‘The Voice’: Rihanna Joins As Mentor, Jordan Smith Sings Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain”

Caila Ball-Dionne | October 27, 2015 8:50 am

When Carson Daly promises “The Knockout Of All Knockouts,” you just know something special is in store. That, or The Voice hasn’t reached their superlative quota for the month, and he wants to help. Whatever the case was last night (October 26), he teased it big time as members of Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton‘s teams fought to make it to the Live Playoffs.

More important than all of this: Rihanna is so much fun as a mentor! The denim jumpsuit-clad pop star came in with such profound sentiments as “You’re like a dad, and these are your kids” and “I’d be terrified to sing Adele unless I was really drunk at karaoke.”

She also comes in with a makeover assist for a 15-year-old, and gives Blake the nickname of “Toad.” Though no solid explanation was provided for that last one, let’s hope the Navy makes Toad Shelton a name that sticks.

RiRi ruled the day, but some of these contestants weren’t half bad either. Here’s who made it to the Live Playoffs.

Team Gwen: Braiden Sunshine vs. Ellie Lawrence

It only sounds like an insult when Gwen describes her first pairing of Braiden Sunshine and Ellie Lawrence by saying, “They both have really great personalities.” Want to tell them about their nice smiles, next?

It gets worse for 15-year-old Braiden, whose self-esteem you can just hear deflating when Rihanna asks, “Who are you inside of that tiny body?” Oof. He recovers nicely, though with his performance of Michael Bublé’s version of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” His voice is free of the cracking that troubled him in earlier rounds, and he channels his inner lounge singer for the occasion.

Pop rocker Ellie has a tough time following Braiden. Her performance of Demi Lovato’s “Cool For The Summer” is shaky and flat, and the few impressive moments scattered throughout don’t make up for the low moments.

“Who would have thought that a 15-year-old guy could of come in here and handle that song the way that you did?” says Pharrell.

“It just felt like you did not have as much control, but you have so much personality and so much sparkle,” Gwen tells Ellie, defaulting back to personality. She compliments Braiden’s song choice, telling him, “It showed off exactly how talented you are.”

In the easiest decision of the night, Gwen advances Braiden.

Team Blake: Blind Joe vs. Barrett Baber

There’s a whole lot of country when Blake puts Barrett Baber and Blind Joe together for his first Knockout pairing. Barrett sings Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather” with power and control. Blind Joe falls victim to the Knockout Round jitters, and has breath issues when singing Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

“Tonight, Barrett was a super established country artist,” Adam says. “I did feel how nervous you were, but still you did an amazing job too,” he tells Blind Joe.

“I heard you say that you’re nervous, but I never really saw that from you until today,” Blake tells Blind Joe. Though it pains him to do it, he sends the inspirational contestant packing, and advances Barrett to the Live Playoffs.

Team Blake: Chance Peña vs. Ivonne Acero

Sorry, Blake’s steals, but only one of you is going to make it to the Live Playoffs. The country coach puts his two newbies, Chance Peña of Team Adam and Ivonne Acero of Team Pharrell, against each other to see who has to lose for a second round in a row.

Chance sings Imagine Dragons’ “Demons,” and it does not go well. It has essence of goat in the flat lower register, and uncontrolled high notes. Season 8 returner Ivonne, though, stands out as a new team favorite with her performance of Katy Perry’s “Part Of Me.”

“It was hard for me to really hear all the vocals you can do,” Gwen tells Chance. “I wanted to jump up on stage and sing harmonies and say ‘yes, this is how I feel,’” she tells Ivonne.

“I got the two best steals of the show with you two,” says Blake.

Sadly, it was Chance’s last…you get it. Ivonne advances to the Live Playoffs.

Team Pharrell: Madi Davis vs. Amy Vachal

Pharrell puts folk-singing teen Madi Davis against fan favorite Amy Vachal for his Knockout. Madi sings Joni Mitchell’s “Case Of You,” and transforms the song into her own. Amy sings Etta James’ “A Sunny Kind Of Love,” and it’s lovely, but an unsurprising pick in the dead center of her wheelhouse. It’s definitely a close one between the two.

“This is such an amazing-huge defining moment for you” Adam tells Madi. “There is something about what you do that is impossible to replicate,” he says to Amy.

“There’s something so magical about where your spirit takes a song,” Pharrell tells Madi. To Amy, he says, “You just take a classic vibe.”

Pharrell picks Madi, but don’t you worry about Amy. Adam jumps right in to scoop her up, as does Blake.

“You’re still one of my favorite artists who has ever auditioned for the show, ever. And I’ve won this show a bunch of times,” says Blake.

“I feel like I know what to do to really help you thrive. I do believe that you can win this whole thing,” says Adam.

Amy goes with her gut, and chooses Adam.

Team Adam: Andi & Alex vs. Blaine Mitchell

So much of the Knockout Round comes down to song choice, as demonstrated in Adam’s pairing of four-chair turning twins Andi & Alex and “alternative” (but mostly adult contemporary) singer Blaine Mitchell.

Andi & Alex sing Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy,” which doesn’t do much to highlight their power. Their harmonies, as always, are beautiful, but their solo moments are less impressive. Blaine – a Battle Round steal from Team Blake – sings James Bay’s “Hold Back The River,” and it’s his coming out moment of the season.

“The moment that you just had is what every artist should aspire to experience,” Pharrell tells Blaine.

“It was very important that you managed to separate yourselves as individuals enough to shine in this moment,” Adam tells Andi & Alex, but raves about Blaine’s performance. “The power if it is amazing,” he says.

Adam advances Blaine to the Live Playoffs, and we say goodbye to the last remaining duo of Season 9.

Team Adam: Jordan Smith vs. Viktor Király

The strategy behind pairing two four-chair turners in a Battle or Knockout is a mystery, but so is Adam’s choice to forgo his full head of hair for whatever it is still going on. Adam puts two of his strongest – high-singing Jordan Smith and Hungarian celeb-ish Viktor Király – against each other in the final battle of the night. And yes: this is “The Battle Of All Battles,” so get ready.

Jordan Smith sings Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain,” an ambitious choice that few can pull off. He utterly nails it, though, and dances all over that “sacred ground” with his impossibly controlled notes.

Though it’s a tough act to follow for Viktor, he steps up with “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. His high notes come out of nowhere, and actually makes this a challenging decision.

“I wasn’t expecting you to do that and knock it out of the building,” Blake tells Viktor, but tells Jordan, “That was just one of the greatest vocals I’ve ever heard live.”

“The way that you came through showed me just how amazing you are. You absolutely tackled every single thing that we went over,” Adam tells Viktor. To Jordan, he says, “I think it’s a profound experience for someone to hear you sing.”

In a nail biter, Adam advances Jordan. Never fear, Hungarian fans: Gwen uses her seal on Viktor. “I’m amazed by your gift,” she says.

Six more contestants face off during tonight’s Knockouts. It will certainly be a challenge for them to top “The Battle Of All Battles,” but even more so for Carson to top his “Superlative Of All Superlatives.”

Let’s find out if the contestants or the host are up to their respective challenges tonight.