by Lyn Jensen
Knockout rounds are underway on The Voice, which means the judges must pair up their singers in sporting-style brackets again, and judge which singer to keep. Each singer sings a song, then the judge cuts one and keeps the other. Each judge gets one chance to steal a singer discarded from another team, too. When the knockout rounds are over, it should be time for the audience’s vote.
1. Team Blake, Josh Gallagher vs. Sundance Head: Blake says he paired them because they’ve both got voices ready for country radio, although Head’s country leans a little to the soulful side. (They can both throw in showy high notes, too, Blake.) Gallagher sings the Brooks & Dunn hit, “My Maria,” which demands so many falsetto notes, and he hits them. Head does a manly-man version of the Miley Cyrus hit, “The Climb,” changing a few notes but still showing off what Blake calls “this beautiful high register.” Blake says he’s basing his decision on technique–the most solid performance–and the winner is Sundance. Anybody want one of Blake’s spare country singers? Adam does! Josh G. joins Team Adam. Of course Adam rubs it in with Blake about how “one of Blake’s best” country singers is now on Team Adam. But will Adam know what to do with him?
2. Team Alicia, Kylie Rothfield vs. singing sisters Whitney and Shannon: Alicia thinks both acts are folksy. Kylie sings “Hound Dog,” copying Big Mama Thorton’s blues instead of Elvis’ rock. The way she blues-shouts, no wonder she has a history of blowing out her vocal cords. Celebrity guest advisor Tim McGraw tells her to keep the whisky and smoke in it, and she does. In contrast the sisters take a soft and silky approach to John Mayer’s “Won’t Give Up on Us.” Adam’s impressed with Kylie’s guitar-playing as well as her singing, and Blake adds that Kylie and her guitar are “kind of a duo,” too. Alicia picks Kylie and nobody steals the sister act. Blake comments as the sequence ends, “Kylie stands alone as the rocker chick this season.” Depending on what happens with some members of Team Miley, that may prove true.
3. Team Miley, Ali Caldwell vs. Lauren Diaz: Two women with big voices compete. Diaz is influenced by Alicia Keys. Ali has an old-fashioned blow-the-doors-off-the-place R&B voice. Diaz sings “Rise Up” and she’s a little pitchy, a little sharp. Caldwell sings “No Ordinary Love” (a Sade song) and is plainly the singer to watch in this competition, so it’s not a surprise when Miley keeps Caldwell and nobody steals Diaz.
4. Team Adam, Dave Mosian vs. Simone Gundy: Why Adam paired these singers is a mystery–maybe it was the soul connection. Mosian, the Maroon 5 fan, was a four-chair turn and has a soft aspirate voice. Gundy’s an R&B belter who was a two-chair turn (Adam and Miley). Mosian gets soft and romantic, dedicating “Like I Can” (a Sam Smith song) to his wife, but he still demonstrates considerable power under the softness. Gundy belts out “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The judges think Mosian showed all his vocal tricks and that he has a beautiful voice but they liked the way Gundy showed some fight. Adam, for obscure reasons, calls the round for Gundy and nobody steals Mosian, even though everybody wanted him at the audition. Maybe Adam thought Gundy could get more votes, but I think Mosian was the one to see more of.
5. Team Alicia, Courtnie Ramirez vs. We McDonald: Both girls are seventeen and have big voices with R&B stylings. Ramirez sings Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy.” We (pronounced “way”), the rich alto with the squeaky speaking voice, sings “No More Drama” but her singing pales besides what LaPorsha Renae did on Season 15 of American Idol. (Now that was a knockout!) By comparison, McDonald resembles what might happen if Michael Jackson sang the song. Miley thinks We brought some punk-rock to it, though. Alicia starts her decision by announcing, “The winner of this knockout is both of you!” She has to choose, though, so she chooses We. Blake says, “I wish, like, one time per season, you can save both your people.” Not a bad idea for a new twist, Blake, and it sure beats the “wild card” twist the show’s used for two seasons. Adam says he’d have stolen Ramirez if he’d had a steal, but he doesn’t. Nobody, not Blake, not Miley, steals Rameriz.
6. Team Adam, Jason Warrior vs. Riley Elmore: We know there’s going to be a steal here, because the tease said so. Adam makes his second odd match of the night, even though Warrior and Elmore both have a jazz side. (Warrior vs. Gundy and Elmore vs. Mosian would’ve made more sense.) Elmore sings a Michael Buble song in a pop style. He’s only 16, but his mature tenor reminds me of Sal Valentinetti (who’s only 21). Warrior sings “I Want You” and makes a signature note out of a falsetto so high it’s in dog-whistle range. Alicia says, “Women can’t hit that note!” Adam says, “Men who sing like women can’t hit that note!” Blake says he’d pick Jason. Alicia and Miley prefer Riley. Adam says he’s going to keep the singer who’s the “most unlike anything we’ve ever had on this show,” and the winner is Riley. “When you hear him, you know it’s him,” Adam explains later. Miley says she’s mad because she wanted to steal Riley. Blake steals Jason, saying, “You can win this thing!” and of course Blake rubs it in on Adam.
We’ll probably see three more knockouts and maybe a montage tonight. Miley and Alicia have steals they can use.