‘The Voice’: Nate Ruess Advises While Kimberly Nichole Kills It With A Sting Classic
“Nate Ruess came in like a ball of fun,” said Christina Aguilera of the fun. frontman and new Voice mentor, as she both kicked off the Knockout Round of and proved that she should write more of her own lyrics. Also joining in on the ball of fun that is The Voice Knockouts? Season 7 finalist Matt McAndrew! Adam Levine’s former contestant stopped by to see one of Blake Shelton’s current contestants perform the very song that catapulted him into semi-stardom on last season’s finale. It all really comes full circle in The Voice family.
With these special guests in tow on Monday night, Blake Shelton, Pharrell, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera started on yet another round of cutting their teams in half. Here’s who triumphed over their competition, and who got – well – knocked out in the process.
Team Christina: Ashley Morgan vs. Sonic
Starting off the Knockout round is Team Christina’s Ashley Morgan vs. Sonic. Ashley, a Battle Round steal from Team Pharrell, has an uphill battle in front of her against pop singer Sonic, who seems to be one of Christina’s favorites. Ashley sings Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” and – to steal an assessment from Nate Ruess – “She’s got some cover band moves.” The strutting around stage is a bit wedding band gone wild, but she hits her notes with impressive accuracy.
Sonic takes a sultry approach with “A Woman’s Worth” by Alicia Keys. It’s on the total opposite end of the spectrum from Ashley’s performance, and though it’s softer, it boasts more power. Sonic has a command of the stage, and takes the type of creative runs that have Christina salivating.
“Sonic seems more in Christina’s wheelhouse to me. I’m comparing the way that she approaches singing more to your style,” says Blake.
“You ran through that song like it was a racetrack. It was so clean,” Pharrell tells Ashley.
“Your ability is so great,” Christina tells Ashley, adding, “I still think you can just really let it loose.” To Sonic, she says, “You take chances, and I love that about you.”
Christina advances Sonic, and Ashley does get lucky with a steal in this round.
Team Blake: Brian Johnson vs. Sarah Potenza
Blake puts two of his strongest voices, Brian Johnson and Sarah Potenza, against one another in his first Knockout. Brian takes a departure from his typical upbeat performances to sing James Morrison’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You.” It’s vocally fine, but a bit lackluster.
Sarah, on the other hand, unleashes a jaw-dropping performance of Matt McAndrew’s “Wasted Love.” The one and only Matt McAndrew takes a break from designing check mark tattoos to give Sarah some advice for about 30 seconds before he’s sent to the audience to cheer her on.
“You’re living when you sing,” Christina tells Sarah.
“This was unbelievably even,” Adam declares.
“That’s artistry. When you take these things that move you and you put them into motion yourself, that’s a big deal,” says Blake.
Blake advances Sarah, and Adam jumps in to steal Brian.
“You should be in this competition, 100 percent,” Adam tells his new team member.
Team Adam: Clinton Washington vs. Nathan Hermida
Clinton Washington, a Battle Round steal from Team Christina, goes up against 17-year-old Nathan Hermida, or “geeky boy,” as his mom calls him in a clip that will likely be replayed every episode until Nathan’s elimination. (Parents, amirite?) Clinton, who the coaches lined up to steal after he was dropped from Team Christina, sings “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. He sounds nervous, and this showing pales in comparison to his Battle Round performance of Rihanna’s “Stay.”
Nathan sings Sam Smith’s “Leave Your Lover.” He jumps between falsettos and full voice impressively throughout. There are some technical deductions that could be made, but it is overall a beautiful performance.
“Nathan just sang a duet with himself,” says Blake.
“I could see your growth,” Christina tells her former contestant, Clinton. “That was a really challenging song to sing, and there were some pitch things,” she tells Nathan.
“There were a couple of little pocket things, but really, really good performance,” Adam tells Clinton. “You finally opened up to this audience,” he tells Nathan.
Adam advances Nathan, and the once-saved Clinton is saved no more.
