'The Voice' recap: The Knockout Rounds begin as Season 5 marches along
Knockout #1: Team Christina's Amber Nicole vs. Josh Logan
Amber Nicole: "Mama Knows Best" (Jessie J)
Amber decided to take on Jessie's sassy kiss-off track because she felt like it was right in her wheelhouse and she's not wrong. She may be super young, but her performances thus far have revealed that this girl packs quite a punch. She commands the stage during her performance. It's such a theatrical song and she plays that up perfectly. Christina's grooving in her chair speaks volumes. That diva doesn't groove for just anyone.
Josh Logan: "Living for the City" (Stevie Wonder)
Josh says he selected Stevie's song because it's a "song really speaks to me because it's about struggle." Christina notes that he sounds so much like Steve it's scary, and she's not off base. His croon is quite similar to Stevie's. Following Amber and her high-energy performance, Josh comes off as a little low-key, but he sounds terrific. This won't be an easy decision.
Winner: After waffling back and forth, Christina names Josh the winner, saying she has certain ideas of where to go with him in the future.
Steal: First performance of the night and CeeLo and Blake both chime in to fight for Amber as their one and only steal in the Knockout Rounds. Things turn catty quickly between the coaches, but ultimately Amber lands on CeeLo's team.
Knockout #2: Team CeeLo's Kat Robichaud vs. Monica Lee
Kat Robichaud: "You Oughta Know" (Alanis Morrisette)
During her rehearsal time with CeeLo, she's warned by her coach about her timing with the quick lyrics of the song. During her performance, she seems to have overcome that particular problem. She wails on the song and seems completely within her element, earning a standing ovation from Christina. Again, something that diva doesn't do often.
Monica Lee: "Hit The Road, Jack" (Ray Charles)
Chose because she wants to show the blues side of her, as well as the rock side of her. CeeLo says he doesn't really believe her as the singer of the lyrics, and also warns her that her runs are sloppy. After Kat's wild performance, Monica seems wildly out of her league. The sultriness seems forced in the first half, and then second half turns into an angry kiss-off, making the performance feel weirdly disjointed. Not the best.
Winner: CeeLo says each represent opposite ends of the spectrum, but hands the victory to Kat, based on this performance alone.
Steal: No one steals Monica and she heads home.
Knockout #3: Team Blake's Holly Henry vs. Nic Hawk
Holly Henry: "Creep" (Radiohead)
Holly chose the Radiohead classic because she connects to the lyrical content, but Blake warns her about her pitch problems because of the challenging vocal. During her performance, she continues to struggle with the pitch problems, falling flat often and also falling off of most the extended notes she tries to execute. It's sloppy. Sadly that "I don't belong here" lyric defines her performance.
Nic Hawk: "Genie in a Bottle" (Christina Aguilera)
Nic's determined to show Adam what he missed out on by letting him go, taking on Christina's classic track by turning it into a neo-soul song. Blake's into it, but worried about all of his low-range stuff. It might seem like a danger to take on a coach's song, but there's nothing that wins over "The Voice" fans (and producers) like taking on one of their tracks and completely turning them on their heads. Nic's version of Christina's song is so vastly different, yet still wildly terrific, that this performance is a major win.
Winner: After noting that he doesn't think there are any artists in the competition who are more sure of who they are than these two, Blake decides to stay the course with Nic.
Steal: No one steals Holly. Sad.
Knockout #4: Team Adam's Ashley Dubose vs. Tessanne Chin
Ashley Dubose: "Hey, Soul Sister" (Train)
Ashley chose this song because she thinks it shows a more fun, upbeat side of herself. Adam wasn't sure it was a good decision until he heard it, and then said he'd been won over. Her performance is solid, but it's nothing spectacular. She seems to struggle with her upper register. It doesn't come off as fun as she'd hoped it would be during rehearsal, however sweet it is.
Tessanne Chin: "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (Kelly Clarkson)
Tessanne says she chose Kelly's song because the message is important to her and she wants to highlight her vocals in a specific way. During rehearsal, however, she's not totally pleased with herself. As her performance reveals, she had nothing to worry about. She completely owns the round. It's hard to take on a Kelly Clarkson song and reach her heights, but Tessanne does.
Winner: As the critiques go on, it feels inevitable that Tessanne will win and watching that realization settle in on Ashley's face is heartbreaking. Once it becomes a reality, Ashley handles it with grace, which is all you can ask for.
Steal: No one feels moved enough to fight for Ashley and she's sent packing.
Knockout #5: Team Blake's Briana Cuoco vs. Shelbie Z.
