The Voice recap: 'Knockouts, Part 3'
So far, the knockouts have been relatively lopsided, which means that the coaches’ task of whittling down their squads to the top five has been mostly easy thus far. Tonight, that tradition continues, with most of the artists recusing themselves from live contentions, but there are exceptions, of course. And, as Alicia Keys has been known to do this season, she’s been saving her last steal bid for someone special, and she gets it.
Here’s how the top 20 rounds out after tonight’s final knockouts series on The Voice.
Team Blake: Andrea Thomas vs. Lauren Duski
That feeling when every coach on the panel says it was a super tough call, but from the cheap seats (the couch) it wasn’t even close — that’s what happened here for me between these two, because, sorry, but Andrea Thomas’ “Mariah Carey thing” is just miserable to listen to. It’s out of place, unnecessary, and, worst of all, completely off key. Somehow, her squeal tactics have Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani eating out of her hand, but it’s Blake Shelton’s decision as to who gets to stick around, and, mercifully, he makes the right one.
Andrea’s rendition of Faith Hill’s “Cry” is pitchy and absolutely ruined by her unfortunate (and painful, to my ears) decision to throw in a glass-breaker somewhere near the end. Meanwhile, Lauren’s choice of a more low-key and soothing number in Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing At All” is such a welcome relief that it’s pretty easy to overlook the minor flaws dispersed throughout. She’s got the kind of rich, husky tones that have carried artists through before in her genre of choice, but tonight the win was made easy for her.
Winner: Lauren Duski
Team Alicia: Jack Cassidy vs. Vanessa Ferguson
Talk about flawless. There’s a reason Adam Levine is suddenly salivating over the talent on Team Alicia right now. Vanessa Ferguson — she’s a contender. Jack Cassidy’s rendition of “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors certainly plays to the song title with his mixed-bag melodies, and, near the end, it becomes an outright mess of desperation and missed crescendos. But even if he did that replica effort perfectly, he still couldn’t hold a candle to what Vanessa throws down. It’s just that good.
There’s so much to like about Vanessa Ferguson right now. She’s rhythmic, she’s confident, she’s stylish, and she has musical gifts on multiple media. Most importantly, she doesn’t miss a beat and has this infectious growl thing going on when she’s not matching wits with the best of the divas, and her raspy tones are perfectly placed and measured. In short, she’s an artist, and she knows it, too. And with that, this season just got so much more interesting.
Winner: Vanessa Ferguson
Team Adam: Davina Leone vs. Jesse Larson
Here we have the first true case of apples versus oranges this evening. While Davina Leone has taken her coach’s rehearsal notes well, providing a smoky, sultry rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” that could easily fit into some James Bond cinematic score, Jesse Larson is a pure powerhouse.
There’s certainly something to be said for what Davina accomplishes in her performance — removed of the synth pop elements and slowed up a bit, the song actually has some surprising depth. But she’s still got some pitchy moments, which are made more obvious by the fact that her song is so deconstructed and instrumentally spare. On the other hand, Jesse Larson’s coming in like a maniac, on the strength of both guitar and vocals, with his rendition of The Box Tops’ “The Letter” — the tones of which rightly remind Adam Levine of Cee-Lo Green — and it’s virtually impossible to detect any weaknesses. Kudos to Alicia Keys for pointing out that he could use a little emotional resonance on his end, too, but yeah, his win is not an upset by any stretch of the imagination.
Winner: Jesse Larson
Team Adam: Malik Davage vs. Mark Isaiah
The Voice has been pretty heavy handed with the montages this season, but the knockouts have so far been exempt from that regrettable trend. Until this competition, that is. For some reason, we don’t get to hear a verse from Malik Davage’s knockout performance against Mark Isaiah, who predictably chooses Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” to round out his pop boy persona in full form. But what we do know is that Adam Levine has enough enthusiasm for his “whole package” appeal (translation: he thinks he’s a fan frenzy in the making) to wave him through.
Winner: Mark Isaiah
Team Gwen: Brandon Royal vs. JChosen
JChosen has been one to watch since the blinds, so it’s not too surprising to see him step up as game as much as he does tonight. Yes, Brandon Royal’s pop-influxed rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” is pleasant and honest enough. But when JChosen gets up there and performs David Guetta’s difficult hit “Without You,” it’s a no-brainer. His textures and versatility are on full display — albeit, sometimes shifting a little too much with the wind. There’s no denying that his talent is real and that JChosen just has so much more to showcase than his competitor.
Team Blake: Aaliyah Moulden vs. Caroline Sky
Welp. No disrespect to young Aaliyah Moulden, but Caroline Sky deserved this win tonight. Aaliyah’s rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” was a serviceable cover effort — and, yes, it’s nice that she can genre-hop a bit, although this tune certainly qualifies as a generic pop tune for all its radio play. But Caroline Sky managed to offer some unexpected surprises and authenticity with her performance of Etta James’ “At Last,” making the song choice go from Oh no not this again to Hey! That’s actually kinda nice. Which is the more impressive feat, in the end? To Blake, it’s Aaliyah’s maxed-volume-all-the-way trumpeting instead of Caroline’s honest offering of originality. Harrumph.
Winner: Aaliyah Moulden
Team Gwen: Stephanie Rice vs. Troy Ramey
Much like Hunter Plake, there’s something extremely intriguing about Stephanie Rice’s distinct voice and how confidently and fluidly she commands the songs she chooses. Tonight, she opts for Taylor Swift’s The Hunger Games soundtrack hit “Safe and Sound,” and she imbues the number with her own personality, as always.
But Troy Ramey’s got some serious skills on tap as well. Adam puts it best when he says that while the emotional resonance of his almost-unrecognizable effort at Sia’s “Chandelier” didn’t come close to what Stephanie did on the stage, he’s still a hard one to let go of thanks to his strident vocal energy, as showcased in other rounds of this competition. Judging strictly by the knockout performance, it’s Stephanie all day, but it’d honestly be a bit of an injustice to let either of them go at this point. So, thankfully, when Gwen decides Troy’s a bigger asset to her team, Alicia “I Feel You” Keys decides to make use of that steal she’s been hanging onto to allow Stephanie to stick around and sing another day. Good call, AK.
Winner: Troy Ramey
Steal: Stephanie Rice to Team Alicia
- Team Adam: Mark Isaiah, Jesse Larson, Josh West, Hanna Eyre, Lilli Passero
- Team Gwen: Joshua “JChosen” Hunter, Troy Ramey, Brennley Brown, Hunter Plake, Quizz Swanigan
- Team Alicia: Anatalia Villaranda, Vanessa Ferguson, Chris Blue, Ashley Levin, Stephanie Rice
- Team Blake: Lauren Duski, Aliyah Moulden, Casi Joy, TSoul, Aaliyah Rose
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.