it.

"And so obviously I gave her the song," Oakley adds, "and the song climbed the charts...We tried many times to meet and it just never happened."

And then fate and NBC intervened to put Oakley and McIntyre on The Voice.

"I got to meet her and share one of the coolest experiences of my life with the entire world, Oakley concludes. "It was so surreal. It was crazy."

Also eliminated in the fourth round was Sara Oromchi. Just 18 years old, she battled fellow high school student Xenia.

"I did feel it was kind of appropriate that we were both shy and we would go against each other," says Oromchi. "I think that's also how we got along so well, because we kind of connected on that level. So it was really cool working with her."

And she acknowledges that both she and Xenia exhibited some nerves singing The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You." "It's a really nice song. It's beautiful but ... what can you say, it was out of our comfort zone."

Casey Desmond, on the other hand, was all confidence. She sang with country singer Jeff Jenkins, a favorite since all four judges turned around and tried to recruit him in the blind auditions.

Desmond felt they were evenly matched. "I felt like I was prepared to live up to him because I feel like [he] and I are equal in talent. I think he's a really talented person but I feel like I'm talented as well."

At the end of their battle, coach Adam Levine struggled with the decision. "It felt fabulous, felt great that he struggled," jokes Desmond. "Hopefully he lost some sleep!"

"It felt good," she adds, "because it made me feel like me and Jeff [sic] got to step up to the plate and really do the best we could...It made me feel like we had done our job by giving them a solid performance. And so I'm really sad that he didn't choose me but at the same time it made me feel good that he didn't just go 'Well all right, see you Casey.' "

The Voice continues Tuesdays on NBC.

The Voice conference call with Emily Valentine, Cherie Oakley, Casey Desmond and Sara Oromchi

June 1, 2011
12:00 pm CT

QUESTION: Sara, what is the most important lesson that you learned from the time spent on the show?

Sara OromchiSARA OROMCHI: Probably to try not to get too intimidated and to not let your nerves get the best of you.

QUESTION: Casey, you had some pretty stiff competition going up against Jeff. All four judges turned around for him in the blind audition. Did you feel like you didn't stand a chance or were you prepared to live up to him?

CASEY DESMOND: Oh well I felt like I was prepared to live up to him because I feel like him and I are equal in talent even though the blind auditions...didn't prove that as far as the coaches were concerned.

I think he's a really talented person but I feel like I'm talented as well. So - it felt like it was just luck what happened.

I felt like it was just the style that Adam wanted or the style that the coaches desired more over another because - I don't know, I felt like our vocals were equally strong. It's just really a matter of style.

And he did an amazing job so I'm really proud of him because yes, he's awesome.

QUESTION: Emily and Casey, since you both went up against guys do you think that was more of a challenge as compared to going up against one of the girls?

EMILY VALENTINE: I didn't think that it was going to be a challenge although it proved later on that it - maybe I had a little bit more to worry about than I thought 'cause to be honest, when you're a sexy lady you think you're going to have an edge. And clearly that did not make a difference.

I was banking on that, to be honest. But I guess I was wrong.

Casey DesmondCASEY DESMOND: I guess I kind of agree with Emily. But at the same time I don't really look at gender like that. I just kind of see it as we were in this, we're in this pool of talent together. We're all trying to get through this together even though it's a competition.

And the people on the show were just so talented that - I really don't look at it like a match of the sexes, like a race of the sexes or something like that.

But it was interesting to sing up against a boy. I kind of have a lower voice sometimes anyway so it was kind of cool to sing a lower register song that was written for a man to sing to begin with.

QUESTION: With so much success in your career, Cherie, a lot of people thought you had the upper hand and would probably continue in the competition. Do you think that perhaps your success played against you and that possibly Christina chose Lilly over you in order to help further her career?

CHERIE OAKLEY: I have no idea. I hope not because you don't want to feel like the opportunities that you've had in the past hinder you in any way in the future.

So I hope that on a show that's called The Voice and supposed to be about The Voice that it would be people moving forward because they did base it on someone's performance rather than someone's background. I definitely hope that's not the case. But you never know. In certain situations I think when two people feel like they did the absolutely best that they could, yes I think your brain kind of wanders to like well, did that hurt me a little bit? Did it hurt me from certain perspectives?

I honestly felt, strangely enough, like the complete underdog on the entire team regardless of my experience or the opportunities that I've [had], just because I honestly felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb, coming from a country background which was pretty drastically different from every single person on that entire team.

