by Lyn Jensen
Sometimes on The Voice, how popular a contestant may be could be as much of a factor as their voice. So when we’re wondering about why the judges (coaches) make some of the decisions they do, maybe that’s why. The final seven knockouts were performed Monday, and Alicia was the only judge who could make a steal from another judge. Of course she used it on the final knockout, at least as the edit showed.
Results–who’s in: Lauren Judd, Vanessa Ferguson, Jesse Larson, Mark Isaiah, J Chosen, Aliyah Moulden, Troy Ramey.
Eliminated: Andrea Thomas, Jack Cassidy, Davina Leone, Brandon Royal, Malik Devage, Caroline Sky.
Who Alicia stole: Stephanie Rice.
Now for a knockout-by-knockout description:
1. Team Blake, Andrea Thomas vs. Lauren Judd: Blake’s got more country girls than he knows what to do with. Thomas sings Faith Hill’s “Cry” but she gives it what Blake calls “that Mariah Carey thing.” Judd goes for a more subtle emotional delivery with Alison Krause’s “When You Say Nothing at all.” Adam says Judd doesn’t fit the mold very well, and maybe that’s what Blake’s looking for, because he keeps Lauren Judd.
2. Team Alicia, Jack Cassidy vs. Vanessa Ferguson: This knockout features dueling pianists. Cassidy is from the musical Cassidy family, and originally looked like a front-runner, but Ferguson shows how much she’s influenced by her coach Alicia Keys. Cassidy’s “Unsteady” is lackluster while Ferguson sings “If I Were Your Woman,” a better and more difficult song. Viewers who remember Tessanne Chin’s challenging rendition in Season 5 probably agree Ferguson was worthy of the challenge. Alicia may may have revealed her thinking when she rooted for Ferguson even before the song started–and she keeps Vanessa Ferguson.
3. Team Adam, Davina Leone vs. Jesse Larson: We’ve seen the pianists, now it’s time for this season’ rock-shredding guitarist. Adam’s mismatching of his own team continues. He may be thinking that Davina Leone, being a You Tube star, has an x-factor–but Larson’s still plainly the voice. Leone can go from a bird-like chirp to a big crazy range, but Larson has a big crazy range, too. Leone sings a slow and sultry version of Britany Spears’ “Toxic.” Larson blues-shouts through some classic blues-rock, “The Letter” (the one about “my baby just wrote me a letter”). Adam calls him a wizard. Gwen says she’s never seen anyone with such command of their voice and guitar. Adam keeps Jesse Larson.
4. Team Adam, Malik Devage vs. Mark Isaiah: Not quite a montage, since only one knockout is covered, but we don’t see more than a few soundbytes, either. Adam keeps Mark Isaiah. Devage was probably Adam’s weakest link in these knockout rounds.
5. Team Gwen, J Chosen vs. Brandon Royal: Gwen probably could’ve found a way to keep both her R&B male vocalists if she wanted to, but apparently she doesn’t (or else she’s targeting one for a wildcard callback). J Chosen sings a more urban style, selecting “Without You” (not the seventies’ Nilsson hit, something else). Royal takes everyone on a trip to the Caribbean with “Redemption Song.” (Once again, longtime viewers may have fondly remembered Tessanne Chin’s performance.) Somebody probably should have used a steal here, but Gwen keeps J Chosen.
6. Team Blake, Caroline Sky vs. Aliyah Moulden: Sky shows off a Disney princess voice on Etta James’ “At Last” while Moulden’s still trying to find her genre: she blues-shouted Elvis at her audition, soul’ed out during her battle, and now tries out Carrie Underwood’s hardcore country with “Before He Cheats.” (To be fair all three performances showed some rock ‘n’ roll heart.) Adam declares Moulden can sing anything. Blake keeps Aliyah Moulden.
7. Team Gwen, Stephanie Rice vs. Troy Ramey: Gwen’s mismatches continue, because Ramey and Rice are two of the best voices this season. We know one of these people is going to Team Alicia, though. Rice sings Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound” in a Kelly Clarkson style. Ramey sings Sia’s “Chandelier” in a classic rock style. Although Rice may be a better choice from a coaching perspective, Gwen keeps Troy Ramey.
Blake and Adam probably would’ve liked to recruit either Ramey or Rice, but Alicia is who gets the leftovers here. Stephanie Rice moves to Team Alicia.
Heading into the live performances are:
Team Adam: Hollywood cocktail-jazz vocalist Lilly Passero, classic rocker Jesse Larson, contemporary rocker Josh West, teen idol type Mark Isaiah, and ingenue Hanna Erye.
Team Alicia: R&B vocalists Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson, ingenue powerhouse Anatalia Villaranda, alternative Stephanie Rice, and country singer Ashley Levin who may be a defense against Team Blake.
Team Blake: R&B vocalist TSoul, country vocalists Casi Joy and Lauren Duski, versatile Aliyah Moulden and teenage Aataliyah Rose whom Harry Connick, Jr. might call a kiwi among oranges and apples.
Team Gwen: R&B vocalists J Chosen and Quizz Swanigan, classic rocker Troy Ramey, country singer Brennley Brown, and church singer Hunter Plake.