It was Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton’s turns to eliminate half of their teams on Tuesday, while Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green sat back and enjoyed a stress-free evening of The Voice. Deep with talent and surprisingly diverse, Blake’s team offered more dynamic performances than Christina’s. But Ms. Aguilera’s girls (and two boys) really brought the pop factor.
As the 20 contestants on both teams sang their hearts out for the final 10 spaces in the Live Playoffs, both Christina and Blake strategically stacked their respective singing armies with performers that will give them the best shot when the decisions are out of their hands next week.
Team Christina: Devyn DeLoera vs. Laura Vivas
Christina puts pop singers Devyn DeLoera and Laura Vivas together in the first Knockout of the evening. Devyn selects Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” because, she says, “I’d have nothing if I didn’t have this show.” (A little dramatic, Devyn.) Other than falling to her knees at the end of the performance, Devyn adds no frills, because you don’t really try to outdo Whitney. Laura sings Marc Anthony’s “I Need to Know.” This is our first time seeing the previously untelevised Laura perform, and her voice is unremarkable and pitchy. Her shimmying and shaking around stage distracts from her voice, which is bilingual, but shaky. It’s uncomfortable all around, though not quite as uncomfortable as Cee Lo’s enthusiastic “caliente!” praise following the performance. Without much deliberation, Christina chooses Devyn.
Team Christina: Adriana Louise vs. Celica Westbrook
Celica Westbrook, another untelevised contestant until now, faces off against Adriana Louise. Adriana selects Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone,” because the lyrics are significant to her (hopefully unrelated to her chances on The Voice). Christina gives her some advice on how to dramatize the ending, and it helps her otherwise shaky performance stand out. Celica, who may or may not have been named after a Toyota, selects Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never.” It’s energetic and fun, but the vocals don’t have a wow factor. Neither performance does, really. Though she still needs to work on her nerves, Adriana moves to the next round. Christina tells Celica, “Don’t hate me.” Like it matters.
Team Christina: Alessandra Guercio vs. Dez Duron
As Blake puts it, “it’s a battle of the heartthrobs” between Alessandra Guercio and Dez Duron. Both singers do have magazine-cover look to go with their vocal talents. Christina’s Battle Round steal, Alessandra, selects Rihanna’s “Take A Bow.” It’s a solid performance that would have easily won against other team mates. Second timer (and super handsome) Dez performs “Stuck On You” by Lionel Richie. Dez has a unique tone to his voice, and vocal runs that cover the highest end of the range and throaty lows. Christina, likely unwilling to give up one of the few dudes on her team that’s full of divas, advances Dez to the next round.
Team Christina: Chevonne vs. De’Borah
Christina puts her two most energetic one-named performers, Chevonne and De’Borah, against each other to see “who can bring the crowd to their feet.” Recently stolen from Team Cee Lo (we’ll get to that in a moment), Chevonne chooses Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” and works with Christina on not losing her voice in the fast-paced punk tune. Her Lady Gaga backup dancer castoff outfit is a bit much, but she sings the challenging song with surprising breath control. Crowd favorite and self-proclaimed misfit De’Borah selects “You Found Me” by The Fray, relating it to her relationship with God. She sings it with fitting emotion, and attacks her runs with her usual balance of control. She’s got star quality, that one, and wins the round.
Chevonne, however, wins for most awkward exit. Trying to compliment both performers, Cee Lo says “I would have love to have you both on my team,” to which Chevonne snaps, “I was on your team!” (rude). She then hugs Christina, and totally ignores Cee Lo, despite his numerous loud cries for a goodbye. After that, it’s clear Chevonne’s not getting the “let’s keep in touch” offer Cee Lo gives to his favorites.
Team Christina: Aquile vs. Sylvia Yacoub
In Christina’s last Knockout, she pairs the soulful Aquile and powerhouse Sylvia Yacoub. Christina suggests that Aquile “get Michael Jackson on it” in his performance of “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. He must know what that means, because he sticks every note of the ambitious song, and has the coaches nodding enthusiastically. Sylvia makes the brave choice to perform a tune by Xtina herself. Where Christina usually tells her team members to find their own voices with each song, she encourages Sylvia to stick to the original version of “Fighter.” Go figure. Sylvia struggles a bit with the breathing during rehearsals, but after some expert coaching from Christina, nails it in the performance. Sylvia is rewarded for her risk, and advances to the Live Playoffs.
