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The Voice Recap: Hubris to Spare

THE VOICE -- "Knockout Rounds"

I really love the knockout rounds, because this is when hubris ruins people’s lives, like a Greek tragedy! So often, when the contestants pick their own songs, they can’t even sing them. There is a difference between liking a song and being able to sing it well with your actual voice. A lesson for us all.

Josh Logan vs. Amber Nicole
This was a battle where song choice made a massive difference. Amber chose one that was slightly out of range and essentially tuneless. She did a great job, but Josh sang a beautiful Stevie Wonder song just like Stevie Wonder would have, which is obviously impressive. Christina really did need to pick Josh, but I was quite glad that Amber was stolen by Cee Lo.

Kat Robichaud vs. Monika Leigh
What is a better song than “You Oughta Know”? Everyone should listen to it all the time. Janey Jimplin did a fantastic job on it, too. I loved when she kicked her leg at the end of the chorus! It was not Monika’s fault (well, perhaps it was), but she also happened to sing a terrible, terrible song. I have long hated “Hit the Road Jack” and this version was slow and lugubrious like a never-ending medical procedure. It was clear Kat needed to win.

Holly Henry vs. Nic Hawk
I had a premonition that Holly was going to sing “Creep.” It is a natural progression from Coldplay, don’t you think? But it reminded me of something I have learned from karaoke: Women cannot sing Radiohead. It sounds weird on us. It’s both too high and too low and just all-around difficult. It’s too bad, because Holly has an extremely pretty voice, but it faltered under the stress of trying to mimic Thom Yorke. Nic Hawk, on the other hand, did a fantastic job with his “neo-soul” version of “Genie in a Bottle.” His version was classic! Nic won, as he should have.

Ashley Dubose vs. Tessanne Chin
Do you think Adam is a bad, foolhardy coach? He always ends up getting the best talent yet somehow fritters it away. This battle was a prime example. It is always a mistake to put such strong singers against each other in a winner-take-all scenario. Even though Ashley sang an awful song (“Hey Soul Sister”) she did a fantastic job on it. The only possible way she would have been cut would be against someone as powerful as Tessanne, who killed it on a song Carson Daly said was called, “Stronger What Doesn’t Kill You” (not the title). I was surprised no one stole Ashley.

Briana Cuoco vs. Shelbie Z
Alas, we witnessed the sad demise of Kaley Cuoco’s sister. And what a pyre on which to burn on! Her version of “Don’t Speak” sounded like an accordion being stomped on by a sumo wrestler. Not to mention that Shelbie Z. actually danced to “Last Name,” thus guaranteeing her victory. We salute you, Briana! Say hi to your sister for me.

Grey vs. James Irwin
This battle was tremendously boring. Grey wore another super Anthropologie outfit (was that an ikat skirt or do my eyes deceive me?) and sang the only Kelly Clarkson song that does not have a deliriously catchy tune. James sang a great song (“Falling to Pieces”) that happened to be completely wrong for his voice. He strained on every high note. He was kicked off.

Destinee Quinn vs. Olivia Henken
It does not make for very good TV when the adversaries in a battle are too evenly matched. Destinee and Olivia both had pretty severe pitch problems. Blake was correct when he noted that one was too flat and the other too sharp. That being said, Olivia did have a slight edge, and so I think Xtina was right to pick her.

Cole Vosbury vs. Johnny Gray
This was a surprise, wasn’t it? I don’t remember Cole Vosbury at all from the blinds. Was he a montage person? But he did a fantastic job on that song no one has ever heard before (“Let Her Go,” by Passenger). Johnny was predictably great on the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” Cee Lo is right that he has a “Dylan” thing going on (although, does that fact alone destroy my crush? Yes!). I was glad Johnny moved on and Cole was preserved from death, although I wondered why Ashley Dubose was not.

And that is our show! Will Carson Daly’s new title for “Stronger” catch on? Let me know in the comments section.

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC