Greetings fellow The Voice watchers and welcome to the Knockout Rounds! Since many of my East Coast colleagues are busy dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Sandy (stay safe, y’all!), I am “stepping up to the mic,” as it were, and taking over The Voice recapping duties for the time being. Now to be honest, I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show here and there, but anything involving the words “singing battles,” “knockout rounds,” and “Adam Levine” sounds like a good time to me. So let’s get started!
With no more steals to fall back on, the pressure was on in full force for the remaining 40 contestants, especially since only half of them (that’s 20 for you anti-math fans like myself) will be selected for the show’s live playoffs by week’s end. Yikes!
Last night featured Team Adam vs. Team Cee Lo…
The first two to face off were Joselyn Rivera and Kayla Nevarez. Since both girls have a similar pop star quality sound, Adam wanted to get these two side by side to see which one deserves to advance to the next round. In a bold move, Rivera tackled Beyoncé's “Love on Top” song and managed to hit a wide variety of hard-to-reach notes (well, at least most of them). Nevarez, on the other hand, opted to play things a little safer by giving a cautious rendition of “Shark in the Water” by V V Brown. Though Adam was very pleased with both performances, he preferred Joselyn’s risky approach and advanced her to the next round.
Next up was Joe Kirkland vs. Bryan Keith, who also share a similar sound (I think I’m starting to understand the strategy here). In a surprise choice, Joe belted out “Mean” by Taylor Swift, while Bryan went for the swoon approach with “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams. Joe may have had the risk factor in this one, but Bryan’s spot-on performance proved that he has the talent to make any song (even the romantic, cheesy ones) his very own. So it’s Bryan for the win!
Then came Amanda Brown who sang “Paris (Ooh La La)” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson, who performed “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson. Talk about two powerhouse voices, these girls have it in spades. Amanda brought sass and vocal firepower, while Michelle showed off some serious artistic range. And while they both seemed to kill it out there (Christina called it a real singer’s battle), Adam decided to go with his gut and keep Amanda. Personally, I agree with the choice. That girl’s singing chops deserve a proper chance in the spotlight.
Next we had Loren Allred sing “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse against Nicole Nelson, who chose to perform “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. According to the rehearsal footage, it looked like Nicole was the preferred favorite, however, Loren had a truly stellar performance, making all of the coaches speechless and completely wowed. Adam wanted her to stop sounding like a wedding singer and take on a deeper, darker edge. Well, wish granted! It was a truly incredible breakout moment that left Adam with only one choice: he had to pick Loren. Let’s hope there’s more where that came from. Loren, welcome to the dark side!
Last up for Team Adam, Melanie Martinez took on “Bulletproof” by La Roux, while Sam James performed “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn. Sam’s style was fun, but it lacked the vocal strength necessary to stay in the competition at this point. That being said, I think he is just adorable and I want us to be best friends (seriously, can we make this happen, please?). But regardless, Melanie’s albeit breathy performance was far superior, so it’s no surprise Adam sent her into the playoffs. Now we just need her to get rid of that hair bow.
Team Cee Lo:
First up was Avery Wilson (singing Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x”) vs. Cody Belew (singing “Jolene” by Dolly Parton). It seemed to be an off night for Avery, who was trying to do a little too much all at once when he really should’ve been focusing on how his voice sounded (thus the name of the show). But instead of giving the guy some leeway, Cee Lo decided to send him packing, sending Cody off to the next round. And just like that, the guy everyone thought would win it all, doesn’t even make it to the playoffs! Oh Cee Lo, you really are one unpredictable fella.
Next up was Mackenzie Bourg vs. Daniel Rosa – who both had very unique song selections. While Mackenzie performed Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” Daniel sang “Back to December,” making this the second Taylor Swift song of the night – both performed by guys (is this a trending thing now?). But unlike Daniel’s rather forgettable rendition, Mackenzie completely changed up the monotonously catchy tune into something that was – dare I say – kinda awesome? I know, you guys. I shouldn’t like it, but I did. By the end, even his opponent was singing along. This dude has my vote! And apparently he has Cee Lo’s too since he sent Mackenzie on to the next round. (Maybe we should lay off the Taylor Swift songs for a while, gentlemen).
Then came Terisa Griffin who went up against Trevin Hunt in a seemingly flawed move on Cee Lo’s part. These are two amazing singers who both deserve to go on to the playoffs, so why pit them against each other so soon? But hey, that’s just one girl’s opinion. Terisa sang the classic Whitney Houston song “Saving All My Love for You,” which was just as emotionally powerful as it was vocally. Seriously, this girl can bring tears to your eyes faster than any Nicholas Sparks book. But then there’s Trevin, who did an equally strong performance with Phil Collins’ hit “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).” Seriously, why does either of them have to go home? This is like the Sophie’s Choice of singing competitions. But sadly, a decision did have to be made and Cee Lo chose to save (drumroll please)…Trevin!
The next knockout battle was between Mycle Wastman and Nicholas David, who both have very soulful voices. Mycle went with Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” It was good and everyone loved it, but then again, that could have more to do with the song than the actual performance. Meanwhile, Nicholas sang a lively rendition of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae, making this yet another guy opting to sing a girl song (was this an intentional theme for the night?). It was fun, but I wasn’t overly thrilled. Perhaps now that I’ve heard Trevin sing, no other guy can match up. Even the coaches seemed split on what to do. But in the end, Cee Lo made the decision to keep Nicholas.
