What sets “The Voice” apart from other reality singing competition shows is that in an over saturated category for an already A.D.D. American audience, it cuts right to the chase. No giving people contestants second chances (aside from the introduction of the “Steal” this year) and as a result every performance is…listenable, anyway. This week was about Team Adam and Team Cee Lo. Here’s who went up against who and came out champs last night:
Joselyn Rivera vs. Kayla Nevarez – It’s the first Knockout round of the night, and Joselyn’s song choice isn’t messing around. Nicole Scherzinger’s doppelganger hops all over Beyonce’s “Love On Top” and it’s a risk (have you heard the last minute and a half of that song?). She starts fine, but never elevates it through the glass ceiling and into the stratosphere the way Bey does so by comparison it automatically just pales (as we all do to B, it’s okay, Joselyn!). Kayla chooses a more age-appropriate song, and by “age-appropriate” I of course mean that Kayla is like 10 years younger than me and I’ve never heard of it. Anyway, I “bought” her performance more, however Adam thought she played it too safe and chose Joselyn whose song was more challenging overall.
Joe Kirkland and Bryan Keith – Joe, recent graduate of the Performing Arts School of Good Charlotte Frontmen, changed it up with Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and it was a solid performance for a recent graduate of the Performing Arts School of Good Charlotte Frontmen. He definitely infused it with his/that style of pop/rock and it floats him by fine, until Bryan opens his mouth, and while nothing NEW, he is more vocally powerful and sings his way through Adam’s praises and into the next round.
Amanda Brown vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson – This way the “Divas Live” portion of the show, Amanda singing “Paris Ooh La La” and Michelle on “Spotlight.” Amanda was the most self-assured performance of the night (maybe even the best) that showed what kind of singer she wants to be. Michelle, who may have the slightly bigger voice, lacked the personality that Amanda’s had, who at times made runs reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s earlier pop songs in a run or two. Ultimately Adam chose Amanda to continue on.
Loren Allred vs. Nicole Nelson – Tough round. Loren, who looks like she stepped right out of an episode of “The Hills,” did a great job, and she definitely had a moment at the end that shined through. She was the underdog coming into the ring with heavy hitter Nicole Nelson who sang Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You” which was also great, but didn’t have the same “moments” as Loren’s and by consequence came across sort an amazing wedding singer, but still a wedding singer nonetheless. After much contemplation, Adam chose Loren.
Melanie Martinez vs. Sam James – Melanie has a special voice (what’s this show called again?), which she used to, as Christina aptly put it, “haunting” effect with her version of La Roux’s “Bulletproof.” Sam showed off his inner Gavin DeGraw (again) on a country rock classic, “Walking in Memphis,” and it was clear Melanie was the more dynamic performance. She won.
Avery Wilson vs. Cody Belew – When it involves Avery Wilson, I hate to type this word, the one coming up, so, so close, trying my best to delay it, but I have to: disappointing. It’s no secret Avery might have the smoothest male voice in the competition, but his choice to sing “Yeah 3x” did him in (attempting to shine on a Chris Brown song for a singing competition is like buying a ticket for the Titanic to get you across the Atlantic). Like the judges said, it was a little “all over the place.” Cody Belew, while not a better singer than Avery, put himself ahead by choosing “Jolene” and NOT changing the pronoun. Have we ever seen this on a singing competition before? Not even Adam Lambert sang a song to a male subject on “American Idol.” Cee-Lo summed it up saying it “takes a very brave man to sing ‘Jolene,’” choosing Cody who took the more significant risk.
MacKenzie Bourg vs. Daniel Rosa – MacKenzie strummed his way through an acoustic version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” that put a smile on most faces. It was good, but I don’t know where “Voice” performance ends and YouTube cover video ends with this one. Daniel sang T-Swift’s “Back to December” and it was good, but not as special as MacKenzie. Cee-Lo, the most unique judge on the panel, of course, went for the more unique contestant: MacKenzie.
Terisa Griffin vs. Trevin Hunte – Terisa wasn’t saving anything during her performance of “Saving All My Love” and neither was Trevin on “Against All Odds.” While Terisa hit every note, Trevin knows how to choose songs that harness the narrative of the show (first “Listen” to my voice and now “Against All Odds” because HE IS! HE IS AGAINST THE ODDS!). Cee Lo, tearful, went with Trevin.
Mycle Wastman vs. Nicholas David – Mycle (pronounced “Michael”) sang Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” was good, if a little tepid and too earnest (that fedora…) and Nicholas gave us his rendition of “Put Your Records On.” Fans are comparing him to Ray LaMontagne, but that’s a quick parallel—Nicholas is less reserved and stylized, but he still stands out enough to receive Cee Lo’s blessings. Nicholas it is for the Live rounds.
Caitlin Michele vs. Diego Val – Caitlin goth-pop-rocked it up with Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” and she sounds pretty identical to Amy Lee, though she left something to be desired on the chorus and it felt a bit monotone and one note towards the mid section. She did hold out that last note like her life depended on it, though. Diego did Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” pretty good and livened up the show in a pair of pedal pushers and a nose ring–oh, and with his singing. Sorry, it’s easy to get distracted by the end of this singing competition shows. Anyway, Cee Lo does wanna go Diego’s way, so to sing, and that ends the first round of Knockouts.