The Knockoffs Part 2, were, thankfully, not a annoying as part one. They were still contrived, and the banter between the judges obviously scripted. But there were at least a few surprises, and the Blake and Usher match-ups weren’t as totally WTF as Shakira and Adam’s.
The surprise winners/losers were Justin Rivers prevailing over Savannah Berry and The Swon Brothers over Grace Akew on Team Blake. Which illustrates how Blake will pay lip service to “artistry” and loving the quirky, but will ultimately go with what makes him–and by extension, the audience– comfortable.
Also, Usher choosing the callow and contrived, Josiah, over Jess Kellner–who had flaws, but more sophisticated interpretive skills,–should not come as a surprise, considering that he produces the vocally challenged Justin Bieber. Josiah has the looks and the attitude, and nothing that auto-tune can’t fix (well, except for his inability to connect to a song…but I digress.)
That a bit of suspense was introduced tonight doesn’t change my mind about these middle rounds. Still really glad they are over.
Tomorrow night, a clip show will air opposite American Idol. And no, I won’t be covering what is, essentially, a glorified repeat.
Next week, The Voice airs new shows Monday Tuesday and Wednesday. Sir Mac will be your host for the Top 12 reveal on Wednesday, while I am covering American Idol.
Tonight, Team Blake and Team Usher will cut their teams in half as each of their 8 members face off against each other in The Voice knockouts. I’ll be live blogging here.
The artists choose their own songs. Usher is making his team do pushups before they rehearse. Hm.
Savannah Berry vs. Justin Rivers – Team Blake – Both are country artists with a pop twist. Blake calls Savannah a true artist. Ohh. She’s one of Blake’s pets. He’ll pick the strongest artist of the two to move on. Blake cautions Justin not to cram too many runs into his performance. Better to show off his range.
Savannah – “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber – This is your basic you tube cover flip. I feel like I’ve heard this performance before. Quirky girl sings boy song. She adds a couple of little country twists, a big note here and there, and calls it a day. Not an inspired take.
Justin – “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus – Cornball song is corny. I’m not crazy about this song choice, it doesn’t highlight his voice well–although he does a nice job with the key change, and hits a few huge notes that he holds so long, it comes off as show boating.
Savannah proved she can transcend country, says Usher. Also, impressed with Justin’s ability to hold a high note. In the end, Usher gives it to Savannah. Adam thought Savannah did a great job, but thinks Justin did a fantastic job. Blake was impressed with them both. Justin Wins the Knockout MAJOR UPSET. But to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about either of them. There are a lot of talented girls in this crop. A few of them will have to be sacrificed to keep the finals from turning into a total clambake.
Josiah vs Jess Kellner – Team Usher – Both have distinctive tones, but Usher wants to see who brings the most character on to the stage. Josiah was the male model guy. He has the look and the voice, but maybe not the vulnerability. Usher is pushing Jess’s boundaries. Who is singing the song for her mom, a recovering alcoholic.
Josiah – “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse – Pretty, pretty boy. So pretty. The vocals just aren’t there. Amy sang from a deep well of pain. Her songs were about despair. I keep waiting for Josiah to suddenly drop into a Zoolander pose. And considering this is an Amy Winhouse song, it’s pretty annoying. The boyband version of Amy? NO thank you.
Jess – “You Give Me Something” by James Morrison – Jess was having some pitch problems in rehearsal, and she still is on stage. But her tone is delicious. So warm and raspy. And she brings a depth of feeling Josiah was missing. She so won this battle.
Adam thought they should have done each other’s songs. Blake thought Josiah’s performance was a little calculated. He likes Jess. Usher thought she could have given it a little bit more. He felt the grit from Josiah. – Josiah Wins the Knockout ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Jess had problems, but Josiah BUTCHERED that Amy Winehouse song. Josiah’s looks rule the day, I guess.
Holly Tucker vs. Luke Edgemon – Team Blake – Blake paired them together because they are both powerful, gospel rooted singers. Blake says Holly is amazing, but she needs confidence.
Holly – “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw – Holly has a big clear voice and sings with passion, despite wobbling a little on the last notes. But she’s up against several good female country singers. I wonder if she’ll stand out?
Luke – “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry – Ha ha. Luke has performed this song before. Not the lead vocal, but miming background vocals for Darren Criss on Glee. Well, he didn’t rip off Darren’s (or the Warbler’s ) arrangement. He does this slow jam R&B thing, that suits his voice. But I can’t say I like it. It’s very cheesy and old fashioned. Odd.
Usher thought Holly was stellar. But he didn’t think “Teenage Dream” transformed to R&B well. Shakira loved “Teenage Dream” and so did Adam. They would both give it to Luke. Blake feels Holly took more vocal chances. Holly Tucker Wins the Knockout. Adam and Shakira feel Adam passed up something really unique in Luke. I think Luke blew it with a second rate arrangement.
Audrey Karrasch vs Michelle Chamuel – Team Usher – Both are “indie” artists. Audrey is a former model. Michele is a self-described nerd. Who will prevail? Audrey is struggling in rehearsal. Super pitchy! Michelle is fairing better. Usher has her doing pushups while she rehearses so she doesn’t become winded.