And I just hope that Christina wouldn't have let that force her decision in the end either.

But you never know what people are thinking and what they want. I do know Christina's been very vocal about country being something that's out of her comfort zone and that she does gravitate towards a pop-driven, more soulful voice.

So at the end of the day, that's probably what her ear gravitated towards.

QUESTION: Cherie, what are some of the things Christina spoke to you about or taught you that you felt that you could take with you?

CHERIE OAKLEY: Honestly, I felt like I could take so much with me from just standing back and feeling like the fly on the wall and just watching her.

Her amount of professionalism just blew me away. She was so sweet and so genuine. And she really did seem personally invested in each and every one of us.

But just the way that she carried herself was something that I was just blown away by and will definitely hope to emulate in my own career if I'm given the chance.

But some of the advice that she gave me that helped me on the show was...I did feel a little like the sore thumb that stuck out on the team and like the underdog just because of different things that she had said in the past about what she gravitates towards musically, stylistically.

And I sort of wondered if my background in country music would hinder me from going forward.

And so I struggled a little bit with my confidence at first. And then she was so encouraging and so warm and so supportive.

And I was able to email her and she emailed me. And she just really, really helped me through the show so that I felt like once I actually stepped out there I was able to use a lot of her encouragement to feel me. And it meant the world to me to know that she believed in me. So I think that definitely helped me in my performance for sure.

QUESTION: Did she give you any parting advice?

CHERIE OAKLEY: She didn't. I wish she would've. No, we weren't really able at that point. Everything kind of got crazy after the show ended and we all flew home so quickly.

And then they changed some different stuff with email addresses and that sort of thing. So I wasn't able to get any parting advice from her although I would have loved to. And if she has any I welcome it for sure.

QUESTION: So Emily, are you and Curtis now an item?

EMILY VALENTINE: Oh my God, I don't know, to be honest. Curtis is an amazing guy. I think he is just a wonderful person and we do talk on a daily basis.

But in both of our careers right now, he is trying to be a country superstar and I am already a rock star.

So our lifestyles are a little bit - it's difficult to maintain any sort of relationships during this crazy, inorganic process that is doing a reality television show.

But, you know, I think Curtis is a gem. And in the future I would love to just hang out with him on a real level. And, you know, we're great friends.

So call it what you want to call it. Label what you want. The feelings are real. The feelings are there and I think he's a great person and I would love to sing again with him sometime, if you know what I mean.

If you know what I mean.

QUESTION: Was that kiss premeditated? Did you guys plan that or was it just spontaneous?

EMILY VALENTINE: We choreographed it all night long.


This is why they didn't want me on the show. Sorry, I'm too crazy.

QUESTION: Cherie, it seems you and Reba McIntyre have a bit of a history. Can you elaborate on that?

CHERIE OAKLEY: Yes, oh gosh, that whole thing was crazy. Yes, I wrote this song "Turn on the Radio" shortly after the flood happened in Nashville. And I wrote it at the time for a blink-of-an-eye record deal that I had.

And everything with my record deal started to crumble at the same that Reba heard the song and wanted to sing it.

And so obviously I gave her the song and the song climbed the charts. And she'd spoken with me on the phone when she got my permission for the song over the phone.

And I did give it to her with the stipulation of "I want to meet you some day and I want to know that this song will be a single."

And so she called me to let me know that the song is going to be her first single. She called me to celebrate the number one.

We had tried many times to meet and it just never happened. And of course at the time I had no record deal. Everything as an artist had fallen through for me. And then the show came up and I thought gosh, why not? I need the exposure, you know? Why not go for it and see how far I can get?

Then I found out Reba was going to be Blake's celebrity sort of mentor and helper. And then I got to meet her and share one of the coolest experiences of my life with the entire world which was meeting her finally and performing in front of her. It was so surreal. It was crazy.

QUESTION: Did you get to meet her behind the scenes or did you just have that one little chat after your competition?

CHERIE OAKLEY: It was pretty packed as far as, you know, it was sort of one battle after another. So I didn't get to talk to her after the show. I would have loved to but it didn't happen.

But after we all flew home that following Monday I finally had the experience of going to her big corporation, Star Struck. And they had a big number one party there. So I got to hang out with her finally and talk and talk about the show and talk about meeting each other.