And last but not least was Caitlin Michele (singing “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence) vs. Diego Val (singing “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz). The song choices were actually pretty perfect for each of their individual styles. There’s no doubt Caitlin has the stronger vocal talent, but Diego really knows how to liven up a crowd with all that energy of his. None of the coaches seems all that thrilled with either performance (probably because they’re still in shock over Terisa’s unnecessary elimination. I’m not bitter or anything). But regardless, Cee Lo chose to advance Diego into the playoffs.
And look – this means Cee Lo has picked five guys and zero girls to go on to the live shows. I’m not sure if this makes him utterly foolish or a complete genius. We’ll find out soon enough! But in the meantime, what did you think of last night’s eliminations? Sound off in the comments below.
The Voice returns Tuesday for another two-hour Knockout episode starting at 8 p.m. – this time between Team Blake and Team Christina.
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[Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
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Welcome back to The Voice, your favorite reality singing competition that isn’t The X Factor, or American Idol, or Eurovision. I heard Maroon 5’s “Payphone” no less than seven times during my commute yesterday, which I knew was divine evidence that either a) Adam would have a great night or b) I should probably update my presets. Let’s see what happens.
I like Adriana Louise’s chances from the moment she’s introduced, because nothing says “celebrity” like having two first names. Plus, like so many contestants on The Voice — a competition that doesn’t judge, ahem, anything but your voice — she’s gorgeous. I swear I’m not being catty when I describe her as a saner, prettier Octomom.
Adriana’s mostly phenomenal version of “Domino” toppled the judges like so many… I don’t know, things that you line up and then knock over, I guess? Personally, I thought she sounded a little pitchy on some of the sustained notes, but I can vouch from personal car radio experience that this song is hard to sing, America.
Adriana’s Result: Team Christina (because, adorably, the first record she ever bought was one of Xtina’s)
Competitive wrestler and country singer Casey Muessigmann proudly admits that his last name is, in fact, pronounced “music man.” Is this real life?
Once Casey delivers an energetic cover of “Sweet Home Alabama” — complete with an instantly legendary “ass-spanking” dance move — there’s little doubt as to where he’ll end up. Blake’s eyes bulged at the very sound of Casey’s footwear as the contestant walked on stage. “Boots,” Blake muttered, to no one in particular, perking up like a velociraptor at the clatter of fallen dishware. The other coaches didn’t stand a chance.
Casey’s Result: Team Blake
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Where are all the biracial Wyoming natives? Jesus, NBC, it’s 2012.” Well, boom — quota filled. Meet Aquile (pronounced “ah-QUILL,” like how you might react to an assault by a porcupine), a professional guitar player and also, surprise, my new Voice boyfriend.
His “buttery,” confident take on “Your Song” wins the interest of three judges, and of every pair of ovaries in the house. As Mama Christina puts it, “Aquile gives me the chills.”
Aquile’s Result: Team Christina
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Ryan Fogarty works as LeAnn Rimes’ tour production coordinator. Rimes only learned that Ryan (who is, in her estimation, “the cutest thing in the world”) was a singer when they went out to a karaoke night together.
Unfortunately, Fogarty’s overwrought cover of Chris Young’s “Tomorrow” sounds just like that… karaoke. His voice has a great tone, but lacks consistency and power.
Ryan’s Result: Team Nobody
(Excerpts from a few more failed auditions zip by. Tonight’s Least Valuable Player is someone named Matt Carr, who took the title of “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” literally — awkwardly perching on the edge of the stage for a warbled performance of the song. Nope.)
Mackenzie Bourg contracted “a virus that shut down all [his] organs” last year, at only 19. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on his incredible struggle for survival and the trials, both physical and emotional, that he and his family must have endured.
Okay, cool, now I am legally allowed to make fun of him. Mackenzie is a hipster Harry Potter, decked out in a bomber jacket and the kind of glasses you might wear if you worked at NASA in the 1960s.
The look may be Hogwarts, but the voice is John Mayer. (Jennifer Aniston’s future daughter — I know you are reading this — stay away from this man.) Mackenzie auditions with a fun, vocally complex cover of “Pumped Up Kicks,” then eagerly gulps the Cee Lo Kool-Aid.
Mackenzie’s Result: Team Cee Lo
(HOW IS THIS MOMENT, FIFTY MINUTES INTO THE HOUR, ONLY THE FIRST TIME I AM SEEING CEE LO’S COCKATOO TONIGHT. Get your s**t right, producers.)
Julio Cesar Castillo no es marinero, es capitán. A mariachi veteran, Julio is here to perform the first-ever song on The Voice sung entirely in Spanish. Castillo fires up the crowd with “La Bamba” and, in Blake’s words, his “technically great” voice.
The judges encourage Julio to continue to sing in Spanish, and even ask him to serenade them with a mariachi tune on the spot. That’s like Johnny Carson inviting you over to the couch, you guys. In honor of Julio, I may even start writing my recaps entirely in Spanish — to be fair, they’ll probably be exclusively about what food I would like to order and what color my house is.
Julio’s Result: Team Blake
The black and red neon fever dream that is The Voice is back tomorrow at 8 pm EST for another installment of blind auditions. But be careful: they say that if you die in The Voice, you die in real life.
[Image Credit: NBC]
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