We regret to inform you that you’re going to have to sprinkle ’em with cinnamon and sugar, then nom-nom-nom ’em. Because despite her array of questionably tailored, homemade clown costumes, the “Wrecking Ball” singer — who was serving as Special Advisor to all four teams during the Season 10 Knockout Rounds — offered more specific, actionable, insightful advice over the course of the episode than Adam, Pharrell, Blake and Xtina combined.
Hey, look, I’m not saying we all need to drop what we’re doing for a group singalong of “Party in the USA” — I’m noddin’ my head like ‘Yeah!’ Movin’ my hips like ‘Yeah!’ — oh God, so sorry…
Will you please give me one more paragraph to get this recap back on track? I swear, I’m not gonna get the chorus to “The Climb” stuck in your head.
You just focus on the hows and whys — OMG, the whyyyyys — of Adam Levine’s pink hair, while I count down this week’s Knockout Rounds results in order from least- to most-promising winner.
6. Team Blake: Paxton Ingram – Adele’s “Hometown Glory” defeats Angie Keilhauer — Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” | Paxton hit some really sweet spots when he rounded his tone and went for the big notes on the chorus — and the judges were right that he’s got a strong lower register. Still, I’m not sure he’s distinctive or exciting enough to go far in a season this deep. Lucky for him, Angie was badly off key on a jam with a low degree of difficulty – and just like that, he’s in the live shows.
5. Team Adam: Owen Danoff – Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” defeats Ryan Quinn – Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” (Ryan stolen by Xtina) | Owen’s blind audition was intimate and deeply heartfelt, but his less-is-more approach came across a little sleepy here in the Knockouts — making me wonder if he’s truly the finale threat I’d pegged him to be after the Blinds. In fact, I’m not sure he was any more emotionally invested in “She’s Always a Woman” than Ryan was in his very pretty but surface-level take on “Drops of Jupiter.” The latter dude may have lucked out by losing — then landing on Team Xtina, who’ll know how to better channel his bombast into more productive avenues.
4. Team Pharrell: Emily Keener – Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” defeats Shalyah Fearing – Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing” (Shalyah stolen by Adam) | Emily’s dulcet tones are just lovely — and this was the most in-tune performance she’s given to date — but there were hints of goofy immaturity in her delivery (especially her “look what I did there!” high-to-low transition in the final line) that felt peculiar on a song that requires a certain degree of adult-level gravitas. Shalyah may have come thisclose to screaming her entire Martina McBride anthem — a song that is due for retirement from reality singing competitions — but I have to give her credit for infusing it with a genuine angst and fervor.
3. Team Pharrell: Hannah Houston – The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” defeats Malik Heard’s — Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” | If Hannah can learn to dial back on the Mariah Carey Fluttery Hand Gestures (TM pending), she could actually be a finale threat. She’s got so many interesting textures in her tone — and an innate ability to veer from ragged to silky without it feeling in any way jarring. Poor Malik didn’t really make any errors on “Isn’t She Lovely,” but his karaoke arrangement didn’t allow for anything fresh or current, either.
2. Team Blake: Katie Basden – Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” defeats Lacy Mandigo — The Cranberries’ “Zombie” (Lacy stolen by Pharrell) | Katie took total ownership of “Gypsy” without destroying its essence by made just the right amount of haunting tweaks to Stevie Nicks’ gorgeous melody. The depth of restraint in her delivery and the Yearwood boom of her last run moved her wayyyy up my personal pecking order for the season. Here’s hoping she can sustain the momentum. I’m not sure why Lacy got the Steal given that she was under the note for half the performance, but perhaps Adam will be able to accelerate her artistic development in ways Xtina and Blake couldn’t?
1. Team Xtina: Alisan Porter – Joni Mitchell’s “River” defeats Daniel Passino — The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” | Alisan’s delicate, stripped-down and pitch-perfect “River” was a major Voice moment that practically had me dabbing my eyes with a Puffs. I’m not sure she needed to swing quite so hard on her glory note — but then again, when you’re doing head-to-head vocal combat, I suppose it’s hard to resist a death blow. Daniel, meanwhile, sealed his fate with a song choice and arrangement that felt as dated as a two-foot-long car phone. You could see the defeat in his eyes as he watched Alisan from the back of the boxing ring, but I suspect he was grappling with that abject sorrow the minute Xtina paired him against the guaranteed Top 10 Curly Sue.