And she ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug and has just been incredible since then. She sent me the most amazing beautiful vase from Tiffany and a card and she's just, she's my favorite person in the whole world. I was such a huge fan of hers, she's been an idol of mine my whole life.

And God just works in such mysterious ways and I'm just so thankful to experience this journey. It's just been unbelievable.

Yes, I'm ten times the fan of Reba McIntyre's now that I've gotten to know her character, you know?

QUESTION: Emily, your and Curtis' kiss inspires this question. How did you all handle the choreography and handling yourselves on stage with a partner?

Emily ValentineEMILY VALENTINE: Neither of us have ever sung a duet before. And by "singing a duet" I also mean "kiss on stage."

It was really horrifying actually to watch that because we did have some degree of choreography. All of us had.

Just to work the stage, a battle is a little bit different than a duet. You don't want to be super lovey-dovey with somebody but, you know, it was really hard for me and Curtis considering the circumstances.

I had to decide during that whole process if this was the real deal or not because, you know, we all have consequences of our actions.

And I knew that when Curtis and I did that, actually Curtis thought he was going home for sure. I'm not going to lie. Curtis was like okay here we go, the hot girl, obviously you're winning.

And I was like "No way, dude. You are totally the country singer." So we went back and forth. And so we kind of thought about well, how can we utilize the best of this opportunity?

And Curtis and I are very like-minded in the business sense of our careers and recognized that it was such a unique experience being - battling against somebody that, you know, we both had feelings for each other.

So it just kind of worked. At the ninth hour Curtis was like let's just do it. Let's do a kiss at the end of our song. And I was like oh my God, I can't believe this is going to happen.

And watching back last night I was just watching the fear in my face wondering oh my God is this really going to happen at the end of the song. Because those high heels that I was wearing were about 6-1/2 inches. And I had to do a little mini turn in order to get to my mark at the end of song.

So had to kiss and turn at the same time. And I thought it looked really cool. I loved it and it took a lot more work than one would think.

CASEY DESMOND: I felt pretty, not similarly in the sense that I had feelings for Jeff. But me and Jeff got along really well as friends. And I can tell that him and I are going to be friends for a while, we just worked.

So we got to all work with some choreographers really briefly to run through some ideas. But nobody had to do exactly what they said. It was just ideas for us.

And we kind of changed it around ourselves. We actually worked on the choreography together. But then I feel like half of it went out the window once we got on stage because we were just feeling it so much.

But it still worked because him and I had really good chemistry. We had just a really good connection as friends. And we had practiced a ton, all different kinds of ways with the piano and dancing around. So I feel like it came naturally because of the connection between us as people.

QUESTION: What are your plans for where you're going next with your careers?

SARA OROMCHI: Oh gosh. I'm definitely going to keep trying and get more experience and work on my nerves for sure. And, you know, I don't want to give up.

CHERIE OAKLEY: I've already written some new songs since I've been back. A couple I think I'd like to send Reba's way.

And I definitely would love to continue pitching songs to other artists. It's, oh my gosh, it's like the coolest thing in the world to hear somebody sing your song and the way that they interpret it.

But I do want to use this opportunity and this platform and this exposure to finally make my dream happen and make a record and get a record deal.

And so I'm going to pursue that like nobody's business. I'm going to pursue every record label in town and just, you know, I'm trying to make it happen for myself.

I've worked for so many years and I worked so hard and I've had a lot of incredible things happen but I've had a lot of painful things happen. And I feel like I've come too far to walk away and give up at this point in time.

So I'm just thrilled and thankful for the exposure. And I definitely want to use it to my advantage.

I've already got a couple of gigs that I'm in the middle of booking because of the show and the exposure. And I look forward to making my first record this year.

EMILY VALENTINE: Well my answer is pretty similar to Cherie's. Before The Voice came around I was an artist before and I'll always be an artist, whether it's how I make my money or not, even though that is the dream.

I've been working on a solo album for the last two years. And it was a great experience and a great opportunity to have a giant billboard with my face and my name on it. And that was a wonderful thing in doing The Voice.

And establishing the relationship that all of us were fortunate enough to do in being a part of a production as high quality as The Voice, I mean there's no party. There's nowhere you can meet the best of the best of the best in the business.

And we were all lucky enough to do that.

So for those of us who do have our own material and our own things going on musically, I'm curious to see where all of us are going to be in the next few months now that we have established those creative and professional relationships.

I definitely plan on pursuing Cee Lo to do a collaboration for sure. And now that people know my name and I can have a new point of reference, I'm really looking forward to the next chapter.

