The Voice Recap: To Kill a Knockout Bird

The Voice Recap Michelle ChamuelFor the breakout star of The Voice, Blake Shelton sure has been a total energy suck the last few weeks of Season 4.

Oh sure, his rakish charm remains as reliable as ever. Who else could get away with yelling “kiss my ass!” to Adam Levine and making it land without a hint of toxicity? But Blake’s sudden and inexplicable “I only want country artists!” mindset has been a smudge on the show the likes of which we haven’t seen since Xtina’s wayward lipstick exploits of Season 3.

Yes, I know Blake’s heart belongs to Nashville, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But why did he string along a fascinating blues artist like Grace Askew or an enigmatic R&B hipster like Luke Edgemon given his formerly secret agenda of bringing four “tobacco-spittin'” country acts to the Season 4 Live Playoffs? That’d be like ordering the last chocolate soufflé off the dessert menu at a restaurant, tossing it on the floor to the horror of your fellow patrons, then telling the waitress to fire up a scoop of vanilla ice cream. “We don’t go in for none of that fancy shmancy sooo-flay stuff, no sirrree! I’d rather have me a Hoodsie Cup with a flat wooden scooper, mmmmhmmm.”

Anyhow, before my tidal wave of anger and disappointment washes over this entire recap, let’s cut to tonight’s Knockout Rounds results — listed in order from least- to most-promising winner:

Team Usher: Josiah Hawley (Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”) defeats Jess Kellner (James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something”) | Okay, sure, maybe Jess was a tad lackadaisical in her delivery while hitting intermittent flat notes. But seeing Usher rate her performance below Josiah’s mumbly, growly affectations and ridiculous Blue Steel posturing was as much a mystery to me as the enduring popularity of the 147 Kardashian-themed shows on that E! network. My only explanation is that keeping Josiah on the airwaves for another week will just make Michelle Chamuel seem that much cooler. Okay, that’s an insane theory, but do you have anything better?

Team Usher: Cathia (Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All”) defeats Ryan Innes (Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be”) | Cathia definitely hit some hinky notes in the verses, which had me thinking she was playing the role of Sacrificial Lamb in a movie called Ryan’s Pimp-Slot Coronation. But holy vocal meltdown, her bearded opponent (and early front-runner) delivered “I Don’t Want to Be” with all the musicality of a grizzly bear snarfing down a cooler full of uncooked hamburgers. The coaches clearly entered the matchup expecting Ryan to emerge as a clear winner, but dude gave Usher no choice but to throw his support behind Cathia (who I still argue was strongest in her Blind Audition).

Team Blake: The Swon Brothers (Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away”) defeats Grace Askew (Tina Turner’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain”) | Grace certainly wasn’t flawless as she swooped and flitted her way through a bluesy, boozy take on “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” but there was a delicious brazenness to the liberties she took with the original. I loved the way she dipped low and conversational-like on “get off my window!” and the break in her voice when she reached her upper register. Plus, that shredded leather skirt and jaunty flip in her hair added a little fashion fun to the proceedings. And yet Blake went with a straightforward, totally uninventive but decently sung “Drift Away” that you could probably hear in a saloon in any mid-sized city on an average Thursday night. But the Swon Brothers are from Blake’s home state and so of course, you’ve got to factor that in, too.

Team Usher: Josiah Hawley (Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”) defeats Jess Kellner (James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something”) SRSLY? [Sorry! Bad cut-and-paste job by your humble recapper — Josiah definitely ranks last for the night!]

Team Blake: Holly Tucker (Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying”) defeats Luke Edgemon (Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”) | I wasn’t a huge fan of Luke’s run-heavy Blind Audition, but I appreciated the bah-chicka-wah-wah R&B sensuality he brought to Katy Perry’s ditty — and the way he managed to show his pretty crazy vocal range without going overboard with unnecessary runs and trills. To be fair, Holly hit the majority of her notes, too, but there was a nasal quality to her tone — and a rather unengaging stage presence — that dragged her down from an A- to more of a B+/B level performance. Luke, I could imagine in the Season 4 Top 10; Holly, not so much.

