Welcome back, “Voice” fans! It’s Night 2 of the Knockout Rounds, with coaches Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green and Blake Shelton continuing to chop their teams in half to determine the Top 20 artists who will move onto Season 5’s live shows, beginning next week. Did the right singers advance? Let’s find out!
Knockout #1: Team Adam’s Lina Gaudenzi vs. Preston Pohl
Lina Gaudenzi: “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Etta James)
Lina chooses the Etta James track because she wants to show off the more soulful side to her voice, but she seems to struggle with the finding the intensity the song demands. Adam tells her she’s dancing around the song, rather than just singing it. During her performance, she certainly has the audience on her side. She may rely on her vibrato a bit too much, but it’s still a high-energy performance that finds her improving on Adam’s notes.
Preston Pohl: “No Woman, No Cry” (Bob Marley)
Preston chooses a reggae track in order to highlight his more laid-back side, something that Adam says could be a bad idea, but he thinks Preston has the goods to pull it off. It’s not exactly the sort of song that sets audiences on fire, but as Preston’s performance proves, it seems tailor-made for his voice. His innate likability helps him overcome the low energy of the performance.
Winner: Blake praises Lina for attempting a “rangier” song, but favors Preston’s performance. CeeLo simply praises both, while Christina correctly notes that Preston’s song choice didn’t allow him to expand and show more of himself. In the end, however, it comes down to Adam’s choice and the coach hands the win over to Preston.
Steal: No one steals Lina, sending her on her way.
Knockout #2: Team Blake’s E.G. Daily vs. Ray Boudreaux
E.G. Daily: “I Can’t Make You Love Me’ (Bonnie Raitt)
E.G. says she wants to be an adult country rock artist, which is why she’s selected this Bonnie Raitt track. Blake wants her to embrace her softer side, as she tends to over-rely on her powerful belt as a means of avoiding any vulnerability. Her performance seems a bit all over the place, to be honest. There’s a struggle with pitch that’s a bit of a bummer. Tommy Pickles must live on!
Ray Boudreaux: “Hard to Handle” (Otis Redding)
Ray’s taking on Otis Redding’s song because he wants to be a soul singer. During rehearsals, Blake warns him about watching his pitch. Taking the stage after E.G., Ray’s face betrays him and shows how nervous he is, but once the song begins he rips into it. He still struggles with coming in just under the note on those high-register “Baby”s, but it’s a fun performance.
Winner: Blake praises both for taking his rehearsal notes to heart, but he cuts E.G. because of the breaks in pitch that Christina noted in her critique. Ray gets the win.
Steal: No one steals and the erstwhile Dotty from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” gets the boot.
Knockout #3: Team Christina’s Anthony Paul vs. Jacquie Lee
Anthony Paul: “The Other Side” (Jason Derulo)
Hoping to prove himself as a pop artist, Anthony chooses Jason’s song, but Christina thinks the song doesn’t allow him to show off his vocal ability as much as he ought to. During his performance, Anthony struggles with pitch greatly. Maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s his focus on dance moves, but it never feels more than amateur hour. Not a highlight. Unless Jacquie totally stumbles, she should have this locked up.
Jacquie Lee: “Stompa” (Serena Ryder)
Christina wants Jacquie to work on acting like she’s enjoying herself more on stage, wanting her physical approach to match her vocal approach. From the first second of her performance, it’s clear that she’s taken Christina’s notes to heart. It feels completely natural and engaging, and her voice is just leagues above Anthony’s.
Winner: It’s clear who’s taking this round. Jacquie gets the win after all the coaches throw favor her way.
Steal: With a performance that didn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to go on, no one steals Anthony and he’s sent home.
Knockout #4: Team CeeLo’s Stephanie Anne Johnson vs. Tamara Chauniece
Stephanie Anne Johnson: “Don’t Know Why” (Norah Jones)
Stephanie admits that she wants her music to be like soul food tastes, hoping to follow in Bonnie Raitt’s footsteps. CeeLo tells her to dive into the vulnerability of the track, something he didn’t completely think she was doing during rehearsals. Her gameday performance is technically terrific, but there’s still something lacking in the vulnerability department.
Tamara Chauniece: “No One” (Alicia Keys)
Wanting to bring a totally different element, Tamara’s taking on Alicia’s track in a reggae style, which CeeLo warns will require an “awful lot of character.” It’s a smart move, though, because this show always favors an artist with the vision and guts to elevate a familiar song into uncharted territory. Tamara’s performance feels fresh and exciting. Where Stephanie hewed close to the original in her performance, Tamara comes off as an artist with her own ideas more. She’s the stronger artist here.
