The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – The Knockouts, Part 3 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “The Knockouts Premiere, Part 3”! Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams are getting help from a very special key advisor for this round, as multi-time Grammy winner Rihanna joins the show to work with the coaches and artists for this stage of the competition!
Tonight, the Knockouts come to a dramatic conclusion, as the final battles of the competition come to a close! Next week is the live playoffs, and we’ll find out, once and for all, whether or not those rumored Top 20 spoilers turned out to be right after all! Will the winner be in tonight’s lineup? Who will get the final steal of the competition? I’m so excited!
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the coaches discussing tonight’s Knockouts, with Gwen going as far as to admit that this just might be her favorite thing she’s ever done. And with that, we’re off to Adam’s final Knockout Round pairing…
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: SHELBY BROWN VS. JAMES DUPRE
-Shelby will be singing “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood, a song that has a lot of personal meaning to her, since she sang it for her third grade talent show. She lost, but she sees this as a chance at redemption (well, I like that she has a sense of humor). Adam feels Shelby’s success on the show will entirely depend on how much she believes in herself, noting that her biggest oppoent is her own nerves. So Rihanna suggests drawing out the notes and letting the runs come naturally, and this seems to restore Shelby’s confidence. She even notes how much she loves Rihanna as a coach. Same here, Shelby. Same here. James is next up, and he’ll be singing “Sure Be Cool If You Did” by Blake Shelton. It’s a perfect fit for his voice, but he has a bit more trouble with his performance than Shelby did with hers, admitting that his mind and his body have a hard time communicating a song. Adam wants James not to be so guarded, encouraging to bring out his showmanship. When James finally does, Adam is really impressed, declaring he performed better than Blake Shelton.
-Shelby is up first, and it’s a bit iffy to start off, since I think you can hear her nerves. But as it picks up, she actually sounds a bit like Carrie Underwood, but with a bit of a deeper tone to her voice. I really like it, and it’s the perfect song for a round like this, since it allows her to show off all the dynamics of her voice. James is next up, and while this wasn’t as good as his previous two performances, I thought this was really freaking good. I would have gone with a ballad, but I thought James did very well.
-Blake praises James for his “awesome taste in song selection”, but notes that it’s a pretty laid back song for a knockout round. However, he thought James tackled it even easier than he would have. Blake then jokes that he’d have liked Shelby more if she’d have sang one of his songs too, before praising her for her vocals, and noting that he can’t choose between them. Pharrell and Gwen are similarly divided, although Pharrell gets in a great line about how Shelby was swinging swords and chopping off heads with her vocals. Adam admits it’s a really tough decision, but he’s made his choice…
SHELBY BROWN WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-Carson doesn’t note that James is available to steal, so I’m guessing this was filmed after all the steals were already gone. That’s literally the only reason I can fathom for why James wouldn’t have been stolen. Ultimately, I like Shelby, but I really don’t feel like she’ll go that far. She’s like a younger Sarah Simmons.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: James Dupre vs. Shelby Brown Is a Four-Chair Knockout on The Voice (VIDEO)
-And with that, TEAM ADAM IS COMPLETE! They are: Keith Semple, Shelby Brown, Jordan Smith, Blaine Mitchell and Amy Vachal. I love Jordan Smith, and Amy Vachal is terrific, but I really don’t think Adam has the winner this year.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MARK HOOD VS. SIAHNA IM
-Mark is so floored to see Rihanna that he literally has to walk out of the room, compose himself, and come back in. Rihanna loves him already, of course, because Mark is loaded with personality. Mark will be singing “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King, and while he loves the message of the song, he admits he’s nervous, since he’s used to theatrics and this is a song that’s more restrained. Pharrell is impressed with the vocal, although he and Rihanna agree that he should build up to the showmanship. Pharrell also has a serious heart-to-heart with Mark about letting go of his doubt, since it could end up holding him back. Strangely, Siahna seems to have the opposite problem from Mark. She’s more confident going in, but her vocal isn’t as strong. She still sounds good on her choice, Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”, but I agree with Rihanna when she notes that Siahna is too “airy” at the start. She needs to show more vocal power, especially on a track like this. Of course, Rihanna and Pharrell pinpoint the strongest part of her voice during one of the extended notes, and this is really starting to shape up as a potential battle of the season.
