The voice Season 22 featured an oversized field of contestants – the competition started with 56 successful auditions, instead of the usual 48. So while the Knockout Rounds kicked off on Monday with the 36 singers who survived the Battle Rounds, there was still a lot of trimming to do before the Top 16 Live Qualifiers kicked off in just two weeks. Apparently, the producers decided that the most effective method of mass elimination (read: bloodbath) would be to extend knockouts from two-way matchups to trios – yes, with Three artists both compete for a single spot on their joint team.
The first three contestants to be thrown into this tri-issue mix were Bodie, indie-pop stylist Team Blake, R&B showman Kevin Hawkins and country duo The Dryes – actually four singers in general. And although Blake Shelton explained that he pitted them against each other because they were “great singers,” they clearly had nothing else in common.
Bodie went first with Post Malone’s ill-chosen “Better Now” – a smooth, midtempo jam that might have been on the mark with its persona/genre, but actually did very little to showcase its supposedly big voice. . The Dryes’ cover of Ryan Hurd and Maren Morris’ “Chasing After You” was dreamy and romantic (coach Camila Cabello called it a “honeymoon” performance), but it wasn’t a song choice that orchestrated a moment of escape. If this was an instant save situation, I would have assumed Bodie and the Dryes were in danger.
On the other hand, Kevin, who looked like he was dressed as a prince for Halloween in his sequined purple suit, opted for the Maxwell version of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” and it certainly seemed like a song choice that prepared him for greatness. But unfortunately, he was half sabotaged by his own coach’s advice. Blake may have said he like the fact that – for the first time in many Voice seasons – there was no “Mega-Mentor” celebrity adviser for these Knockouts, but Kevin probably could have really used outside help from a Taylor Swift, Chris Martin or James Taylor this week.
During rehearsals, Blake had asked Kevin to rely less on his signature super-high falsetto, and the result was a blurry performance. Kevin was almost singing like he was some kind of America’s Got Talent ventriloquist act, wildly shifting from his falsetto to his chest voice – “a little rambling” was how John Legend, a big Hawkins admirer, described Kevin’s performance. “In rehearsal, Kevin was probably 80 percent in the falsetto, and that was me going, ‘Hey, man, give me some more full vocals.’ I take responsibility. That’s why it happened,” Blake admitted shyly.
None of these three performances were truly perfect, but all three competitors did enough to warrant a move to the Playoffs. Thus, Blake was upset as he was forced into an unprecedented three-way decision. ” It’s horrible ! You all did amazing! Two of you were supposed to suck! he shouted. “It’s the hardest twist they’ve ever thrown at me. I’ve never felt so much pressure as a coach in 22 seasons. I’m quitting! I’m quitting the show right away! … You three broke me! I quit!”
“It was a good race,” joked John.
“After 22 seasons!” Camilla exclaimed.
Ironically, of course, since this season’s Knockouts were taped, Blake has actually announced that he is leaving The voice next year, after Season 23 – though I don’t imagine the three-way knockout implementation specifically inspired his resignation. In the end, he had to go with four-chair contender Bodie. “I’m telling you, I didn’t make those three-way knockouts easy. But at the end of the day, Bodie just has something really special about what he does. There’s no one like Bodie on the show,” he explained.
That left Kevin and the Dryes available to steal, but with each of the coaches only having one steal in play during the Round of 16, I assumed poor Kevin wouldn’t get a second chance. Fortunately, Gwen Stefani and Camila thought Kevin was worth it, and Kevin decided to go with fellow peroxide-platinum style star Gwen, who was the first to turn for him in the blind auditions. . “I have my eye on Kevin from the Blinds. I actually blocked John, and didn’t even get him then. He has such control over his voice. I think America is going to see that Kevin is one of the strongest singers in this whole competition,” Gwen proclaimed. Hopefully she’ll let Kevin use whatever falsetto percentage he wants.
So this particular Knockout went well, but I still don’t think those three lanes are a good idea; they kind of remind me of the short-lived crossover battles of season 19, which turned out to be disastrous. But here’s how Monday’s other triple threats played out – including a knockout when another trainer also took the blame for steering a contender in the wrong direction.
TEAM CAMILA: Chello vs. Morgan Myles vs. Orlando Mendez
Chello was the odd man out here, an eccentric indie/soul/pop dude opposite two country singers. He sang first, doing Justin Bieber’s “Hold On” and playing guitar on the show for the first time. Barely the strongest vocalist of the season, he wavered in the lower parts of the melody, but once again proved himself to be an interesting performer with a unique point of view; he would probably make great independent records. But this show is called The voice, so Chello was no match for Morgan’s sheer, positive “What the World Needs Now” tour de force. Nor was “Cuban cowboy” Orlando up to par with Morgan, as his “Live Like You Were Dying” was pitchy, talkative and lacked breath control. Gwen thought Morgan’s performance was a bit “appearing”, but Camila admitted it was her fault as a coach, saying: “I’m going to fight a little. When you [Morgan was] waving and slapping the air, I might have misled her that way because it was me. I told him to do this. Still, Camila had an easy decision, going with the contestant with a real strong chance of winning the competition. Exaggerated hand gestures are easy to correct, but Morgan’s voice is already perfect.
WINNER: Morgan Myles
TEAM LEGEND: Parijita Bastola vs. Valarie Harding vs. Peyton Aldridge
Parijita went first with “I’d Rather Be Blind,” and seriously, Valarie and Peyton should have packed up and gone home right then and there. It was a masterclass, and while the judges always make such a fuss of the teenage contestants, in this case, it’s really has been hard to believe that Parijita is only 17 years old. Her performance was so elegant and mature. Peyton’s Luke Combs cover, “Forever After All,” was enjoyable but generic, and his performance lacked any pizzazz; I’m not surprised his Battle Round was edited. As for Valarie, she chose poorly with SWV’s “Weak,” a wordy song that tripped her up. John had a pretty easy and obvious decision here too. Parijita is another contender who could win all season.
WINNER: Parijita Pistol
TEAM GWEN: Kique vs. Destiny Leigh vs. Rowan Grace
Gwen loves her teens, so it must have hurt to pit 18-year-old Kique and Destiny against 16-year-old Rowan. “It’s going to be crazy,” she lamented. During rehearsal, it looked like Destiny would go all the way, as she pulled off Christina Aguilera’s near-impossible “Impossible.” Rowan’s cover of Billy Joel’s “Vienna” was also a lovely, if safer, choice. Meanwhile, Gwen was totally against Kique making a very andsafe choice: a radically deconstructed version of OutKast’s potentially zany and whimsical “Hey Ya”. But Kique turned out to have the outstanding performance of the night, and Gwen – who often makes spontaneous and impulsive decisions, sometimes to the detriment of her team – just had to pick him. In this case, it was the right choice. Suddenly, Kique had gone from presumed also run to one to beat. Conversely, Rowan got a reprieve when Blake robbed her, while Destiny’s on-stage performance failed to live up to its dynamite repeat.
WINNER: Kique / STOLEN: Rowan Grace joins Team Blake
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