Team Blake and Team Usher, it’s your turn! After Team Adam and Team Shakira had their ranks thinned last night on The Voice, now it’s time to see who’s left standing from the other two squads.
It’s Team Blake that goes first, and Blake pairs up early favorite Savannah Berry with the guy who shocked us all in battles, Justin Rivers. This could potentially be disaster for him, as both these artists are not to be trifled with. Savannah decides to sing Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me.” Blake wonders if Savannah could be his Justin Bieber. Um, what? Justin picks “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, setting up the battle of country artists singing teen pop. This is not quite as weird as it sounds. Savannah’s arrangement of Bieber turns the song into something totally different, and Justin gets his ballad on pretty well, including a pair of ridiculous notes.
Since this involves Bieber, Carson turns first to Usher, who compliments Savannah’s song choice before being impressed by how long Justin can hold a note. That doesn’t stop him from choosing Savannah, though. Shakira doesn’t offer a choice. Adam reiterates that Justin is the biggest surprise. It’s then time for Blake to make his pick, and in a surprise move for the guy who’s displayed a tendency to go with young country artists, he goes forward with Justin. Did you spot Adam’s mock pout?
Adam: I don’t envy Blake on that one.
Team Usher’s Josiah Hawley must now square off with Jess Kellner. Josiah opts for Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” but he’s got some work to do considering not only how his battle round turned out, but how Bryan Keith told a great story with the song previously. Usher thinks Jess’s choice is pretty interesting: it’s James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something.” In the ring, Josiah can’t actively engage the audience given that he’s behind a guitar and at times, looks like he’s all of an inch from the microphone. Yet the ladies still love him. Jess has more mobility, and proves she has a bit of soul diva in her, but doesn’t get the same reaction from the crowd.
Adam suggests that they should’ve switched songs. Then there’s a whole conversation about Josiah’s looks.
Shakira: He looks like my boyfriend.
Adam: She’s basically hitting on you right now.
Blake: …It’s weird in here now.
That takes up most of the discussion time. In the end, Usher opts to keep Josiah, sending an emotional Jess home. Given the unique sound we’ve been able to hear from her and how Josiah’s on that line of his singing ability being overshadowed by his looks, that may be Usher’s first major mistake as a Voice coach.
Back to Team Blake. It’s Holly Tucker versus Luke “where did he come from?” Edgemon. Holly confuses Blake for a second by selecting Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” Her coach tells her that she has to have more confidence in herself. Having the support of Blake Shelton ought to help with that. Luke, who came over to Team Blake from Team Shakira, makes Blake more confused by saying he wants to do Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Blake compares Luke’s voice to a fist with this gem of a sentence:
Blake: I don’t want you to put me in the hospital. I just want you to beat me up.
There’s no wrong choice in this battle for Blake. Holly clearly has the capacity to be a strong female country singer, with a certain maturity to her performance, like a Martina McBride or even – dare we say – Reba McEntire. Like Savannah before him, Luke takes his song somewhere else entirely, and motivates Adam to immediately start giving Adam unsolicited advice.
Adam: He’s amazing. Don’t be stupid. I’m not playing games.
Usher doesn’t get Luke’s song choice, but Shakira does and so does Adam. Blake doesn’t discount Luke’s performance, but he thinks Holly took more chances than Luke, and ultimately that’s what gets her through to the next round. Adam and Shakira promptly get out of their chairs and continue to argue the point with Blake.
Adam: Let me explain why you’re an idiot. He’s a whole unique thing. He’s original. He’s different.
Blake: All I’m telling you is, you’re miscalculating her.
That doesn’t placate Adam’s disbelief. Moving on, it’s time for more of Team Usher. Audrey Karrasch and Michelle Chamuel are the next singers up, with Usher looking for an “epic performance” between them. Will it be Audrey’s version of “How to Love” by Lil Wayne? Her coach calls it “a little bit all over the place” in rehearsal, so he decides to get up close while she tries it again. That’s not the most unorthodox tactic he tries. As Michelle works on Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” he suggests she jump rope. She counters with push-ups. It’s a singing competition and physical fitness!
Audrey still sounds like she’s straining a little bit during her performance. Michelle doesn’t quite have the attitude that Pink brought to the original version of her song, which is also a big part of what makes that track work so well. Both artists have room for improvement. During Shakira’s comments, Adam doesn’t think Blake should talk about anyone’s dance moves or lack thereof.
