The Knockout rounds continue, and Taylor's advice keeps getting weirder.

By Emily Blake
April 10, 2015 at 10:20 PM EDT
Tyler Golden/NBC
S7 E12
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I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve had a hard time focusing on The Voice contestants ever since Taylor Swift signed on as a key adviser. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve had TSwift on the brain and 1989 on repeat—well, all of it except “Welcome to New York”—but I can’t help but want to get over with the performances so I can behold a demigod interact with mere mortals.

And she gives some great advice, too. She seems to be leaving most of the technical stuff to the coaches, but she knows a thing or two about owning the stage. Her two best quotes from the night? “You should feel like you’re carrying around a duffel bag with a heat-seeking missile in it” and the even more terrifying “Think of your eyes as if they have lasers in them.” Wait, when did Knockout Rounds turn into battle rounds on Mario Kart?

But anyway, no matter how much you may think it’s about promoting upcoming albums and Starbucks lattes, this show’s about the singers. Here were the standouts from Tuesday night’s knockouts:

Best Performance

No, Team Pharrell’s Ricky Manning did not have the best vocals of the night. No matter how hard he tries, the bridge-and-tunnel Joaquin Phoenix lookalike may never out-sing vocal powerhouse Mia Pfirrman, and his competitor Tuesday night, Elyjuh Rene, was more on-point from a technical perspective. But his take on “Wrecking Ball” had almost as much emotion as when Miley Cyrus did it—and when Miley Cyrus did it, we should remember, she was naked and crying. Manning slinked between angry and sad perhaps even more drastically than she did—particularly when he followed up a shouty-in-a-good-way “I guess I should have let you in” with a more despairing rendition of the same verse. Adam Levine called it his “a star is being born” moment and a “ridiculously incredibly performance” and Blake Shelton called it his favorite Knockout performance so far.

Biggest “what the hell?” moment

But for some reason, despite the fact he thought Ricky “absolutely killed it,” Pharrell chose Elyjuh Rene, who gave a technically on-par but altogether tepid performance of Chris Brown’s “With You.” My guess is that Pharrell chalked it up to a poor song choice—to be fair, there was nothing wrong with his performance from a vocal perspective, but there was nothing memorable about it whatsoever. Given that Pharrell’s perhaps one of the most technically proficient producers in the business, my guess is that he places more value on pitch than on emotions.

But worry not, Gwen used her steal right away.

Toughest choice

Adam likes ripping off the Band-Aid earlier—we saw that during last week’s Battle Rounds when he pitted divas Beth Spangler and Mia Pfirrman against each other. And he winced once again on Tuesday night when he had to decide between Mia and Alessandra Castronovo. Alessandra’s performance of Emile Sande’s “next to me” was tender and beautiful, in a very understated way. Mia, however, made a much louder proclamation with her take on Christina Perri’s “Human.” It took him a while, but Adam ultimately went with Mia, mainly because she’s got the confidence to be a star, guys.

Boldest move

One does not just sing “Hey Ya” by Outkast. One starts “Hey Ya” by Outkast with a sweet acoustic opening and then transitions into a wild, jumpy, Outkast-y thing complete with twirls and hip-swings. And Troy Ritchie did that perfectly, although the transition could have been a tad more seamless. It was a hell of a time, but perhaps Blake put it best in his review: “You had the enthusiasm of Richard Simmons and the seriousness of Napoleon Dynamite.” But it wasn’t enough to convince Gwen to choose him over Taylor John Williams, who put on a captivating and decidedly more serious performance of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.”


Please visit the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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