The end of the Knockout Rounds means the end of Taylor Swift, and, boy, are we going to miss her. Taylor was back in full force during this episode: lip syncing along as contestants sang for her and giving really solid performance advice. (She also had an odd conversation with Blake about the word “memento,” which viewers saw only completely out of context, making it even stranger. But that’s sort of beside the point.)
But now the teams are set for the live rounds, and no coach has a particularly weak team. When it comes to absolutely, blow-you-away, powerhouse vocalists, Pharrell may have the edge with the likes of DaNica Shirey, Luke Wade, and Jean Kelley on his team. Blake, naturally, has a strong country contingent, which is even stronger now that he stole Craig Wayne Boyd back from Gwen. Adam meanwhile has some rocker types like Matt McAndrew and Taylor Phelan, while Gwen has the reggae-influenced Anita Antoinette and the pop-stalwarts Ryan Sill and Taylor John Williams.
You’ll have to wait until next week to see how all of these artists fare in front of a live crowd, but for now, let’s look back at the last Knockouts.
Once again, the night was packed with great performances, so it’s hard to pick just one. Taylor Brashears’ “Landslide,” was surprisingly fresh, despite the fact that the song is so frequently covered. Jean Kelley’s take on “Chandelier” honored Sia’s hit, while also transforming it. Jean really acted the song, and it worked to great effect. (Taylor Swift was also all in favor of Jean, saying: “”Oh my God, that was the most emotional performance I’ve seen in so long.”) Reagan James’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” once again proved she’s a performer beyond her 15 years. (It’s mind-blowing that this girl is 15!) And finally Anita Antoinette’s groovy rendition of “Rude,” made me actually appreciate that song, which is saying something.
Best performance that didn’t advance
Because of the tough nature of the competition at this point, naturally, some great artists wouldn’t get a chance to move forward. Tonight, the one that really stood out was Blessing Offor. Blessing took on John Mayer’s “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” and truly made it is his own, altering its phrasing, without losing the essence of the song. Adam picked Chris Jamison, who sang “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Chris perhaps has a smoother, more effortless sounding voice, so I don’t necessarily blame Adam for his choice, but Blessing’s performance felt like the more startlingly original one.
Most Taylor Swift moment
When coaching Brashears on her performance of “Landslide” Swift said that her eye contact was “poignant.” Brashears responded: “I just put all my ex-boyfriends in the audience.” Swift responded: “Oh I do that all the time.” Slam dunk, Swift. Later, I couldn’t help but feel slightly awkward when Blessing Offor announced he was going to be performing John Mayer’s “Your Body Is a Wonderland.” I just couldn’t help thinking about that girl in the dress who cried the whole way home. (Though Taylor certainly has the upper hand on Mayer career-wise these days.)
Best fashion advice
Shockingly, this one is sort of a tie. Gwen obviously had the big makeover moment of the night when she precipitated Craig Wayne Boyd’s haircut. She did, after all, say she wanted to dress him up when she stole him from Blake. “How do you feel about modernizing your look?” Gwen asked him, and then made it a little awkward. “I would be so excited to make you look how I would want you to look if I were going to make out with you.” (Taylor, for what it’s worth, told him to get rid of the fringe jacket, explaining she is distracted by fringe.) The effect of the makeover was impressive, leading Blake, who reclaimed Craig once Gwen picked Anita as the winner of their round, to remark how he’s like an ex who one sees looking way hotter after the breakup. “You never looked so hot,” Blake said.
But Taylor also had some great clothing counsel that shaped a performance as well. Taylor told Allison Bray to ditch her high heels when singing the Dixie Chicks’s “Sin Wagon.” She told Allison to be “more sloppy.” Taylor explained that Allison needed to sell that she’s a mess. “Because people love total messes,” Taylor said. “Come on.” Though Allison would not move forward, she gave a relaxed performance in a pair of boots. TGFT. (Thank God For Taylor.)
Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.