Throughout this season, I have mentioned that while the performances have been absolutely solid, there hasn’t been an artist who has given me the shivers from the beginning. Last week gave me hope and kept me riveted. First week of Knockouts kept my interest as well.
I don’t know how much the artists get exposed to the coaches beyond what we see, but I’m a believer that you can learn from other “learners” and that is happening here. Being immersed in music, working with the band, not being distracted by home stuff, and hanging out with others experiencing what has to be an amazing but strange experience with you could do nothing BUT influence your art.
Per my Knockouts posts here and here, this is apparently the round I disagree with the coaches! To be fair, if I was a singer competing on The Voice, at this stage my song choice would NOT be geared towards the audience, but those four coaches.
I’m mashing up my format this week. There was a pairing where I simply loved both performances. Both made great song choices, and if you are so inclined, are worth watching from rehearsals to coaches’ critique.
TEAM ALICIA: Chris Blue SONG CHOICE: Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Chris is one of the best on stage this season. With a great song choice for showing off his vocal talents, he worked the stage with enthusiasm and natural talent. It was his to lose when Alicia started yelling “Yes”. He brilliantly stuck with Motown; frankly speaking, this guy could bring Motown into the modern era and make it a major name again. He went up against young Quizz – an extremely smart move on Alicia’s part as both of them could have worked under Barry Gordy back in the day. Alicia rightfully picked Chris to move forward, with Gwen using her one steal to grab up Quizz. I don’t know if Gwen has the coaching or producing chops to get Quizz where he would need to be to make it in the Live Rounds. There were others later on that I wish she could have saved. It would have been interesting to see Blake take Quizz under his wing, as he’s had tremendous success in coaching the young girls. I don’t think Quizz will make it beyond the next round.
TEAM GWEN: Johnny Gates SONG CHOICE: Million Reasons by Lady Gaga
Johnny was NOT picked by Gwen, in an extremely stupid move by Gwen. Johnny showed some real versatility in his song choices. Million Reasons is still VERY fresh, and identified with Lady Gaga – but he nailed it and made me forget that it IS a Lady Gaga song. His voice was clear and confident. He is a man who enjoys being on stage, which makes me enjoy him! Plus, I don’t feel like we have any other Rock bordering on Pop like this guy on the show.
Gwen picked Hunter Plake – who exemplifies the opposite of confidence. If I hear him say “I’ve never sung outside the church” one more frickin’ time well, let’s say that I’ll help with bail money if one of you live near where The Voice is filmed and you sneak in to kick Hunter in the balls. If he has balls. I’m not saying he has a vagina, because that would be misogynistic. Besides, everyone knows vaginas are tougher; they can take a real pounding.
Musically, I was frustrated. Hunter sang “I Want to Know What Love Is” and after hearing a few lines, I thought the tempo was too slow. It has been years since I’ve played an instrument or read music (and I wasn’t that good at it to begin with) but if one of you is musically trained, could you tell me if Adam was tapping to a faster beat (the original Foreigner tempo if I’m not mistaken). I’m all for changing up a song’s tempo and key but do it well.
TEAM BLAKE: Casi Joy SONG CHOICE: My Church by Maren Morris
Damn. Honestly, this could be her show to lose. She’s old school country along the lines of Loretta and Tammy, but still manages to sound fresh. (Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette for you country plebes. YouTube them. Amazeballs). I forgot two things about this song. 1. That it only came out last year. It sounds like a classic from the get go, especially coming out of Casi Joy’s vocal cords! 2. I forgot that Sundance Head performed it last season for his first live performance round. I listened to both again – pretty different, but both great! I can’t wait to hear what Casi is going to sing next, and next she’ll have some production behind her!
TEAM ALICIA: Ashley Levin vs. Lilli Passero
SONG CHOICE (Ashley): Fancy by Bobbie Gentry (covered well by Reba McIntyre)
SONG CHOICE (Lilli): Tears Dry on their Own by Amy Winehouse
This is one of the pairings where I suspect the coach wishes she could use her steal on her own artists. (I wonder why they can’t!) Ashley had me paying attention to the story of this song in a way I hadn’t done before. I would have picked Lilli, but I’m not exactly mad at Alicia for picking Ashley. She put soul into that country song. If Ashley wants to continue with the female stories, that soul, and empowerment messages like the song Fancy, she couldn’t have a better coach than Alicia. With her mixing country and soul, Ashley would be intriguing for a master class musician like Alicia looking for a challenge.
