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The Voice recap: The Knockouts Premiere

Miley Cyrus comes in like a wrecking ball

Posted on

Trae Patton/NBC

The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys
Current Status:
In Season

With Miley Cyrus coming in as a cross-team key advisor for season 10 (and expected to fill a chair in Season 11), she and Christina Aguilera are both ready for The Voice to become the hands-up-playin’-my-song-style party scene it’s meant to be, adding that element of a sismance to the show to balance out all the bro-downing going on between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (and, on rare occasion, Pharrell Williams). 

But boys will be boys, and Adam’s new pink ‘do is auto-fodder for a lot of jocular prodding from his pal, including some inspired comparisons to Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and parfait. Too bad no one’s paying enough attention to Xtina’s hairstyle to tap into her clear Khaleesi nod because it’s right there, but anyway. 

The season’s first of knockouts are, well, knockouts, and three of the four judges feel the steal, meaning only three of the night’s dozen singers fail to advance. Here’s how the round shakes out. 

No. 1 (Team Blake): Angie Keilhauer vs. Paxton Ingram

Paxton might be coming in hot with the tough song selection (Adele’s “Hometown Glory”), but when you bring such personality and precision to the stage, there’s just no way to go wrong. His conviction is certainly more impressive to the coaches than what Angie’s working with on the disjointed talk-sing routine she’s chosen (a stop-and-go rendition of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”).

Sure, Ang’s got her own unique sense of style, and, to be fair, a lot of her roughest alterations may or may not have been Miley Cyrus’s idea. That might work for a different show, but here her voice (ahem) is completely lost in the translation of her other, more prevalent performance elements — not to mention the poor song choice. Compared to Paxton’s even pitch, her moment lingers as messy and completely disconnected. Blake, with the support of the whole coaching lineup, rightly picks Paxton to advance to the live rounds. His “rich, low, really juicy” tones are just far and above what she’s shown this round.

Winner: Paxton

No. 2 (Team Adam): Owen Danoff vs. Ryan Quinn

As Blake astutely notes, Adam’s choice to put two four-chair-turn contestants against one another was basically his version of begging for the sads. And that’s exactly what he gets after stacking his soulful legacy folk artist Owen Danoff (performing Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman”) against the fan-fave teacher with a heart of gold and the face of an Abercrombie model, Ryan Quinn (singing Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”).

You can’t spell Owen without “own,” and his command of all the edges of his register and effusion of sweetness are purely undeniable. That said, Ryan’s got great control and technical soundness, even if that does come off as a touch karaoke-ish at times, fit with Star Search notes throughout. Going with his gut, though, Adam rolls forward with Owen, who’ll be unstoppable with just a shot of extra confidence. To the surprise of no one, though, Ryan gets a steal bid from Christina, who’s been a fan of his from the blinds and is happy to have a turn with him on her team. If he can find the right song choices — music he can actually connect to on that fundamental level — he’s got a serious chance of being the all-season favorite because voters are gonna eat this dude right up.

Winner: Owen Danoff

Steal: Ryan Quinn to Team Christina

NEXT: A “bonkers” performance earns unanimous praise …