VOICE OVER: Each Performer Takes a Risk for NBC's The Voice!
The Knock-Out Rounds on NBC's The Voice continued tonight as the last performers from Teams Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera took the stage, hoping to be passed on to next week's Live Playoff Rounds. Tonight, it seemed like every single contestant had thought before choosing their songs, "What do you say to taking chances?"
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For the first hour of the night, Christina had to pare her ten down to five. So to kick it off, Devyn Deloera made a daring song choice with, "I Have Nothing," by Whitney Houston. In their rehearsals, Christina said, "That's beautiful. I just wanna hear your powerful voice." She was concerned that Devyn's nerves would interfere with her performance. But when she got on stage, everything else went away. This awesome girl, who actually looks like Amanda Seyfried, seemed completely comfortable and carried a commanding presence as she sang. This was a magnificent performance. Laura Vivas clearly had a hard act to follow, but she chose, "I Need to Know," by Marc Anthony. Her coach thought this was a good song choice, right in her comfort zone, and Laura felt challenged in a good way. She added her own flair by singing a bit in Spanish and throwing some Latin dancing in there too. Following their performances, Christina was very excited about her mentees, "Laura, you surprised me! Bam! You did it! Devyn, you are an ambitious vocalist. I thought it was honest, sincere, and real. I feel like one of you can use my coaching more than the other, and I gotta go with Devyn."
Yet more girls from Team Christina, Adriana Louise and Celica Westbrook, went next. Adriana chose Kelly Clarkson's, "Already Gone." Coach Christina thought Adriana had a great voice, but warned her to not stick too closely to a script. Christina demonstrated exactly what she meant vocally for Adriana, and sweet Adriana was in awe. Right from the get-go, all the audience could think was, "This chick's going to win!" Her incredibly supported voice really sealed the deal. Celica went with the Justin Bieber hit, "Never Say Never." Her reasoning was that it fit her because she, like the Biebs, was young. "Celica needs to lose herself in this song. I think that comes with time," her coach advised. This young, confident girl was fun to watch because she seemed to have a great time in this intense, fierce performance. Christina told Adriana, "Nerves are an issue for you, and you relaxed yourself, and that's the best I've seen you perform. Celica, you gave that feistiness I asked you for, and it shows that you grew. Both of you have showcased such tremendous talent, and I'm so happy for both of you. I'm going to have to go with Adriana."
Christina stole Alessandra Guerico from Adam in the Battle Rounds, so she felt like she definitely had something to prove to show Christina why she stole her. Alessandra sang, "Take a Bow," because she said she could just feel the emotion in the music. Christina said, "I just want to hear that passion in your voice." Yet again, Christina's girl delivered a passionate performance. After her, The Voice's resident male heart-throb, Dez Duron, sang "Stuck on You" by Lionel Ritchie. "It's more about connecting with the song and making people feel something," Dez said. Christina noticed he had some breathing issues, which he would have to really work on. And his hard work showed. His voice was just pure. And it was very evident that all the girls in the audience were falling in love with him as he sang. This knock-out was just unfair, because both of these people were incredibly good and charismatic, that to see either of them go would just be heartbreaking. None of the judges envied Christina's task of deciding between these two. With much deliberation, she made her final decision, "Dez, your runs that start up here and go all the way down are so accurate, and that's really hard to do. This one I'm really torn about, actually. Moving forward, on my team I gotta go with Dez." You could just hear all the girls out in the audience heave a sigh of relief as this ridiculously attractive guy with a beautiful voice left the stage, preparing to return next week on the live rounds.
Christina's one-name singers, Chevonne and De'Borah faced off following what Blake called "the battle of the heart-throbs." Chevonne chose to sing "Dancing with Myself" in celebration of her surviving the Battle Rounds. Christina saw this as a challenge for Chevonne, "She's definitely got her work cut out for her." This wild-card singer just had fun on that stage, went crazy, danced around, and gave it everything. In contrast, De'Borah sang, "You Found Me" by The Fray. "The biggest challenge in the song is to not hit the sky," De'Borah said before getting very into it this performance. When it came time to knock someone out, Christina said, "You guys are natural performers. Chevonne, you're not afraid to go to that ledge and just jump off. De'Borah, you controlled it, and I think you rehearsed finding your parts and sticking with it. I have to move on with De'Borah."
Christina's last duo was Aquile and Sylvia Yacoub, who respecitvely selected a Bruno Mars hit, "Grenade," and took a huge risk by singing a Christina's own "Fighter." Christina said, "Aquile's song choice is full of emotion, and he needs us to feel the passion. Get a little Michael Jackson on it." He got very into it, and did his best to get his Michael Jackson on. Sylvia admitted, "It was definitely nerve-wracking going up and singing 'Fighter' in front of her." But one advantage was that her coach could identify with the difficulty of the song, "'Fighter' is an intense song to sing live. She runs the risk of blowing her pipes." When commenting on their performances, CeeLo channeled his inner Randy Jackson and naturally addressed the performers as, "Dog," much to everyone's amusement. But Christina had to make the final judgment for real, "These were very ambitious songs to sing. Aquile, you were asking for a challenge. You did a great job. Sylvia, I know that 'Fighter' is very hard to sing live, but man, when you got down on that knee, it was a hard thing to execute live. It's very difficult; I have to go with Sylvia on this one."
