'The Voice' Season 8 Recap & Review: Knockout Rounds Wrap Up with Weird Matches & Nate Ruess as Taylor Swift
Well, this was it. Tonight (March 30), the Knockout rounds of The Voice came to an end. With the final dose of help from Nate Ruess of fun., Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell and Blake Shelton all rounded out their teams by making a bunch of match ups that don't make much sense.
Throw together two teen girls even though they are totally different genres? Sure. Close enough. The minorities go together, and I guess so does everyone else, because this is the Knockouts round three, and anything goes...
How'd it wind up?
Tonya Boyd Cannon, "I Wish": Tonya Boyd Cannon has an amazing voice and an easiness about her that makes her a palatable performance. For her cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish," Tonya was easily able to show off her range, a raspy quality to her voice and some power. What was lacking from this performance, however, was Tonya going 100 percent. She was missing some stage presence, just barely pacing back and forth on stage. But, overall, this was a nice performance.
Barry Minniefield, "What You Won't Do For Love": Barry Minniefield has a real soulfulness to both his vocal and who he is as a person. I mean, the guy is 53 years old, so this was really his last shot. Like Tonya, Barry seemed to lack a performance element here, keeping it close to center stage. Despite not being much to look at, the passion and love was clearly here, with Barry selling every edge of his range - I don't remember hearing this much from him before.
Who technically won the knockout? Tonya Boyd Cannon took this one. From a performance standpoint, neither of these singers was particularly fantastic to watch, but they were pretty even vocally, so this was all about personal preference.
Who should have won the knockout? Umm... I think that Adam Levine made the right choice here by going with Tonya. In the end, this is a competition, and she has a je ne sais quoi to her and a really unique tone. It's hard to see Barry being overly successful in 2015's music market.
Kelsie May, "Tim McGraw": Kelsie May has one of the most pure, old school country voices, so choosing a modern day Taylor Swift song may have not been the best choice. Kelsie has succeeded the most with simple melodies and old fashioned songs, and she really struggled here to reach some of the long, high notes. She was so sharp at one point that it really, truly hurt to listen to. It was really unfortunate because Kelsie is such a sweetheart, but this was just not her best. Looking into her eyes, too, you could see it.
Brooke Adee, "Electric Feel": It's weird for an alternative artist to try and go The Voice route, but here we have Brooke Adee. From the very first note, she was really going for it, with a sultry sensibility that is well beyond her teenage years. There were throaty notes, chesty notes and so much sass and power. It was magnetizing to watch Brooke too. The coaches complained about her stage presence, but she was the first of four performers tonight to really do anything beyond stand and stare and sing.
Who technically won the knockout? Brooke Adee has the confidence, the power and damn near perfect pitch. Though the coaches seemed to have issues picking between these two 16-year-olds, it was the right choice.
Who should have won the knockout? Brooke Adee rightfully won. Kelsie is such a sweet soul and she has a lot of raw potential, but it just doesn't seem like she's really ready for this big of a stage.
India Carney, "Big White Room": It's always interesting how much of a singer's singer Jessie J is, and India Carney proved that by picking one of her songs for her knockout battle. "Big White Room" helped to show off the poppier side of India's voice and she was really able to fully explore her vibrato and middle range. India has an ability to go far deeper and high than she ended up going here, but each individual note was beautiful and strong. India also sold the performance aspect, telling the story of "Big White Room" with her body movement and her eyes. As Pharrell pointed out, it was theatrical and beautiful.
Joe Tolo, "One of Us": We went way back to the '90s for this knockout battle. Joe Tolo is a worship leader, so he wanted to bring some of that to The Voice. But, I don't know how well this melody served his voice. In the first verse, he had some real dropped notes that really threw me off. He messed with the melody in the verse too to add in some additional range, but in the end, it just sounded off instead of sounding impressive.
Who technically won the knockout? This one was all India. Not only did she perform with 110 percent of her soul, but she had better range and better control.