Team Blake: Justin Rivers (Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”) defeats Savannah Berry (Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me”) | I was kind of ambivalent about who won the night’s opening Knockout. Savannah’s reworking of “ALAYLM” wasn’t amazing, but at least she went beyond basic karaoke. The problem was that she got drowned out a bit on the verses, and didn’t manage to bring much personality to the lyrics aside from her peculiar shade of lipstick. Justin definitely showcased greater vocal firepower, but his glory notes at the end felt more like a “look what I can do!” trick more than a genuine way to punctuate Miley’s hokey lyrics. Dude did listen to his coach, though, and dial back on the runs, so perhaps we’ll see further improvement in the coming weeks?

Team Blake: Danielle Bradbery (Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”) defeats Taylor Beckham (Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette”) | Not a great song choice for Danielle. I mean, the inexperienced teen obviously has an enormous instrument and Ginsu-accuracy, but what she doesn’t yet possess is the artistry or life experience to scale Mt. Underwood and sound like anything more than a decent imitation. Blake, though, might be able to help his young protégé make savvier (and less predictable) decisions, and bring a little more emotional heft to the proceedings, too. As for Taylor, let’s take the “if you don’t have something nice to say…” approach to her Rihanna cover, shall we?

Team Usher: Vedo (Bryan Adams’ [Everything I Do] I Do It for You”) defeats C. Perkins (Chris Brown’s “She Ain’t You”) | I loved how Shakira summed up C. Perkins’ failures by noting that he should have focused more on his vocals, and less on his stiff-armed “wind up the audience” foolery. Vedo’s song choice could’ve used about 10 fewer packets of Splenda, but he definitely felt every word and

Team Usher: Michelle Chamuel (Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”) defeats Audrey Karrasch (Lil Wayne’s “How to Love”) | Oh em gee, Michelle’s fun, fearsome and very physical twist on Pink’s outsiders anthem was the most fun I’ve had watching The Voice in four seasons (and yes, watching her drop and match Usher’s pushups in rehearsal definitely added to the Joie de Knockouts. I loved every part of her performance, from the tiny tweaks she made to the core melody to her seemingly involuntary punches into the air. If she doesn’t at least crack the Season 4 Top 10, then I’m gonna throw my TV out the window.

And with that, it’s your turn. What did you think about Night 2 of The Voice‘s Season 4 Knockout Rounds? Was anyone robbed? Who lucked out with their pairings? Did Blake’s treatment of Grace and Luke bother you? Take our poll below to vote for your faves, then hit the comments and expand on your thoughts. And for all my reality TV news, recaps and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sheilalala says:

    Oops, forgot Michelle Chamuel-stick her in before Danielle… :)

  2. Lois Benton says:

    Michelle Chamuel clearly was the best of the night. She was my number fourth favorite coming into the knockouts. Jess was better than Josiah; neither was very good, but Jess has an interesting tone. Luke was better than Holly; she was boring and not very impressive, he had an interesting tone, presence and interpretation. Savannah wasn’t very good, but she was better Justin (Yuck, and that was way off-key, wasn’t it?). I didn’t like Danielle or Taylor, but I probably would have picked Taylor because she was more interesting. Grace Askew was pretty bad, and I didn’t like her before either. She’s different, yes, but she has no range and really can’t sing. The Swon Brothers were really much better, so I’m glad they won. And they’re the only team Blake members I like even a little bit. Usher has Michelle and Vedo, so he’s in the game.

  3. Phil says:

    Josiah is a TERRIBLE singer. Ryan Innes should be in the live shows over him. I think Cathia deserves her place in the live shows, but if Usher has truly picked his best 4, Ryan would be in and Josiah out.

  4. mike says:

    I think in terms of talent I would rank the teams Adam>Shak>Blake>Usher.
    However I think Team Adam/Team Blake suffers from being to similar, and I think there is a good chance we are going to see their team draw from the same voting base and therefore a lot of earlier than expected Adam/Blake ousters

    • Snsetblaze says:

      I think Team Adam has the more interesting “country” singers. A lot of my favorites have been eliminated overall though (Ryan, Midas Whale, Patrick, Shawna P, Luke).

