Nate Ruess joins “The Voice” just in time for Knockouts

Nate Ruess joined "The Voice: Season Eight" just in time for the Knockout Rounds to begin. (Photo property of NBC)

Nate Ruess joined “The Voice: Season Eight” just in time for the Knockout Rounds to begin. (Photo property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

The Blinds and Battles are over! But, in order for our artists to get to our votes in the Live Shows…they have one more hurdle they have to face: The Knockout Rounds!

Since its inception back in the show’s third season, the Knockouts have changed the show in numerous ways. For starters, the Knockout Rounds saw the emergence of surprising frontrunners (Amanda Brown, Michelle Chamuel, Will Champlin and Craig Wayne Boyd), shocking eliminations of early favorites (Daniel Rosa, Midas Whale and Holly Henry) and game changing steals (Adam got Will back from Christina in Season Five, while Blake stole Craig Wayne Boyd back from Gwen last season).

In addition, for the first time Voice USA history, the show implemented both Voice Australia and Voice UK’s triple artist showdown format. This means that all four coaches (Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera & Pharrell Williams) will have to make gut-wrenching decisions on which artists to save, send home or steal!

Hopefully, guest advisor two-time Grammy winner Nate Ruess will be able to guide both coaches and artists to great performances!

Who rose to the top? Whose dreams came crashing down? Who received one of the four coveted steals? Read on to find out…

Up first to face the Knockout Rounds were Sonic and Ashley Morgan! Sonic chose Alicia Keys’ “A Woman’s Worth” and during her rehearsal, Xtina warned Sonic to be careful of ad-libs. Meanwhile, Ashley Morgan chose “Heartbreaker.” While Ashley brought emotion to the song and had excellent breath control, there were some irredeemable pitchy moments. Sonic stole the show with her beautiful interpretation of the former Team Pharrell adviser’s track and her upper register was lovely. Christina gave the first spot in her live team to Sonic!

Blake paired both Brian Johnson and Sarah Potenza together. This was one of Blake’s worst moves because he has the potential to lose a potential winner. Brian chose James Morrison’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You.” Nate commended Brian on his huskiness, but warned him about his pitch. Sarah on the other hand chose Matt McAndrew’s “Wasted Love.” Nate advised Sarah to find the conviction in the vocal. Blake surprised Sarah with an appearance from Matt, who enjoyed her cover and added that she could be subtle.

When they hit the stage, Brian came out swinging vocally and impressed Adam throughout his performance. Meanwhile, Sarah made me cry with her cover of “Wasted Love.” She gave me chills from the first phrase and this performance would go down as one of the best knockout performances in Voice history. Pharrell predicted that this will be one of Blake’s difficult decisions to make and Blake chose Sarah to move forward to the next round. As for Brian, he was given new life in the show thanks to his new coach…Adam Levine!

For his first Knockout Round of the season, Adam paired Clinton Washington and Nathan Hermida together. Nathan chose Sam Smith’s “Leave Your Lover” for his knockout. While Adam praised his song selection, he wanted Nathan to bust out of his shell and Nate warned him that fans might turn on him…if he might lose his fans. Meanwhile, Clinton chose Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” for his knockout. Adam wanted him to use his proficiently in his performance. Unfortunately, Clinton’s cover was all over the place and it left the door open for Nathan to slay his performance and earn a spot on Team Adam’s live show team.

Remember when I told you that The Voice would be implementing Voice Australia and Voice UK’s triple battle format? Pharrell did that to his team! He paired three of his best together in one epic showdown! The artists that he chose for this monumental historical moment: Mia Z, Sawyer Fredericks and Paul Pfau. Pharrell explained that Paul joined the duo because Anthony Riley’s decision to leave the show due to personal reasons. Mia Z chose B.B. King & Eric Clapton’s rendition of “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” Pharrell wanted Mia to be more conversational and Nate added that he wanted Mia to lose herself within the song.

Paul chose John Mayer’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” Pharrell wanted Paul to feel what he was singing. Nate wanted Paul to lose his crutch (his guitar) during the performance. Meanwhile, Sawyer chose Howie Day’s “Collide” and decided not to use his guitar during the performance. Nate advised him to pull the microphone away during the performance.

Mia Z soared with her cover of “Hold On” and gave Ariana Grande a run for her money with her whistle register. I also enjoyed Paul’s interpretation of “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” but the guitar solo might have cost him the competition. Meanwhile, Sawyer delivered a simplistic cover of “Collide.” Because of the nature of this battle, Pharrell chose two winners: Sawyer and Mia Z.

Blake paired his two steals (Meghan Linsey and Travis Ewing) together for the next Knockout Round! Meghan went an iconic song: Aretha Franklin’s iconic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Nate thought it was awesome, but he warned Meghan that she come across as a karaoke singer. Meanwhile, Travis chose Gavin DeGraw’s version of “I Don’t Want to Be.” I loved that Meghan rose to the occasion and delivered the second best knockout of the night! Unfortunately for Travis, the only artist to successfully sang “I Don’t Want to Be” was Bo Bice (I cannot believe that he performed this song—10 years ago on Idol). Bo was “Joe Cool” and oozed confidence with his performance, unfortunately…Travis was just too plain and that reason alone gave Meghan the win!

The final Knockout of the night belonged to Team Christina’s Kimberly Nichole and Koryn Hawthorne. Koryn chose P!nk’s “Try” as her Knockout Round song. She has a tall order to follow as Season Five winner Tessanne Chin began her road to victory with this song. Xtina advised her not to run out of breath during this performance, so she could hit the high notes. Meanwhile, Kimberly chose Sting’s “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” Her cover was a tour-de-force performance that was worthy of making it to this season’s Top 20 best performances.

After hearing Kimberly perform, I was going to give the win to her…however; Koryn delivered a passionate performance that might just change her fate. Her cover of P!nk was not only on par with Tessanne, but also it gave me chills. The coaches gave each of them great feedback and made this decision much more difficult for the Queen of The Voice. At the end of the night, Christina chose Kimberly and Pharrell stole Koryn!

Tomorrow night, the Knockouts continue!

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar