By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Tonight, The Voice: Season Nine Knockout Rounds concluded!
Before we get to the recap, here is where our teams stand:
Adam Levine: Amy Vachal, Blaine Mitchell, Jordan Smith & Keith Semple
Blake Shelton: Barrett Baber, Ivonne Acero & Morgan Frazier
Gwen Stefani: Braiden Sunshine, Korin Bukowski & Viktor Kiraly
Pharrell Williams: Darius Scott & Madi Davis
I am still scratching my head on some of the coaches’ choices, because some of the Top 20 artists have not captured my attention as past Voice alums Frenchie Davis, Chris Mann, Amanda Brown, Amber Carrington, Will Champlin, Sisaundra Lewis, Matt McAndrew and Kimberly Nichole at this point in the competition.
I hope that the coaches made the right decisions tonight especially Pharrell because he is the only coach left with the steal! If The Voice does not produce the best artists to compete, then Season Nine’s cast might be the worst group of artists assembled since Season Seven.
Who did he steal? Read on to find out!
Up first to face the coaches were Team Adam’s James Dupre and Shelby Brown. Both artists represent the country artist slot. Shelby was ecstatic to see Rihanna and decided to take a risk and sing a country tune for the first time on the show. She picked Carrie Underwood’s signature song: “Jesus Take the Wheel.” When I first heard the first few notes from Shelby during the rehearsal, I instantly got chills from her. James countered with Blake’s “Sure Be Cool If You Did.” I thought that James shot himself in the foot by singing a song by one of the coaches. With Shelby’s performance, there were some pitch issues…. but she blew me away her amazing voice and earned the last spot on Team Adam!
Pharrell paired Mark Hood and Siahna Im together because both of them were old souls! Mark had to get himself together before he hugged Rihanna. Mark chose his favorite classic R&B song for his Knockout Round: the late Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” During his Knockout rehearsal, Rihanna advised him to save the dramatics for the latter half of his performance and Pharrell also wanted him to not doubt himself or he would be also in doubt. 15-year-old Siahna Im chose Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” While I really admire her for tackling this monstrous song, she is not Rachel Crow, Jackie Evancho or Bea Miller, she had a lot of nerves and needed time to mature. I think Mark won this Knockout Round, because he showcased his desire for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the conviction that he put into the lyrics and his impeccable showmanship that could really take him to the finale.
Team Gwen’s first battle of the night paired Jeffrey Austin and Kota Wade together. Both rock-soul singers should be on the show. For Jeffrey, he had the hardest challenge to tackle Adele’s “Turning Tables.” In all honesty, it was hard for me to unbiased for two reasons. First, one of my favorite America’s Got Talent singers of all-time, Daniel Joseph Baker, delivered a stunning cover on AGT four years ago that set the bar for male singers covering Adele. Two, I have been loyal to Kota Wade since she interviewed on my blog and she has been one of my favorite artists since the Blinds. I thought Jeffrey’s cover was abysmal and subpar to Daniel’s superior take on the 21 tune. Kota delivered a fiery cover of Heart’s “Barracuda” that gave me chills and would have made Ann and Nancy Wilson extremely proud. Unfortunately, Gwen chose abysmal over superstar potential when the No Doubt front woman chose Jeffrey over Kota! Kota, you rocked girl! I am so proud of you! As for you, Jeffrey, you have a long way to go to not only prove yourself worthy..but also receive a positive review from me!
Pharrell’s final battle of the night belonged to Evan McKeel and Tim Atlas! Evan chose Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” for his Knockout. While he brought out his guitar for the first time on the show, Rihanna asked him to drop it because he was hiding behind his guitar. Meanwhile, Tim performed “Torn,” the song that started Season Three winner Cassadee Pope’s path to Voice victory. Unlike Cassadee, Tim’s performance was not my cup of tea and it seemed that he disregarded the advice that he received from both Pharrell and Rihanna. Evan, on the other hand, delivered a striking performance that showcased his positive aura and cool vocals. I think he could be Team Pharrell’s dark horse!
The final Knockout Round of the season belonged to Team Gwen! She paired her two steals, Regina Love and Riley Biederer, together. While I did not have the pleasure to watch her Blind Audition live, I was extremely satisfied with her battle against Jordan Smith and so happy that Gwen stole her from Team Adam. However, I was a little worried about the song that she chose: Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Because, the only woman who did that song justice was America’s Got Talent alum Alice Tan Ridley, who performed an outstanding cover of the iconic tune during Season Five and received a standing ovation from all three judges. Meanwhile, Riley took a risk and chose Beyonce’s “XO.” Both Gwen and Rihanna loved her take and the former Team Pharrell member proved that she was still a force to be reckoned with this season. However, Regina’s cover of “Midnight Train to Georgia” was the best performance of the entire Season Nine Knockout Round process. She showcased her powerful soulful pipes, her showmanship was beyond on point and was the first contestant this season to showcase that she is in it to win it!!!!
Gwen kept Regina, while Pharrell used his final steal and welcomed back Riley to his team!
Next week, The Top 20 sing for America’s votes!
Daniel Joseph Baker and Alice Tan Ridley’s “America’s Got Talent” performances belong to NBC, SYCO Entertainment and FremantleMedia North America.