‘The Voice’: An Early Favorite Goes Home in the Knockout Rounds

Savannah Berry and Carson Daly on "The Voice" (NBC)

The short but sweet “Voice” Knockout Rounds came to a close Tuesday night with Team Blake and Team Usher shrinking by half and sending off four contestants each into the Live Playoffs next week.

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It wasn’t a great night for Steals. Only one of Usher’s moved on; Blake Shelton chopped both of his. Both coaches cited not having much time to get to know their Steals after the Battle Rounds, but maybe it also has something to do with the Steals already not being good enough once to move on, and maybe still not being good enough.

It was also an off night for several performers, including most of Usher’s team. I mean, Usher really showed poor taste in contestants, with what he produced last night. That steal of C. Perkins, who barely made it through his Battle? Did not pay off. And his Audrey Karrasch and Michelle Chamuel Knockout was probably the most uncomfortable face-off yet.

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Blake’s team did a little better overall, but still had some major weak links, like his Steal, Taylor Beckham, who was still on the verge of tears after a less than stellar performance, but this time couldn’t snag a pity-save.

There were some surprises, too, like Blake’s Justin Rivers, who came out of nowhere to crush his mentor’s early favorite, Savannah Berry. Here’s the rundown:

Team Blake’s Knockouts

It always seemed like Savannah Berry was destined for the live rounds, ever since Blake offered to adopt her during her Blind Audition. But precocious Savannah decided to do an acoustic version of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me,” a country departure, while Justin Rivers went after Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” Blake has made it clear he’s not looking for crossovers just yet, but tried and true country singers. He felt Justin “dug down knowing this was his last chance,” and delivered a better performance. Looks like Savannah needs a new country superstar to adopt her.

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Round two was Holly Tucker vs. Luke Edgemon. Holly is the marching band saxophonist, and Luke was Shakira’s castoff who picked Blake over Usher for the Steal, specifically because Blake had so many country artists and he wanted to stand out. Bad decision. In Blake’s quest for an all-country team, it didn’t really matter that Luke re-did “Teenage Dream” innovatively as an R&B tune, and that Adam and Shakira both thought he slayed Holly. But it’s ok, because Holly has always been and was still great on Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You’re Dying.” So she took the round.

Blake matches up Danielle Bradbery with Taylor Beckham. Taylor is not good, was never really good, but Blake stole her because he likes wounded girls or some such weird thing to say. They’re both young, but Danielle is years beyond Taylor in her delivery. Which is weird, because it’s now her third public performance. They keep boasting about that, but now it’s just weird. How many months has it been since she’s tried out? Why has she not tried performing since then? It’s actually a little insulting to hard-working musicians who gig constantly just to get by. Anyway, Blake loves his child prodigy more than his wounded child, and even if Danielle’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” wasn’t perfect, it was soooo much better than Taylor’s “Russian Roulette.” This time, Taylor gets kicked off for good.

Last but not least, Grace Askew faces off against the Swon Brothers. Grace is an old-timey country gal who auditioned with Nancy Sinatra. She did “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and was bluesy and interesting and weird and wonderful. The Oklahoma brothers did “Drift Away.” It must be hard to be the blah brother (as Zach is) when the other brother is extremely pretty (as Colton is). These guys do not look related. Though all three performers strummed their guitars, Usher felt that Grace’s was a distraction. Blake said he liked that he felt like Grace never did the same thing twice. But he decided to move on the first duo since Season 1 to the live shows.

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And Blake also completes his all-country team, “full of 100 percent down-home knee-slappin’, tobacoo-spittin’, horse-ridin’ country singers.”

Team Usher’s Knockouts

Usher began the night pairing Josiah Hawley and Jess Kellner. Though Josiah auditioned with a Maroon 5 song, and even got Adam Levine to spin for him, he went with Usher, and that initial connection to Usher has helped him along the way. Plus, he’s gorgeous. Jess Kellner, the hairdresser, did “Give Me Something” by James Morrison, and Josiah did “Back to Black.” Adam though they should have switched. Blake felt like Josiah was calculated and needs to loosen up. But Usher said he “can’t imagine not working with” Josiah, and sent him onward.

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Here’s where Usher’s night spiraled downward. He pitted Audrey Karrasch, a former model, against self-proclaimed nerd representative Michelle Chamuel. Usher showed some unusual training techniques with these two, making Audrey sing right in his face, and doing pushups with Michelle. It’s during this scene that I figure out who Michelle totally is: Sandra Bullock before the makeover in “Miss Congeniality”–she’s an early Gracie Lou Freebush! And, like the fictional FBI agent, Michelle is fit, blazing through her pushups and then performing “Raise Your Glass” like she does squats for a living. It’s a little annoying that she has to pick one of Pink’s many it’s-ok-to-be-weird anthems; it’s getting a little too much like De’borah last season. But at least she’s on pitch. Unlike her competitor. Audrey can’t hit any of the notes and can’t stay on eth beat for her twisted version of Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love.” It’s just—bad. They don’t show all of it, but it’s still too much. The coaches all struggle to say something positive to her, but finally Usher just puts her out of her misery and advances Michelle. Weird Michelle, who should not have gotten this far, but has simply had the luck of the draw.

The badness for Usher continues with C. Perkins, his last-minute and poorly decided Steal, and Vedo, who lost his mom to lung cancer. C. starts out showing us what a bad decision maker he is, by picking a Chris Brown song. I mean, really, does anyone still want to be associated with that guy. And he couldn’t sign the song anyway, having major pitch problems again, and cracking at the end. Vedo delivered an emotional “Everything I Do I Do It For You” devoted to his mom, and again, this was one of those situations where it doesn’t even matter how he did, because C. had to go. (But Vedo wasn’t bad, so it’s ok.) But first—Blake asks C. what the C. stands for—it’s Craig, not Carl. Adam tells Blake he should abbreviate as well, so Blake inexplicably tells Adam to kiss his ass. Adam retorts that Blake’s initials are B.S. And there is your requisite Blake-Adam (Bladam?) catfight of the night.

Finally, Usher’s default last Knockout goes to Cathia and Ryan Innes. Cathia’s the kind of mean girl from the Bronx who got eliminated in a battle with Mary Miranda. For her first English song on the show does “Mr. Know It All.” She brings out all her vocal tricks, and tones down the attitude. Ryan does some shrieky wails on “I Don’t Want to Be.” The other coaches think the round went to Cathia, and Usher agrees.

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Final Team Blake

Under the radar Justin Rivers

Marching band saxophonist Holly Tucker

16-year-old Danielle Bradbery

Oklahoman duo the Swon Brothers

Final Team Usher

Nerd ambassador Michelle Chamuel

Usher’s muse Josiah Hawley

Recently lost his mom Vedo

Bronx sassypants Cathia

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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