Briana Cuoco: "Don't Speak" (No Doubt)
Briana chooses the No Doubt classic because she wants to show off more of her rock side. Blake's into the song choice because it's a risk, but is also concerned for that very reason. At the top of the song, Briana's pitch seems a bit shaky, but she certainly recovers as the song goes on. However, the performance never seems to elevate to the heights it should. That said, her final note is pitch perfect.
Shelbie Z.: "Last Name" (Carrie Underwood)
Shelbie chooses the Carrie track because she uses it to compete in singing contests a lot, but her breath control during her rehearsal comes off as if she's rather unfamiliar with the timing. That's not a good sign.
During her performance, Shelbie absolutely commands the stage. Her experience with the song shines through and, in comparison to Briana, her pitch in consistent and on point. As this is Team Blake, this seems to be a lock.
Winner: All the coaches sided with Shelbie, and seemed bummed about it. (After all, having Kaley Cuoco in the audience week to week is great for ratings!) But it's clear who Blake is keeping. Shelbie earned this win.
Steal: Briana's shaky vocal didn't earn her a third chance and, with that, the Cuoco sisters exited stage left.
Knockout #6: Team Adam's Grey vs. James Irwin
Grey: "Already Gone" (Kelly Clarkson)
Popular night for Kelly Clarkson. Grey says she wants to be a storyteller in her career, which is what attracted her to the break-up song. In rehearsal footage, this song seems like an insurmountable risk for Grey, but her gameday performance is a pleasant shock. She more than holds her own on a track that should make every singer nervous. Her growth throughout these few weeks has been stunning.
James Irwin: "Breakeven" (The Script)
James says he picked the song because of his desire to prove what he could do with the high notes that dominate the chorus. During rehearsals, Adam seems really into it. When it comes down to it, James connects to the intense emotion of the song. It would've been nice to hear him approach at least one of the high notes with a softer touch. It seems he can only belt them out (which he does well), but some vulnerability in the upper register would've elevated the overall experience of the performance.
Winner: After commending both performances, Adam gave the win to Grey, admitting in interview that Grey was further along than James and needed less work.
Steal: No one steals James and the comeback kid gets the boot, again.
Knockout #7: Team Christina's Destinee Quinn vs. Olivia Henken
Destinee Quinn: "See You Again"
Destinee chose the song because she relates it to family members who passed away just a week before the song was released. It's hard to knock Destinee when she's singing in honor of missed loved ones, but she struggles quite a bit with her pitch during her performance. It's rough. Beyond that, her emotional connection never feels real. For a song that she says means so much to her, she doesn't allow herself to express any vulnerability and, in the process, it feels plastic and cold.
Olivia Henken: "You're No Good" (Linda Ronstadt)
During rehearsals, Christina warns Olivia against putting some sort of flourish on nearly every other note, explaining that it diminishes the power of everything. And if Christina Aguilera is warning you against oversinging, you know you've got a problem. That woman hasn't met a note she hasn't tried to turn into an 8-count. Olivia takes the note to heart during her performance, allowing the pure power of her voice to speak for itself the majority of the performance.
Winner: With the other coaches split on who ought to win, Christina wisely hands the win to Olivia.
Steal: No one makes a move. Adios, Destinee.
Knockout #8: Team CeeLo's Cole Vosbury vs. Jonny Gray
Cole Vosbury: "Let Her Go" (Passenger)
Cole chose the song because he wanted to step away from the upbeat songs he's done thus far and sing something a bit closer to the sort of music he writes. During his performance, the song seems custom-made for his vocal ability. He slips into the song like a well-worn glove, like it's something he's been singing all his life. It's an intimate performance, but it's so packed with power.
Jonny Gray: "We Can Work It Out" (The Beatles)
Jonny chooses the song because he connects to the truth in the lyrics. CeeLo admits he has some work to do when it comes to stage presence and audience engagement. He's not wrong. His performance is a treat, but the stage presence problem persists. It just seems weirdly unsure. His voice works, however unique the tone is. It's not pure of tone, and it's likely one that listeners will either love or hate, but it's refreshingly unexpected.
Winner: There's very little suspense, as Adam says, off the bat, he'll steal whoever is remaining. CeeLo goes with Jonny, but we know Cole isn't going anywhere.
Steal: Adam chimes in immediately, but Blake follows suit. Adam praises Cole's ability to take a less-familiar song and win the audience over with just a powerfully as Jonny did with a song everyone knows. Blake makes some vaguely homophobic comments, saying that if Cole teams with Adam, he'd leave the show a little more metro. (Really, Blake?) Weirdly, Cole says Blake's words spoke to him and he goes with the three-time winner.
Did the right artists advance to the live shows? Or was your favorite shown the door?