As the Knockouts Wind Down, Who Is Left Standing on ‘The Voice’?

"The Voice": Amber Nicole, Carson Daly and Josh Logan (Photo: NBC)

Alright, guys, we’re coming down the homestretch. “The Voice” is approaching the time when the stuff we’re watching is occurring right that very moment! But before we make it to the live shows, we’ve got one final round of arbitrary pairings and random decisions to slim down the roster. It’s the Knockouts!

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Only five artists get to move on after this week’s Knockouts – four out of each coach’s remaining eight, plus one single Steal. It’s a new deal, the Knockout Steal, intended to make the process toward the end of the show take at least one week longer, and also to reinforce the false notion that nothing is final.

First up, Team Christina’s Amber Nicole vs. Josh Logan. Seventeen-year-old Amber goes all-out sassy in “Mama Knows Best,” up against Adam Levine soundalike Josh with “Living for the City.” Even though I’m so sick of bros who aspire to be Adam Levine, attempt to sing Stevie Wonder, and wear plain t-shirts and black hats on this show, I’m gonna declare Josh the winner, simply because somehow that whole thing is less played out than Amber’s version of “sass.” Tony Lucca fans, have fun voting for this guy. You can’t really compare these two, but the coaches try. Cee Lo Green says he keeps rediscovering Josh. Adam praises Josh’s Stevie attempt. Blake Shelton says Josh gets better every time he performs. And the winner is, of course, Josh.

But wait! Cee Lo tries to steal Amber! Already? Usually he waits till the absolute last second to do much of anything on this show. And then Blake pushes his button, too! What? Cee Lo thinks it would be “really resourceful” to have Amber join him. Blake says there are so many other artists like Amber on Cee Lo’s team already, which maybe isn’t a great compliment to the artist he’s trying to woo, telling her she’s just like a dozen other people. The two coaches go at it for a minute, and then Amber chooses Cee Lo, because being on his team would be a risk, but she’s not intimidated. I have no idea what she means by that. Who in the world is intimidated by pussy cat petting Cee Lo Green?

Team Cee Lo: Kat Robichaud vs. Monika Leigh
Uh oh, these are two ladies with amazing ‘90s voices, and I don’t want to see either of them go just yet. Although I’ll tell you right off the bat, I’m rooting for Kat, because she’s singing “You Oughta Know,” she says, “because it represents me as a performer,” and anyone who still wants to be Alanis in the year 2013 is absolutely necessary in the music industry. Of course, Monika did annoy Cher during Battle rehearsals, which you just don’t do. She’s singing “Hit the Road Jack” in the style of Fiona Apple. This is the battle of my dreams. Showtime, and there is A LOT of hair flipping. Kat does a lot of walking forwards and backwards on the stage, and has a little too much gravel in her voice, but what really scares me is the Marilyn Manson-eyes she flashes in moments of rage. Xtina gives her a standing O. But Monika’s voice is just better, and she’s actually sexy, while Kat’s more like an angry teenager. Adam says Kat’s crazy eyes scared him, but found her more natural than Monika. Blake says these two are the sexiest two women on the stage at once, and then gives us this gem: “People are gonna have to handcuff men and drag them away at Monika’s concerts, and at Kat’s concerts, people are gonna have to handcuff her.” Xtina can’t decide her fave. Cee Lo says Monika sings better than she did tonight, so he goes with Kat.

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Team Blake: Holly Henry vs. Nic Hawk
The white-blonde Minnesota wood nymph Holly is paired up against Blake’s steal, Nic. Holly’s singing “Creep.” When and how did this song become a popular standard of the competition show songbook? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Radiohead? So passé. Nic is singing “Genie in a Bottle,” and what was I saying about passé? No, just kidding. This is ‘90s night, remember? I’m delighted. But there’s no way Blake’s giving up this tiny little weird girl, it’s just his favorite thing, even if she can’t hit any of low and mid-range notes. Which she really can’t. “I don’t belong here,” is how the song ends. Hey, you said it, Holly, not me. Nic’s “neo-soul” version of Xtina’s first hit is atrocious, but it’s still better than Holly’s number. Wow, this could not be a worse matchup, because I don’t want to see either of these two move on. Christina says both showed a lot of bravery. Adam said Holly’s emotion overcame her performance, and about Nic, he said he cries himself to sleep every night about passing on him in the Battles and thinks about him before he goes to bed. Blake picks Nic to move on, and no matter what happens on to him in the live shows, he will always have Adam’s confession to take with him.

