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'The Voice' recap: 'The Knockouts Premiere, Part 2'

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The Voice

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera
Reality TV, Music

During the second night of Knockouts, three coaches pit unexpected artists against each other. These choices come back to haunt them, though, when they all have to make more tough decisions about who stays and who goes.

First to perform is Team Gwen’s self-described oddball, Korin Bukowski, and Gwen’s alt-country singer, Summer Schappell. These girls’ vibes are about as opposite as you can get — Korin seems capable only of talking about how awkward she is, while Summer bounces around stage like a vivacious exercise ball. But I understand why Gwen paired them up. They both come at their respective genres from surprising places.

Korin chooses to sing “All I Want” by Kodaline, because she says the track will show off her range more than her first two Voice performances. She does rock one striking falsetto note during her Knockout, but “All I Want” doesn’t capture that same uncanny feeling her Battle performance demonstrated. She also clings to the mic stand the entire time, like it’s keeping her afloat.

Summer certainly doesn’t have that problem: During her take on Little Big Town’s “Little White Church,” she never stops moving. She sells this song with everything she’s got (though it gets a little over the top when she starts acting out the lyrics). She looks like she’s having the time of her life, even as the song begins to feel one-note. In fact, both performers’ song choices did little to show off their full vocal capacities. But Gwen says she has to pick the contestant she can do the most with, and this week, that’s Korin.

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Following Korin and Summer come Team Adam’s Dustin Christensen and Keith Semple. Since Adam saved Dustin during the Battles last week, the burly country artist is feeling the pressure to do well. But Keith has an even greater need to prove he can be a successful singer: He and his wife just found out they’re going to be parents again.

Dustin decides to take on “Free” by the Zac Brown Band for his shot at the Lives. It’s a good choice that brings out his storyteller persona to its best effect. Dustin is one of the most straightforward, down-to-earth performers left, and I appreciate his lack of dramatics. His raspy tone is inviting and pleasant, and he also lets out a big note or two, just to remind us he can do that, too. However, on a show like this, his simple performances might not be memorable enough to carry him through.

Dustin didn’t bring a whole lot of drama to his performance, but Keith’s song choice — “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner — more than made up for that. Keith’s “Baba O’Riley” Battle was cheesy enough, but a Foreigner Knockout takes ’80s arena rock to a whole other level. Still, Keith has good reason for picking the song: He says that it contains four distinct parts, each of which shows off a different side of his voice. His strategy pays off. Keith gets in a ton of dynamics, some sweet dance moves, and a climactic high note right at the end. That seals that deal for Adam, who declares Keith the winner of this Knockout.

NEXT: “The most ridiculous vocal mechanic I’ve ever heard in my life” [pagebreak]

As has happened before this season (and in other years), the final performance of the night is rendered less than riveting because The Voice keeps reminding us that someone is going to get stolen. Steals are exciting when they save a doomed artist, but knowing both singers are safe before the Knockout even begins takes away all the suspenseful anticipation.

This final Knockout comes from Team Pharrell, meaning that, by process of elimination, the only coach who can steal either Darius Scott or Morgan Frazier is Blake. Even that bit of mystery is taken away. But it’s easy to forgive all of that once we’re treated to Darius’s singing. He chooses George Benson’s version of “On Broadway,” a completely unexpected pick that he makes work. After he debuts the song in rehearsal, Rihanna says that he makes her feel like less of an artist in comparison. On the night of the Knockouts, Darius pulls out all his tricks. He slides up and down scales, lays out smooth phrases, and brings genuine emotion to the record.

Morgan doesn’t have the dexterity of Darius, but she does have passion. She cries during rehearsal while explaining how much this second chance means to her. She picks “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young Band because the song echoes everything she’s been through. All that pressure might have gotten the better of her, though. At the beginning of her performance, Morgan looks nervous and doesn’t muster a ton of energy. But her confidence builds with the song until she’s belting it out at the end. Pharrell has to decide on a winner, and Adam doesn’t make it any easier for him. He calls Darius “the most ridiculous vocal mechanic I’ve ever heard in my life” but then says he’d pick Morgan because of the heart she displayed. Pharrell goes with the more unique singer, though, and send Darius on to the Lives.

Then, in comes Blake to steal Morgan for the second time this season, bringing her back to his team.


  • They’re still at it with the bald Adam jokes, but now Gwen is in on the game. She called her fellow coach an egg, and then Blake rubbed Adam’s head for good luck
  • Morgan Frazier is just the sixth contestant in Voice history to be stolen twice. Of the other five, four went back to their original coach, as she did. The only Voice vocalist to be coached by three different people was Tess Boyer, in season 6, who switched from Team Usher to Team Blake to Team Shakira before being eliminated in the second week of Lives