      I do still like Sarah Simmons (she reminds me a lot like a combination of Sara McLaughtin, Tori Amos and Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge all in one (because of the rasp)). I love Michelle Chamuel (that girl she defeated was just awful last night – she did not eve look like the same person who auditioned). I would love to see her tackle some harder rock to see what happens (Halestorm, Evanescence maybe?) I also like but no love Garrett.

      I think the other diva singers (Judith, Sasha) are all fantastic but not exciting – not like Amanda Brown was. Out of the country singers left, Amber on Adam’s team (I think that’s her name) was the most interesting even though I think she defeated Midas Whale.

      I was sad to see Luke go but I hate the song he chose so I have to admit I sped through it. The Swon Brothers are just ok. The backup guy actually has the better voice.

      The ones I see myself buying are Sarah Simmons, Michelle Chamuel, Midas Whale (I already have JPL’s solo album) and depending on what the divas do, maybe one of them.

  5. twnkltoze says:

    Josiah and Michelle were my favorites tonight on a night that wasn’t all that exciting. I think Blake’s team is by far the weakest this Season.

  6. Tim says:

    There was too much over-produced, lame singing tonight. It was getting in the way of the judges’ banter.

  7. Mafs95 says:

    Danielle and Michelle were my favourite last night. I think both these ladies have a lot of promise and they can bring us amazing performances. Regarding Josiah, he’s extremely good looking and a little eye candy doesn’t hurt nobody, right? He has to improve his singing skills (particularly his diction) but Jess wasn’t that much better, so I didn’t care who won that battle. The award for “worst performance” goes to… Taylor!

  8. Vetle says:

    I was so upset when Luke got sent home…

    And the fact that Josiah got through…? Omg. He had NO IDEA what the song was about. It made me mad. It’s a sad and emotional song and he just kept that steel look, also grinning a little towards the end.

    • MamaLis says:

      Oh, I know, man. It’s like I said, Josiah “blasphemied” Amy’s soul in his “Blue Steal” rendition of Back to Black. He had no clue. Absolutely no clue.

  9. tjj50 says:

    Blake obviously has a very pointed agenda this season. But I’m sorry, when faced with obvious talent like Luke Edgemon, throw that out the window! I don’t think any one of his four country artists stand out to me in any way. I’m looking at Team Adam and Team Shakira for the winner this season.

  10. Bobby says:

    I don’t get the complaining at all over Luke. The dude was weak in the chorus of his performance. Not bothered at all he’s out

    And Danielle is being severely undervalued. I think she could win

    Shakira has easily the weakest team. i don’t care for anybody on her except for Sasha who is great

    My Rankings
    1- Danielle
    2- Vedo
    3- Sarah
    4- Sasha
    5- Judith
    6- Michelle
    7- Justin
    8- Caroline
    9- Amber
    10- Cathia
    11- Holly
    12- Kris
    13- Karina
    14- Swon Brothers
    15- Josiah
    16- Garrett

  11. Adam Fachry says:

    Lol, Blake might as well change his name to Bland with his choice of people this season. I just don’t get it, he won twice with non-country artists (with the exception of Cassadee Pope, I guess. I heard rumors she’s signed with Republic Nashville for her solo debut) and now he ditched pretty much all of them? His approac is very similar to Christina’s last season imo. One word to sum it up: self-indulgent. I get it, they wanted to have validation that they could make an alleged ‘star’ from their respective genre trajectories,, but in the end it would only backfire, it already did with Christina.

  12. Anna says:

    To be honest, my favorite performance of the night was Savannah’s, and she got the boot! I wasn’t overly impressed by any of the winners. I guess Michelle was the best by default. She was fine vocally, and she’s definitely quirky, but she did the same punch the air arm movements and knee bendy movements in her last performance.

    Josiah won his knockout not because of his very mediocre performance but because (A) Jess was equally mediocre and (B) he’s very good looking, so will probably get a lot of votes from the viewers.

    Of Blake’s country-laden bunch, Danielle probably has the most potential. But Monday night’s artists were much stronger overall than last night’s.

