Monday night’s The Voice kicked off its first night of the coveted knock-out rounds and there was quite a few performances that won me over, Last night, however, for the final night of knock-outs, there was nothing but greatness to be seen from the teams of Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera; so much so that the power of the steal guiding two of our best performers right back into the arms of their original coaches.
Kicking off the show was of course Team Adam, coming out strong with Preston Pohl and Lina Gaudenzi. Lina went for the soulful approach by choosing the song “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. For me, I believe it was a gutsy risk on her part to take on such a bluesy song as this, but she sounded good during the first rehearsals of it; and even better on the stage. Preston, however, with Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”, he just stepped to the stage and pretty much owned it. I love how he continues to go a step up in his performances. His ability to take a song, make it his own and really commit to it is really astounding and that is what has him going to the live shows come next week Monday.
Blake’s first performers of the night was that of E.G. Daly, who took on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Ray Boudreaux, who sang the Otis Redding song, “Hard to Handle”. E.G’s take on song was not that memorable for me. It’s a beautiful song, but in some portions of the song, I couldn’t tell where she wanted to go: did she want to have that same flow as Raitt herself when she performed it, or did she want to take it to a slight rocker direction? While her vocals were fine, those of Ray were just above the bar. He took the advice of Blake by giving himself time to breath, because this is a fast pace song that doesn’t give much breathing room. Overall, Blake make the best call in keeping Ray to go forward.
Anthony Paul and Jacquie Lee, two of Christina’s younger contestants both started off their rehearsals with some slight uncertainties with the songs they selected to sing. Anthony, who’s eighteen, took on Jason Derulo’s “The Other Side”, took a big gamble with choosing an up-tempo song for himself, while Jacquie, who’s sixteen, challenged herself with “Stompa” by Serena Ryder. I seriously thought Anthony would have a great performance, so it was disappointing to see him being swallowed up with singing the song on stage. As for Jacquie, I was amazingly surprised, because she was the one that I thought would be meek, but she came out like a vixen with the song. It’s true that they were both nervous but it was Jacquie that overcame her nervousness instantly. Her ability to draw in her audience is what saved her and puts her in the live competition.
Cee Lo’s lovely ladies, Stephanie Ann Johnson and Tamara Chauniece both switched roles with one another when it came to their song selections for the knock-out rounds. Stephanie chose the song “I Don’t Know Why (I Didn’t Come)” by Nora Jones. I loved how she created her own style to the song, but didn’t do so much to it that it became unrecognizable. The little yodel she added in the song was nice but she did it a bit too often I thought, which took away from some of the song. Tamara did a great job on “No One” by Alicia Keys, also giving her own style to the song, which was a reggae feel. The difference about Stephanie and Tamara is that Tamara sold the song. She held my attention from start to finish as she sang. I thought Stephanie had a good performance but it didn’t compare to how composed and controlled Tamara’s performance was. The one thing about the knock-out round is that the steal can give an artist another chance, and Stephanie got it, thanks to Christina, who was her original coach during the blind auditions.
The second performance from Adam’s team was that of James Wolpert and Juhi. Whole-heartedly, James had me right from the get go during the blinds, so I was so ready for his version of “More than a Feeling” by Boston. He definitely had some bobbles and struggled on some of the top notes, but I chalked it up to nerves. Despite those stumbles, James still has a way of keeping the audience focused on him. As for Juhi, I didn’t like her version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” that is a Marvin Gaye classic, but done ala rock by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I just didn’t connect with it and I think it was because she did the rock version of the song. When Christina pointed out that she did the song “so carefree that it was careless”, I completely agreed with her. I’m glad that James will be sticking around because I want to see what more he can do on the stage when the live performances start up.
During Blake’s team, Austin Jenckes, who sang Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” and Brandon Chase, who took on the Eli Young Band’s tune “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”. Both artists did a great job on stage and anyone listening can tell that Brandon really wants to go down the road as a country artists. While Brandon wants to really to fulfill his dreams of being that artist, Austin, on the other hand, lets it be known that he still has that edge to either be rock or be a slight hint of country. I loved his performance the most not only because I love the song, but he just stood out and took over the stage. He is one of Blake’s strongest constants in the competition.
The final two contestants on Team Cee Lo was Caroline Pennell and George Horga Jr. It’s clear that George wants to be the next Justin Timberlake just by the song he selected, which was Ne-Yo’s “All Because Of You. Unfortunately for George, he was all over the place with that song and it pretty much sealed his fate because he didn’t have much of an edge against Caroline. Caroline has such a soothing quality in her singing and I loved her “Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. She pretty much closed the door on George with her performance. I truly can see her staying throughout the live performances if she keeps choosing songs that fit her.
The evening closed out with two of the best performers from Team Christina. I absolutely loved both performances by Matthew Schuler and Will Champlin. Not only did they close out the show with excellent performances, but the last steal was about to be used on keeping one of them in the competition. Matthew chose the Florence and the Machine’s “Cosmic Love” and he was on fire. From start to end, he held my attention, and I’m quite sure the audience as well. He has so much energy on the stage that he had no problem with the song he selected. Will, on the other hand, is a powerhouse, so it was interesting that he chose the ballad “If I Were You Man” by Bruno Mars. It was a great choice for him because it showcased a softer side of him. I was glad that Christina gave the advice for him to find his places to add his own style: he did just that, and I wondered if out there somewhere, Bruno was watching the performance. The question of the night, though was, who would Adam choose with his steal, since he held out to use it for the very best performer of the night? Would it be Matt or would it be Will returning back to his original team? No matter what, both Matt and Will would be on for the live shows. In the end, closing out the night, Christina kept Matt on her team, and Will, was once again back on Team Adam.
Next week will be a three-night event for The Voice. Monday and Tuesday will be the live performances and Thursday will be the elimination show. Viewers definitely will want to choose carefully which singer they want to remain in the competition because this time around all four coaches have some amazing vocalists. As Christina said during the blind auditions, it’s not the coach that people are going to be voting for, it is going to be the vocalist that does the best. I couldn’t agree more.