Team Blake: Gracia Harrison vs. Liz Davis
It’s a battle of the blonds in Blake’s first Knockout of the evening. Gracia Harrison and Liz Davis both have country roots, but Gracia tries to demonstrate her versatility by performing a country version of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (or “Thang”). Blake can’t wrap his head around why any country singer would try anything other than country. Liz Davis, who has a Christina red pout and a terrifyingly motivated look in her eyes, selects Miranda Lambert’s “Gun Powder And Lead.” This is the second song by Blake’s wife that she’s selected during The Voice, so we’re just going to call her The Kiss-Ass from this point forward. Gracia’s performance is sweet, and would have done well at open mic night in a country bar, but isn’t good enough for this competition. The Kiss-Ass knows the type of performer she wants to be, and crushes the song and the competition. The Kiss-Ass (Liz) moves on to the Live Playoffs.
Team Blake: Rudy Parris vs. Terry McDermott
The Knockout of Rudy Parris and Terry McDermott should be used as a song-choice cautionary tale for future Voice contestants. Rudy, the grandfather who looks like a really shiny-haired Meat Loaf, opts to sing Chris Brown. It wasn’t even a good idea when our old favorite Avery tried it. While his performance of “Forever” is vocally fine, it just resonates as weird to have a grandfather who doesn’t dance sing about dancing. Beyond that, dance lyrics aren’t generally known for their substance, and when “Forever” is slowed down to classic rock pace, the words just fall flat. No one wants Rudy to double their pleasure. Scottish rocker Terry, on the other hand, keeps moving forward on his path and sings Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” He blows all of the coaches away, and easily sails on to the next round. Watch out for this one.
Team Blake: Collin McLaughlin vs. Michaela Paige
Blake pairs new steal Collin McLaughlin (who brought his Dawson’s Creek necklace over with him from Team Adam) against punk rock singer Michaela Paige. Collin chooses “Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)” by The Script. He’s got a solid falsetto and sings the song well, but it’s a lackluster song compared to Michaela’s choice of “Love Is A Battlefield.” Michaela belts the Pat Benatar anthem out with gusto, and when she hits those rock star growls, it’s hard to believe she’s only 16. “I love this girl so much,” Blake says, choosing Michaela. We hope she can get her coach to try a mohawk, or he can get some cowboy boots into her punk ensemble as the weeks go on.
Team Blake: Julio Cesar Castillo vs. MarissaAnn
Blake pairs former Mariachi singer Julio Cesar Castillo against former Team Christina singer MarissaAnn. Julio, just happy to be done with “Conga,” sings the second Justin Bieber cover of the evening. While different than what we’ve seen from him so far, his rendition of “Somebody To Love” is underwhelming. MarissaAnn attempts to stick it to Christina with a performance of her former coach’s hit “Lady Marmalade.” There are some impressive high notes, but the performance is jumpy and shaky, much like her over-sexed teen dancing. Blake looks past the flash factor and chooses Julio.
Team Blake: Cassadee Pope vs. Suzanna Choffel
In the final pairing of the Knockout, Blake puts former Hey Monday front woman Cassadee Pope against free spirit Suzanna Choffel. Though Cassadee chose Blake over Adam in the Blind Auditions, she chooses Adam for the Knockout, singing Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” She embellishes quite a bit on the tune, adding a full female range in place of Adam’s falsetto. It’s a little shaky to start, but she really nails it by the end, and Adam gives it his stamp of approval. Cool, calm Suzanna Choffel chooses Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved.” It’s a really funky, fun rendition, and almost distracts us from whatever the hell happened to her hair. Almost. Unfortunately, the mellow tune doesn’t stand out in competition, even with her personal spin. Blake chooses Cassadee, who is excited for the (second) chance to win America over.
With the arguably more important voting happening next Tuesday (okay, the definitely more important), The Voice moves the Live Playoffs to Monday and Wednesday, with the results show on Thursday. We’re registered for Tuesday, and are also ready to cast votes on Wednesday, setting up what is sure to be a full week of voting. Are you ready to pick your favorites on The Voice?