Overall, The Voice season 12 final knockouts were the best of the entire set of season 12 knockouts. What a difference from the week one of the knockouts! Yes, you have to be darn good to make it onto The Voice, but The Voice season 12 final knockouts gave us the best of the best!
Of course, the problem with this round being so great is that some of the best singers went home! Throughout the night this thought kept popping up. “I wish they’d paired some of the people who lost tonight with some of the people who won over the past two weeks.” After these knockouts, it feels like whatever algorithm or magic eight ball the show uses to shuffle singers to the top 20 was definitely off!
The other, more realistic thought, is that it’s about having musical balance on the show. When one genre dominates the lives you lose segments of the audience. Then there’s the cynical side that says it’s about removing competition from those the producers are rooting for. After all, this is reality television and we all know, “reality” isn’t totally real. There’s always going to be some manipulations to get what the producers want.
The Voice season 12 final knockouts: Recap
Team Blake: Andrea Thomas vs. Lauren Duski. Winner: Lauren
What a surprise! Andrea’s range is amazing!
Still, when Lauren starts singing, the winner is clear. She’s vocally perfect on this, and seemed emotionally connected to her version of “Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss.
Why was this the first time Andrea’s performance made the show? We didn’t even see her blind audition? During rehearsal Blake told Andrea that the “front person” singer in her was finally emerging. Gee, thanks Blake – just in time to send her home!
If only Andrea had been on Team Alicia. Last week it would have been her up against Ashley Levin . She’s got a nice voice, but her words were mumbled half the time. Ashley inexplicably won that battle over Lily Passero – whom Adam promptly stole. If she’d been up against Andrea, this performance by Andrea would have slayed Ashley and likely sent Ashley home instead of Andrea. Oh well!
2. Team Alicia: Jack Cassidy vs. Vanessa Ferguson. Winner: Vanessa
With a last name like Cassidy, aka The Partridge Family, Jack was bound to go home. Walking onto The Voice with big connections to the entertainment business is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it can help get you onto the show. On the other hand, whether it’s the coaches or the audience, there’s always a sense that the person has enough contacts of their own. It’s like they need a certain amount of coaching time and exposure and then off they go! Fair or not, the grandson of someone super famous in the music business was not going to make the finals.
Still, Jack was really amazing. It would have been great to hear more from him than say Josh West. Josh’s vocal purity and style seems better suited for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical than a rock star. (There’s nothing wrong with Broadway, but that’s not what The Voice is about.) Jack doesn’t have the hair, but his voice, man, his voice is the real deal for those huge monster rock songs. U2, Journey, Pearl Jam….
The huge emotional sound wave that hits you when Jack sings is something Josh can’t touch. Maybe a decade from now he will, but right now now it’s not there. Jack’s another one we’re sorry to see go! That being said, whether Jack had those connections or not, Vanessa absolutely won this knockout.
Blake said this was a Voice-winning performance, and he’s right. If she keeps up at this level she’ll definitely make the finals!
Team Adam: Jesse Larson vs. Davine Leone. Winner: Jesse
Sometimes the problems in these things are about lanes. Coach Adam Levine had to chose between Jesse Larson his guitar-playing one-chair turn and Davine Leone. Davine’s version of “Toxic” by Britney Spears was creative and haunting. Granted. slowing it down and going darker has been done on with great success on the show before: Melanie Martinez, season three.
Davine’s performance was good! Despite moments of vocal and pocket issues, the overall effect was haunting and emotionally drew me in. More than any technical problems in her singing this is what really sunk her. Adam already has three pop artists on his team – and two of them are female. He needs to compete in different musical lanes, so a guitar-playing soul/rock guy is perfect. Of course, it also helps that Jesse is a great find!
Adam says Jesse reminds him of last season’s winner, Sundance Head. It’s a fair comparison, although Jesse isn’t a country singer. The show needs some serious rock to spice up the pop/country/soul mix and Jesse is totally that!
However, from team Adam the person who will absolutely make to the finale (and possibly win it) is Mark Isaiah! As you can see below though, he looks and sounds like a pop star heart-breaker. The teen-aged girls are gonna go nuts!
The Voice didn’t actually show Mark’s full knockout. Perhaps it’s because his competition Malik Davage was completely outmatched?
Malik clearly did not do his homework for this song. Pitch, pocket – he was all over the place. Also, Michael Jackson? He chose the King of Pop as his knockout song? A woman can get away with doing him because it’s a gender flip and thus incomparable and cool. The only man on the planet who can get away with doing Michael without being royally panned is Bruno Mars. Malik has talent, but this was the worst song choice for the knockouts ever!
Team Gwen: Brandon Royal vs. JChosen. Winner: JChosen
I actually like what Brandon Royal, attempted with “Redemption Song.” Trying to sing anything by Bob Marley the way Marley did it is a waste of time. That’s an impossible task. However, doing an iconic song is always a risk because the original will loom large.
Brandon did seem connected to the song’s message, but he was pitchy – especially when he first started. It could be that he was nervous. However the issue may have be strictly technical in that he needed more work in blending the Caribbean accent into the American. The pitch issues were in those transitions. There was no way he was going to win against JChosen, but I did wish someone else had a steal for him.
With JChosen what stands out is the difference between his rehearsal and the performance. For my money, what he did in rehearsal was 100 percent better than his actual performance. Not that his performance was bad – far from it! If I hadn’t seen his rehearsal version I’d have loved this.
In rehearsal JChosen really put his emotions into the song and slowed it down a little. It made the song seem more his own. Until the very end the actual knockout performance was basically just like the original. Granted, sounding like Usher will definitely win a knockout. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that they didn’t let him do it the way he wanted to – as a tribute to his mother.
Team Blake: Aaliyah Moulden vs. Caroline Sky. Winner: Aaliyah
This was the only knockout that didn’t bother me. Aaliyah Moulden came off like a young Beyonce while doing a Carrie Underwood country song! “Before He Cheats” is one of those songs that, despite the line about shooting “whiskey” seems okay for a teenager to sing. (Probably because the actions are so much the kind of impulsive acting out one expects from a teenager….)
One thing that separates Aaliyah from all the other younger singers on the show is that when she sings you can understand every word. That’s a challenge all of the other younger singers have – and a few of the adults as well. In some places the song is a bit low-pitched for her range. It didn’t stop her from absolutely selling this song!
It would have been hard to beat Aaliyah’s total package performance, but not impossible. This knockout performance byCaroline Sky shows the importance of song choice.
Caroline has a lovely voice. Unfortunately, she bit off more than she could chew by picking “At Last” by Etta James. Her attempt to stick to the classic original didn’t help because she doesn’t yet have the richness of tone nor the depth of emotional experience to pull it off. Even worse, she came in too early, which threw her pitch off during the iconic opening. Because the entire pitch and rhythm of “At Last” is set up by those first two words she never fully recovers from the mistake.
Team Gwen: Troy Ramey vs. Stephanie Rice. Winner: Troy
Some steals on The Voice definitely seem preordained. This final steal is one of those types. Coach Alicia Keys was given a gift – and it felt like she knew it was coming.
Troy Ramey did a great job with “Chandelier” by Sia, but in no way was he better than Stephanie Rice!
The winner of this knockout was Troy? What was coach Gwen Stefani thinking? It may have been that her strengths in coaching are about stage presence, fashion, and “singing with your heart.” Troy needs help in all those areas and watching him improve in those will be fun for her as well as good television.
Stephanie doesn’t need coaching for any of the above. Stephanie is a clear front-runner. If you didn’t know “Safe and Sound” was by Taylor Swift, would you have known it was a Taylor Swift song. Alicia can help her with song choices and technique issues when necessary. Her main job will be keeping Stephanie centered and amazing. Nice work if you can get it! When wins like this happen it feels like the coaches knew the results before anyone started singing.
The Voice Season 12 Final Knockouts Wrap Up
Before the live shows begin the producers want to make sure there’s a variety of music for as long as possible, while trying to push their favorites forward. They do this because they do have less control once the live show begin. The result is that sometimes people whose talent suggest they deserved to go live, don’t. This can be hard to watch.
Still, The Voice does give singers a chance to make fabulous contacts for their careers and great exposure. After all, if not for the show we in the audience would probably never hear of these performers that we hate to see leaving!
Here are the teams going into the live shows
- Team Adam: Mark Isaiah, Jesse Larson, Josh West, Hanna Eyre, Lilli Passero
- Team Alicia: Anatalia Villaranda, Vanessa Ferguson, Chris Blue, Ashley Levin, Stephanie Rice
- Team Blake: Lauren Duski, Aliyah Moulden, Casi Joy, TSoul, Aaliyah Rose
- Team Gwen: JChosen, Troy Ramey, Brennley Brown, Hunter Plake, Quizz Swanigan
The thing about having a strong team is this: it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the winner. Adam has only one front-runner on his team – Mark Isaiah. The very thing that is makes him a front-runner is what many can’t stand. His sound isn’t exactly unique. I’ve two words for you: One Direction.
Monday night at 8pm ET starts the The Voice season 12 live shows on NBC. Make sure you’ve got The Voice App so that you can vote!