Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Voice Season 4 • Knockout Rounds 2

The Season 4 Knockouts began last night, as Team Adam and Team Shakira brought their numbers down to four each, as Adam picked Amber Carrington, Caroline Glaser, Judith Hill, and Sarah Simmons for the finals, and Shakira picked Garrett Gardner, Kris Thomas, Karina Iglesias, and Sasha Allen. Tonight, Team Blake and Team Usher will be center stage, and their coaches are hoping they will be at their best. By the end of the night, all four teams will be down to four acts each, just right for the finals. It is time, ready or not, for the last of the Knockouts.

The Voice Season 4 photo The-Voice-First-Look_zps3d84fe46.jpg
Left to right: Adam Levine, Usher, Blake Shelton, and Shakira.

Team Blake kicks off the night with Savannah Berry and Justin Rivers, two Country performers. Both will be finding their inspiration in Pop music, as Savannah will be singing Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me" and Justin will be taking on Miley Cyrus' big hit, "The Climb". Blake loves him some Savannah in rehearsal, but worries about Justin, wanting him to show his range without adding in too many runs. Should be interesting. Let's hear Justin Bieber with "As Long As You Love Me".


Savannah is the first up, and I am not loving what she is doing. I feel lots of whine in her version of the song, and not much else. It just felt muddled and murky. Justin comes out to sing "The Climb", and is right on with his glory notes, but a tad off otherwise. But honestly, I would most likely go with Justin, although both were a bit underwhelming. I was surprised to hear Usher, Shakira and Adam suggest they would pick Justin, and finally, Blake agreed. Justin is going to the finals, and a teary Savannah is heading home. So it is time for Team Usher to show their stuff, and Usher picks Josiah Hawley and Jess Kellner to be the first Knockout round. Handsome Josiah will be singing "Back To Black" by Amy Winehouse, while Jess will take on James Morrison's "You Give Me Something". Usher wants his acts to show sincerity, and a vulnerability to the audience. Jess really needs to be careful, as she sings the song with her alcoholic mother in mind. But before we begin the competition, here is Amy Winehouse singing "Back To Black".


I am happily surprised for Josiah, for I thought he sounded great, with a wonderful tone to his voice. I really enjoyed that. Jess came out, and I was not real impressed. I thought she had a problem staying on key, and she flailed at times on the song. Now I was pretty surprised to hear both Blake and Adam favored Jess in the round. As Usher was making the decision, it felt like he might be swayed by the other judges, but finally picked Josiah to go to the finals. Josiah is pleased to be moving one, while Jess a bit sad to be heading home. After a commercial break, we learn that Blake will be sending Holly Tucker and Luke Edgemon to the ring. Blake wanted to see how his power vocalists would do one on one. Holly will be singing "Live Like You Were Dying", made famous by Tim McGraw, while Luke changes up Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" to make it his own. In the rehearsals, Blake pushes Holly just to have more confidence, for he thinks she has the talent. At first he is unsure about Justin's song choice, but soon is enjoying it so much. Here is Katy Perry with "Teenage Dreams".


Holly starts off with the Country Pop tune, and she does a nice job, but it exposes her voice as a bit thin, at least for me. I think she could have been helped by relaxing some, for she seemed tense. It also seemed fairly karaoke to me, with little originality in the performance. Luke comes out with a slowed-down take on Katy Perry, and I am loving it his R&B spice. His voice sounds fantastic, and he has owned this song, completely. He easily showed artistic range, and yet Usher didn't like it very much. But Shakira and Adam disagree, and thought Luke was the clear winner. Blake thought it was a tough decision, and finally picked Holly, which confuses the hell out of me. I have yet to be impressed by her, and have been so enjoying Luke. Wow, that was really disappointing, for I thought Luke was the strongest voice on Blake's team. Well, time to move on to Usher, who is putting up Audrey Karrasch and Michelle Chamuel, his two indie artists. Audrey will be singing "How To Love" by Little Wayne, but during rehearsals, it wasn't pretty. She was having trouble, and needed much more work. Michelle will be singing "Raise Your Glass" by Pink, and her only problem during rehearsals was having the air to complete the song. Quickly, she and Usher are doing pushups on the stage! Here is Pink singing "Raise Your Glass".


