Don’t blame me for missing an episode last week. Blame The Voice for being stupid enough to split these episodes into two days instead of one episode as God intended! We’re into the Live Shows and…wait what? What are “Knock-Out Rounds?” When did that become a thing? How is a “knock-out” different than a “battle?” Aren’t they two similar terms implying a winner and a loser…how are these not the same?! Oh, the Knock-Outs are NBC’s “participation medal,” giving everyone a change to perform like it’s live before cutting them down quickly. This show is the worst kind of television masturbation because it never, EVER, knows when to quit.
And we have Taylor Swift on the show? Is this some type of audition for her to become the next Voice judge? I don’t want violent Taylor Swift fans to hate me, so I’ll keep my thoughts about her to myself. Oh, and the Knock-Outs add another steal. This is the world’s longest game of musical chairs.
Gwen against brings up “personality” again, one of many repetitious moments I’ll be pointing out this episode and probably during the entirety of the knock-out rounds. Taylor praises Gwen to the high heavens, stating “men, women, and children” all love her. Hi, Taylor! Have you read my reviews? The first knock-out pairing is Sugar Joans and Bryana Salaz. Bryana is an inch away from changing her name to Ariana Demi Selena Salaz and it doesn’t help the image that she’s singing “Heart Attack” by Demi Lovato. Taylor tries to explain what the song is about Bryana. Considering they’re both 14-year-old girls (Taylor may be a year younger than me but she acts a decade younger) I expect this to be derivative. Gwen says she’s turning “mommyish” with Bryana. Sugar decides to sing “Love on Top” and Gwen apparently has no idea who sings that song. Bryana sounds like [insert teen star] and bops around the stage with a mock Grande-tail. I did notice the background singers a lot during her performance. Sugar has a warmer voice, although she’s got too much vibrato so I’m afraid she’s choking when she hits those low notes. If I had to, I’d pick Sugar. Blake says he’s shocked Bryana can sing like that at her age. Blake, I don’t expect you to remember what happened yesterday, but wasn’t the winner on your team younger than Bryana? Gwen picks Bryana and I’m not surprised; she’s pure pop material singing songs popular right now and The Voice failing to make her successful only proves they can’t bring success to any of these winners. Pharrell steals Sugar, but he told her that five minutes ago, so no surprise there.
Blake pairs Griffin (No Last Name) with James Devin Carter. Carter sings James Taylor “You’ve Got a Friend” which Blake says isn’t that dynamic and doesn’t push Carter. Upon meeting Taylor Griffin tells her he went to one of her shows and met her parents. Taylor tells Griffin she’ll tell them. Yeah, I’m sure they’re going to remember a sketchy dude from three years ago. Griffin’s singing “As Long as You Love Be.” Yep, a little Bieber in this episode. His rehearsal sounds very nasally and Taylor tries to turn it into a “rock” song. Apparently that requires hand slamming in the air like we‘re at a Jay-Z concert? James’ performance is melodic, mellow, and sensitive with no fireworks. Adam doesn’t seem impressed by the performance, giving Gwen a “meh” face. Griffin, Oof that’s an awful performance. He’s up too high and it sounds smarmier than Bieber himself. Griffin’s also too slow so the background band doesn’t know how to move. When he gets to the “Lo-lo-love me” section he slows down way too much to enunciate each “lo” instead of making it one fluid note. Blake is moving, but looks totally confused on what the hell he‘s hearing. Everyone keeps talking about James to the point that Griffin knows no one cares about his performance. Adam gives Griffin a pity compliment, but it’s not shocking that James is the winner.
Pharrell pairs Katriz Trinidad and DaNica Shirey aka the two winners who shouldn’t have made it. DaNica wants to sing “Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston. Taylor calls DaNica a “music geek” for knowing the song was Whitney’s first #1. Taylor, aren’t your songs about embracing your inner geek and not being a judgmental snob? Just saying. Katriz is performing “Superwoman” by Alicia Keyes to honor her mom. Respect! Pharrell tells Katriz she’s too reliant on her training. During the actual performance DaNica fails to touch the deep resonance of Whitney, but it’s a solid, highly polished performance overall. Katriz dominates the stage, making her performance look effortless and controlled simultaneously. Despite the vocal runs she uses they never feel excessive. Wow, Pharrell really irritates me right now, picking DaNica over Katriz. I didn’t understand what Katriz had over Blessing last week, but I’ve yet to see what makes DaNica worthy from her first audition!