Winner: Basing his decision solely on this performance, CeeLo decides to stay the course with Tamara.
Steal: Just as it looks like it’s curtains for Stephanie, Christina steals her original team member back, making “Voice” history. Hopefully she’ll be able to coax some more artistic vision out of the singer.
Knockout #5: Team Adam’s James Wolpert vs. Juhi
James Wolpert: “More Than A Feeling” (Boston)
James wants to challenge himself by touching on his classic rock upbringing, but Adam warns that this song is pretty challenging. In the beginning of his performance, the challenge seems as if it might be too much for the singer, but he recovers quite nicely. There’s a surprising rock star underneath that unassuming demeanor. Juhi looks scared.
Juhi: “Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye)
Juhi’s taking on the Creedence Clearwater version of Marvin’s track as a taunt to CeeLo for “cheating” on her and cutting her during the Battles. Adam tells her he wants to hear more of the singing and less of the style. She’s got some pitch problems, but no more than James did.
Winner: Adam points out how James stumbled at the top of his performance, but gives him the win anyway. Juhi seems like she expected that to be the decision.
Steal: CeeLo may still be supporting his former team member, but he doesn’t have any steals left and she heads out the door.
Knockout #6: Team Blake’s Austin Jenckes vs. Brandon Chase
Austin Jenckes: “I’ll Be” (Edwin McCain)
Austin’s turning the song on its head to be about the relationship between father and son to touch on the emotional history he has with his father’s passing. During rehearsals, he hoped to go about it acoustically, but Blake advises him to sing with the band because it’ll allow him to carry less of the load and focus on just singing perfectly. Austin sounds terrific during his performance and, knowing his story, hearing him sing those lyrics is just heartbreaking. This one is going to be hard to overcome f
Brandon Chase: “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” (Eli Young Band)
Right off the bat, Brandon feels shaky with the pitch. The low-register opening seems to low for him, making his voice wobbly before he can rip into the higher notes. He fares a little better once he can, but he still falls off more notes than he should. Following Austin, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. The nerves seem to have just been too much.
Winner: With his fellow coaches split, Blake decides to stay the course with Austin, noting that his tendency to go sharp points to a strength that Brandon’s tendency to fall flat doesn’t.
Steal: No one steals Brandon. Bye-bye, Brandon.
Knockout #7: Team CeeLo’s Caroline Pennell vs. George Horga Jr.
Caroline Pennell: “The Way I Am” (Ingrid Michaelson)
Caroline’s performance hews closely to what we’ve come to expect from her, but there are moments when she belts with more power than we’ve seen thus far, revealing that there may be more to her than her quirky shtick. She’s never going to be a powerhouse vocalist, but she continues to show a little more with each performance — something necessary on a show like this.
George Horga Jr.: “Because Of You” (Ne-Yo)
George’s performance is consistently under the pitch. He’s continuing to fill the “bland cute guy with too little talent” role this season. The song overpowers him and he just fails to launch. It’s pretty clear who’s winning here — and it isn’t George.
Winner: CeeLo defends George, blaming the song choice instead of the performer, but even he can’t justify advancing the guy. Caroline moves on, as she should.
Steal: No one steals because everyone’s ears work. Bye, George.
Knockout #8: Team Christina’s Matthew Schuler vs. Will Champlin
Matthew Schuler: “Cosmic Love” (Florence + the Machine)
There are barely any words to express what it’s like to see Matthew take on this song except for: WOW. He is so in command of his performance, so powerful, that it’s stunning. There are very few people in the competition this season who even come close to what this guy can do, and there may not be any who surpass it.
Will Champlin: “When I Was Your Man” (Bruno Mars)
Will may be Matthew’s only real competition this season, so it’s a shame that one could possibly knock the other out tonight. (Thankfully, there’s a steal left in the running.) Matthew probably edges Will out, but Will more than held his own. He brought such a soulfulness to the Bruno Mars song. He’s not going anywhere, even if Matthew wins.
Winner: Christina gives Matthew the win, which is a good move. He’s her ticket to a possible win this season. There’s no way she could deny that performance.
Steal: Was there any doubt? Adam steals Will, bringing him back to his team. There was no way Will deserved to get the boot tonight, so it’s wonderful that he didn’t.
Well, there we go, “Voice” fans — we’ve got Season 5’s Top 20. Now it’s on to the live playoffs, where America’s vote begins to come into play. Did your favorite artists make it to the live shows or did the coaches make the wrong decisions? Sound off in the comments below.