Audrey is a train wreck from the start, somehow both straining and missing the notes. The only really positive thing I could say is she looked nice. Michelle came out like gangbusters, and stayed on top of the song, and giving it her own twist. She was moving all around the stage, giving an active performance. The coaches all enjoyed Michelle, and thought she won out. It seemed like and easy decision to me, but Blake made it clear there was no clear answer. So I was quite pleased when Usher said Michelle was the winner. Blake comes on to announce the next pairing, as he pits youngsters Danielle Bradbery and Taylor Beckham for this round. Blake thinks they both could use a bit more confidence, and hopes one will really step up. Danielle will be singing "Jesus Take The Wheel" by Carrie Underwood, while Taylor will be singing Rihanna's "Russian Roulette". In rehearsal, he loves Danielle's voice, and just loves her. When Taylor is done, he encourages her to invest more in the song, and really get him to buy the song. Before they perform, here is Carrie Underwood singing "Jesus Take The Wheel".


Danielle is the first to perform, and while she has a lovely voice, it feels like this is weaker than the rehearsal, and the ending has a few rough notes. It just felt to me that she let her nerves get the best of her. To be honest, I was a tad disappointed. Next it was time for Taylor to sing, and the opening bars were a little rough, but she seems to gain confidence, and really comes alive. She struggles with some pith issues along the way, but really sells the song. I kinda favored Taylor. However, Usher felt differently, and thought Danielle stole the show. Shakira and Adam agreed. It was time for Blake to decide, and he picks Danielle to go to the finals, and Taylor heads home. Afterwards, Blake admits it was an easy choice for him, for he didn't like Taylor's song choice, although he really liked her. So on to the next Knockout, as Usher announces he wants to see C. Perkins and VEDO competing, for he only has room for one R&B singer. C. Perkins will be singing "She Ain't You" by Chris Brown while VEDO takes on the Bryan Adams ballad, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You". While C. Perkins seems to struggle a bit in rehearsal, VEDO seems to connect well to his song and deliver the goods for his coach. Give a listen to Bryan Adams on his wonderful song, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You".


Right out of the gate, C. Perkins struggles with pitch, and you can hear how tentative he is in his vocals. This is just not an enjoyable performance for me. I was happy when it was over. VEDO came out ready to go, and since it was dedicated to his late mother, and the emotion showed in a great way. Shakira, Adam, and Blake all thought it was VEDO who took the battle. While I think it was very clear, Usher takes time to consider before announcing that VEDO will be moving on to the finals. After a commercial break, Blake has his final Knockout, as Grace Askew and The Swon Brothers take to the stage. This will be an interesting battle, for they both have a Country sound, big and bold. The Swon Brothers sing "Drift Away", the great song made popular by Dobie Gray, while Grace will be singing "I Can't Stand The Rain", originally sung by Ann Peebles, and later covered by the great Tina Turner. Check out Tina's version of the song.

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Grace is up first, and seemed eager to show her Memphis Blues, but have to say that was her weakest vocals to date, at least for me. I was so looking forward to hearing her, and I was disappointed. The Swon Brothers were right on form, picking a great song, and bringing the audience with them. I thought they were the clear winners of the battle. Usher loved the Swon Brothers, while Shakira and Adam thought it could go either way. After some contemplation, Blake picks The Swon Brothers to go to the finals. And that leads us to the final Knockout Battle of the night, and the last of the season, as next week they all move on to the live finals. Team Usher closes out the evening when Ryan Innes and Cáthia are called to the stage. Usher is looking forward to hearing the two emotional singers going head-to-head. Cáthia will be singing "Mr Know It All" by Kelly Clarkson, and in rehearsal, Usher helps her with the stage moves, getting her more comfortable. Ryan will be taking on Gavin DeGraw's big hit, "I Don't Want To Be". Here is Gavin's original version.


Cáthia is up first, and I am confused by the tempo of the song, as her phrasing seems to be fighting it. She gains control in the chorus, but it seems to come and go a bit. I found this vocal to be sloppy, more about the vocal tricks than communication. Ryan comes out and shocks me, as the soulful singer turns in a shouty, soulless performance that seemed more angry than musical, with some rough notes to be sure. So very disappointing. Adam and Shakira both mentioned being disappointed with Ryan's performance, and Blake preferred Cáthia as well. When it came time to pick the winner, Usher went with Cáthia, who was better on the night. But it is a shame that the better performer was not given the coaching he needed to have a better showing. But the teams have been picked, and Team Blake turned out to be all Country singers, with Justin Rivers, Holly Tucker, Danielle Bradbery, and The Swon Brothers flying his banner. Team Usher will be Josiah Hawley, Michelle Chamuel, VEDO, and Cáthia, all eager to take their place in the spotlight. They will join Team Adam's talented Amber Carrington, Caroline Glaser, Judith Hill, and Sarah Simmons, and Team Shakira's bold competitors Garrett Gardner, Kris Thomas, Karina Iglesias, and Sasha Allen.

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