The Knockouts, Part 2
It's the final night of the knockouts and Coaches Blake and Usher are poised to make the tough calls that will determine which of their artists will move on to the live rounds - and which will head home after tonight. The audience is in their seats; the coaches are caffeinated and anxious, and singers wait nervously offstage as Carson Daly welcomes us to what promises to be a very big night.
Blake Shelton announces his first knockout pairing: Savannah Berry and Justin Rivers. Both singers have survived a battle matchup before, but tonight the pressure's even more intense - and they'll have the added responsibility of choosing their own songs. Savannah kicks it off with a heartfelt take on Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me." She plays the song for all its emotional value, and the audience responds accordingly. Justin performs next. His take on "The Climb" starts slow and plaintive, but he pushes more and more energy into his performance as the song progresses. He finishes powerfully, holding a high note for an impressive duration. The other coaches weigh in, but it's Blake's opinion that matters. He's taking Justin with him to the live rounds.
Jess Kellner and Josiah Hawley are up next. The two singers from Team Usher push themselves in rehearsal and then find their way to the stage. With an electric guitar strapped across his chest, Josiah performs first, putting a rocking snarl on "Back to Black." Jess follows up with an impressive take of her own, singing "You Give Me Something." The song stretches her comfort zone, a gamble she's taken to try to impress Usher. Usher weighs both performances and ultimately chooses Josiah, citing his deeper potential.
Blake matches his next two singers. Holly Tucker will perform "Live Like You Were Dying" as she competes against Luke Edgemon, who'll tackle "Teenage Dream." As they rehearse, Blake pushes Luke to find his moments to punch through to the audience; he tells Holly that all she needs is confidence. On the stage, Holly brings it, pushing herself to new heights as she takes the song's soaring chorus over the top. It's not perfect, but it's powerful. Next up, Luke's alternative take on the Katy Perry's pop song has a soul vibe. Usher comments that it was too much for him, but it's Blake's call that matters. The big coach thanks both of his singers and makes his painful choice: Holly.
Michelle Chamuel and Audrey Karrasch are set to face off next. Coach Usher works with each of them differently, daring Audrey to make a personal connection and pushing Michelle to not run out of breath by exercising right before they rehearse. Audrey takes the stage first and delivers a solid, if slightly subdued take on "How to Love." Michelle is all rock and roll, working the stage as she sings "Raise Your Glass." It's just over the top enough to send her on to the live rounds.
Two of the competition's younger artists, Danielle Bradbery and Taylor Beckham square off next. Danielle's picked "Jesus Take the Wheel," and Taylor will tackle "Russian Roulette." Blake works with them individually, honing their techniques and working on their confidence. Danielle performs first, displaying a maturity and confidence that betrays her 16 years of age. Not to be outdone, Taylor pours her heart into her performance, building slowly to an alluring finish. It's strong, but not enough. Blake's putting Danielle through to the live rounds.
Usher's got two powerhouses paired up next: C. Perkins and Vedo. With similar sounds, it'll be a perfect proving ground for Usher to decide who's got what it takes to go deep in the weeks ahead. Usher works with Vedo on his "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," and it's clear that the young singer from Atlanta has a special talent. C. Perkins practices his "She Ain't You," knowing he faces some stiff competition. At the stage, C. Perkins goes first, moving across the stage, encouraging the audience to dance and sing with him. Vedo follows and starts off slow and soft. But his command of the ballad soon makes an impression on everyone in the building. Usher weighs the two performances honestly and then makes a clear choice: Vedo's moving ahead.
Next up are country blues singer Grace Askew and crowd favorite The Swon Brothers. Blake works with Grace ahead of time, emphasizing that she needs to watch her elocution as she sings. For the Swons, who've chosen the classic "Drift Away," the challenge will be to take advantage of their brotherly harmonies and not overpower the song. Grace sings first, filling "I Can't Stand the Rain" with snarl and country energy; her driving beat pulls the audience along with her. The Swons find their pocket early on and ride it all the way to the song's sweet crescendo. Forced to announce his decision between the two acts, Blake's truly torn. Holding his head in his hand, he makes his pick: The Swon Brothers.
The final knockout is at hand. Usher's paired two singers whom he knows can put themselves emotionally at the center of their songs: Cathia and Ryan Innes. Usher works with Ryan first, giving him fundamental stage moves and letting him know that he needn't be behind a piano to succeed. With Cathia, Usher works on bolstering her confidence.
Cathia sings first, "Mr. Know It All." She pushes the song's energy right off the top, finding a high register not witnessed by the crowd before. It's a powerful, emotional and musically impressive performance all at once. Ryan knows he's got a tough task ahead. But he takes the stage undaunted, singing "I Don't Want to Be" with incredible purpose. He works the stage and finds an explosive power in the song's lyrics, rocking the house with his impressive instrument. It's an epic Voice knockout, and now Usher will have to sort it all out.
The coaches all express just how impressed they were with both performances; Shakira cites a couple of control problems by Ryan. Adam was expecting a bit more grit from Ryan. Usher weighs in next. He compliments both artists, but ultimately chooses Cathia. The knockouts are in the books. The remaining 16 artists will return on Monday to start the live performances and their bids to be crowned The Voice Season 4 champion.