-Mark is up first, and I could find absolutely no faults with this vocal, other than that he goes too far over the top with the runs and ad-libs, in places. But still, Mark is ready RIGHT NOW, and it’ll be a hell of an upset, in my opinion, if Siahna can beat him. And I say that as someone who’s generally loved Siahna throughout her run so far. Siahna is up next, and I continue to be impressed by her maturity. She really is like an old soul trapped in the body of a teenager. She sells the pain and heartache of the song, along with the sassy attitude of the song. Unfortunately, I felt the vocal drifted in and out of key. She did a hell of a job, but I think Mark has this one.
-Gwen tells Mark she can’t keep her eyes off of him, with his movements and his incredible runs. She then calls Siahna “off the charts adorable” and praises her for “embodying the lyric” in her performance. Adam thought Mark was great, and pulled out his entire bag of tricks, while Siahna brought the claws and teeth, and then reverted back to being super sweet. “There’s only one Siahna,” Adam declares. Blake says Mark dances like he dances, but sings like only Mark could. He then notes that Siahna blew his mind up there. Pharrell feels both his artists did very well today, saying Mark fought for his life by being entertaining, while Siahna charmed the room, so this will be a tough one. But Pharrell is going to go with his gut on this one…
MARK HOOD WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-And that’s it for Siahna, as no one steals her (presumably because no one has any more steals to use, what with this crazy taping order), and she thanks Pharrell and gets a big hug in exchange. I’ll miss her, but I don’t think she’s ready. Unfortunately, now she can’t come back, unless the rules change to allow anybody who didn’t make the live shows to return, a la American Idol. I actually hope that’s a rule change that gets implemented at some point, because too many awesome people have gone home just short of the lives.
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: JEFFERY AUSTIN VS. KOTA WADE
-Jeffery calls working with Rihanna “a dream come true,” adding that getting the chance to sing for someone with that many hits is incredible. In keeping with his trend of singing songs by British artists, he’ll be singing “Turning Tables” by Adele, an absolutely brilliant choice for his voice, honestly. He notes how perfect it is for him personally, saying he connects with it a lot due to how it reminds him of his past relationship. Gwen and Rihanna love the vocal, but they feel there needs to be more physicality to his performance, to indicate that he’s changing his mood, going from sadness to anger with each forceful step. Gwen feels if he believes in himself and connects with the song, the body language will come, and I agree (for the record, I think Gwen is a really underrated mentor). Kota is up next, and she’ll be singing “Barracuda” by Heart. Gwen warns her about adding too many growls, since she runs the risk of losing her femininity. Rihanna, however, feels Kota is a firecracker, and she’s one of the most comfortable people on that stage. As long as she focuses on her vocals, she should be a formidable threat to win this Knockout.
-Jeffery kicks things off, and this is about as close to flawless as any male covering Adele could have been. I really enjoy Jeffery, and I think he could be one of the dark horses of this competition. His voice is just otherworldly, and I would certainly hope that, if he were to somehow lose this Knockout, he would get stolen. Because I genuinely feel we’re looking at a potential finalist. Kota is up next, and if she were battling anyone other than Jeffery, I would actually give her the nod. Gwen has no one else like her on her team, and while rock girls don’t always do as well as they should on shows like these, I think Kota is versatile enough that she could mix it up and do a whole lot more than just rock. Her voice cracks at the end, but I was still impressed with this overall. However, Jeffery has totally got this one, in my opinion.
-Adam feels Jeffery has one of the most distinctive, identifying tones they’ve ever heard on the show. He praises Kota for swinging for the fences, and choosing one of the hardest songs to ever sing. However, he’d go with Jeffery. Blake loves when an artist strips everything down and shows what they’re made of, which is what Jeffery did here “brilliantly”. He doesn’t know what Gwen is going to do though, since she would probably love to have a rocker chick like Kot. Pharrell thought Jeffery’s performance was great because it was about identity, while Pharrell thought Kota’s performance, while flat in places, showed tons of personality. Gwen says that Kota’s style and personality comes through clearly, and she knows exactly what kind of record Kota would make. She then praises Jeffery for letting down his guard and letting them into his heart. It’s a difficult decision for Gwen, but she makes her pick…
JEFFERY AUSTIN WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-Jeffery is stoked to finally have the moment he’s been hoping to have on this show. Gwen is devastated to see Kota go, but Jeffery delivered something so special that she couldn’t pass him up. Backstage, Jeffery thanks Gwen personally for pushing him to go farther than he ever thought he could, in a sweet little moment. I’ll miss Kota, but this was the right call.
-Back from break with Blake trying to give Rihanna a new nickname, and then revealing he invented the Ri-Ri nickname. Cute stuff, but we don’t really linger on it, as we’re on to the next Knockout…
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: EMILY ANN ROBERTS VS. NADJAH NICOLE
-Emily and Rihanna immediately get along like best friends, and it’s super adorable. Emily will be singing “Cowboy Take Me Away” by Dixie Chicks, a track she’s loved since she was a little girl. However, Emily is having trouble hitting some of the notes, which frustrates her since she was able to hit them before. Rihanna thinks Emily can be a star though, and Blake agrees, saying that while she she’s cut out a difficult challenge for herself with this song choice, he thinks she’ll be able to handle it. Nadjah is up next, and she struggles to contain her starstruck feelings upon meeting Rihanna. She’ll be singing “A Woman’s Worth” by Alicia Keys, and dedicating it to her daughter. Rihanna was initially worried, since she wasn’t sure where Nadjah could take a song like this. But listening to her, Rihanna falls in love with Nadjah’s voice. Blake loves the confidence Nadjah has by the end of the song, and only wishes she could start off with that same confidence. Rihanna suggests moving her ad-libs from the start of the song to the middle, and the affect is instantaneous, as Nadjah seems far more comfortable now than at the start of the rehearsal. I’m interested to see how this battle plays out, even though it feels like the result is fairly obvious.
-This is one of Emily’s best vocals, if not her best overall. She’s really grown into her role as the de facto golden-haired country starlet, like she’s walked straight off the set of Nashville. She’s got an understated stage presence, and her facials really sell the song, along with the rest of her body language. Color me impressed. Nadjah follows, and delivers a really solid vocal, although it’s not really anything new. I like Nadjah a lot, but I feel like her trajectory in the competition would be kind of a boring one, which isn’t to say that Emily’s wouldn’t be similarly predictable, but at least with Emily, you get the arc where you get to watch her grow as a performer. I feel like Nadjah doesn’t need The Voice any more than Judith Hill did, really.
-Pharrell loved Nadjah’s jazzy tone, and loved Emily’s fighting spirit. Adam and Gwen are similarly positive on both artists, which is one of the things I love about this show. It’s not predicated on humiliation, but on constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. Call it hokey, but I think it’s great. Ultimately, Blake struggles a bit with his decision, but goes in the expected direction…
EMILY ANN ROBERTS WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-Emily is touched that Blake believes in her, and she fights tears backstage. In the studio, Nadjah thanks Blake for helping her grow as an artist. Nadjah deserved to stick around, but I get why he went with Emily instead.
–MONTAGE TIME! We see the final Team Blake battle, as Zach Seabaugh defeats Chris Crump (we don’t even see Chris at all, just Zach. Dude got totally Rebekah Samarin’d). And with that, TEAM BLAKE IS COMPLETE! They are: Emily Ann Roberts, Morgan Frazier, Barrett Baber, Ivonne Acero and Zach Seabaugh.
I went into the Battles thinking Blake had the team to beat, but now I’m not so sure. There are a lot of strong singers on Team Blake, but I think his ability to win will depend largely on who gets through on Team Pharrell and Team Gwen. I guess we’ll see soon enough.
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: EVAN MCKEEL VS. TIM ATLAS
-Evan is stoked to work with Rihanna, saying that work with Pharrell alone is big, but working with both artists, who are masters of their craft, is huge. He’ll be singing one of his favorite songs, “Dare You To Move” by Switchfoot. This is a perfect song, and what makes it even better is Rihanna’s point that Evan is actually better and more communicative without his guitar. Evan is a little disappointed, because he was excited to finally play an instrument this round. But he agrees that it’s easier to communicate a song without having to hold one. Pharrell gives Evan the advice to not over-think, but to over-feel. Tim is up next, and his performance of “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia is quite nice, but Rihanna suggests that he should add some Mick Jagger attitude to it. Pharrell adds that he should open up his performance style as well, saying he’s too constricted. Frankly, I don’t know why Tim chose this song, since I don’t think it’s going to work for him, at least not in the way he’ll want it to. It’ll be a good performance, but I don’t know that it’ll be good enough to beat Evan.
-Evan is just such an impressive vocalist. His upper register is so crisp and clear, and he never sounds like he’s straining to hit the notes. This wasn’t an exciting performance or anything, but it was an impeccable vocal that ranks among the strongest of tonight. I’d be absolutely shocked if he didn’t win this Knockout. When Tim steps up to perform, I find his song choice even more baffling than before. His voice is fascinating, but this performance bored me to tears.
