It’s now time for knockout rounds on The Voice: that last step before live shows, where 32 hopefuls will be narrowed down to the 16 artists who will represent the four teams for America’s vote. The first two rosters to get cleaved in half are Team Adam and Team Shakira.
Team Adam begins the night, with Adam assigning Amber Carrington to face off against Midas Whale. The knockouts allow the artists to choose their own music, and Amber selects Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” for her performance, which Adam approves of. He’s well aware of just how surprising she can be. The quirky dudes known as Midas Whale pick Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” in order to move out of their folk parameters. Amber – who is rocking yet another amazing new look – sings her heart out again. You’d think the light fixtures were going to explode at some moment; that’s how good she is. The guys look just a smidge intimidated before they start, but they’re still as entertaining as ever.
Blake: I like Amber as much as I can’t stand Adam, and that’s a lot.
Blake and Shakira side with Amber, while Usher takes Midas Whale. The only opinion that matters, though, is Adam’s and he hands the first live show spot of Season 4 to an emotional Amber Carrington. It’s bro-hugs all around for the folk duo, who are still good-natured even as they’re leaving. Between the defeat of The Morgan Twins in battles and now Midas Whale in knockouts, the four-chair artists are beginning to fall.
We switch over to Team Shakira, where it’s Garrett Gardner versus Tawyna Reynolds. Shakira wants to see which of these unique voices can best convey that originality in their performance. Garrett picks “Too Close” by Alex Clare, which his coach advises him to infuse with a little more attitude. Tawyna opts for the Pistol Annies song “Hell on Heels,” befitting her country background. Shakira tells her to stick with the yodels. It’s a battle of artists with guitars in the ring, with both of them giving pretty straightforward renditions of their chosen pieces.
Shakira: Coach Shakira wants to disappear right now.
Adam: You want to disappear-a?
Adam praises Garrett, while Blake likes Tawyna’s song choice but criticizes the yodels. Shakira admits that she asked for more of those and defends them. Usher interrupts to say that he was actually going to compliment the yodels. So basically, Shakira gets almost no help from her fellow coaches. She must agree with Adam on some level, because she selects Garrett to move forward, which blows his mind and understandably so. To go from rejected in the blind auditions before to all the way through to live shows? Way to go, Garrett!
Back to Team Adam. Amy Whitcomb tangles with Caroline Glaser, Adam’s steal from Team Blake. Amy’s song choice is “House of the Rising Sun,” which Pip performed in season two. Adam corrects some minor issues with her before ultimately giving his seal of approval. Caroline, who admits to some nerves given the strength of her new team, picks “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men, which we heard last year as a duet version by Terry McDermott and eventual winner Cassadee Pope. Amy’s rendition of her song is full of sass and ends in a big way. That’s a tough act to follow for Caroline, who nonetheless does her best, the unique sound of her voice definitely coming through in a track that works for her but isn’t so dynamic.
Blake thinks Caroline played it safer, but was more consistent, and so awards the win to Caroline. Usher disagrees. Carson bypasses Shakira so Adam can feel horrible about separating two good friends. He thinks both artists did better in their rehearsals, which he admits is not a good thing. He still has to pick, though, and he goes with Caroline. Then Adam makes his sad face while the girls hug it out backstage.
Team Shakira’s Kris Thomas and Mary Miranda get the next call. Kris picks a true classic, “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. Shakira warns him not to overdo things. On the other side of things, Mary elects to go with “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, which will be her first English-language performance on The Voice. Her coach admits via voice-over that she might not have picked that song. Is that going to be Mary’s first – and last – mistake?
Kris can’t possibly give a better performance than he does. You can just feel everyone going to their happy place during his stage time. Mary tries a slightly different version of her track, and it’s not necessarily bad, but it doesn’t have the same intangible magic. Adam picks Mary for trying something outside of her comfort zone, while Blake tries to figure out why Shakira put these two together in the first place, calling them Shakira’s “pets.” This incites laughter.
Blake: Everything I say is offensive, isn’t it?
Adam: Just today.
After Usher compliments both singers, Shakira has to make her decision. After mentioning Mary’s lack of experience, she ultimately decides to go forward with Kris.
Adam’s next draw – while he looks like he’s seriously depressed at this entire process – is Judith Hill and former Team Usher member Orlando Dixon. All eyes are once again on Judith, who picks Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind.” Hearing her sing, Adam declares that he quits, because he can only come up with one note for her. Orlando comes with K-Ci and Jojo’s “All My Life.” In his awesome nerd glasses, Adam advises Orlando to bring it back a little bit. Yet will Orlando be able to outsing the so far unstoppable Judith? From the look on his face as she performs, even he’s not sure. Then again, Judith looks similarly impressed when she hears him.
Blake picks Judith, though he’s annoyed that she both spurned him and did a Willie Nelson song.
Blake: Why don’t you just come down here and punch me in the face?
Carson: Go ahead. Please On behalf of us all.
Adam: I would really enjoy that.
Usher likewise loves Judith, and Shakira echoes that, adding that she doesn’t think this was Orlando’s best performance. It’s really no surprise how this is going to go down, but Adam takes a moment to compliment Orlando for being not just a solid singer but also a great guy. He then surprises no one by taking Judith to the live shows. More free hugs!
Shakira decides to put her Team Adam steal Karina Iglesias with Monique Abbadie. A rocker through and through, Karina opts for Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Paging Jamar Rogers. Four-chair artist Monique opts for Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love,” which season two’s Chris Mann and another Monique – Benabou – absolutely owned. (Yet bafflingly, it’s one of the rare clips from that season that’s not somewhere on YouTube.) After Karina proves her rock and roll chops once again, Monique and her incredibly bright hair give us the ballad to end all ballads.
Adam sides with Karina, even though he doesn’t think she picked the best song for her voice. Blake also agrees that Karina didn’t have the greatest performance and uses that logic to pick Monique. Usher doesn’t think Karina could’ve picked a more energetic song. So everyone basically agrees to disagree. That brings things back to Shakira, who opts for Karina, although she makes a point of stopping Carson so that she can encourage Monique to keep going. Hopefully Karina will learn from this close call and be more careful with her song choice, because selection has broken many an artist in the live rounds.
Adam’s last knockout is between Warren Stone and Sarah Simmons. Warren takes Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight,” which shocks Adam given that Warren is a country artist. Warren has big plans for the song. He’ll need them to be big if he wants to beat Sarah, who’s singing “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones (which Adam and Alicia Keys once performed beautifully). Warren puts on a strong show, and dude deserves a round of applause for it. But then there’s Sarah. She just enraptures the entire room. It’s kind of stupefying, really. Watch as Adam hangs his head in mock self-loathing.
Adam: There’s life beyond country, bro.
Blake: No, there’s not.
Blake, Usher and Shakira all vote for Sarah, although Blake and Shakira also praise Warren for being great in his own right. It’s another no-brainer for Adam. Sarah Simmons moves on. Team Adam has an all-female – and very strong – final four.
By process of elimination, Sasha Allen and Shawna P are our final knockout of the night. Ex-Team Adam artist Sasha elects to sing the Etta James classic “At Last,” while Shawna chooses The Beatles’ “Baby I’m Amazed,” which has previously been tackled by both season two’s Jordis Unga and season three’s Terry McDermott, the latter actually during knockouts. Sasha gets her diva on in fine fashion and incites goosebumps (twice), while Shawna reveals a new side of herself. Carson makes the mistake of asking Adam for his input on Sasha’s performance.
Adam: First thing I thought was, ‘Man, am I a dumb idiot.’
Blake: And we agree.
Adam takes Sasha, though he loves Shawna, too. Blake thinks Sasha is a frontrunner after that performance. Usher is still frustrated that he didn’t steal Sasha. Shakira agonizes for a moment before she makes her final cut, handing her last spot in the live shows to Sasha Allen. Adam points out it’s like there are six members of Team Adam still out there.
Even with their numbers cut in half, with these knockout performances, Team Adam proves they’re still the team to beat in season four, with Team Shakira having both hits and misses amongst the field. Stay tuned tomorrow night to see who survives from Team Blake and Team Usher. (Be aware that, in order to accommodate this part of the competition, tomorrow is a two-hour episode as opposed to the usual one hour.) For more on The Voice and its artists, you can visit BFTV’s dedicated The Voice blog, Big Red Chairs.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Excerpts appear at Starpulse and Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.