‘The Voice’ Knockouts, Pt. 1: Frontrunners & Favorites Fall Hard
This week, "The Voice" introduced yet another new Season 3 twist, the Knockout Rounds. Duh-duh-duh-dummmmm. Surely no two words have ever struck so much cold fear straight into any "Voice" contender's heart--or "Voice" blogger's heart, for that matter. Why? Because at the start of Monday's episode, there were 40 singers standing...but by Tuesday, only 20 of them (five from each team) would be moving on to the live shows.
But would they be the right singers? Well, yes and no, based on a few of the controversial outcomes of the Knockouts between Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green's contestants, who sang on Monday. Some of the frontrunners of the season did make it through, but a few others shockingly did not--and while sometimes Adam and Cee Lo's decisions to go with unexpected underdog contestants were surprising in a good way, there were other times when the coaches made absolutely the wrong calls.
Ugh. Why can't the Knockout Rounds have Steals, too?
So here's how it all went down: At first, the Knockout Rounds didn't seem all that different from the Battle Rounds of the past three weeks, since this newest phase of the competition also pitted contestants from the same team against each other in high-stakes sing-offs. But this time, the contestants sang solo, performing songs of their own choice, and they didn't find out who they were singing against until the very last minute. This led to some TV drama usually only seen on rival show "The X Factor"--as contestants awkwardly watched from the wings, or even more awkwardly sat squirming on stools on the stage while their respective Knockout Round opponents sang only a few feet away.
And that's not where the drama ended, of course. There was almost as much at stake for the coaches as there was for the contestants, since--in another new twist--this season the coaches are not guaranteed representation in the finale. (Once the competition gets down to the top 12, just the top vote-getters will get through, regardless of team affiliation. Somewhere out there, Season 2's totally robbed Jamar Rogers is punching a wall right now. Or I'll just punch my own wall on his behalf.) So anyway, the coaches had to choose more wisely than ever before, to ensure that they would have strong teams going forward.
But, as I have already mentioned in the above paragraphs, not all of Adam and Cee Lo's choices were so wise. Here's what happened on Monday night:
Joeslyn Rivera vs. Kayla Navarez
Little 17-year-old Joeslyn picked a very challenging song, Beyonce's key-jumping "Love On Top," and while I thought she sounded a little strained, I think just the pure gumption and competitive spirit she showed with her ambitious song choice impressed Adam before she sang a single note, strained or not. I thought Kayla's song selection, "Shark In The Water" by British soul star VV Brown, was interesting as well, and I wondered if Adam would be more loyal to Kayla (he fought for her during the Blind Auditions, while Joeslyn was a new recruit, one of his Steals from the Battle Rounds). But "Shark In The Water" didn't allow Kayla to flaunt her vocal strengths the way "Love On Top" did for Joeslyn, and so Joeslyn was rewarded for her risk-taking, while Kayla was punished for "playing it safe." This was a shame--I thought Kayla had a lot of potential, and I knew from her "We better win this!" remark to Adam earlier this season that she too possessed plenty of ambition and fire. But I understood Adam's decision here. Song choice is everything sometimes.
ADVANCING TO THE LIVE SHOWS: Joeslyn
Joe Kirkland vs. Bryan Keith
This outcome was the first of the night that really saddened me. Emo-rocker Joe had seemed like one to watch back in the Blind Auditions, but after his Battle Round wasn't shown in full, he started to look like fodder instead. And then this Monday, when Adam announced that Joe would be singing against Bryan--a guy who once inspired all four chairs to turn around during the Blind Auditions--I started to think Joe's fodder fate was truly sealed. But THEN Joe did a feisty, rawkin', and altogether awesome cover of Taylor Swift's "Mean," and in spite of--or maybe because of--the look of utter confusion on Blake Shelton's face, I thought he had a real shot. I especially thought Joe had a shot after Bryan bleated a boring and bland rendition of the Robin Hood sapfest "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" that even Adam admitted was a disappointment. Meanwhile, Adam said Joe's performance had "surpassed expectations." And then...Adam picked Bryan anyway. Booooooo. I honestly think Adam had his mind made up early on, and Joe was therefore doomed no matter what. Talk about being mean, Adam!