  13. Del says:

    What I hate is that I went online to download ITunes songs last night *during* the Voice broadcast….and I could only download songs of the winners. BEFORE the broadcast was done. Talk about spoiling the rest of the performances for me…..

    • Tom22 says:

      I could see how that would be off-putting but were you on the east coast and was the show even filmed live on the east coast or tape delayed by a few hours ? I don’t recall many announcements of it being “live”

  14. Kenneth says:

    Disagree with Michael’s comment about Blake’s “lack of toxicity”. I’ve felt his comments this year (especially towards Adam) have had a nasty edge that they didn’t have previously. It’s almost as if, with Christina gone, Blake felt the need to step into the beeyotch role. Between that, and his awful team choices, I think it might be time for him to take at least a year off to re-focus and recharge.

  15. TheVoiceProblem says:

    I am not sticking around for the live rounds. :( On a side note, everyone follow our twitter, @thevoiceproblem :)

  16. Jaybird says:

    Michelle is awful, why are people digging her??? All she does is lunge and squat, average voice, hard to look at, ugh. If you consider that stage presence you should watch a lot more live music.

  17. Tom22 says:

    I wasn’t impressed with the band again tonight but the were a little better. I really can’t imagine the professional bass and drum players being as stiff as they are unless the musical dirrector is telling them that the audience won’t like good music.

    The were a tad looser for the guy duet crew but I felt they almost sabotaged Askew . I know the guys have to be better than that and I’m sure if say, Bonny Raitt walked in they be mortified as artists to play for her anything like they did for Askew.

    My son and I caught a few snippets of rehearsals as they were talking doing the rehearsal interviews with the contestants… the bass and drum player sounded so much looser in what I could hear and really looked like they were into it in the backround. I’m thinking they have someone tasteless above them telling them the public needed something closer to a click track to sound like the crap on the radio.. even if the songs don’t fit it.

    • Tom22 says:

      They did seem to improve on the night before in terms of the background singers not stepping all over the contestants.

      My problems with the rythym section went on all last year. Their rythym guitar player is pretty good and when a song has the that guy driving the song by the parts assigned he can bring up the keyboard player’s groove a bit…but thats the best I can say.

      For people this is interesting to, you can watch both of Nicholas David’s peformances of “Lean on me” . The first peformance of the song, he has the true gospel choir with him which absolutely grooved…. the bass player was stiff as all hell on it but the tight choir just ignored him and the drummer had some contraint to stay more with his brush because the would have probably glared at him.

      Nicholas David’s second performance, he leads in himself on the piano for a few bars of grooving/bluesy set up (not sure on the exact right adjective) and I’m expecting it to groove again and then the bass and drummer came in and just crushed the spirit of that second performance and the bands back up singers acting like a choir’s rendition of blues was like a stiff Lawrence welk version by comparison. Sucked all the life out of that second performance. I didn’t notice the band as much on the rock songs other contestants sang…probably because plain goes ok in the two minute vocal sections on the show in those songs and a straight rock beat..(not surprisingly) fits the pure classic rock songs. It doesn’t fit jazz, or blues, or R&B… seems ok with new modern country. Last night they sort of tried a bit with the brothers more classic country song with a southern rock undertone but like I said, the guitar player isn’t half bad and he was able to pull the other band members his way a bit… (even if they sounded far looser(good looser) in the background in rehersal.

      I’ve got to think others have been hearing this. I know Johnnie Lee hooker would have run them out of the room on Askews song. The band director has got to either learn other types of music or get out of the way to try to make all the performances great to listen to.

  18. Hmr says:

    Usher indeed made a huge rookie mistake in eliminating Ryan. Ugh.
    BTW, Sarah Simmons wore a hideous dress on Monday night. Nobody should be allowed to wear tablecloths.

  19. Ann VerWiebe says:

    I was so freaked out that they didn’t show Michelle’s battle round sing-off that I actually went on iTunes and downloaded her winning song (just for good luck). She’s totally my favorite!

  20. soham14 says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever agreed and disagreed with an article so strongly before.

