It is the second and final week of the Knockouts, with a two-hour KO on Monday, and a one hour “Road to the Live Shows” on Tuesday. This will include some unseen footage as well as a review of the 20 artists left. While I do enjoy all the steps leading up to the Live Shows – this season I am more than ready for them to be live, and for the number of artists to be small enough where I actually remember them better. It will also be interesting to see if Gwen and Blake will tone down the lovey dovey crap on the live shows (I’m referring to how they were in the first week and the rumors that the other coaches were tired of their attitudes and focus on their relationship. I’m convinced that they did some editing of all the rest of the episodes that week.
The performances were good, but initially they didn’t thrill me like last week. To be fair, I had meetings all day today, including an evening meeting where I didn’t get home until after 8:30 PM. At that point, the only thing that thrills me is the glass of wine I just poured myself while watching the final few performances. But, in reviewing the performances I was considering worthy of mention, it actually was harder to edit down. I wanted to make comments about a lot of the winners, like Jesse Larson. He was interesting to watch. I heard what Adam heard finally – he does have an element to his voice that sounds like Ceelo Green. Only he doesn’t have tiny arms and weird outfits. But it wasn’t necessarily a song I would stop to listen if I was trying to find a good radio station.
Adam made a comment towards the end of the show that “everyone today has made very ambitious choices”. Now I know that we may not be seeing things in the order they actually performed, but this is very true for this batch of performances. There were a lot of bold choices – they just weren’t always the right ones. The tension is a little high for viewers again, as the only one left with a steal is Alicia.
TEAM ALICIA: Vanessa Ferguson
SONG CHOICE: “If I Were Your Woman” by Gladys Knight and the Pips
In the Battles, Vanessa won singing a classic Roberta Flack. This week, she picked a classic Gladys Knight song. She needs to continue to look to our 70s iconic songs sung by super strong voices. Blake was right – saying this was great is like saying water is wet. To top it off, she sang it from a piano bench (which supposedly affects your lung capacity – not that you can tell that with Vanessa). She didn’t just knock out Jack Cassidy – she knocked him out cold and clear out of the ring. Now if she would only lose that fucking hat.
TEAM GWEN: JChosen
SONG CHOICE: “Without You” by Taio Cruz, Usher Raymond, Rico Love, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort and Frédéric Riesterer (Guetta sang the original, featuring some vocals by Usher)
If Gwen has a serious chance at being the winning coach, this is the guy who will get her there. JChosen’s vocal control is great, and he has a way of visually connecting with the audience with a glance and slight smile that is clear even on television. His ability and control is even more impressive when we discover in the rehearsals that his mother had a stroke two weeks after the Blinds. He not only picked a song that shows off his vocal control and stretched his limits in that regard, but one that had a lot of emotion in the lyrics for him about his mom. You feel his sincere emotion, but he didn’t crack. I don’t know how he did it. When Gwen was looking at him, telling him what she saw acknowledging that he still had a smile but let us in, her own voice cracked and got teary.
TEAM BLAKE: Aliyah Moulden
SONG CHOICE: “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
I’m not sure Aliyah has stopped smiling since the Blinds. I also liked watching her and Blake during the coaching session. It is easy to forget with the banter with Adam and the distraction that is Blake’s dimples that Blake is really good at this. Aliyah confesses that even though her father died when she was a month old, she feels that she knows him because she’s grown up listening to his vinyl records. Dad must have had eclectic but great taste, as Aliyah hasn’t pinned down a genre yet. So this week, she thought “why not country” and picked a really hard, pure country song. She NAILED it. Plus I loved her comment beforehand that it was about cheating, and she’s never had a boyfriend – but she had some high school drama classes! YES! There have been past adult artists who didn’t get this concept. I’m sure Carrie Fisher had never been captured by a giant slug before, but she choked the shit out of Jabba the Hutt (you know she was imagining an ex or two, or maybe her father) I felt badly for her competition. She picked Etta James’ “At Last” – itself a hard one. But there was a “delicate” quality to her performance that somehow did not feel on purpose. It felt like she didn’t have the lung power to do any more, an asthma attack without the rattle or wheezing. A minor nitpicky thing, but didn’t have a chance against Aliyah’s performance. I think had there been more of a hint of power behind that delicacy, she might have had a chance to win Alicia’s steal.
MY SCHADENFREUDE MOMENT OF THE NIGHT
Sometimes The Voice will just have a “summary” of a Blind or Battle, where they show brief clips of the artist or artists, maybe a line or stanza of music (I THOUGHT from both artists), and a voice over of Carson telling you the results. I don’t remember there being one at the Knock Outs. I’m probably taking too much delight in the fact that Oh Shit Moment of the Night winner in the Battles, Malik Davage, not only lost his Knock Out Round…. They didn’t even show ONE NOTE of his singing, but showed a long clip of his opponent. He wasn’t even shown saying anything when Adam was deliberating who to choose, not even a thank you afterward. All they aired was Adam gushing over Mark Isaiah. Just goes to show – don’t fuck with Chrissy Teigan’s husband!
Ok, I totally admit when I am wrong. I was worried that not having a mentor might mean the show was moving closer to jumping the shark. I’ve loved some of the mentors in the past (including Alicia Keys, Pharrell, and Miley Cyrus!), but it was refreshing to see more one on one with the coaches. I’ve been hard on Gwen, and I enjoyed her coaching this week. I was especially impressed with her session with Troy Ramey and his selection of Chandelier. Incredibly interesting choice for him. He in no way has the range of Sia, or Jordan Smith (Season 9 winner – Chandelier was his Blind Audition choice in one of my all time favorite auditions. They didn’t show us Jordan until a judge hit their button.) Jordan has a higher range than even Sia I think – Troy is the opposite of that. Gravelly and low in tone, but he totally made it his own.
But Gwen addressed one of my pet peeves about people on any of these shows doing a cover song. It is one thing to make it your own by a different arrangement, but to get votes or attention you need to make sure it is still recognizable! I love it when a coach gives advice, the artist follows it, and there is instant improvement!
As for the boys – we already know how good they are with all the wins under their belt. I mentioned above that it is easy with the jokes, etc. to forget that they are pros, and have proven that they also have the ability to convey their knowledge. (As some of my professors proved, just because you are an expert in a subject doesn’t mean you’ve mastered the art of sharing that information and skill set.)
Oh, on a totally frivolous side note, I am really digging both Gwen and Alicia’s outfits and styling. I love Gwen’s hair a little more down and less severe, and that dress is awesome! Alicia is so naturally beautiful – she honestly doesn’t need makeup (although I suspect she gets powder, or something to keep the shine off TV.) I love the A line skirt – retro without being cliché. Kind of fun. I’d be twirling like crazy.
NEXT WEEK: WE GO LIVE!
Use Tuesday’s episode to catch up, and join us for the Live shows! I love it all, but there is an excitement to it being live. I also believe this is where we find the artists who can handle the pressure. It isn’t musical talent sometimes, but the ability to shake off the nerves.