'The Voice' Recap: Blake Shelton Picks All-Country Lineup - Rolling Stone
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‘The Voice’ Recap: Blake Shelton Picks All-Country Lineup

Coach sticks with what he knows as Usher mixes it up to end knockout round

The final night of The Voice‘s knockout round was filled with gender-bending  Justin Rivers took on Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” and Savannah Berry spun Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me,” among other unexpected song choices – and gimmicks (Usher doing push-ups with Michelle Chamuel). What it was lacking, though, were memorable performances.

Once again, the knockouts forced each coach – this time Usher and Blake Shelton ­– to pit two of their own contestants against each other. Of the eight hopefuls remaining on each team, only four survived. The artists were tasked with choosing their own songs, and there were no steals or saves.

‘The Voice’: Rolling Stone’s Complete Coverage

Unlike the previous night, which spotlighted Adam Levine’s and Shakira’s teams, no one from either Team Usher or Team Blake really knocked our socks off. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have weaker contestants.

In fact, Team Blake is packed with potential winners, considering they’re all country acts, which have a tendency to do well in these sorts of competitions. (Blake himself referred to his foursome as “100 percent down-home, knee-slappin’, tobacco-spittin’, horse-ridin’ country singers.”)

But like Adam choosing cutesy country girl Amber Carrington over hipster duo Midas Whale, several interesting contestants were put out to pasture as generic artists prevailed.

Take the match-up between Blake’s Holly Tucker and Luke Edgemon, whom Shelton stole from Shakira during the battle rounds. Tucker was the obvious choice for Blake to pick, considering she walked right into his wheelhouse with Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” But Edgemon’s unique arrangement of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” had both Shakira and Adam crying foul when he was cut. Adam even went up to Blake after the choice was made, telling him he made a mistake. (With Tucker, fellow teammate Danielle Bradbery and Adam’s Carrington all making it through, there are three fair-haired country girls in the competition.)  

Another questionable choice came with Usher’s ousting of lilting-voiced Jess Kellner in order to keep male model Josiah Hawley. Granted, neither one of them did a bang-up job. But Hawley’s choice of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” on which he played guitar, was odd at best. At worst, his vocals were garbled and his stage presence stiff. Despite the other coaches giving Kellner a slight edge and Blake calling Hawley “calculated,” Usher bucked the trend and picked Hawley – probably because of his chiseled good looks.

Surprisingly, the best performance of the night was by nerd-rocker Chamuel, whom Usher chose to keep over Audrey Karrasch. The bespectacled, self-proclaimed geek hopped her way through Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” as if she had just “won the lottery,” as Blake put it. It was upbeat and energetic, and you can just tell Chamuel will hold nothing back during the upcoming live rounds. That said, it was an easy win for her, as Karrasch tanked pretty badly on Lil Wayne’s “How to Love.”

In the end, alongside Tucker, Blake chose Rivers, Bradbery and the Swon Brothers for his team while Usher wound up with Hawley, Chamuel, R&B sob story Vedo and Latin firecracker Cathia, who was stolen from Shakira.

Now buckle up, ’cause next week there’s not one, not two, but three live shows. Better rest up!

Previously: Women Rule Adam Levine’s Team


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