Team Pharrell: Mia Z. vs. Paul Pfau vs. Sawyer Fredericks
After Anthony Riley leaves the competition for “personal reasons,” Pharrell gets creative and puts three of his contestants against each other for the first time in Voice history! The odds are ever in the favor for Mia Z., Paul Pfau and Sawyer Fredericks, as two out of the three will advance to the Knockouts.
Teenage Mia stays true to her blues goal and sings B. B. King’s “Hold On I’m Coming.” She has an unbelievable range, and hits high notes that alert every dog in the neighborhood to trouble (perhaps in honor of National Puppy Day).
Paul sings the John Mayer version of “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” It’s fine, but it doesn’t have the powerhouse notes that Mia laid out in her performance. Such is the risk that comes with performing something qualified as “the John Mayer version.”
Sawyer sings Howie Day’s “Collide.” It’s seemingly the least vocally ambitious of the three, but the engaging, long-haired teenage vocalist gives it his own spin and charms the audience.
“Human beings usually don’t have the ability to sing as high as you can,” Adam tells Mia. “Sawyer, the way that your voice fills your room is kind of beyond compare.”
“I just never heard somebody just effortlessly navigate a melody like you did,” Blake tells Mia.
“Paul, you were tearing it up on the guitar, but I felt like you left it wide open for somebody else to come in vocally and take it from you,” says Christina.
Skipping through criticism straight to selections, Pharrell selects his two winners (or one loser, to phrase it soul crushingly). He advances Sawyer and Mia, and Paul goes home as the first contestant in the history of The Voice to lose this way.
Team Blake: Meghan Linsey vs. Travis Ewing
Blake puts his two Battle Round steals from Team Pharrell against each other with the Knockout of Meghan Linsey vs. Travis Ewing. Though Meghan is new to Blake’s team, she has a history with the country singer, having opened up for him in her pre-Voice days. She sings Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman,” and despite the done-to-death potential of the song, her performance is fantastic. Meghan’s perfect combination of raspy vocals and soulful wails even gets Pharrell on his feet.
Travis sings Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” Much like in a fictional Knockout between actual Aretha Franklin and actual Gavin DeGraw, it’s no contest. Meghan’s Aretha blows Travis’s Gavin out of the water.
“You seem to just be getting better and better as the song continued,” Christina tells Meghan.
“I think I just met Travis, because you were really going for it,” says his former coach. “Meghan, you sang that song in a way that proves your worthiness to sing that kind of music.”
Blake advances Meghan with little hesitation.
Team Christina: Kimberly Nichole vs. Koryn Hawthorne
Nightclub singer Kimberly Nichole goes against teenage pizza maker Koryn Hawthorne in the final Knockout of the evening. Though Kimberly is a new addition to Team Christina from Team Pharrell, she goes in with more experience and an apparent advantage.
Kimberly starts it off with an energetic performance of Sting’s “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” Her stage presence wows, as always, and her flawless vocals throw down a gauntlet for Koryn.
Koryn holds her own, though, following this challenge with a strong performance of Pink’s “Try.” It is a perfect choice for her vocals, and makes for her best showing to date.
“Goodness gracious. You sing with a razor blade. It’s so sharp and so on-point,” Pharrell tells Kimberly. “When we hear your voice, we feel like the bottom of your spirit coming through,” he says to Koryn.
“I felt like we just fast-forwarded to the end of the season,” says Adam. “Koryn that was the best performance you’ve given so far.”
“It really was the best of the Knockouts,” says Christina. “You just have such a natural, amazing ability to own the stage,” she tells Kimberly.
After an agonizing decision, Christina advances Kimberly. She then immediately encourages all of the coaches to steal Koryn. Pharrell takes her up on her offer, and adds Koryn to his Playoffs roster.
The Knockouts continue tonight, featuring what Carson Daly has declared to be, “the most unexpected steal yet.” Unless Gwen Stefani, Usher, Cee Lo or Shakira show up to steal a red chair back, it might be time to chat with Carson about hyperbole.