Adam and Taylor are having a discussion about how he’s part robot. Is this his attempt at flirting? I’m not even thinking this is a real conversation. And I’m going to believe Taylor truly has no idea what a “cyborg” is. Returning to the reason they collect a paycheck, Adam pairs Damien and Toia Jones. Damien wants to sing “How Will I Live” which Taylor calls her “preteen karaoke go-to.” I’m assuming she got out of this preteen phase yesterday? This causes more Adam and Taylor flirting and it‘s awkward and not in the “New Girl” sense of the word. Toia marks the second Beyonce performance of the night, picking “Crazy in Love.” Taylor tells her to start acting crazy which apparently is messing up one’s hair and looking around. I’m also thinking it’s a bit racist for the white girl to tell the black girl to start acting crazy in a song. Damien channels his inner Luther Vandross, giving a soft almost choral performance. He has a rich voice that works with Yearwood’s lyrics. Toia tries to be theatrical but there isn’t anything fun in the performance; it sounds rushed and stilted. She does bring it in by changing up the keys and adding an amazing sustained note at the end but it might be too little, too late. Toia says “that song’s for skinny girls” and Gwen laughs like she totally understands that problem in a Megan Trainor way. Adam picks Damien. Wow, another choice I don’t understand. I agree Toia didn’t make the song work, but Damien played it safe and he won‘t win in the live rounds. I love how Pharrell is shocked, but her let her go too!
Blake’s next pairing is Tanner Linford and Jessie Pitts, two equally baby-faced teens. Jessie tells Taylor she follows her on Instagram and loves her cats (Meredith is my homeboy…girl?). Blake then talks about cat’s peeing on his tree causing Taylor to deadpan “That’s not the same.” This feels like a conversation between an old man trying to talk emoijis with a group of teens or something equally disturbing. Jessie wants to sing Ellie Goulding’s version of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Taylor gives some good advice about Jessie using her hands too much. Tanner picks Train’s “Calling All Angels” to perform; I’m officially against anyone who sings Train. Jessie’s performance sounds EXACTLY like her other three performances; same technique, different song. Her performances are nice and competent, but she has no other tone. Everything sounds like a warbley Starbucks performance. Tanner, on the other hand, sounds like an early Justin Bieber with less “swagger.” I hate this song so much that if he wins I‘ll hate him on principle. Off-topic, these judges look so disinterested. They know these rounds are pointless. Jessie gets another reprieve on Team Blake. Apparently Blake loves that one tone, maybe because he loves Starbucks so much.
Pharrell’s final pairing is Luke Wade and Taylor Phelan who he teams up for their rock and roll attitude. Luke praises Taylor’s “songwriting ability” causing me to silently laugh inside. Luke picks “Rich Girl” and thank goodness Gwen isn’t here to talk about Hall and Oates’ reggae influences. I like how Taylor’s “suggestions” are purely aesthetic as she tells Luke how to work the crowd. Taylor says she has “rapport” with other Taylors upon meeting Phelan who settles on “Rather Be” to sing. Taylor S. calls Taylor P.’s guitar his “teddy bear” and recalls when she finally stopped playing guitar. Glad to know Swift acknowledges that she has no interest in being anything more than a pop star. During the round Luke’s performance is fun and it works for his gritty voice although it sounds too fluffy. Taylor’s voice sounds a bit robotic during his performance, probably because the song is so overly produced. He’s got a lot of time to dance and move around, again, the problem with a dance song where the beat is more important the lyrics. All the movement causes Taylor to lose breath control. Pharrell picks Luke; the one time he picks someone I expected! Adam, Gwen, and Blake all want to steal Taylor who picks Adam. We get the most enthusiasm we’ve received from a judge this episode when Adam snags Taylor.