Review: The Voice, Knock-Out Rounds, Part 1.

I’m breaking my silence to go ahead and jump back into reviewing the only reality show I’m watching this fall: “The Voice”.

In my opinion, for people wanting to watch and listen to people who hope to gain fame through their singing, “The Voice” is the best, if not only option. “The Voice” showcases proven talent and doesn’t focus on amateurs with little or no training and talent. I’ve had enough cringe moments during the four seasons of Idol that my wife and I watched.

Monday’s show was the first of two shows of ‘Knockout Rounds’. We’ve already been through the blind auditions and the “Battle Rounds.” Those who know “The Voice” are familiar with the blind auditions where the coaches choose contestants from chairs facing away from the stage so they must make their selections based on the voices alone. And fans would also know of the “Battle Rounds” where two challengers sing a duet and their coach chooses one to continue on the show.

The “Knockout Rounds” have the same result, one of two contestants goes on. But, each contestant sings their own song with one other contestant on stage with them, sitting in the corner. Then they switch places and once both have performed, their coach must select one. At the beginning of Monday’s show, Team Adam and Team Cee-Lo each had ten contestants. Now they each have five. Here’s how they got from ten to five:

The show starts with ten members of Team Adam on stage. They each don’t know who their opponent will be until their coach announces two names. The first two: Joselyn Rivera and Kayla Nevarez.

Joselyn started with a very energetic rendition of Beyonce’s “Love on Top”. Kayla followed with V.V. Brown’s “Shark in the Water.” I don’t have perfect ears, but neither seemed to be an exceptional performance. Both were good, neither was great. However, Joselyn showed more energy and range with her song choice. I would have chosen her. Adam seemed to have agreed with my assessment and picked Joselyn.

The following pairing saw Joe Kirkland singing Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and Brian Keith singing Brian Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”. I’m not familiar with most of Swift’s songs, so Kirkland was difficult for me to bond with, though I think he did a good job with it. Keith on the other hand was rough, taking two thirds of the song before bringing it together to finish well. I would have said Joe did better, but Adam picked Keith. I’m not disappointed.

Amanda Brown and Michelle Brooks-Thompson followed with Grace Potter and the Eternals’ “Paris (Ooh La La)” and Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight”, respectively. Amanda’s been one of my favorites from the beginning. When she was cut from Cee-Los team it was a sad moment. Then Adam picked her up, and apparently he’s glad he did. He chose Amanda over Michelle. I think it was a no-brainer. Amanda had more energy and picked a song that was simply more fun.

Next up were Loren Allred and Nicole Nelson. Loren sang Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” with style and conviction. I’d not seen much of Loren in the Battle Rounds, the show skimmed over her performance there. It’s been a long time since the blind auditions and I don’t remember her performance in those. I do remember being a fan of Nicole’s. But Nicole’s performance of Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You”, while great, wasn’t as gripping as Loren’s song. Adam agreed and will be going on to the voting rounds.

Melanie Martinez, who I consider to be the poster-girl for Season Three, sang the La Roux song, “Bulletproof”. She was up against a man I call a walking knit cap, Sam James, who sang Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”. Melanie has a very affected singing voice, giving her a relatively unique sound. I say relatively because that particular affectation is common among amateurs these days. Sam didn’t really do well with his song. Melanie has the talent and more than deserved to go on, but I think this decision was made before the show started. Simply pairing Melanie against Sam all but guaranteed the outcome.

Adams final five complete, we then go on to team Cee-Lo.

The initial pairing was one of the most promising of Cee-Lo’s competitors, Avery Wilson singing Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x” up against Cody Belew singing Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Yes Cody is a guy. No he didn’t even try to reverse the genders in the song (not that anyone could). But, he pulled it off and Avery, with his attempt to show off his dance moves overwhelming his singing, didn’t. Cody won.

Cross Harry Potter with Justin Beiber and you’d get someone who looks like MacKenzie Bourg. But Mackenzie doesn’t sing like Justin, he has a singer/songwriter style and his mellowed version of Carlie Rae Jepsen’s overplayed summer hit, “Call Me Maybe” easily ran over second-chance competitor Daniel Rosa’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Back to December.” Daniel went home, again.

Trevin Hunte nearly knocked Amanda Brown off the show in the battle rounds in what I considered a close call. When he sang Phil Collin’s “Against All Odds” against Terisa Griffin’s rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love”, nothing Terisa could have done would have been enough. Cee-Lo wept at Trevin’s performance, and it really was that good. Trevin goes on.

I had to fast forward through most of the next round. Mycle Wastman singing Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” just never found a stride. Nicholas David, who can sing as well as anyone on the show, is difficult to watch. His sparse and scraggly beard, Jesus hair and odd stage movements are ever so slightly off-putting to me. I could listen to the guy on the radio all day, but he could benefit from a makeover, or maybe just a stool and some sunglasses. But the show is “The Voice” and we’re not supposed to be shallow about appearances, and he can sing. I suspect there are many people out there less shallow than I and will want to see more of this guy. Nicolas won.

One of the things that cost several performers the opportunity to go forward in the show is singing a hit exactly as the original artist did. Amy Lee’s voice cannot be replicated so when Caitlin Michele too on Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life”, she needed to do more to make it distinctly hers. Diego Val, with only minor alterations to Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” won the round simply because he made those minor personalizations to the song. Otherwise, Caitlin, whose voice is far better, would have taken this round.

And so Cee-Lo has his team.

Tonight we get to watch Cristina and Blake pare down their teams. I suspect I’m going to have to deal with more than one round where I’m a fan of both competitors.

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