Ka-pow! Let the knockout rounds begin on The Voice.
Just one step away from the live rounds, the coaches must cut their teams in half by pairing off teammates to perform against one another. Tasked with picking their own songs, only one will move on.
But this season there's a twist – for the first time ever, each coach has one final steal. (And it's implied that they can steal someone back that they had previously cut loose in the battle rounds.)
The first steal came after Christina Aguilera surprisingly cut 17-year-old Amber Nicole from her team in favor of 33-year-old musician-dad Josh Logan (who just so happened to make it into the top 10 of long-lost reality show Rock Star: Supernova back in 2006).
Singing Jessie J's "Mamma Knows Best" it seemed like spunky Amber was the clear winner: she barely hit a bad note and looked cute as a button doing it. Comparatively, Josh's stage presence and song execution left something to be desired. Yeah, he sounded just like Stevie Wonder while singing "Living for the City," but mimicking people seems to be his thing. Remember how he sounded just like Adam Levine while singing Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe" during the battles? Could get old fast.
Still, Xtina stuck by him, saying she has "certain ideas that carry over to what's next." (Another impression, perhaps?) But Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton were no fools – as soon as they could, they hit their buttons to steal Amber. And Cee Lo wasn't letting her get away. As soon as Blake said, "there's nobody even near what you do on my team," Cee Lo went right for the jugular: "I know your team pretty well, too, and there is no talent on your team." Before he could backpedal (then re-pedal to add that Blake's button-push was an "act of desperation" because he knows he doesn't have a winner on his team), Xtina and Adam jumped out of their seats as if they physically felt the burn. The tactic worked, as Amber picked Cee Lo to be her new coach.
The other steal of the night came when Cee Lo cut Cole Vosbury in order to keep Jonny Gray. The two were seemingly paired up because there can only be one guy with a hat and "long, beautiful hair" – a guideline that Adam and Blake rewrote when they both went for the steal.
"I don't care who Cee Lo picks, 'cause I'm picking the other one," Adam declared right after Jonny sang the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" and Cole performed Passenger's "Let Her Go."
With Cee Lo keeping Jonny, whose nasally voice reminded him of Bob Dylan, Cole ultimately decided to join Team Blake because "what he said really speaks to me, he hit the nail on the head." That was a little odd, given that Blake just basically rambled on about horses versus mopeds and how "metro" Adam is. It was one of those times where it felt like something crucial wound up on the cutting-room floor. But what's done is done.
While each of those pairings wound up having two winners, everyone was not as lucky.
Nic Hawk scored an easy knockout against jittery albino goth girl Holly Henry, who looked pained and had some serious pitch problems on her awkward rendition of Radiohead's "Creep." By contrast, Hawk's neo-soul reworking of Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" proved he's more than a fluke after Blake stole him from Adam during the battle rounds.
Plus-size country singer Shelbie Z. skillfully KO'd Briana Cuoco, who seemingly skated through the competition by name-dropping her famous sister, Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco. (Otherwise, it isn't clear how or why she made it this far – especially after her unlistenable version of No Doubt's "Don't Speak.") And, thankfully, coach Blake didn't mince words before making his pick: "It's one thing to look down the road and make your decision based on what you think can happen with somebody, but it's another thing when somebody just flat-out outsings the other person, and that's what I feel like happened here." Amen.
Meanwhile, Kat Robichaud outperformed Monika Leigh for a spot on Team Cee Lo with her raucous, almost comical performance of Alanis Morissette's "You Outta Know" in which she snarled, clawed and dramatically dropped to her knees at the end. Formerly on Team Blake, Kat seemed like the obvious choice in terms of sheer entertainment value, but Cee Lo got it all wrong when he called her "unmistakenly genuine." In reality, it would be surprising if she makes it very far in the live rounds, as she's the type of artist viewers usually hate because she's overly confident, cocky and over the top. And it's highly unlikely that Cee Lo will be the one to tone any of that down.
Other wins included Asian Jamaican Tessanne Chin over Ashley Dubose andwedding singer Grey over recycled contestant James Irwin on Team Adam,and stereotypical country girl Olivia Henken over less stereotypical country girl Destinee Quinn on Team Xtina.
So far, no real shockers – but there's still a whole other round of knockouts tonight. Place your bets now.
Previous recap: Final Steal By Cee Lo Green Ends Battle Rounds