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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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Actor Kyle MacLachlan is engaged to his girlfriend of two years, fashion publicist Desiree Gruber, the Associated Press reports. The two will tie the knot April 20 in Miami, Gruber's hometown. The couple met at a chiropractor's office. MacLachlan, 42, currently stars in HBO's hit series Sex and the City as the husband of Kristin Davis's character Charlotte.
Singer Jill Scott won three awards at Tuesday night's Seventh Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, including Entertainer of the Year, AP reports. Destiny's Child took home an award for best single for their hit "Survivor" while 3LW captured Album of the Year with 3LW. Singer Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash on Saturday, was nominated for rhythm and blues, soul or rap song of the year but lost to Yolanda Adams. The Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement went to Patti LaBelle.
Morris the Cat handler Bob Martwick died Sunday at the age of 75, according to AP. Martwick found the original Morris, famous for his star appearances in Starkist Seafood TV ads, at an animal shelter in Hinsdale, Illinois, in the '60s. Though the original Morris died in 1970, Martwick served as a handler for the second Morris. He also helped discover and worked with Spuds MacKenzie, the onetime bull terrier mascot for Anheuser-Busch.
Trouble looms for HBO's hit mob drama The Sopranos. Makers of the series are heading to a Chicago court on Wednesday to ask a judge to dismiss a claim that the series is offensive to Italian-Americans. According to the BCC, the move follows a suit brought on by the American Italian Defense Association (AIDA), claiming the show's depiction of Italian Americans in murders and extortion is "racist." The BBC also reports the network will argue that the claim infringes on their rights to free speech and that the judge will make his ruling based on an obscure Illinois state law that protects individual dignity.
In other Sopranos news, 70-year-old singer and actor Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior on the show, has canceled a Sept. 19 concert with real soprano Cynthia Lawrence. The concert was called off after civil rights groups complained that The Sopranos perpetuates all the wrong stereotypes about Italian Americans.
Former NBA forward Dennis Rodman is in trouble with the law again. Rodman allegedly sprayed patrons at a Newport Beach, Calif., Hooters restaurant with a fire extinguisher after someone said something to him he didn't like. Police told AP that Rodman got into a shoving match with the customer before leaving the restaurant. He then headed to his boat, which was docked near the restaurant, where police questioned him. Rodman has not been arrested but the case is under investigation. According to AP, the police have visited Rodman's oceanfront home more than 70 times for noise complaints.
PageSix.com has apparently obtained a copy of a Sex and the City script entitled "I Heart NY" set to air in February. The script reveals that Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie breaks up with her fiancé Aidan. In another story line, Cynthia Nixon's character Miranda fakes going into labor to stop Carrie from having sex with Mr. Big (Christopher Noth). The show is on hiatus until January, when HBO will air the season's final six episodes.
Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant will be starring in a Castle Rock/Warner Bros. romantic comedy due out in December 2002, Variety reports. Bullock will reportedly play a neurotic attorney with Grant as her wealthy boss. The film will be produced by Bullock's Fortis Films and directed by Marc Lawrence.
Michael Jackson will be presiding over the opening of Nasdaq trading on Thursday, Reuters reports. Media coverage is being restricted to giant video screens outside of the Nasdaq in New York. Jackson, who went on a private tour of the New York Stock Exchanges in January, is currently in New York for a concert honoring his 30 years as a solo performer.
David Bowie and Sean Combs have paired up for a remake of Bowie's song "This is Not America," ABC News reports. The project will be included in the soundtrack to the upcoming film Training Day starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Combs described the song as a fusion of techno, hip-hop, funk and soul rock.
A syndicated TV series based on the online auction site eBay is set to launch in fall 2002, Variety reports. Columbia TriStar Television Distribution and LMNO Prods. will partner on the series, which would take a magazine-style look at the stories behind eBay users. The half-hour episodes would be a cross betweenAntiques Roadshow and Real People. No pilot has been shot yet.
British tabloids are ridiculing Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham's plans to create a new image for herself. Posh was pictured on the cover of British papers Tuesday sporting a ring in her lower lip, causing legions of avid Posh fans to do the same. By Wednesday, however, the ring was gone. According to Reuters, fans were furious after discovering that the piercing was a clip-on. "She is a real cow," one fan was quoted as saying after she spent $43 on a piercing. Posh apparently had no idea the ring would cause such a fuss.
Sara Evans leads the list of Country Music Assn. Awards nominees which were announced in Nashville Tuesday, according to People magazine. Other nominees include Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The 35th annual CMA ceremony will be hosted by Vince Gill at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House Nov.7. CBS will air the live broadcast of the event from 8-11 p.m. ET.