Team Shakira and Team Adam head into the knockout rounds, and each team loses four singers
To make it this far, the contestants might have won their battle round, but they haven’t won the war! And that is why tonight is all about the knockout factor, taking both Team Adam and Team Shakira from eight artists down to the four who will represent them in the live rounds. The pressure is on!
First things first, before we dig into tonight’s match-ups, I just have to give shout-outs to a few things: 1) Adam’s suit. We already know that he’s pretty, but it never hurts to flaunt it, amirite? 2) Shakira’s tasteful cleavage. Somewhere, I hope that Christina is taking notes. And finally, 3) The back-up vocalists. I’m not sure where they stand during performances, but some of the back-up harmonies tonight really made the performances shine, so kudos to those behind-the-scenes gems. Maybe they should try out for the show next season.
Alright alright, let’s find out which contestants are capable of delivering the TKO.
TEAM ADAM: AMBER CARRINGTON VS. MIDAS WHALE
The songs: Amber chooses “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne, and Midas Whale chooses “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder
The knockout: Adam teams “the biggest surprise” on his team with the quirkiest duo, and the result makes for a very entertaining battle. Amber kicks things off by taking a pop rock song and giving it a country feel. Adam’s biggest piece of advice is confidence, which Amber exudes on stage (in part thanks to her new dye job and killer eyeshadow). Vocally, Amber hits a home run. And yes, I think she’s better than Cassadee Pope.
Following Amber, Midas Whale finds a way to put the “Midas touch” on Stevie Wonder’s classic, putting down their guitars and yet still inducing a lot of head bobbing from the judges. As much as I love what these guys do, it’s obvious that Amber has the stronger voice. That being said, I would probably buy their CD before I would buy hers. Sorry, I would “download” their CD first. Ugh, I miss the ’90s.
The verdict: Blake compliments Midas Whale’s energy and moves, but he also claims to like Amber as much as he can’t stand Adam, “and that is a lot.” Usher and Shakira both love Midas Whale’s originality, but it seems like everyone is leaning toward Amber. And despite the “personality” and “spirit” of Midas Whale, Adam chooses Amber as his first representative in the live shows.
TEAM SHAKIRA: GARRETT ARDNER VS. TAWNYA REYNOLDS
The songs: Garrett chooses “Too Close” by Alex Clare, and Tawnya selects “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies
The knockout: In the battle of originality, Garrett is the raspy powerhouse. But Shakira limits him to only one growl for the entire performance, which falls a little flat for me. Maybe more growls would make Garrett feel more lively? You tell me.
For Tawnya, Shakira wants nothing but sassiness and as many yodels as she can fit into the song. So yodel Tawnya does, in yet another performance that I find underwhelming. Am I alone in this?
The verdict: Despite Coach Shakira wanting to “disappeara” — good one, Adam — she has to stick around to defend all of Tawnya’s yodeling when Blake calls her out on it. Hey, Usher likes the yodel, you guys. But regardless, Shakira chooses Garrett as the winner because he continues to surprise her. She thinks he’s a star, and Blake seems to agree.
NEXT: Adam pairs two best friends against each other
TEAM ADAM: AMY WHITCOMB VS. CAROLINE GLASER
The songs: Amy chooses “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, and Caroline chooses “Little Talks” by Of Monster and Men
The knockout: Pairing power with subtlety, Adam finally gives fans a proper introduction to Amy Whitcomb, who has made it this far without any of us really hearing her sing. Also, she’s made it this far with a half-shaved head. See, there is hope for you, Amanda Bynes. But back to the show: Amy’s rehearsal is a little pitchy, but the good news is that, when showtime rolls around, she is able to hit all the big notes for a near-perfect end to her performance.
Caroline, on the other hand, is less concerned with power and wows Adam with her inflections and uniqueness. And when it’s time to get back into the ring, her vocal control is nearly as captivating as her complexion. I mean, what face wash is this girl using?!
The verdict: Choosing between best friends (aww), Blake and Usher disagree on the winner, while Adam goes for the singer with beautiful pitch. Caroline walks away as the winner of the battle, and Amy walks out of our life just as quickly as she entered it.
TEAM SHAKIRA: KRIS THOMAS VS. MARY MIRANDA
The songs: Kris takes on “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong, and Mary sings “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
The knockout: The man with the woman-like voice and the Latina powerhouse go head-to-head. First up, Shakira helps Kris work with being more of a crooner than a “belter.” And other than the fact that his vibrato is slightly unsettling to me in the beginning of the performance, he’s really able to bring it home at the end of the song. Usher is impressed.
Mary, singing in English for the first time on the show, struggles with overcoming her doll-like appearance. I thought it, and then Shakira said it, so you know it must be true. All in all, her vocals are strong, but she is clearly the loser, in my opinion.
The verdict: After Blake calls Mary and Kris Shakira’s “two pets” — “Everything I say is offensive, isn’t it?” — the coaches aren’t much help to Shakira. But Shakira chooses experience and picks Kris as the winner.