-Gwen thought the start of Tim’s performance was magic, but thought the ad-libs detracted as it went on. But she still loves the unique tone of Tim’s voice. She loves Evan’s strong vocals, and the fact that he doesn’t hold anything back. Blake notes that Evan has a lot of energy and fight up there, while Tim is one of the more unique competitors in the competition. However, the ad-libs make the performance a bit weird, although Pharrell is the King of Weird, so maybe they can work together (Adam butts in by declaring Blake the King of Stupid, which Blake admits was a good one). Pharrell praises Evan for his intuition, as he took the song where it needed to go. He then tells Tim that his unique tone is something that can hurt him if he doesn’t use it right, but he applauds him for some of his choices, particularly the anger he showed at the start of the performance. Pharrell makes his choice…
EVAN MCKEEL WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-Tim thanks Pharrell and Gwen for giving him this chance, and Pharrell responds by telling him not to give up on his voice, noting that once you find something that works, it’ll work forever. Backstage, Pharrell congratulates Evan and speaks with his family. I think Evan is one of the strongest singers on Team Pharrell, although he’s not exactly exciting. But when your voice is THAT good, how exciting do you really need to be? Joshua Davis wasn’t exactly thrilling, and he made the finale. And Evan does have a certain amount of charisma that makes him compelling, so I like his chances of going from Top 20 to Top 12.
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: RILEY BIEDERER VS. REGINA LOVE
-Regina is honored to still be here, and she absolutely flips out upon meeting Rihanna, noting what a big fan she is. Regina will be singing “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight, noting that she opened the pathway for singers like her. Rihanna says she’d never want to bottle Regina, and so she encourages all the theatricality she’s showing. Regina is looking like a clear frontrunner here. Riley is no slouch either though, singing “XO” by Beyonce and making it sound easy, even getting Rihanna singing along in her seat. To her credit, Riley says she wants to put her own spin on the song to keep from sounding like she wants to mimic Beyonce. This has the effect of impressing Rihanna and shocking Gwen, both of whom wonder why they even have to be here for this rehearsal, since she’s ready right now.
-Riley goes first, and she really sets the standard for this Knockout, not just vocally but in star quality as well. She just looks like the real deal up there, and she sounds like it too. I couldn’t have been more impressed by this. Seriously, she’s a star waiting to happen. Regina is up next, and hot DAMN, she might have just snatched this way from Riley. This was a badass, passionate, forceful, Earth-scorching vocal. You could probably argue she pulled a Mark Hood and went way too over the top with it, but I think this is exactly what was needed here. Both women absolutely deserve to stay.
-Adam says he missed Regina before, but he really misses her now. He then tells Riley that she did a great job, showing fearlessness. Blake saw more diversity in Riley’s vocal, but Regina’s powerful vocal split his hair. Pharrell has goosebumps and chills over Regina. Adam tells Regina that the confused look on Pharrell’s face is how you know you killed it. Pharrell then praises Riley for her growth as a performer. Gwen feels Riley’s voice is truly unique, and that she has so much potential. She loves Regina’s spirit, and adds she was brought to tears. Gwen tells a tearful Regina that she should be on the show, but adds that Riley should be too. She agonizes over her choice, but makes her pick…
REGINA LOVE WINS THIS KNOCKOUT!
-Gwen feels Riley could win this competition, but she can’t ignore what Regina just did, noting she “shook the whole room.” Backstage, Regina thanks God, and says that while she’s not 19-years-old, she gave it all she had. “Live shows, here we come!” she declares. Back in the studio, Riley is preparing to say her goodbyes when…
PHARRELL WILLIAMS STEALS RILEY BIEDERER!
-Pharrell feels everything happens for a reason, and he’s grateful Gwen gave her the opportunity to steal Riley and bring her back home.
-And with that, Team Gwen and Team Pharrell are complete! This means the final teams for the Top 20 Live Playoffs for The Voice Season 9 are…
Team Adam Levine
Team Blake Shelton
Emily Ann Roberts
Team Pharrell Williams
Team Gwen Stefani
I have absolutely no loving idea who’s winning this thing. Probably either Barrett or Jordan, although it’s really just a wild stab in the dark, at this point. This is quite possibly the most wide-open season in years!
But what did you think? Did the coaches make the right choices? Sound off in the comments!
Until next time, thank you for hanging out and reading!