As for Lilli, I am loving her again and again. A total shout out to her stylist. She may be inspired by 50s and 60s musically, but I LOVE the smooth tailored look that people forget existed in 80s, at least in videos. It is definitely Robert Palmer backup singer style, but now that woman is front and center, and NOT a cookie cutter female. She said in Auditions she’s inspired by “vintage” artists. I could cry that Lilli picked Amy Winehouse, a tragic artist who was also clearly inspired by “vintage”. I miss Amy and the art she would have given to the world. While I am happy for Ashley that she is moving on, Lilli is one of the artists I’m most looking forward to hearing again. I DO think that Adam was a great choice for her to go with (both Adam and Blake pushed their buttons to use their one steal). Blake is great, but Adam has demonstrated an appreciation for the vintage and old school himself that I think fits Lilli better. At least I hope it will.
TEAM BLAKE: TSoul SONG CHOICE: These Arms of Mine by Otis Redding
Oh TSoul, I think I love you. Pardon the pun, but in three performances on this show, he’s put his heart and soul in every single one, leaving everything on stage! I love that his biggest struggle in rehearsals was getting too emotional because it reminded him of his grandmother. I’ve often wondered how singers have kept their shit together when singing a deeply personal song. I’d be a complete mess. It doesn’t hurt that he picked a song that I love and adore. Not only was I aware of the old school stuff growing up (thanks to access to my parents’ records from when they were teens – yay for hoarders who don’t throw shit away!) but this is a song on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack… I think I wore out TWO cassettes of that one!!! (Plus one VHS copy of the movie). Even without my nostalgic lustful love of anything affiliated with Dirty Dancing, Otis Redding is a great choice for TSoul. He’s quirky, a little awkward, but completely authentic and endearing. He’s retro, like he was dropped into modern day from the late 50s, early 60s, but he is strangely in no way cliched!
Adam’s “Courage Award” – Felicia Temple, singing My Heart Will Go On by James Horner/Will Jennings, originally performed by Celine Dion.
Originally this was one of the “how can you choose!” mashups above, and I was surprised someone didn’t steal Felicia. But I listened again. I think I caught what the coaches caught the first time around. She warbled, and not in a good way at the first part of the song. Did she deserve a steal spot over Quizz? Sure, but Gwen had already used her steal. Adam and Alicia clearly had other people in mind (and Lilli deserved Adam’s steal over Felicia) But she certainly had absolute guts to do this song, and did it well.
COACHES, NO MENTOR, AND GOSSIP!
I was fairly skeptical and concerned about the lack of an overall Knock Out Round mentor (or mentors in the case of last season with both Tim McGraw and Faith Hill). But I think I might like the new format. Each coach is spending one on one time with each artist; their knock out round competitor gets to observe. This observation gives some great insight. They get to hear more advice about performing from their coach, but they also get to see and hear what they are competing against. I just wish they had advertised the benefits of this more rather than quietly doing it.
Not much gossip at this point. Blake and Gwen are less annoying since the Blinds but that may be editing. The true test will be the live rounds starting in two weeks. If you want to see Blake bust someone’s chops more than he does Adam’s, check out Tuesday’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (actually, if you are ever sick and at home, check out all of Blake’s appearances on the Tonight Show with JF. You will feel better. Blake did a funny bit of going through Jimmy’s new ride at Universal in Florida, and then performed live at Universal.
Gwen did post about Blake on social media, but not annoyingly so. Her boys adorably got fake tattoos to match Blake’s barbed wire and deer track tat. She also changed her profile pic to one of Blake looking very coy in a mullet. Oh. my. God. Makes me embarrassed to admit I’m an 80s girl.
NEXT WEEK: The Knock Outs finish up on Monday. Once again Alicia is the last hold out at using her steal. Tuesday’s episode will be a great opportunity to catch up, if you start watching at the live rounds, as it will be a “best of” episode of everything aired so far. A good reminder for the rest of us too.