Last week I was fooled, yet again, by not anticipating the dreaded Voice montage; tomorrow’s final episode before the live shows will be another recap hour. That meant that at the end of tonight, the teams were finalized, and there was never any need to fret about Christina’s last Steal, we knew all along when it would awarded, who it would be going to, and the last time Carson would mention it before the real thing: approximately 9:54 p.m. EST, whoever wasn’t picked in the final Knockout, and right before the last commercial break so there wouldn’t be a single ounce of suspense or urgency in the final Knockout pairing whatsoever, respectively.
Oh well, at least Christina was quick about it. Hers wasn’t the biggest Steal of the season, but it cemented what the coaches have proven time and time again in Season 8, that they’re looking for potential over polish this time around. And Nate Ruess’ multiple raw musical outbursts tonight somehow felt like foreshadowing that the coaches have been making the right choice in the regard. The last two Knockout rounds never quite lived up to the talent explosion that was the Knockouts premiere, but you can rest easy knowing that we’re headed into the Live shows with many a plausible winner. Tonight saw a few more audition standouts and a few surprise power players who have come along over the last few rounds, head out into the Live yonder where mystery Starbucks liquids grow freely, and Christina changes into a new statement lipstick and matching blouse every single night. What wonders we’re headed toward!
Check out the end of the recap for the full team rosters going into the live rounds next week, and tune into The Voice tomorrow if you want to watch performances that you literally just watched 24 hours ago.
TEAM ADAM: Tonya Boyd Cannon, “I Wish” vs. Barry Minniefield, “What You Won’t Do for Love”
In a Nutshell: Serious energy, seriously powerful voices, and infectious personalities, both of ‘em.
The Performances: At first, I wondered if Barry should sing something a little more contemporary this time to prove himself as a dynamic artist, but he showed every bit of a new side to himself on the Bobby Caldwell classic by topping out his range with as much power as ever; it was really gratifying to see him realize he had more in him than even he knew. And then Tonya came out with an equally vivacious performance, turned her soul groove up to the max, and made this a pretty evenly matched Knockout.
Winner: But Adam had to choose and he chose Tonya because he thinks she appreciates each aspect of this competition.
TEAM BLAKE: Brooke Adee, “Electric Feel” vs. Kelsie May, “Tim McGraw”
In a Nutshell: Sixteen and (Handling the) Pressure
The Performances: For Kelsie May, who has proved herself to be a singer well beyond her years so far, this just wasn’t a great song choice. Taylor Swift’s first big hit is very sweet, but her early stuff isn’t known for showing off vocal range, and for some reason Kelsie’s vocal was extra pitchy tonight. Brooke, on the other hand, seems to have come out of nowhere with a ton of power and control over a particularly trick song to perform live. With the voice and the romper and the working the stage, Brooke started looking like a (previously montaged) pop star tonight.
Winner: Brooke because Blake says she gave a pretty flawless performance with an extra something special that needs to be kept around.
NEXT: The Knockout’s final Steal and a surprising recipient…[pagebreak]
TEAM CHRISTINA: India Carney, “Big White Room” vs. Joe Tolo, “One of Us”
In a Nutshell: Vocally controlled pain vs. vocally controlled passion
The Performances: India has been a real coach’s darling in this competition so far, and I agree that there certainly is something compelling about her. Christina said that her voice just completely fills up a room and that intensified when singing about an actual room in the form of a big ol’ Jessie J song. India’s voice has a kind of quiver about it that I’m not so sure on, but it’s also much more unique than your average powerhouse and the soft theatrics of her performance were more emotionally connected than ever tonight. Whereas sweet Joe has a seriously steady and unwavering voice, even at its most powerful. He left his heart on the stage singing a pretty risky song, but it wasn’t enough to change Christina’s mind.
Winner: India for taking the entire room to a sacred space with her.
TEAM PHARRELL: Lowell Oakley, “My Girl” vs. Jacob Rummell, “Life of the Party”
In a Nutshell: Unique style vs. unique tone, with enough young ‘n cute ‘n eager to go around
The Performances: Similar to India on Christina’s team, Pharrell has always had a special love for Lowell, and he was buying what Lowell was selling on “My Girl” tonight… right up until he performed it for the real thing and adopted a bunch of crooner ticks/adlibs that might seem natural on a pro like Michael Buble, but seemed to make the coaches kind of uncomfortable on an amateur performer like Lowell. Jacob and his incredible tone came out in the opposite fashion, completely at ease in his own persona, a glowing smile as natural on his face as ever, but not quite as steady vocally as he has been in past performances.
Winner: Even though the other coaches had some almost-but-still-not-actually-negative comments about Lowell’s onstage persona tonight, Pharrell was prepared to give him another chance because he took the risk.
TEAM CHRISTINA: Rob Taylor, “Love and Happiness” vs. Treeva Gibson, “Chasing Pavements”
In a Nutshell: Falsettos on point; stage presence, TBD
The Performances: Rob’s sky high capabilities have blended into a pretty falsetto-heavy season up to this point for me, but tonight, his animation on stage and soulful adlibs made him stand out as someone with many strengths to explore. Treeva’s voice consistenly has supremely lovely moments, and tonight was no different, but Adele might have just been a little too much of an undertaking for the 17-year-old. Treeva’s voice still sounds very young, and it’s hard not to compare that to the overwhelming power of Adele’s original vocal, but it was still fun to see Treeva work hard at coming out of her shell on stage.
Winner: Rob, but Christina mysteriously tells him she wants to change things up a lot moving forward.
TEAM ADAM: Joshua Davis, “Arms of a Woman” vs. Lexi Davila, “Anything Could Happen”
In a Nutshell: The Steal and The Shy One, on a mission to prove themselves.
The Performances: There are a lot of singer/songwriters out there who sound a lot like Joshua, I know that to be true; but I also know that every time he sings, his voice pierces right through me in a unique emotional way. There’s something both soothing and evocative about his sound and Adam knew that when he paired Joshua’s confidence against Lexi’s developing stage persona, hoping to challenge her to step up to the plate. And in a seriously unexpected showdown, she did. This Ellie Goulding song is full of as many sounds and expressions of emotion through raw musical notes as it is actual lyrics, and Lexi nailed every single one of them, showing off a great amount of focus and control, while seeming like she was enjoying herself onstage more than ever before.
Winner: Joshua, who is probably a better fit for Adam to coach, and it’s OK because…
STEAL! Hold on to your hats, guys, Christina stole Lexi in the last possible chance of the night, and Lexi just happened to totally deserve it. These two should be a good match.
And with the final Knockout and the final Steal, here’s what we’re working with:
TEAM ADAM: Brian Johnson (Knockout Steal), Deanna Johnson, Joshua Davis (Battle Steal), Nathan Hermida, Tonya Boyd-Cannon
TEAM BLAKE: Brook Adee, Corey Kent White, Hannah Kirby (Knockout Steal), Meghan Linsey (Battle Steal), Sarah Potenza
TEAM CHRISTINA: India Carney, Kimberly Nichole (Battle Steal), Lexi Davila (Knockout Steal), Rob Taylor, Sonic
TEAM PHARRELL: Caitlin Caporale, Koryn Hawthorne (Knockout Steal); Lowell Oakley, Mia Z, Sawyer Fredericks
If the teams were some singing show version of Captain Planet, I’d say Team Adam is working with heart, Blake has individuality, Team Xtina is all power, and Pharrell’s team is almost entirely full of tiny, baby children (with big, freaky talent). So, which coach has the best chance to get a few artists to the final and unseat Craig Wayne Boyd as the current Voice winner? And who are your very early predictions to make it all the way?