Adam: Blake doesn’t move when he’s on stage. He just stands in one place the whole time.
Adam likes Michelle. Blake thinks that it’s like someone told Michelle that she won the lottery just before she went on stage, and he wanted to buy a boat with her. While Adam laughs at that description, Usher names Michelle the winner of the knockout round.
After that, Blake puts together a cute but deadly battle: the much-adored Danielle Bradbery with Taylor Beckham. He thinks both of them have confidence issues and wants to see who can overcome that. Danielle wants to perform Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take The Wheel,” which another country artist named Jeff Jenkins did in season one. Former Team Usher member Taylor picks Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette.” Danielle gives her best performance yet, rivaling Jeff’s version in terms of sheer power, not to mention that she looks much more grown-up than we’ve seen her before. There’s nothing technically wrong with Taylor’s performance, but there’s also not that same connection with the audience.
Usher doesn’t think Taylor’s song selection gave her enough space, and believes that Danielle won the matchup. Shakira is once again surprised by Danielle’s apparent lack of nerves. Adam agrees that Taylor wasn’t bad, but lacked some confidence, and calls Danielle almost perfect. The decision is pretty clear, and it’s Danielle. Once again, song choice breaks an artist’s chances.
Team Usher’s C. Perkins must now take on Vedo, as Usher decides to start spelling things. C. opts for a Chris Brown song, “She Ain’t You,” but admits to his new coach that he’s not confident in his ability to hit the high note. Don’t worry, C., Usher has some tips for you. He also approves of Vedo’s song choice, “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams, which Vedo dedicates to his late mother. But can he control the tremendous emotion that comes with that? C. definitely knows how to work the crowd, and there’s no doubt he can sing, but he seems to miss that aforementioned note – where as Vedo hits a huge one in his heart-melting ballad.
What do the coaches think? Shakira thinks C. shouldn’t quite have worked the crowd so much. Adam thinks Vedo’s song choice showed another side of him. Blake gets C. to tell us that his full first name is Craig, after which Adam suggests that Blake might consider going by his first initial too.
Adam: Maybe you should try that. You need to try something.
Blake: Kiss my ass, Adam.
Adam: That’s a lot of smart talk coming from a guy whose initials are, in fact, BS.
Hilarious banter aside, it’s decision time for Usher, and he keeps Vedo on his team for the live rounds.
Blake’s last pairing is all country: it’s Grace Askew against The Swon Brothers in what he says is a classic country showdown. His description might be slightly flawed, as Grace chooses a song that is not country: Tina Turner’s “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” Blake advises her to enunciate, which he should also tell about half of today’s musical artists. The brothers opt for the Dobie Gray classic “Drift Away.” They show that same ability to connect with the audience that they had when they performed “American Girl” in the blinds. Usher’s even singing along!
When it comes time for comments, he thinks Grace’s choice to play the guitar was a distraction, and gives the round to the duo. Shakira advises Blake that if he wants something different, he needs to go for Grace’s more original sound. Adam sees positives on both sides. So what will Blake do? Joke about how Colton Swon can hit high harmonies.
Blake: There’s no question why his guitar is placed where it is.
Ultimately, though, he gives his final live round spot to the Swon Brothers. We have our first duo in the live shows since season one! Let’s take a moment to celebrate that, while we also note that Team Blake is, erm, entirely country. Will that lack of diversity be a detriment in the next phase?
Closing out the night and this round of competition are Team Usher’s Ryan Innes and Cathia. Cathia has picked “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson, and Usher wants to see serious stage presence from the ex-Team Shakira artist. Four-chair singer Ryan arrives with Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want To Be,” which or might be awesome if he can give it enough bite. So essentially, these two have the same challenge in front of them. Cathia impresses Blake and Shakira with her sass. Ryan needs to do with his song what Nakia did with Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me” and he certainly tries his best.
Shakira makes up a new word. Adam naturally compares Ryan to Gavin DeGraw’s original, because as has been previously established, he knows Gavin and so he has a certain knowledge of that song. Blake is impressed by Cathia. Usher deliberates, before awarding the last slot in live shows to Cathia.
From 48, you now have your Voice Top 16. If you missed any action, NBC has a handy recap show airing tomorrow night – otherwise, tune in Monday for live shows, when it’s now your turn to decide who ultimately will become The Voice.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Excerpts appear at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.