The Voice recap: 'The Knockouts, Part 2'
Talk about a surprise steal
The steals are so scarce already that producers aren’t even bothering to show the drawn-out “let me remind you so-and-so is available to steal” bit at the end of each decision because (a) it’s a time-killer and (b) it’d be a huge bummer to watch these guys go through that as often as they do tonight. But Miley does throw hers in at the last minute for a surprising save, bringing some boy power to her otherwise girls-only team.
Before we get to that, though, there are a lot of people who don’t earn her generosity (or anyone else’s, for that matter) and get sent packing before the playoffs. Here’s how the second knockouts play out on season 13 of The Voice.
Team Miley: Brooke Simpson vs. Stephan Marcellus
There’s something very on point about Brooke Simpson’s selection of Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” here because she is a very natural talent, and she’s only gotten better with each round of this show. She’s a fun singer to listen to, especially when she flows into some ultra-dramatic low notes or frisky high notes without any obvious effort before settling back into her strong full voice. She also manages to make the song her own, with clever note changes and riffs — although toward the end, it sounds like she’s lost track of the lyrics and is just running through the list of vowels for her elongated runs. But she’s already made her point by then.
Stephan Marcellus brings his A-game to the stage as well, and his rendition of “Impossible” is drastically improved by backup vocalists who cement his sultry tones. There are a few flat notes here and there, but overall, his is a compelling performance that very well could’ve earned him an upset victory if Brooke had an off night. Alas, she did not.
Winner: Brooke Simpson
Team Blake: Anna Catherine DeHart vs. Mitchell Lee
When Mitchell Lee first joined The Voice with his spot-on rendition of a Darius Rucker song, I wondered if there would be a bounty of other songs that could match his particular tone. He answered that in this round with a resounding yes. Apparently, South Carolina-based singers are his forte; tonight he leaned into Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” which is as close to a perfect match as it gets. He sounds cool, rhythmic, and, most importantly, in his pitch-perfect zone with this song. He might not have the same range as some of his peers on this show, but his brassy, bluegrassy voice comes through cleanly here. If he sticks with his “Palmetto Rock” vibe, count on Mitchell tackling something by Duncan Sheik, Josh Turner, or Iron & Wine as this season continues.
As for Anna, well, points for effort. There are parts of this rendition that are lovely, but they’re dragged down by her dull verses and pitchy full voice. Even worse, anyone familiar with Faith Hill’s “Breathe” — and given its persistent radio run back in the day, who isn’t? — was likely waiting for her to come steal it during the big notes, but she instead decided to dull those down to unrecognizable proportions. This song was just too much for her to handle, and it showed, but, hey, Blake Shelton is probably grateful for an easy decision.
Winner: Mitchell Lee
Team Jennifer: Jeremiah Miller vs. Noah Mac
Where’s the montage when you need it? It’s unkind to rip on a kid, even in this kind of competition, so I’m going to make this evaluation of Jeremiah Miller’s rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” a compliment sandwich: It’s interesting how he handles the whisper-swoon pieces of this song; he has no apparent range, control, or connection to this song; but maybe he’s just sick, because he sounds a little nasally, in which case maybe it’s not his fault?
Meanwhile, Noah Mac has got some crazy Jerry Lee Lewis-meets-Elvis Presley vibe going on with his take on “Hold Back the River” by James Bay. Between his bustling choir-ready full tones and his playful floor-dragging low notes, there’s a lot going on here. He’s just bubbling with originality and spirit. That said, he’s still not the most technically talented guy on the show. But compared to his predecessor, he’s got the stage presence and acuity to win the day. It’s a cinch for him to win it.
Winner: Noah Mac
Team Blake: Kathrina Feigh vs. Keisha Renee
The first legitimate squeaker of the night arrives in the form of this match-up, which features Kathrina Feigh pulling out all the big notes for her rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and Keisha Renee absolutely transforming Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”
Kathrina certainly bests some of the others still lurking around the studio at this stage of the competition with her bustling number, which has got a few pitch problems but is otherwise very meaty. But Keisha, well, she just melts into her piece with soulful riffs. It’s a song we’ve all heard and yet never heard quite this way, and now I wish this were the original arrangement because it’s so very lovely and amplified in the emotion without being bombastic. After Kathrina’s on-the-nose showcase of her song, it seemed like this would be a tough row to hoe for Keisha, but she doesn’t hesitate to do something special and make everyone else look completely uncreative. It’s another no-brainer for Blake Shelton tonight.
Winner: Keisha Renee
Team Adam: Dylan Gerard vs. Jon Mero
Welp. We don’t even get to hear what Dylan Gerard pulled out to go up against Jon Mero, so it’s hard to know where he went wrong. What we do know is that Jon gave us a fun-to-run rendition of The Jacksons’ “Blame It on the Boogie,” exhibiting soul, energy, and a dedication to the number that can’t be denied.
Winner: Jon Mero
Team Miley: Moriah Formica vs. Whitney Fenimore
Is there anyone who can beat Moriah Formica? The more she performs, the less it seems likely, especially since Whitney Fenimore definitely gives her a run for her money here. Moriah not only sings “Behind These Hazel Eyes” in front of Kelly Clarkson herself, but she does so with her same unwavering rock-chick control. Sure, there are some moments when she’s a little slow to surprise, but her growly, husky, lightyears-above-her-age radness comes through everywhere else.
That said, Whitney’s got some flair, too, with her take on Train’s “Calling All Angels.” She sounds like a fun mixture of Natalie Merchant and Paula Cole and displays a lot of range and subtlety throughout what might otherwise have been a boring blare session. Faced with Moriah, though, it’s hard to pack anywhere near as much power.
Winner: Moriah Formica
Team Adam: Adam Pearce vs. Emily Luther
This is the most nonsensical matchup of the evening because while Adam Pearce is literally the lead vocalist in a Led Zeppelin cover band, Emily Luther is your prototypical music theater artist. They couldn’t be more diametrically different, and neither could their performances — which makes the decision here both strange and unfair.
Adam’s version of “Smoke on the Water” is almost hokey for how much it sounds like the original, but it also showcases his crazy high note reach and ability to get DOWN with that ’70s funk. Meanwhile, Emily Luther’s take on Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” is the most technically on-point performance of the evening, but it has exactly zero emotion coming through those pitch-perfect notes. So we have a guy who’s basically a low-rent boombox but has a lot of heart and a gal who sings like the wind but has a zombified stage presence. Adam chooses Emily because she’s a better singer, but Miley is digging Adam’s vibes enough to offer the sole steal of the evening, promising to match him with a more “fiery” stage production to match his music. [Insert the shrug emoji.]
Winner: Emily Luther
Steal: Adam Pearce to Team Miley
- Team Adam: Hannah Mrozak, Anthony Alexander, Emily Luther, Jon Mero, Addison Agen, Adam Cunningham
- Team Miley: Janice Freeman, Brooke Simpson, Ashland Craft, Moriah Formica, Adam Pearce
- Team Jennifer: Chris Weaver, Shi’Ann Jones, Davon Fleming, Noah Mac, Katrina Rose
- Team Blake: Mitchell Lee, Esera Tuaolo, Keisha Renee, Red Marlow, Megan Rose, Chloe Kohanski