TIME FOR THE KNOCK OUTS!
We’re still at the stage where it is hard to keep track of everything. I myself have to refer back to earlier blog entries. While they are using the same stage set-up as the Battle Rounds, the Knock Outs are different from the Battles in two distinct ways. One, all the coaches use the same mentor called a Key Adviser (or in the case of this season, Advisers), and two, the artists do not sing the same song with their match ups. Each coach gets one steal this round.
It cannot be stressed enough that song choice is very important, if not the most important thing. Clearly the coaches know that these artists can sing, but do they know their own voices, their own strengths and weaknesses, well enough to pick a song most appropriate for their voices and the audience? The coaches also clearly are looking for those who have made improvements. This season more than once coach has cited the “who can I help grow as an artist as this competition moves along” criteria for who they pick to stay on their teams.
COACHES AND KEY ADVISERS
Watching as each coach waits with Tim and Faith for the artist to appear, it is obvious that Blake is happy with the Key Adviser choice. Adam is always up for talented people of any genre. Miley is happy they are here, and tells them she wants to know what they are drawn to in each artist. Then it’s Team Alicia’s turn and I’m not sure what was said at first because WHAT THE FUCK IS ON HER HEAD?!? Is she now dumpster diving at Pharrell’s house, because I think he threw that hat away. After my WTF moment, I enjoyed Alicia’s coaching this round. She’s stepping up and giving the editors more opportunity to show her giving advice beyond the “I feel you. You were meant to be on my team” bullshit.
Clearly ALL of them know the stakes involved. There is still such a wide range of personalities and talents, but a few are, like cream, rising to the top. There is one single moment epitomizes why I love this show over other singing and performing contest shows. It wasn’t a top performance per se, nor did it fail to impress. In Project Runway speak, it was safe. I couldn’t put it in either category, so I will simply mention it here.
Riley is the very first artist I mentioned in this blog. In the Battles, he was the clear winner. For the Knockouts, Adam paired him with James Warrior. James Warrior is the kid who grew up a little rough – Dad in and out of prison – and was initially on Team Alicia, then stolen by Adam. I couldn’t tell you what he’s sung, but this week, I do remember that he left everything he has out on that stage. Riley skated a little, perhaps a little too confident that not many sing his genre these days, and that jazzy genre is one of Adam’s favorites..
When he was declared the winner, Riley’s first action was a hug to Jason and a “I love you” statement. Riley started to cry (denying that he was doing so), and walked off stage to do his exit interview, where he continued to wipe the occasional tear, which made me like him again despite a weaker performance overall. Jason was on stage, keeping it as professional as he could, but clearly emotional.
Then something happened I don’t recall ever happening in 11 seasons of watching this show.
The crowd almost immediately started chanting STEAL, STEAL, STEAL. Before Jason could say anything to Coach Adam, Blake hit his button. Jason is stolen for the second time and for a THIRD judge! Then I go from teary to full on tears down my cheeks when we see Riley, backstage, literally go to his knees in gratitude because Jason gets to continue on. You don’t see that on Survivor folks.
Team Blake: Sundance Head
Song: The Climb, by Miley Cyrus
(Sang against Josh Gallagher, who was stolen by a delighted Adam. He wanted a country artist)
Those of you who aren’t familiar with Miley’s catalogue of songs as a songwriter, the bravery and risk of picking this song goes beyond singing something a coach wrote or is known for singing. The Climb was written as a pop song, for Miley’s Hannah Montana movie, when she was 16 or 17 years old.
First cry of the night caused by a rough looking country artist singing a song from a Disney movie meant for the pre-teen girl crowed! He owned it – the depth of Miley’s song writing talent is shown here. If you had never heard her rendition of The Climb, you would be convinced it was written for Sundance and was meant to be a country song. Songwriter Miley has obviously learned a thing or two from Godmother and Songwriter Dolly Parton.
Team Alicia: Kylie Rothfield
Song: Hound Dog, made famous by Elvis Presley
Kylie has won me over completely. The way she sang Hound Dog made it her own – I’ve heard some pretty famous people sing this song, but it was almost always in an homage to Elvis and not for their own. I’m keeping my eye on this rocker blue’s chick. She could give Melissa Etheridge a run for her money!!!
Team Blake: Courtney Harnell
Song: River Deep – Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner
With this performance, Miley is right in saying that Courtney should never sing behind someone for sure. What I especially loved about this moment was the coaching from Faith, and how she described what to do. (In essence, vocally, Courtney shouldn’t show all her tricks at once… be on stage unzipping her robe, etc. A vocal strip tease where you bare all at the end!) Can’t wait to hear more from her!
FAILED TO IMPRESS
Team Alicia: Whitney and Shannon
Song: I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz
They gave up. To be honest, I was impressed a little at the Blinds, when I only heard their harmonies together. It might have also been a very poor song choice. Originally sung by a solo artist, it is only natural that Alicia suggests singing individually during part of the song. I think Whitney (with the short hair) is the weaker of the two, but it feels like neither one knows how to function without each other and having to sing parts by themselves was simply too much for them. Tim is very insightful in saying that as solo artists, he and Faith had to learn to compliment each other, and these two have to do the very opposite.
Team Blake: Bindi Liebowitz
Song: Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield
Not a horrible song choice, if she had the confidence and stamina to do it. I am not sure I saw ANY of the coach or key advisor suggestions even being attempted. To be fair, she had to follow Courtney Hall, who was so amazing she was having a “mic drop” moment. There was a point that I saw Bindi’s face during Courtney’s performance – she “knew” she wasn’t going to get it and did a self- fulfilling prophecy. She showed NO confidence, even though there were still two steals on the table at that point..
FINAL THOUGHTS AND A LITTLE OFF SEASON NEWS
There is only one more week of KnockOuts, then the Voice goes LIVE! It will become easier and easier to remember individual artists. After the KOs, each team will only consist of 5 artists and they will start performing in real time.
Last week, Miley and Alicia appeared to be in the initial stages of hatching a plan to go on tour together, with their Teams. They probably were joking, but I sincerely hope it happens!
Also, despite some of the “I’m boycotting this show because of Miley’s unsuitability as a role model for my children” types I’ve read on the Voice’s official Facebook page – the powers that be must be very pleased with both Miley and Alicia, as they signed Alicia Keys for next season (to appear with Blake, Adam, and the returning Gwen Stefani) and confirmed Miley will be back in Season 13 (without confirming any other judge). I am not surprised to hear that Alicia is coming right back and Miley is skipping a season. Alicia is a mom of young kids – a stable gig where she doesn’t have to travel must appeal to her. Miley is young, no kids – and concert performing is where the money is for artists. . She is smart in keeping that going while single and childless.
Next week should be interesting – it is do or die for most as only Alicia has her steal left.