Who should have won the knockout? Definitely India was the right choice here. Joe Tolo is a talented man, but he can't stand up to what India is capable of - she's a true frontrunner on this show.
Jacob Rummel, "Life of the Party": Jacob Rimmel is one of the most interesting contestants on this season of The Voice, truly embodying the idea this show promotes of looking nothing like you sound. His gender bending voice was intriguing to Pharrell, which is why he stole him away after Blake chose Corey White Kent in the battle rounds. Looking at this performance now, I can't help but wonder if that was a bit of a mistake. There were just some really flat notes, and it showed Jacob's youthfulness.
Lowell Oakley, "My Girl": A Team Pharrell pick willingly choosing a really dated song is basically this coach's wet dream. Lowell Oakley went with "My Girl," dedicating the song to his girlfriend back at home. He was really, truly in to this performance, adding in an adlib "I really like this girl" at the beginning. It was a little cheesy, but that's kind of his old school crooner ~thing~, so it sort of worked. This performance was really that - a performance. I don't know how natural it was, and those calculations made this feel stiff, which the coaches all noted.
Who technically won the knockout? Pharrell picked Lowell Oakley. Look, both of these performances had flaws, so this really, truly felt like a personal preference over anything more calculated. Lowell is pretty different both on The Voice and within modern music, and that's very appealing to Pharrell.
Who should have won the knockout? Do you prefer someone natural or someone who puts on an act? To me, Jacob Rummel should have taken this home. Not only does he have a pure love of music, but he has a more interesting tone and real personality. Pharrell, you done goofed.
Treeva Gibson, "Chasing Pavement": Taking on Adele is one of the most difficult things to do in a singing competition, so this was definitely a major risk. I don't know how much she was up for it. Treeva Gibson's voice is just a little too immature for a song with this much weight to it and so many big jumps in range. Her passion was so much there, and she did start to come out of her shell, which was really, truly nice to see.
Rob Taylor, "Love and Happiness": Rob Taylor is one to beat on The Voice. His audition song was one of the absolute strongest - this guy has a falsetto and a swagger that feels very much unmatched. His performance of "Love and Happiness" lacked the modern punch that we've previously seen from Rob. He's a future PBR&B star if he wants to be, and this just felt a little generic, at least it definitely did when he was in his lower register. When Rob reached into his falsetto, he was far more intriguing. This wasn't a blow away performance, but it was solid.
Who technically won the knockout? Rob Taylor took this one home. His range and performance capabilities are just really unmatched.
Who should have won the knockout? Despite being a little dull, Rob was really on point tonight, and Treeva still has a lot of work to do. If Christina is looking to win, then she made the right choice.
Joshua Davis, "Arms of a Woman": There is something about the artistry of Joshua Davis that feels so much like Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, so I'm sort of just waiting for that cover to come along. But, for tonight, we got Amos Lee. What's nice about him is just the level of artistry here - it's something that Adam Levine did well with last year, and it could do him well this year. Joshua is all about the pure emotion, and he packed a nice punch again here by keeping it sweet and simple.
Lexi Davila, "Anything Could Happen": When you think stellar knockout vocal, at least for me, Ellie Goulding is never who comes to mind. But, Lexi Davila managed to make this work out very well. She decorated each and every note in this performance with a flawlessness, really selling and reaching. I'm not sure where Lexi has been this entire competition, but she definitely has a unique quality to her that seems to be unmatched thus far.
Who technically won the knockout? Adam Levine went for Joshua Davis. Honestly, this was a weird matchup, and it definitely felt like these two were just the ones who were leftover at the end of the show. So, when comparing apples and oranges, Adam went the apple that's closest to his eye.
Who should have won the knockout? In the world of apples and oranges, I think the orange that is Lexi is a little bit appealing. We've seen lots of singer-songwriters on The Voice, but few people who have this sort of interesting pop appeal... at least in the last year. So, Christina nabbed her up for her own team.