The Voice’s final Knockout Round of the season aired last night, allowing both Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton’s teams to square off against each other for a shot in the playoffs (my dad would be so proud of all my boxing and football jargon, by the way). That’s right, folks — we are now less than a week away from the live shows. Can you believe it? It’s the end of an era!
But the contestants made sure to end things on a high note (see what I did there?) with a variety of memorable performances. 20 took the stage, but only 10 came out as victors. Find out who advanced to the next round and who found themselves in treble (okay, I’ll stop).
Team Xtina opened the proceedings with Devyn DeLoera singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” while Laura Vivas covered Marc Anthony’s hit “I Need to Know.” It’s always risky to take on the song of a singing legend like Whitney, but Devyn managed to belt out some pretty solid notes…along with some not-so-solid notes. But all-in-all, she was able to hold her own. Laura, on the other hand, seemed to flounder at times (probably because she was concentrating on those impressive salsa moves). But her performance wasn’t “caliente” enough for Christina, who opted to advance Devyn on to the next round.
Next up showcased Adriana Louise (singing “Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson) and Celica Westbrook (singing “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber). While there’s no doubt Adriana has stronger singing chops – not to mention a certain Xtina-type appeal – I’ve got to give Celica credit for daring to emulate the Biebs. And it was actually pretty fun to watch. However, Christina didn’t seem to feel the same way and ended up giving her mini-clone, Adriana, a place in the playoffs instead. Looks like someone doesn’t have Bieber Fever.
Then came Alessandra Guercio singing “Take a Bow” by Rihanna and Dez Duron who sang “Stuck on You” by Lionel Richie. Like I said before, I’m relatively new to the show, but it seems like many of Christina’s girl competitors have a tendency to emulate her vocal style. And while it’s always great to have some Xtina flare, not every song calls for those big, belt-worthy notes — something Alessandra didn’t the memo about. As for Dez…he’s a hot guy singing a sweet, sensitive song. Need I say more? Dez is off to the live shows.
Next, Christina had Chevonne go up against De’borah, which turned out to be a bit of a no-brainer. Chevonne's rendition of "Dancing with Myself" by Generation X may have been fun and mildly entertaining, but it can’t hold a candle to the type of vocal firepower De’borah brought to The Fray's hit song, "You Found Me.". Seriously, this girl’s got some impressive pipes and will undoubtedly be sticking around until the very end. And Christina seemed to agree…De’borah is off to the live shows. Keep your eye on this one, folks. She’s a keeper.
Last up for Team Xtina, Aquile took on “Grenade” by Bruno Mars, while Sylvia Yacoub sang Christina Aguilera’s hit song, “Fighter.” You’d think this would be an easy choice — where Aquile’s performance was smooth, charismatic, and just plain awesome, Sylvia’s was more of an attempt at brown nosing than anything else. Sure, her vocals were alright, but her song choice was clearly an just ode to Christina as a means to butter her up. Now some people (i.e. myself) could potentially find something like that annoying...but not Christina. Nope, she loved it and decided to keep Sylvia while tragically showing the talented Aquile the door. NOOOO! Now I’m really depressed, guys. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go drown my sorrows in Halloween candy.
For his first battle of the night, Blake pitted country singers Gracia Harrison and Liz Davis against each other in order to prevent splitting the vote between these two during the live rounds. Gracia chose to sing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” while Liz selected “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert. That’s right, the Miranda Lambert — also known as Blake’s wife. These contestants sure know how to schmooze their coaches, don’t they? But either way, it seemed to work since Blake decided to advance Liz on to the live shows, claiming that she seems to know more of who she is as an artist. Either that or he was just happy she picked one of his wife's songs. I'm choosing to believe it's the former.
Next up were rockers Rudy Parris and Terry McDermott, who helped show just how important song choices can be when it comes to competitions like this. Rudy performed “Forever” by Chris Brown — a very bold choice considering his age (he's a grandfather, you know) and the type of demographic this song normally appeals to. It’d be like watching Betty White sing Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “Call Me Maybe.” Though, now that I say it, I’d really love for that to actually happen. But in this case, it just wasn’t the right time or place for such a song choice. Terry, on the other hand, decided to try his hand at “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney, which led to absolutely stunning results. This guy is in a whole other league of singing and there’s no doubt that he’ll go far (plus that Scottish accent of his doesn’t hurt things either). Blake advanced him through to next week.
Colin McLoughlin and 16-year-old Michaela Paige were the next two contestants to face off. While Colin picked “Breakeven” by The Script, Michaela got in touch with her hardcore rocker side with Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” Right from the get-go, you could tell Michaela was a clear favorite of Blake’s and she definitely has the vocal strength to go far in this competition. Not to mention the fact that her song choice was absolutely perfect for her range. But…Colin is just so handsome! Back me up on this, ladies. I was hoping to be able to stare look at him for at least a couple more weeks. But to no avail. Blake sent Colin packing (call me?) and moved Michaela into the live shows.
In yet another display of Bieber affection, Julio Cesar Castillo chose to sing “Somebody to Love” by Justin Bieber, while his competitor, MarissaAnn, decided to tackle Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade (which just so happens to feature her former coach, Christina). Coincidence? I think not. Both performances were decent, but after some serious contemplating Blake opted to send Julio into the next round since he’s already invested so much in him. Way to go, Julio! Thanks for not conforming into all the brown-nosing.
And the final battle of the night went to Cassadee Pope (singing “Payphone” by Maroon 5) and Suzanna Choffel (singing Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”). Naturally, Adam was both flattered and impressed with Cassadee’s interpretation of his hit song, which honestly wasn't half bad. Blake agreed and cited that Suzanna’s song choice became her undoing in this round. So Cassadee will live to sing another day.