After Christina's team was complete, Team Blake Shelton's performers took the stage for the last hour of the show. Gracia Harrison competed against fellow country singer Liz Davis. Gracia took a big risk and strayed from her country roots singing, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith. This worried Blake, and he guided her, "Keep a good grip on your pitch. Be sure you hit it with as much power as you can." Liz Davis also took a risk by singing a Miranda Lambert hit, "Gunpowder and Lead." Blake coached her, saying, "Make sure you're singing those lyrics with a punch. Liz has big shoes to fill. I'll have my expectations pretty high." Both of these girls left their mark on these songs and took advantage of the risk they took. Blake seemed a little disappointed, "It's confusing to know the Gracia who auditioned. I'm a little confused by the song choice. Liz, it seems like you have a better grasp on who you are as an artist. No doubt about it. I gotta go with Liz Davis."
Blake's next pair was Rudy Parris and Terry MacDermott. Rudy, who is now a grandfather, took a chance by singing the very young-style song, "Forever." Blake acknowledged that, "It's a very young song; I, at age 36, would have a hard time. It's a song that 15 to 16-year-olds are singing, and he needs to sell a Chris Brown song." Rudy agreed, "I've gotta tap into the spirit of this song." Unfortunately, he had a hard time channeling his inner teenager. Scottsman Terry MacDermott sang "Maybe I'm Amazed," and an impressed Blake told him, "Anytime you can, go for it, because this is where you step out and get not only the knock-out round, but be that guy everyone is tweeting about." I must say, considering how much America is obsessed with European accents, especially Irish and Scottish, it probably would not take much for him to gain the approval of the masses if he sang his heart out. And he did just that. With his clear voice, he wowed the audience into a standing ovation during the song. By the time he was midway through it, audience members just seemed to think, "He so has this in the bag." After their performances, Blake had to determine which one he wanted to send through to next week. He said, "I see Terry going along that normal rock path, and Rudy bravely just did his own thing. I'm gonna have to go with Terry."
Blake put more young people, Collin McLoughlin and Michaela Paige together. Collin performed the Script's big time summer hit from a couple years ago, "Break Even." Blake coached this performer meticulously on his dynamics and the flow of the song. Michaela sang the powerful '80s tune, "Love is a Battlefield," for its emotional quality and because she really felt like she could connect to it more so than any other songs she had performed thus far. She took Blake's advice to heart when he said, "Approach this selfishly. Get lost in that moment." On the performance stage, they both sang the best they had sung so far on the show, and most of the coaches, including Blake, chose Michaela as the winner.
Yet more risk-takers, Julio Cesar Castillo and Marissaann were some of the last ones to sing tonight. Julio went out on a limb by also singing a Justin Bieber hit, "Somebody to Love." Julio realized, "It's a big risk, because that's not what I normally sing." Blake coached him primarily on enunciation, telling him frankly, "You've got your work cut out for you." Surprisingly, he was able to transform this song from a young teen's seemingly trivial call for attention to a real lovesick appeal to the world. Marissaann surprised Blake in rehearsals with her performance of "Lady Marmalade." Since Blake stole her from Christina, he wanted to rub it in her face, "I want it to be something that when Christina hears you sing this, Christina goes, 'I can't believe I let Marissaann go!'" She brought it big time and fiercely. She really killed it, giving Blake another close to impossible decision. Blake told them, "There's a reason both of you have made it to this point in the show. Since it's so dead even, I think I know what the right thing for me to do is. I have so much time invested in Julio, I've gotta go with Julio."
The last knock-out round of Season 3 was between Hey Monday's former lead singer Cassidy Pope and former music teacher Suzanna Choffel. Cassidy chose to make Maroon 5's, "Payphone" into her own special version. "It's a little different than from how Adam does it," Cassidy said, which was the point. Blake pointed out, "You tend to not focus as much the first time you said 'payphone.' It just made me think, 'She's thinking past that word.' And you're doing some things they don't do on the record, which can be risky." She sounded a little shaky throughout the song, but strong on the chorus. After her performance, she really looked like she thought she had totally just failed. Suzanna Choffel chose the simple, "Could You be Loved." She acknowledged, "It's a slight risk, because it doesn't have a stand-out vocal moment, so I have to create that on my own." Blake cautioned her to try not to, "overpower the band; what everyone loves is that rasp in your voice. Approach it like Suzanna. That's what I'm interested in." Her song choice added an interesting dynamic, because given Cassidy did not sing her absolute best, Suzanna could have swooped in and taken it without question. But, since her song did not show off her range, there was not necessarily anything to distinguish her as better than Cassidy. The other coaches' consensus was that Cassidy won. Cassidy of course was eager to hear what Adam thought of her version of his song. To her relief, he told her how much of a fan he was and said she really impressed him. Blake was astounded by his girls, "This is a war! It's like another battle. Suzanna, I really think that your song choice hurt you here; it was too laid back, Cassidy took a chance and knocked it out of the park, and I gotta go with Cassidy." With his team assembled, Blake confidently told the other coaches that he really thought he could win this whole thing.
Next week, America gets to start weighing in on the show by voting for the top twelve singers on The Voice. Because of the more important voting event in America next week, though, The Voice will not be on Tuesday, but instead, will air on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 8/7c on NBC!
Visit www.nbc.com/the-voice/artists/ to view the full list of Season 3 contestants (those eliminated and those still in the competition) plus their stories, videos, and more. You can download your favorites from tonight's performances at www.iTunes.com/thevoice, or watch them on The Voice's YouTube channel: www.Youtube.com/NBCthevoice. Keep up with The Voice through the week and during the show on Twitter: @NBCTheVoice, #TheVoice.