Thanks be to God, everyone. The knockout rounds have finally commenced. Gone are the lily-livered steals of yore! In its place is a pitiless battle for vocal supremacy or, as Carson Daly/Charles Darwin would say, the Origin of the Species. What a terrible world we live in, really. As a consolation prize, however, Adam Levine looked beautiful.
Amber Carrington vs. Midas Whale
It had to happen sometime. Midas Whale, the duo famous for their extraordinarily complicated puns, was finally eliminated. In the end, nothing could help them: not their selection of "Higher Ground" (great song) or the fact that Adam Levine was wearing Elvis Costello glasses. They could not beat Amber Carrington who, to her credit, really did destroy that Avril Lavigne song. She is a truly superlative belter like Ethel Merman. Yet do not weep too much for Midas Whale. They were well rewarded for their efforts when Usher told them, “You give it the Midas touch." Who cares if you win after something like that? (Also, was it weird/disloyal when Amber told Blake, “I wanted to hug you this whole time,” after her performance? Because, come on Amber!)
Garrett Gardner vs.Tawnya Reynolds
I really am obsessed with Shakira's pink leather jacket. It's so awesome! Why does it exist? I thought Garrett did an excellent job on that song from the Bing commercials. I kind of think he has a weird charisma now. But what is with the super-loud backup singers in the knockout rounds? For example, poor young Garrett was completely drowned out by insane and dissonant singing going on behind him. A 17-year-old kid with a raspy voice is no equal to the chorus of a Benjamin Britten opera. And let's not even get started on the equally poor Tawnya, who seemed both overwhelmed and confused by the fray. Tawnya really did sound so much better in rehearsal. Even when Midas Whale/Carson Daly told the other judges to "Help [Shakira] outa" I already knew Tawyna was gone. It's a tough business.
Amy Whitcomb vs. Caroline Glaser
Poor Amy was the last of the montage people, so I knew she was going to be eliminated. Sad. Amy, you made it so far for a montage person! You clawed your way to the top. Amy sang "House of the Rising Sun," which she said featured her "screaming range." I thought it was a dynamically interesting performance, but a little bit pitchy. Caroline sang "Little Talks,” which I really did not love on her voice. I thought it was too low and also a little bit too exuberant for her style. She sounds the best on mid-tempo, laid-back songs, like a female Jason Mraz. Montage Amy won me over during Caroline's performance by being really into it. At the end, Columbo/Carson Daly revealed to the audience that they were “best friends, same team.” I don't know. Adam told both girls that they did better in rehearsal and then picked Caroline to move on. Bye, Montage Amy!
Kris Thomas vs. Mary Miranda
I thought Shakira was really on to something when she told Kris Thomas he was "more of a crooner." Usually I think the contestants always overstate how much they learn from the judges (most of the contestants on The Voice are like actual professional singers, so how much do they really need coaching at this point?), but in Shakira's case, I think she really helps the people on her team. She even rightly questioned Mary Miranda's choice of a Police song. Shakira knows what we all know, that no one in the world can sing a Sting song aside from a weird freak whose name is Sting. It is Death Valley for Voice contestants. Mary was undeterred, however — to her detriment! Kris sounded much better without all the vocal melisma he usually employs (Usher made an amazing face during his performance), and Mary, despite a more Puff Daddy–influenced "Every Breath You Take," was eliminated.
Judith Hill vs. Orlando Dixon
Is anyone going to beat Judith Hill? She sounded amazing on "Always on My Mind." She was powerful, vulnerable, dynamic, and she fought the deranged backup singers with all of the breath in her body. Even Orlando loved it. He sounded just decent on "All My Life," which is a song that I have hated since middle school. You always had to slow-dance during it, and who can do that?
Karina Iglesias vs. Monique Abbadie
Karina and Monique were both stymied by the fact that they picked unusually hard songs. Karina sang Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way," which has a very powerful guitar line but not much of a melody. Monique sang “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion, and I have a feeling that Celine Dion is like Sting for women? Like, just impossible to sing unless you are married to a man named René. Monique was flat on a lot of the high notes, so Shakira picked Karina in the end.
Warren Stone vs. Sarah Simmons
Warren was so impressive on Cutting Crew's "Died in Your Arms" (God, I love that song), but he was absolutely no match for Sarah Simmons's "Wild Horses." It was so beautiful that Adam Levine compared it to the sacred name of Miranda Lambert, which prompted Blake to vociferously agree and for Dick Van Dyke/Carson Daly to say, "Blake’s not sleeping on the couch tonight.” Har har! Sarah won, unsurprisingly.
Shawna P. vs. Sasha Allen
Sasha seemed really happy to be on Shakira's team. “Maybe it’s a woman thing,” she said in the rehearsal. Whatever it is, Sasha sounded amazing on "At Last." She has a truly gorgeous tone. In my opinion, she could beat Judith Hill, she's that good. I felt bad for Shawna P., though. Shawna sang "Maybe I'm Amazed," and I don't think it quite worked for her. She did so well on Janis Joplin last week — she is more of a rocker than a crooner, to quote Shakira. Song choice is so important! Shawna P. was eliminated, which was sad.
And there we have it! Was there anything that surprised you or shocked you aside from Carson Daly's new black shirt? It was a great shirt.