NEXT: Judith Hill is “Always On My Mind”
TEAM ADAM: JUDITH HILL VS. ORLANDO DIXON
The songs: Judith sings “Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson, and Orlando picks “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo
The knockout: In what Adam calls the battle of “skill,” Judith dedicates her performance to her grandmother, who recently passed away. After the first rehearsal, Adam quits, because Judith is pretty much perfect. And when it comes time for her to have her moment in center stage, nothing changes. Judith wins the battle by the end of her first line. The rest is just for show … but it’s a darn good show.
Poor Orlando still gives it his all. After stealing Orlando from Team Usher, Adam tries to coach him to dial things back vocally. The result is a good, entertaining performance, but good and entertaining don’t exactly match up to Judith.
The verdict: Blake invites Judith to “come down here and punch me in the face” after picking a Willie Nelson song, and selects her as the winner. Usher thinks that Orlando’s choice of song isn’t quite aggressive enough, and Shakira also backs Judith. When it comes time to pick, Adam compliments Orlando as a human being, and calls him a “great guy,” which is the kiss of death on this show. In the end, Judith’s brilliant song choice makes her the winner. *insert surprised gasp here*
TEAM SHAKIRA: KARINA IGLESIAS VS. MONIQUE ABBADIE
The songs: Karina selects “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and Monique chooses “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion
The knockout: Two powerhouse Latinas duke it out in a battle of versatility and range. First up, Karina chooses to stay true to her rock ‘n roll roots. Karina certainly brings her raw talent — and killer dance moves — to the performance, but I’m left feeling a little let down. Where was the soulfulness that we saw in the battle rounds?
Taking a different approach to the knockouts, Monique chooses a power ballad that has Shakira worried that she can’t hit the notes. And when it counts, Monique does manage to pull off the song (and a new straight hairdo), but it isn’t nearly as powerful as a Celine Dion song should be.
The verdict: Adam thinks Karina needed to choose a bigger song, and he heard a few pitch problems with Monique. All in all, he would go with Karina. Blake, however, chooses Monique. Usher is no help whatsoever. At the end of the day, Shakira compliments Monique’s tough song choice but sides with Karina’s confidence.
NEXT: Is Sarah Simmons the one to beat?
TEAM ADAM: SARAH SIMMONS VS. WARREN STONE
The songs: Warren sings “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” by Cutting Crew, and Sarah picks “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
The knockout: Warren’s selection surprises Adam, because he’s trying to stray a bit from his country roots. However, he’s able to deliver the necessary grit to make this a compelling performance. I really found myself falling in love with his voice, particularly once he got into the song’s first chorus. Don’t lie, you were singing along too.
But you all know how obsessed I am with Sarah, who brings all of her nuances and subtleties to a classic Rolling Stones tune. Even though she starts off a little rougher than usual, she wins the judges over with her first vocal run. Seriously, this girl is good.
The verdict: The coaches all agree that Warren really stepped up his game, but there’s just no way to beat Sarah, who Shakira claims sounds like she has “wild horses galloping through your throat.” I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s a compliment. And so, after saying how Sarah reminds him of Miranda Lambert a bit, Adam goes with his gut and chooses Sarah. Cue the typical post-Sarah discussion in which the coaches all talk about how freakin’ amazing she is.
TEAM SHAKIRA: SASHA ALLEN VS. SHAWNA P.
The songs: Sasha selects “At Last” by Etta James, and Shawna chooses “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
The knockout: Two classic love songs force these women to bring their A games, and first up is Sasha, Shakira’s steal from Team Adam. After being advised to get out of her head a little bit, Sasha comes on the stage with a passion (and a high slit) that cannot be ignored. She brings Shakira to her feet with her smooth vocals.
Shawna, on the other hand, is known for her rasp. In an attempt to show off her gospel side, Ms. P performs the well-known McCartney hit with a little less attitude than we’re used to. Her vocals are good, but I don’t get the feeling that Shawna gave Shakira goosebumps (twice) like Sasha did.
The verdict: After what Blake and Shakira call the best knockout round yet, all the judges contemplate how they hate themselves for not having Sasha on their team. And in a not-very-surprising turn of events, Shakira decides to keep Sasha in the competition.
After a night full of humble competitors, Team Adam and Team Shakira are ready for the live rounds. Team Adam consists of Amber Carrington, Caroline Glazer, Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons — or as Adam puts it, “my four amazing girls.” Team Shakira is made up of Garrett Gardner, Kris Thomas, Karina Iglesias and Sasha Allen. If you’re doing the math, so far, this competition is made up of mostly women and/or contestants from Team Adam, both former and present. But which team do you think looks stronger: Shakira or Adam?
And let me ask you guys: Is this thing going to come down to Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons, or do you see an upset in the making?
Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for two more hours of musical knockouts when Team Blake and Team Usher take the stage. Who are you most looking forward to seeing (or hearing)?
Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill