The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – The Knockouts Premiere (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “The Knockouts Premiere”! 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 sees some pretty stellar battles including frontrunner favorites such as Viktor Kiraly and Jordan Smith, just to name a few. But could the winner be part of tonight’s lineup? And will any of these contestants be stolen? Each coach gets just one steal for the Knockouts, so they’ll have to choose wisely if they decide to save an artist! The Knockout Round is here, so let the excitement begin!
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 Adam talking with Rihanna in the studio before rehearsal. We then go into the live studio as the first battlers enter…
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: ANDI & ALEX VS. BLAINE MITCHELL
-Before we get to the battle, we flash back to the rehearsal, in a strangely refreshing change of format. After geeking out over Rihanna calling them beautiful, Andi & Alex reveal they will be singing “Stupid Boy” by Keith Urban. Rihanna is concerned about volume, while Adam is a bit concerned about one of the girls playing the guitar, since it makes it look as though one sister is backing up the other. Adam suggests getting rid of the guitar, and then starting the song off far apart from one another, with Rihanna saying that it adds a new dimension to the song since it makes it seem like they’re privately anguishing over a boy, only to come together over their pain.
-Blaine feels like he’s found a home on Team Adam, and he’ll be showing Adam what he can do with James Bay’s “Hold Back the River”. I think the song is too big for him, but Rihanna is absolutely in love with this performance, even his Mariah Carey hands on each note. Adam compares Blaine to Michael Hutchence, noting that the lead singer of INXS was a badass, and he didn’t even have to do much. Adam loves Andi & Alex’s harmonies, saying they’re a godsend; but he also notes that Blaine isn’t a fake rock n’ roll dude, he’s a real rock n’ roll dude. So this should be a close one. Honestly, I think Blake should think about stealing the loser of this knockout, particularly if it’s Andi & Alex.
-Blaine is up first, and I don’t really love this, honestly. He’s a good singer, but I think this was a bad song choice. He just sounds like he’s straining the whole way through. But Adam appears to have loved it, so it’s hard to imagine he isn’t the frontrunner to win this battle right now. But once Andi & Alex perform, I think the tide starts to turn. The individual segments are stronger than I was expecting, and the harmonies were as lovely as ever. This should be a close one, but if it were up to me, I’d go with Andi & Alex. They’re a far more unique act than Blaine.
-Blake says he might have screwed up by letting Blaine go. He then compliments Andi for stepping up, but feels they didn’t pick a song as dynamic as Blaine’s. Pharrell agrees, then applauds Blaine for showing more than they ever knew was there. Gwen jokes about how cool it must be for Andi & Alex to have each other to sing with, prompting Adam to joke how unfortunate it is for Blaine not to have an identical twin. Ultimately, Adam applauds the girls for their performance, and then notes that Blaine has something he didn’t pick up on at first, “but thank God I did.”
BLAINE MITCHELL WINS THE KNOCKOUT!
-I really don’t get this at all. I thought the girls were the better act. But I will admit that Blaine has the potential to surprise us. No one steals the girls, which is even more baffling to me. I can only imagine the coaches are saving their steals for the Jordan/Viktor showdown.
TEAM GWEN STEFANI: BRAIDEN SUNSHINE VS. ELLIE LAWRENCE
-Braiden is stoked to be here, and he’s excited to show a different, more mature side to his style, saying that he listens to a lot of classic artists such as Ray Charles. So he’ll be singing the Michael Buble version of “Feeling Good”. Rihanna is stunned by the maturity of Braiden’s voice, which comes from such a “tiny body”, but Gwen worries Braiden might be rushing it. On the second run-through, they’re far more impressed, and even suggest he should experiment with slicking his hair back for the Knockouts. Meanwhile, Ellie will be singing “Cool For the Summer” by Demi Lovato, which is an absolutely baffling song choice, in my opinion. But she sings it well, and — most importantly — she sings it differently from Demi’s version. Gwen and Rihanna both have pointers, but they seem impressed overall.
-Braiden is up first, and I’m surprised how well the slicked-back hair works on him. That said, I wish Gwen had let him keep his glasses on, since he looks lost without them. That said, I can’t fault his vocal. This was genuinely impressive, as the coaches were all freaking out, particularly Gwen. He gets a standing ovation, and I have no idea how the hell Ellie has any kind of chance right now, as much as I adore her. I think Braiden could be a real contender for the win right now. Ellie is up next, and it’s kind of a mess, in places. Honestly, this might be the most disappointed I’ve been in a while, since Ellie was genuinely one of my favorites early on. But this is just such a confounding song choice that gives her nothing to work with whatsoever. This is a mess.
-Adam talks about the change in Braiden’s look, and Blake adds that it’s like Braiden went from Harry Potter to Michael Buble. Adam then says it’s hard to recover from when someone comes shooting out like a cannon out of nowhere, but he commends Ellie for trying as hard as she did. However, he’s gotta give it to Braiden. And the comments from Blake and Pharrell basically echo this. Gwen thinks Ellie is talented, but it’s clear that she’s completely enamored with Braiden.
BRAIDEN SUNSHINE WINS THE KNOCKOUT!
-Not the least bit surprising there. Braiden is excited to stay on Team Gwen, since she’s the reason he did what he just did. Ellie thanks Gwen for the opportunity, talking about how special it was to meet her idol. She breaks down as she gets her goodbye hugs, since no one stole her. Shame to lose her, but Gwen really had no choice but Braiden after that.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: BARRETT BABER VS. BLIND JOE
-WHAT THE HELL, BLAKE?! Are you TRYING to lose this season?! These two guys alone could get you to the finals, and now you’re going to lose one of them! Anyway, both men (in separate vignettes) are stoked to meet Rihanna, and why shouldn’t they be? Even Blind Joe (who’s BLIND!) is thrilled that Rihanna thinks he’s sexy, although she declares him sexy after he sings one of the least sexy songs of all-time, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings. That said, I love that song, and it’s a perfect choice for Joe. By the same token, Barrett’s choice of “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band is terrific, although Blake has performance tips for Barrett, who’s a great singer, but who’s a bit excessive with his motions onstage.
-Barrett is up first, and I think this is his strongest performance, not just from a vocal standpoint, but from his overall stage presence. He isn’t excessive or over-the-top with his movements, and he focuses on the vocal itself. Blind Joe is up next, and it’s actually, in my opinion, his weakest performance so far. It’s still a solid vocal, and he’s still got loads up potential, but he was straining in places. I think it came down to song choice, since this ended up being wrong for him, as he really went hoarse trying to hit those closing notes.
-Pharrell praises Blind Joe for his vocal, while noting that Barrett took them on an emotional journey. Gwen notes that Barrett is a natural when it comes to letting people into his heart. Adam agrees, feeling Barrett comes across as an established country singer already. He felt Blind Joe’s nerves, but Adam says he’s still a fan regardless. Blake says he’s never seen nerves from Blind Joe before tonight, but he understands how intimidating Barrett can be. By the same token, he thinks Barrett is probably intimidated by Blind Joe a bit (which he confirms). He praises them both and says they make him want to be a better man.
BARRETT BABER WINS THE KNOCKOUT!
-Blind Joe thanks Blake for everything, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked that Blind Joe wasn’t stolen. I seriously expected one of the other coaches would jump at the chance to have a country artist like him on their team. But I guess not.
-Back from break with Pharrell allowing Rihanna to take his chair for a test spin. Adorable. He then states that he wants an “other” team (i.e., “a team of individuals”).
TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: MADI DAVIS VS. AMY VACHAL
-Madi has chosen “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell, and it’s going to be a TALL order to top James Wolpert’s version of this song. But Madi comes damn close. She’s got this gorgeous tone to her voice that makes her unique in this competition right now. Rihanna agrees, noting she has a very rich tone, but feels Madi is almost afraid of using it to its fullest capability. Pharrell says Madi is a throwback to the way the music industry used to be, when an act would come into your office, sing, and make you feel it. He says only true artists are capable of this, and Madi is a true artist. By the same token, Pharrell and Rihanna adore Amy. When she performs “A Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James during rehearsal, Pharrell kicks himself for not recording during her performance (pretty sure the cameras were rolling, Pharrell). Rihanna wants Amy to get lost in the music, and to fantasize about the perfect man while singing it (even demonstrating the motions Amy should be making, which Pharrell finds really entertaining). Rihanna wants Amy to be raw, and she helps bring that out of the singer, to Pharrell’s surprise. This is going to be an insane battle, man.
-Amy is up first, and this is OUTSTANDING. Seriously, there wasn’t a single note in here that wasn’t gorgeous. Her voice is as pure and clear as water (well, clean water, anyway), and Blake’s enthusiastic clapping after the performance ended makes me think he might steal her if he gets the chance. And he’d be smart to, honestly. This was total “star in the making” stuff. Madi is up next, and her performance is a bit more understated than it seemed like it’d be during rehearsals. But that’s not a bad thing at all. But I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to beat Amy. I loved both performances, but I think I’d actually go with Amy.
-Gwen tells Madi that Joni Mitchell would be proud since “the intent was there” (wait, so did she succeed, or did she just give it the ol’ college try?). She loves Amy’s voice and how she’s grown. Adam, meanwhile, praises Madi for HER growth, before telling Amy that there’s something about what she does that’s impossible to replicate. Blake tells Amy that she comes up with notes that he’d never even think to sing, whereas Madi’s voice is so gorgeous it makes him want to take a bubble bath. Pharrell loves the notes Madi chooses, and says there’s somewhere magical that her spirit takes us. He then notes that while audiences might feel like they’ve seen an artist like Amy before, they really haven’t. He feels like they’ve both won.
MADI DAVIS WINS THE KNOCKOUT!
-Genuinely surprised here. I thought Amy HAD that one. Pharrell says that while people look at her as a folk artist, he thinks of her more as a pop singer. Back in the studio, Adam stands with his hand over his button, waiting for Carson to announce that Amy is available to steal. He does, and Adam hits his button a bunch of times. After things settle down, Blake decides to make things more complicated by hitting HIS button.
ADAM LEVINE AND BLAKE SHELTON HIT THEIR STEAL BUTTONS!
-Blake makes his pitch, noting that he’s won this show a bunch of times. He then rags on Adam for his baldness, comparing him to Blue Man Group (Adam: “Actually, it’s Jew Man Group.”) and Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies. Adam ignores him and makes his pitch, talking about how badly he wants Amy on his team, and how much they can accomplish together. Ultimately, Amy says she can only go with her gut…
AMY VACHAL CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-Amy thinks either coach would have been a great choice, but picked Adam because she feels he really gets her. Blake, meanwhile, can’t believe “Dr. Evil” got Amy.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Madi Davis and Amy Vachal Deliver Epic Knockout Round on The Voice (VIDEO)
-Back from break with Rihanna trying to come up with a nickname for Blake. She picks Toad, and Blake assumes she’s comparing him to the frog that becomes a prince. This was far more amusing than it probably had any right to be. Blake is great, and Rihanna as the weary straight man is such a terrific pairing.
TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: CHANCE PENA VS. IVONNE ACERO
-So Chance is singing “Demons” by Imagine Dragons, a song that young people tend to singing on shows like these a lot, for reasons I still don’t understand. It’s not a very youthful song at all, and Chance singing this song makes even less sense than In Stereo singing it on The X Factor Australia, since Chance actually got to pick his own song here. Anyway, Blake and Rihanna feel like the tone is pitched too low, and that they can’t even hear if he’s hitting the notes. So they recommend he use his full voice, stating that he’s capable of hitting the notes. And I agree, as the performance improves tenfold once he embraces his upper register. Ivonne, meanwhile, is singing “Part of Me” by Katy Perry, noting that she identifies with what Katy was going through when she wrote the song. To no big surprise, Blake and Rihanna love it. In fact, there’s so little criticism that we have enough time to squeeze in a skit of Blake trying to come up with a nickname for himself and Rihanna.
-Chance is up first, and I don’t really get it. At first, I thought he was doing that thing where you take a hit on the verses because the chorus is in your sweet spot. So if the verses have to be a bit below your range, fine, because you’ll make up for it with a stellar chorus. But the chorus doesn’t appear to be in Chance’s wheelhouse either. This is just a completely unspectacular performance that may just cost Chance a spot in the live playoffs, and that’s a shame, because he’s got a lot of talent. I kind of wish some of these young kids could come back in a subsequent season, even if they did make a team already. Because, given a few years seasoning, Chance could be a contender for the crown. Ivonne, meanwhile, is ready RIGHT NOW. Seriously, this was her best vocal, and it illustrates just how much she’s matured as a vocalist and performer over the course of this competition. I thought this was a slam-dunk for Ivonne.
