Tuesday night’s episode of The Voice is a special two-hour episode – because the remaining two teams are being cut down in half in the second and final installment of the knockout rounds. It’s time for Teams Blake and Christina to see who makes it into their Top 5.
Team Christina starts the night, and Christina pairs Devyn DeLoera (see my interview with Devyn here) with Laura Vivas, wanting to see “who can deliver a powerful performance under pressure.” Devyn’s song choice is “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston (which Cheesa sung in Season 2), and Christina hopes her nerves don’t play into her live performance. Laura goes with Marc Anthony’s “I Need To Know,” and her coach cautions her about her voice control.
After Devyn unleashed her in-your-face diva in her battle round, it’s impressive to hear the belty, more vulnerable side of her. There’s no denying that Laura’s song choice is in her comfort zone, possibly even too comfortable.
The coaches weigh in with their feedback. Cee Lo, of course, is all about the ladies, and calls Laura’s performance one of the best he’s ever seen. Blake compliments Devyn for stepping into Whitney Houston’s big shoes. Adam doesn’t get to weigh in, as Carson moves right to Christina, who thinks that Devyn can benefit from her coaching more than Laura, so she selects Devyn as the winner – much to the surprise of the rest of Team Christina backstage and Devyn herself.
Christina’s next knockout pairing is Adriana Louise and Celica Westbrook. She wants to see which of these two “powerful pop singers” will “outshine the other.” Adriana’s song selection is Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” as she’s looking to show emotion with a big ballad. Christina thinks she’s “sticking a little too much to the script” in her rehearsal. Celica’s choice is a surprising one, Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never,” because she wants a song that’s closer to her age range.
When it comes time to perform, Adriana has clearly taken the notes that Christina gave her, as she couldn’t wring an iota of emotion more out of those lyrics. In contrast, Celica’s rendition of the Bieber tune is more upbeat, a little bit aggressive, and works better than it sounded.
Adam tells the artists that “you both had different things that made you strong,” and calls Blake a “hard-ass” and that “I wouldn’t want you to judge me” after Blake calls both singers pitchy. Blake retorts that Adam’s been a little bitchy. Laughter ensues. This means Cee Lo has no time to talk. It’s right to Christina, who tells both artists that they gave her “tremendous talent,” but ultimately gives the pass to Adriana. At least a tearful Celica gets a well-deserved hug from Christina.
Following that, Christina selects Alessandra Guercio and Dez Duron. “They clearly have two different styles, and I want to see the contrast and compare the two,” she explains. Alessandra’s song is “Take A Bow” by Rihanna, because she connects with it personally, and Christina wants to hear the “great rasp” in her voice. Dex goes with Lionel Richie’s “Stuck On You,” calling it “a different look” from his previous performances. His coach gives him tips on his breath control, noticing that he runs out of breath at a certain point in the song.
Alessandra gives a solid performance that impresses both her current coach and her previous one, Adam. But she’s up against it because of Dez’s huge popularity before he even opens his mouth. He does accomplish his goal of showing another side of himself, and he’s certainly grown in leaps and bounds since he first auditioned in Season 2.
Cee Lo wants to know how Dez feels being on a team of beautiful ladies because his own team is full of men. “You did it to yourself,” Adam tells him, before saying he’d choose his former student Alessandra. Blake wishes he could help Christina more but can’t pick between the two. Christina selects Dez as the winner, much to the joy of the women in the audience.
Fourth to match up are Chevonne and De’Borah, and not because they each go by one name, but because they’re “such energetic performers.” Chevonne goes with Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” and Christina works with her on breaking the song down very specifically. Early fan favorite De’Borah picks The Fray’s “You Found Me” because of how she can relate to the song, and her coach advises her not to set herself up with too many challenges.
Chevonne’s song selection can’t be faulted, as she’s clearly enjoying herself and it seems to be a crowd-pleaser as well. De’Borah brings a certain almost pleading to her performance that wasn’t in the original tune. Both renditions are unique, and that makes for an interesting decision ahead for their coach.
Before she makes that choice, though, she gets some feedback from the panel. Cee Lo says he’d gladly have both singers on her team, to which Chevonne responds, “I was on your team.” Adam compliments both artists’ stage presence, but opts for De’Borah. Blake is skipped over, and Christina moves on with De’Borah. Cee Lo is slightly annoyed that Chevonne is spending her last moments on the stage talking to her new coach Christina and not saying goodbye to him.
That leaves Aquile and Sylvia Yacoub as Team Christina’s final pairing. “I paired them because I need to see who will bring that emotion to the stage,” Christina says via voice-over. Aquile chooses Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” in order to evoke that passion, while Sylvia opts for a Christina song in “Fighter,” which adds an extra bit of nerves to her equation. “It’s hard to get all of that out,” Christina admits, “and she runs the risk of kind of blowing her pipes a bit.”
Aquile makes Bruno Mars proud, but Sylvia deserves an award for getting that many words out without losing her breath. She doesn’t quite have the growl that Christina did in her rendition, but who really does?
Cee Lo does his Randy Jackson impression, leading Blake to ask “Who’s Randy Jackson?” Adam quips that he’s a country singer and Cee Lo jokes that he’s Michael Jackson’s brother. Christina doesn’t get too much feedback from the guys as a result of this banter, so she talks herself through the choice in front of her before going with Sylvia. Like Adam’s team, Christina’s Top 5 is heavy on the ladies, and Blake says in voice-over that he thinks Christina’s made a mistake in picking artists who all represent one genre. Is he right? Time and America’s votes will tell.