    I definitely thought Michelle took the night with ‘Raise Your Glass’ and I really want her to win. But I confess her geek chic is something I relate to and well, her energy is infectious!

    I disagree with you though about Josiah being at the bottom. I definitely don’t think he should (or will) win, but he’s definitely not at the bottom. The weird country duo that only Blake likes should be at the bottom. They put me to sleep. I think someone called them the Snore Brothers, puts it right in one, I say.

    I also think Cathia deserves to be rated higher, girl can sing her heart out and make an impact. At the very least she was better than the Snore Brothers or that ‘slightly larger’ country girl that beat out Luke (I also don’t see what the judges see in her, sure she can sing, but she has all the stage presence of a plank of wood).

    Also, I’m so happy that I’m not the only one pissed off with Blake’s attitude: when in doubt, choose country. Why did he bother turning around for non-country artists then? Why did he canvass so hard to win them from other coaches, when he was going to drop them like a sack of potatoes for “what [he] knows best’? Very annoyed with his choices this season.

    • Adam Fachry says:

      As much as I’m irritated by Blake, it did serve the non-country contestants who chose him because he was a winner for 2 seasons in a row right. I like Luke, but I remember him saying, he’d be strategic by picking Blake cause he’s won last season, and I was like…can he be any more naive? They shouldn’t have chosen him by that fact anymore, cause it’s so irrelevant this season.

  21. lisa says:

    Re: Holly Tucker, what am I missing? She can carry a tune, but in my opinion, she’s sure nothing special. She went flat a couple of times last night and has zero charisma. I really wish Luke had just chosen Adam, who never would have sacrificed him the way Blake did.

  22. lisa says:

    Sorry. I meant Usher, not Adam.

  23. Daisy says:

    Which team is worse, team Usher or team Blake? I can’t decide. If Adam doesn’t win this year, he can only blame himself.

    Luke shouldn’t have gone for Blake. Such a shame he’s out, he was by far the best male vocalist on the show. I liked Ryan too, but he picked the wrong song.

  24. daisyvee says:

    Does anyone else think Shakira is under-whelming as a judge and coach? She’s clearly a nice person, but she doesn’t have a point of view, which makes for dull t.v. During the blind auditions she looked like a deer caught in the headlights always looking to see how the other coaches were re-acting. Her advice to her team members seems counter-intuitive making their performances weaker. She may be a good singer, but coaching doesn’t seem to be her forte. I hope the Voice either brings back Christina or finds someone new.

    • Sheilalala says:

      Now that you mention it Daisyvee-I have to agree, Shakira seems to be a really ‘nice’ lady, but I don’t know how exciting ‘nice’ people can make a show. Xtina was a snot at times, but she always had a clear opinion, point of view, and like Adam, had excellent vocal coaching advice and observations. I was disappointed that she gave Shawna P. and Brandon a Janis Joplin song-it was kind of pandering to Shawna’s benefit. Adam (in particular) and Blake look at the performance overall with song choice. I also don’t understand why she chose Mary over Cathia. Shakira and Usher both need to study up on adjectives and synonyms or all we will hear for the next few months is “Your performance…..ees was powerful, Adam has a toughie one” and “You shook this entire room man.”

  25. HitTheGroundRunning says:

    Wow, Amber started off the live performances in AMAZING fashion, damn.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      Josiah actually did pretty well. Great start to the show.
      Hmmm Sarah kinda disappointed me, it seemed a bit overdone and for the first time I picked up what some called a hint of goat in her voice. She might have made use a touch of Harry Jr. advice too. Maybe it’s just me but I wasn’t so blown away with her this time as before.

      • HitTheGroundRunning says:

        and damn Cathia delivered, sure a couple little notes, bit it had feeling and she really took control of the place, awesome. The judges kinda almost bused her though it seemed.
        I’d take that over what Sarah did this time, the latter kinda over-baked it and had a few too many sorta goaty runs (and I say that have always said great things about Sarah all the other weeks).

  26. HitTheGroundRunning says:

    Adam: Amber>Judith>>>>Caroline>Sarah
    Usher: Michelle>>Cathia>Josiah>>Vedo