The Voice recap: 'The Knockouts Premiere, Part 2'
The coaches save the best for last.
The Voice’s knockout series continues tonight with another round of competitors vying for the win, a save, or a steal so that they can move ahead to the live rounds and let America start making the tough calls instead of their coaches: Adam Levine, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton.
It’s still early enough in the competition that not everyone who takes the stage in this leg is truly ready for that opportunity, however, and we see a few of those individuals get cut tonight.
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli vs. Jamella
Both of these ladies are young, and their hearts are obviously in it, so let’s try to put this nicely: Neither one of their showcases are perfect. Brynn Cartelli’s version of Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye” really sends it home that she’s just 14, with her vocals still developing, as several notes are still well out of reach. She’s got a nice jazzy, pseudo-R&B tone, and she has a strong sense of control that mostly overshadows her mistakes, but it’s still clear she’s got a long way to go before she’s ready for anything real in this business.
Meanwhile, Jamella is smart to try and hop genre lanes into the country sphere with a take on Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” but, oddly enough, the move actually makes her sound more generic than ever. Like Brynn, she seems to default to a low voice, and her effort is certainly in earnest, but she also suffers the same pitfalls of being just a little off all the way through. Either of them could win, or lose, and it wouldn’t matter much.
Winner: Brynn Cartelli
Team Blake: Jaron Strom and Pryor Baird
It’s easy to have forgotten about Jaron Strom by this point. His blind audition was relatively unremarkable, and his battle was montaged. As a reminder, he’s the guy who earned one chair turn from Blake Shelton and likes to incorporate a lot of dancing and crowdwork into his performances at the cost of his technical prowess, which isn’t always wise with a show called The Voice.
Going against him is Pryor Baird, another raspy singer who has a tendency to turn his intensity dial all the way to the top from the get-go. Pryor performs Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles,” which gives him plenty of room to work those steely, screamy tones. While his face looks like he’s in immense pain the whole song long, he gets through it somehow. Blake Shelton even compliments him on having dialed it down a notch where it counts, which is a pretty amazing statement since he really only steps down from the precipice for about 10 seconds. Jaron makes it an easy decision, though. We only get to hear a few refrains from his performance of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade,” thanks to the magic of editing, but it’s clear he again defaults to dancing instead of watching his notes tonight.
Winner: Pryor Baird
Team Alicia: Christiana Danielle vs. Terrence Cunningham
Saving the whole night from being one long facepalm are Christiana Danielle and Terrence Cunningham. Both have been easy favorites from the get-go, but Christiana is still learning to stretch her musical legs outside of the gospel scene, and Terrence is still struggling to find the right song to capture his talents and keep audiences interested at the same time (he reminds me of Vanessa Ferguson from Season 12 in that respect, although he couldn’t ask for a better team advisor than Chris Blue here).
Tonight, neither of those issues hold them back at all. Christiana’s delivery of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” is hardly a carbon copy of the original but it’s all the better for her own fresh, almost heartbroken take. She shows off some good instincts for when to dwell on a strong note — I got goosebumps during some of her choral freezes — and she plays with the dynamics of a song with a sense of command that makes it all her own. It’s the kind of performance worth listening to again, which is a very good sign for her potential longevity in this competition. Terrence, meanwhile, chooses “Tell Me Something Good” as the newest vehicle to drive everyone around in his crazy range, and it’s a fitting enough number for that adventure. By the end, all anyone can really remember is how impossible his high notes are; as for the coaches, doing something they cannot is the kind of thing that’ll get you through every time. Alicia chooses Terrence to win, but enthusiastically slams her save button for Christiana right away (I might’ve switched that order, but okay). Despite some steal bids from Kelly Clarkson and Adam Levine, Christiana decides to continue with her coach, so she and Terrence both walk away unscathed, if not better off from this showcase.
Winner: Terrence Cunningham
Save: Christiana Danielle stays on Team Alicia
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Gary Edwards, Jackie Verna, Jordyn Simone
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Christiana Danielle, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Sharane Calister, Dallas Caroline, Jackie Foster
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Jorge Eduardo, Alexa Cappelli, Tish Haynes Keys, Kaleb Lee
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Pryor Baird, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Dylan Hartigan