Audrey – “How to Love” by Lil Wayne – Hm. Her timing is off, and she’s still pitchy. The high notes are simply out of her reach. Singers need to know their own limits!
Michele – “Raise Your Glass” by Pink – She’s such a fun performer! She’s quirky without being affected or annoying. I can’t help but root for her. And her vocals are spot on, for the most part. She so won this battle.
Shakira admires how Michelle moved but still sang with precision. Adam thinks both did a great job, but chooses Michelle. Blake felt the problems were sprinkled thoughout the performance. He loved Michelle’s enthusiasm. Usher wisely chooses Michelle. Michelle Chamuel wins the Knockout
Danielle Bradbury vs Taylor Beckham – Team Blake – Both are young and have confidence issues. Blake wants to see which one steps out of their shell. Danielle has a huge voice. She’s a formidable opponent. Taylor is definitely more tentative in rehearsal.
Danielle – “Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood – She’s singing this well, but doesn’t bring anything new to the song. She’s performing like a Carrie knockoff. It’s hard to cover a current artist with a similar style without seeming karaoke.
Taylor – “Russian Roulette” by Rihanna – Major pitch problem on the low notes! Oh wait. On the high notes too. Pretty much everywhere. The performance isn’t exactly a deep dive into the lyrics either. Kind of a trainwreck. Danielle is the obvious winner.
Usher didn’t think the song selection gave Taylor enough space to work. He felt Danielle was in control and won the knockout. Shakira is shocked that Danielle never seems nervous. Daneille is natural and amazing, says Adam. Blake thinks Taylor is amazing, but was better in rehearsal. Danielle Bradbury wins the Knockout
C Perkins vs Vedo – Team Usher – Usher stole C from Shakira. He’s really nervous about hitting the high notes in the Chris Brown song he chose to sing. Vedo is singing for his mom, who died of cancer shortly after his audition.
C – “She Ain’t You” by Chris Brown – His vocals are shaky, but he’s working the stage pretty well. His falsetto is squishy and too soft, though. He really needed to hit those notes, but didn’t.
Vedo – “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams – Vedo is vocally much stronger than C. but his stage presence isn’t as good. The way he creeps across the stage, kinda bug eyed as he sings, creeps me out a little. Nevertheless, he wins the battle.
Shakira loves C and his tone, but feels his stage moves distracted. Adam likes Vedo’s restraint and versatility. He stepped up when it counted. Vedo took it. Adam teases Blake about calling himself “B” and Blake responds by asking Adam to kiss his ass. Ha. These bits are totally scripted. Blake doesn’t care for C’s stage moves either. On the other hand, Blake feels Vedo kept his focus on the vocals, and sang the crap out of his song. Usher gives Video props for the way he honored him mom. But he likes C Perkins energy. Vedo Wins the Knockout Round C. Perkins didn’t stand a chance up against someone singing for his dead mama.
Grace Askew vs Swon Brothers – Team Blake – Grace wants to show that she’s not just a country girl with a twang. Blake advises her to enunciate her words better. The Swons need to clean it up vocally.
Grace – “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Tina Turner – She’s got an intriguing sound. But this performance isn’t as good as her audition. After she totally got montaged on her battle performance, I pegged her for cannon fodder. I still kinda like her though. I like her phrasing and tone. She’s unique, but she needs to work on her pitch.
Swon Brothers – Drift Away by Dobie Gray – The Swon Brothers aren’t nearly as interesting, but their vocals are rock solid. They aren’t changing it up much from the Kid Rock cover. A good vocal, but not remarkable.
Usher feels Grace’s vocal was a little loose. The Swons were strong. Shakira liked Grace’s flavor. Adam also thought the Swons were strong. Grace is unpredictable, but the Swons are steady. The Swon Brothers Win the Knockout. I don’t know…I think I would have gone for Grace, she not only had the potential for surprising performances, but also to grow. The Swon Brothers are solid but generic. Blake played it safe.
Cathia vs Ryan Innes – Team Usher – Usher thinks Cathia has something to prove. She needs advice on stage presence. It’s her first English performance. Ryan wants to reveal his “rock” side here.
Cathia – “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson – Despite a few pitchy spots, Cathia nails a really impressive run in her upper register. Two things: She should have picked a rangier song, and she doesn’t connect to English songs as well as she does Spanish tunes. But, she had some nice vocal moments.
Ryan – “I Don’t Want To Be” by Gavin DeGraw – The song is full of raspy yelling. I’m not feeling this at all. He paces the stage like he’s about to blow a blood vessel. His super shouty vocal ends in an awkward croak. That was not good. Very loud screaming does not equal emotion and passion.
Shakira is proud of Cathia, who was initially on her team. Ryan could have had more control, she says. Adam didn’t hear the grit in Ryan’s performance. Usher disagrees! Blake was more impressed with Cathia. Usher was blown away by Cathia in rehearsals. But Ryan’s brute force is very very real, he thinks. Cathia Wins the Knockout Round. Yeah. She wasn’t fantastic, but Ryan was a shouty mess.
- Justin Rivers
- Holly Tucker
- Danielle Bradbury
- Swon Brothers
- Savannah Berry
- Luke Edgemon
- Taylor Beckham
- Grace Askew
- Michelle Chamuel
- Jess Kellner
- Audrey Karrasch
- C. Perkins
- Ryan Innes