-Pharrell loves that Ivonne’s confidence has grown to sky high proportions, and he even thinks Chance did a great job for being only 15. Gwen loves Chance’s little yodel, but she didn’t love the song choice. She gives it to Ivonne. Adam admits that the song choice was a bit low for Chance’s voice, but encourages him to “keep being a great guy” no matter what happens. He then gives it up for Ivonne, and the tremendous growth she’s shown over the course of this competition. Blake feels he has the two best steals of the show, and praises both. But the winner is clear…
IVONNE ACERO WINS THE KNOCKOUT!
-Ivonne (and her adorable family) cries after the victory. Meanwhile, Chance thanks Blake for turning his chair for him and giving him a shot. No one steals Chance, unfortunately, although I can’t say I’m surprised, really. Blake greets Ivonne backstage and asks if she can give performances like that every time from here on out. I love Ivonne, and I really hope she goes far. Especially because it means we’ll get to see her lovely family crying with joy each week.
-We get a Christina Grimmie fashion segment. I’m still not sure what the point of these segments are other than to highlight how adorable Christina Grimmie is, which I knew already. I guess they sell these outfits at Kohl’s? You know, Braiden did look pretty slick tonight. I need me a suit like that.
TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JORDAN SMITH VS. VIKTOR KIRALY
-Much like Blake pairing Barrett and Blind Joe, and think Adam is outside of his damn mind to have put these two together, since either one of them could potentially win this show for him. And now, one will definitely be leaving, potentially getting stolen and winning the show for someone else. The plus side is that this should be a crazy good battle. Jordan will be singing “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, which intimidates even Rihanna, who admits that the only way she’d ever sing that song is if she were drunk at karaoke. She loves Jordan’s voice, but suggests that he should focus on the vocal and ignore movements, since dancing is not who he is. He nails the vocal so well that Rihanna jokingly disavows Jordan, saying he’s hurt her feelings and she doesn’t even want to talk to him anymore. Rihanna is hilarious, and needs to be a permanent coach on this show, for real. Viktor is next, and he’ll be singing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, which surprises both coaches. Viktor is disappointed to learn Adam already covered this song, since their voices are already so similar. Adam loves Viktor’s voice though, and he and Rihanna advise Viktor to focus on telling the story of the song first and foremost.
-Jordan is up first, and when it starts, he seems a bit overcome with nerves. But as it picks up, his confidence grows. Jordan’s voice is absolutely stunning. There’s an effortlessness to his singing that makes me insanely jealous. His falsetto is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s going to take a hell of a fight for Viktor to stand against this. Viktor is up next, and he’s straight FIRE from the start of this performance to the end of it. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win this, because that was a positively flawless performance. If Jordan wins, I think it’s because he’s a sentimental favorite. Either way, the person who loses is getting stolen, and they might just be taking the win with them.
-Blake thought Viktor did an incredible job, and says the only negative was that he was paired against Jordan, who delivered one of the greatest live vocals he’s ever heard, comparing it to hearing the record. Pharrell praises both men for taking them on a journey, and singing with eloquence and passion. Gwen calls Jordan a freak of nature, struggling to think of how Jordan pulled this off. Adam admits that Viktor struggled with the song (what?!), but praises him for bringing it all together at the end. He calls Jordan the unicorn for his rarity, and applauds him for what he accomplished up there. He says Viktor made this hard, since there are a hundred reasons for both guys to go through. But he’s made his choice…
JORDAN SMITH WINS THIS BATTLE!
-Jordan wipes away a tear backstage, celebrating his victory. Adam feels Jordan could win this entire competition, and I agree. Of course, Viktor doesn’t get a chance to say goodbye because…
GWEN STEFANI STEALS VIKTOR KIRALY!
-Viktor can’t believe he’s going to live playoffs, whereas Gwen says she’s interested in Viktor because he’s unique, as a Hungarian performer. He’s definitely got a lot of skill, and I think he could end up being, with Braiden, Gwen’s best shot at the title.
-And that’s a wrap on tonight’s show! To recap, here are the results…
Team Adam Levine:
Blaine Mitchell def. Andi & Alex
Jordan Smith def. Viktor Kiraly (Gwen Stefani STEALS Viktor Kiraly!)
Team Blake Shelton
Ivonne Acero def. Chance Pena
Team Pharrell Williams
Madi Davis def. Amy Vachal (Adam Levine STEALS Amy Vachal!)
Team Gwen Stefani
Braiden Sunshine def. Ellie Lawrence
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!