I'm looking to sign a production deal with a heavy-hitting producer because I want - I still want my cake and I want to eat it too.

I'm organizing...for my live concert. And so I'm going to be singing and doing burlesque and, you know, what everyone else does when you're in a real struggling act which is get the show on the road. So that's the next step.

We'll see if Curtis will come and do his guest spot.

CASEY DESMOND: I feel like I'm in a really similar place to Emily right now but I have kind of a little bit of Cherie going on as well in the sense that I'm trying to pitch songs to artists and I'm writing a lot with other people.

I'm writing with hit song writer (Robert Elthoro) right now from Nashville.

He's just amazing. He's such an amazing person. So we've been working on songs for me as a performer. But we were also writing some songs together in other genres that we're going to try to pitch out to other artists.

And so it'd be nice to make some money and be able to sell music and hear other people's interpretations of the songs.

But I really want to be able to make it as a pop singer as well. The only thing is is that it's tough because instead of looking for - I mean it would be awesome to work with someone like Red One or Dr. Luke or something like that. I would give anything.

But at the same time I don't want to lose that part of me as an artist that is production because I do like a lot of my own production. I do a lot of the instrumentations on my albums and stuff.

And I think it would be fun to actually write and produce songs for some of the artists from The Voice and just other artists in general.

SCIFI VISION: Sara, your battle with Xenia was pitched as the battle of the shy girls. What was it like working together and how did you find a way to get up on stage together with neither of you having a lot of experience doing that?

SARA OROMCHI: Well, I did feel it was kind of appropriate that we were both shy and we would go against each other. And I think that's also how we got along so well because we kind of connected on that level.

And we just have a lot of things in common. So it was really cool working with her. And I had a lot of fun working with her. And I don't know, I think we had a good time.

SCIFI VISION: How did you feel about the song that was chosen [The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You"]? Adam said maybe it wasn't a good choice for your guys.

SARA OROMCHI: Yes, Adam said that. When he first told us the song me and Xenia kind of laughed and we were like wow, we did not expect anything like this.

It's a really nice song. It's beautiful but I did not expect that to come. And, you know, it - what can you say, it was out of our comfort zone and we tried it and we went on stage and sang it.

QUESTION: Cherie, during your performance your family was so animated backstage. How did they take it after you were eliminated?

Cherie OakleyCHERIE OAKLEY: It's hard for family to watch their child go through something like this. It's very emotional and especially when you know all the ups and downs of their lives.

And I've been singing since I was three and got my first manager when I was five. So I've been doing this for such a long time.

And there's been incredible blessings that have come my way. But you don't get a chance to really talk as much about all the downs, all the rejection that you face and how hard you work and a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome.

And I've had to overcome a lot. So it was hard for them to know everything that I've been through, especially in the last year. Just last year alone, the emotional roller-coaster of thinking that my dream was going to happen with a record deal and then just a few months later it just all crumbles, it's devastating for them and emotional for them.

So it was hard for them to watch. It was hard for them to know how much I wanted it and how hard I'd worked and to watch me not go through.

So it was emotional for them. It was an emotional night. But I'm just so thankful for the opportunity and for the exposure.

And I think when you do work really hard and you do have a lot of opportunities I think you're that much more aware of how incredible a platform like this was.

And so something that I definitely wanted my dad to focus on was all of the good that this can bring.

And we've all been given an incredible opportunity. And now we have the chance to really make something of it. And that's something that we all needed to take us to the next level.

So it's not all bad. It's not all depressing. It's not sad that we didn't all make it further. But this is an incredible opportunity. So that's something that I definitely had to encourage my dad with.

SCIFI VISION: At the end of your performance, Casey, Adam seemed to really struggle with his decision. What's going through your mind as Adam's struggling and we're waiting for him to spit out a name?

CASEY DESMOND: It felt fabulous, felt great that he struggled. No offense Adam. Hopefully he lost some sleep! No I'm just kidding, totally just kidding.

It felt good because it made me feel like me and Jeff got to step up to the plate and really do the best we could...It made me feel like we had done our job by giving them a solid performance. And so I'm really sad that he didn't choose me but at the same time it made me feel good that he didn't just go "Well all right, see you Casey."

As for feedback, it's pretty much all there. To be honest, it kind of flew by. It felt like a million years and like a millisecond at the same time because of my nerves and the adrenalin rush after performing.

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