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Team Adam: Ashley Dubose vs. Tessanne Chin
We didn’t get to see Ashley’s Battle but she had an awesome Blind Audition. Tonight, she’s singing “Hey Soul Sister,” which seems bizarre to Adam, but he likes that she’s a chameleon. Tessanne kicked the great Donna Allen out of the running in her Battle, and now she’s trying to get rid of another powerhouse with Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” I’d choose Ashley for her yellow onesie shorts alone, but she’s also adorable and got a sweet voice. Tessanne’s deep voice and insane intensity is just a little too scary to me. But Ashley had a pretty nasty bum note toward the end, while Tessanne is pretty much perfect. I don’t know where she belongs on the radio, but damn, she’s amazing. Cee Lo says Tess has a “lioness” quality, while Ashley has a “coffee and cigarettes” quality. Adam chooses the lioness.

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Team Blake: Briana Cuoco vs. Shelbie Z.
Oh no! “Big Bang Theory”s little sister up against Blake’s pageant country girl! How will he make such a decision? Briana’s doing “Don’t Speak.” And Shelbie’s doing “Last Name,” because she sings it in music competitions and wins every time. It’s like blind ambition vs. blind ambition. I don’t know what to make of it. But Briana’s gonna have to go back to assisting her sis, because there are major bad notes, and an overall karaoke quality that isn’t cutting it tonight. I can’t blame Blake for picking the country girl this time. Shelbie’s got this. Especially when she grinds her butt, to Blake’s delight. Shelbie wins this so hard.

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Team Adam: Grey vs. James Irwin
The wedding singer does Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” James has very pretty eyes. He’s singing “Breakeven.” Grey’s got a cool voice, but James and his pretty eyes just reach out into the audience more. The coaches are all excited about some technical things Grey did with her voice, but also kind of disappointed in other things. But they like that James has the warm caramelly tone. Adam thinks James can go far, but he thinks Grey could win the whole thing.

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Team Xtina: Destinee Quinn vs. Olivia Henken
Christina says she paired them because there was only room for one country artist going forward. I’d say she could do without either of these two Barbies, but that’s not how it works, I guess. Destinee takes on “See You Again,” and she starts it too low in order to go high, and neither place is successful. Olivia’s “You’re No Good” is a little more natural, if that’s possible for someone in opal hotpants and a peroxide bouffant. She doesn’t take any of Xtina’s notes to pick her battles and select her moments, and just goes for all of them. Blake, the country authority, says Destinee was flat and Olivia sharp, and he prefers sharp. Xtina can’t decide which one’s awful performance is better, but she picks Olivia.

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Team Cee Lo: Cole Vosbury vs. Jonny Gray
Different styles with grassroots appeal, is how Cee Lo describes this matchup. Cole picks “Let Her Go,” something he’d sing at the best facial hair competition and/or coffeehouse. It’s pretty and I like his smooth baby skin underneath the Yeti on his face. Jonny had been victorious the battle of military vets, and in a renewed effort towards peace building, picks “We Can Work It Out.” His rehearsal sounds terribly nasal. It’s better on stage, till he tries to get us to wave our arms in the air. Compared to Cole, comes across as an amateur. Blake likes Cole, Xtina likes Jonny, and Adam refuses to pick a favorite. Cee Lo liked Cole’s performance, but he says Jonny’s “stance feels like activism,” and compares him to Dylan, so it’s obviously Jonny’s win. But then Adam tries to steal Cole right up! And then comes Blake! Adam implores Cole not to look in Blake’s dreamy eyes. Oh, but he looks. It’s too late. Cole picks Blake, wood by his offer to help him find himself as an artist. “You looked at him for too long!” Adam says. “Those dimples, man.”

One more Knockout night, lots more dimples, and we will finally have our live teams assembled. See you Tuesday!

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

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