In hour two, it’s Team Blake’s show, and Blake begins by putting together Gracia Harrison and Liz Davis. He wants to bring a country artist to the Voice finals this time, and says that “The best way I know how to do that is to not split the vote.” Blake is surprised when Gracia chooses Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” as her knockout song, and advises her to “keep a good grip on your pitch” in rehearsal. After singing “Baggage Claim” in her battle round, Liz picks another Miranda Lambert song for her knockout, “Gunpowder and Lead,” which naturally sets Blake’s expectations for her fairly high.
Gracia suitably turns a rock song into a country ballad with her performance, while Liz doesn’t quite bring the same amount of ferocity to her rendition that the original version had, though it goes over well with her teammates backstage.
Christina says that she has “a whole new appreciation for country” after having met Blake and Miranda, and picks Liz based on her song choice. Adam doesn’t like Gracia’s song choice, but sees a lot of potential in her anyway and says he’d select her. Cee Lo is skipped over this time. Blake admits he’s also confused by the song choice and that Liz has a better grasp on what she wants to do as an artist, which leads him to award the win to Liz. “Gracia, I think, is still searching for who she is as an artist,” he says afterward.
After that, it’s Rudy Parris and Terry McDermott, matching a pair of family men who are also rockers. Rudy’s song choice is a surprising one: Chris Brown’s “Forever.” Blake can’t really coach him on how to sing it, because it’s way out of Blake’s age range and genre. Terry sticks with classic rock, picking Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and does something every Voice artist should do: he asks questions, instead of just standing there and taking his coach’s feedback. “If you have any regret, it’s on a plane flying home,” he says, and he’s absolutely right.
The audience doesn’t quite seem to know what to make of Rudy singing a Chris Brown song, but he pulls it off. Before Terry starts singing, Adam says that he loves the song, which raises the bar for the performance immediately. But Terry has nothing to fear regardless: his knowledge of the track – he’s performed it before with his band – is obvious, as he makes it look easy. He’s got his teammates backstage bowing to him.
Christina tells Rudy that she wasn’t sure about his connection with the song he picked, and says “it’s Terry all the way.” Cee Lo compliments Rudy’s rendition, but also admires Terry’s stage presence and takes Terry as well. Adam tells Terry “crazy good” and also wants him. Blake talks again about one of his artists knowing what they want to do, and doesn’t think Rudy’s song choice played into his hands, selecting Terry. Terry was one of my early favorites in Season 3, and having watched his performances in both battles and now the knockouts, he remains at the top of my list as a contender. But will he have to branch out beyond his genre to win the popular vote?
Then it’s Collin McLoughlin against Michaela Paige. “They both have such great command of their tone and pitch,” Blake says in explaining why he put them together. Collin’s “a little sad to leave Team Adam” but glad he chose Blake as his new coach, and picks “Breakeven” by The Script (previously done by Xenia) as his song. Michaela continues her trend of rocking out, selecting the Pat Benatar classic “Love is a Battlefield,” which was tackled by Cee Lo and Vicci Martinez in Season 1.
Collin’s performance is basically the manifestation of everything he said in rehearsal: it shows a very clear direction for him creatively (not to mention very clear lyrics; he knows how to enunciate, which isn’t to be underappreciated). The question is if it will stand up against Michaela’s rock power.
Christina and Cee Lo prefer Michaela, while Adam is rooting for former Team Adam member Collin, and Blake sees both strengths and weaknesses in each performance. He ultimately chooses Michaela, who thanks Collin for pushing her “that much harder.” Collin grew on me very quickly after Adam selected him (his blind audition version of “Wild World” is probably the one song from Season 3 so far that I play the most), and I’m sorry to see him go, but hopefully this won’t be the last we hear of him.
Blake next pairs Julio Cesar Castillo with MarissaAnn, saying that “They’re both young and I need to know who’s got what it takes.” Julio picks another Justin Bieber song, “Somebody to Love,” and it’s not what he normally sings, so that makes him just that much more nervous. Blake coaches him to enunciate more. MarissaAnn goes with “Lady Marmalade,” and Blake helps her to keep the song’s “in your face” quality throughout.
Without getting any feedback from the other coaches, except for Christina reflecting on how her former team member did, Blake chooses Julio, saying that MarissaAnn didn’t do enough to sway him off of picking Julio.
The very last knockout match of Season 3 belongs to Cassadee Pope and Suzanna Choffel. Cassadee wants to do Maroon 5′s “Payphone,” which if you’re keeping score is the third time in three seasons someone on Team Blake has done a Maroon 5 song, after the team version of “This Love” in Season 1 and Raelynn’s take on “Wake Up Call” in Season 2. Blake’s concerned about Cassadee trying some new things with the song. Suzanna goes for Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” which she calls risky because it “doesn’t have a particular standout vocal moment.”
The in-studio cameras make sure to get plenty of looks at Adam while Cassadee performs, although she skips (or maybe had to skip, since she’s only got 90 seconds) an entire part of her chosen verse. Feedback begins with Christina, who loves Suzanna’s song choice (“What’s wrong with the other song choice?” Adam asks). Adam says he’d choose Cassadee, impressed with her take on his song. No one asks what Cee Lo thinks, so it’s decision time for Blake, who again points to song choice in making his decision before moving forward with Cassadee.
To recap, Team Blake’s Top 5 are Liz Davis, Terry McDermott, Michaela Paige, Julio Cesar Castillo and Cassadee Pope. Team Christina’s Top 5 are Devyn DeLoera, Adriana Louise, Dez Duron, De’Borah and Sylvia Yacoub. They’re joined by the previously announced artists from Teams Adam and Cee Lo to form Season 3′s Top 20.
If you missed any knockout round action, NBC is airing an encore presentation beginning at 8 PM ET/PT this Thursday, November 1. Starting next Monday, November 5, the Top 20 will be performing live for America’s vote, beginning six weeks of competition on the way to one of them being named “The Voice.” Who will you be voting for?
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse, Examiner & Fanbolt with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.