What did you think of Christina and Blake’s decisions this week? Do you think they let the right people go? Sound off in the comments below and get psyched for next week’s big three-night event of live shows where voters get to decide on the Top 12. America, it’s up to you now. Do these singers justice!
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
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Welcome back to The Voice! Last night’s episode marked another installment of the battle rounds, and another two hours of performances in a boxing ring — spoiler alert — without a single version of “Eye of the Tiger.” Sometimes I don’t know why I bother.
Team Blake’s Julio Cesar Castillo and Terisa Griffin are up first. Mariachi Castillo and soul singer Griffin are evenly matched on Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” a Latin dance classic that nevertheless relies on powerful female vocals.
As the pair rehearses, Julio struggles with learning the song’s rapid-fire lyrics. “No one in the history of the world really knows the words,” advisor Michael Bublé consoles him. I love “Conga,” but I’m not sure it’s the best choice for The Voice. Breath control may be important, but spitting out all those lyrics seems more like a party trick than a true showcase of vocal ability (I can recite the name of every U.S. president in order in under 15 seconds, but for some reason I still haven’t been offered a reality show).
In their live performance, Julio and Terisa finally nail the song’s breakneck pace. Julio wins, but Cee Lo is quick to steal Terisa for his own team. Eyes wide with terror, Blake immediately realizes his mistake: fiery Terisa isn’t going anywhere, and “she’s gonna want to shove that in [his] face.” What did you expect? She won’t be ignored, Blake.
Christina Aguilera matches up male Bratz doll Dez Duron and I’m-so-sorry-I-don’t-remember-you Paulina on “Just the Way You Are.” When Dez admits he’s nervous, mentor Billie Joe Armstrong encourages him with his characteristic brand of surreal, Stuart Smalley optimism: “Be nervous — it’s your friend!”
Rehearsals are rough, especially on Paulina’s end. As the performer improvises yet another incongruous, pitchy riff into the song, Christina finds a diplomatic solution. “I don’t think you, in particular, need to create ad lib situations,” Xtina tells Paulina, which is really just a kinder way of asking her to sing less.
The live performance isn’t a disaster, but both teammates lack charisma — even in comparison to Carson Daly, who emcees as commandingly as a confused audience member who wandered on stage while searching for a bathroom.
Christina chooses Dez, the lesser of two mediocres. Spotted backstage: Papa Duron and his clinically verifiable fivehead.
Adam Levine has racecar driver Benji take on bar manager Sam James (who appears to have lost about 10 pounds since his blind audition).
Benji and Sam cover Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” — this means that, as a resident of New Jersey, I’m legally required to stand and remove my hat for the entirety of this segment (if it were Springsteen, I’d have to write my recap in blood). Sam admits he’s “not really a ‘Bon Jovi guy,’” which is another way of saying he’s an evil terrorist who hates America.
Their duet is a lot of fun; they aggressively swagger across the stage and interact with great, playful energy. Meanwhile, one of The Voice’s more unfortunate chyrons identifies “SAM JAMES’ GIRLFRIEND AND MOM” in the audience, and I at first mistakenly interpret this caption as referring to one woman (and an unusual family arrangement).
In the end, Adam picks Sam, and — although all the other coaches had been singing (boom!) his praises — Benji heads home.
Nicholas David, memorable for his five o’clock shadow (that being five o’clock in a very, very distant time zone), and Todd Kessler team up for Cee Lo on “She’s Gone.”In rehearsals, Cee Lo and Rob Thomas worry that Nicholas is too nice. He wants to collaborate with Todd, not compete with him — if Billie Joe were their mentor, they’d be sporting matching friendship bracelets by now.
Ultimately, Todd’s reedy pop voice pales in comparison to Nicholas’s flair for deep and nuanced blue-eyed soul. Besides, Blake tells David, “You look like Jesus, and people love that.” Bye, Todd.
Next, Blake and Bubbles pit Louisiana native Lelia Broussard against music teacher Suzanna Choffel (girlfriend killed it on “Landslide” a few weeks ago). Blake believes these “kinda indie artists…with gypsy souls” were an inevitable match-up — though to be fair, Blake considers anyone who doesn’t perform in cowboy boots to be an “indie artist.”
Lelia’s pitch wavers in rehearsals for “Dog Days Are Over,” while Suzanna finds herself preoccupied with technical details. But by the live performance, the kinks have been worked out — the performers’ styles beautifully complement one another. While I’m a fan of Broussard’s, her teammate is arguably my overall favorite, so I’m relieved when Blake chooses Suzanna.
For the last battle of the night, Christina picks 17-year-old Joselyn Rivera and Egyptian-born Sylvia Yacoub. The ladies are tasked with Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had.” If The Voice’s producers would finally break down and hire me as a consultant (and/or executive producer), Sylvia and Joselyn would have performed the song in identical, ornate wedding dresses.
In rehearsals, Sylvia steamrolls Joselyn, but their final performance escalates gorgeously, with neither singer overpowering her partner. The duet is 90 seconds of pure girl power that makes one of my fallopian tubes reach over and high five the other (the female body is a beautiful and mysterious thing, Paul Ryan).
Christina, loving Sylvia’s “fire,” sticks with Yacoub. But the episode ends on a high note (boom!) when both Blake and Adam vie to steal Joselyn — turns out she can’t resist the man-dimples of Team Levine.
The Voice is back tomorrow night at 8 PM. with more battles. In the meantime, find me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credits: NBC]
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