Taylor Swift -- wait, doesn’t she have a new album or something? -- took over the mentoring duties for “The Voice” Knockout Rounds and was remarkably on point with her suggestions.
Her reaction to Griffin’s choice of a song from Justin Bieber -- her pal Selena Gomez’s on-again, off-again boyfriend – was priceless in its indifference. Calling out Taylor Phelan for holding onto his guitar for his performance even though he rarely played it was insightful, especially when she declared, “It’s a teddy bear.”
As usual, the Knockout Rounds were brutal, with coaches making tough decisions that didn’t always seem right.
Here’s how the night shook out:
TEAM GWEN: Sugar Joans vs. Bryana Salaz
Bryana’s take on Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” was wobbly from the beginning, with her nerves getting the best of her. She did take the notes from Swift, though, which allowed her to come on strong. Sugar’s version of Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” a notoriously tough song to sing with all its key changes, was so good that Pharrell stood up halfway through it. In the end, it was close to a draw, considering how well the 17-year-old Bryana took direction.
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GWEN PICK: Bryana
SHOULD’VE PICKED: Sugar (Pharrell steals Sugar)
TEAM BLAKE: Griffin vs. James David Carter
James’ lovely, understated version of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” was a great change of pace that showed how confident he is in his artistry. He’s a front-runner now. Griffin’s version of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me” was kind of a mess and he couldn’t sell the arm-waving that Taylor recommended.
BLAKE PICK: James
SHOULD’VE PICKED: James
TEAM PHARRELL: DaNica Shirey vs. Katriz Trinidad
DaNica’s take on Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love for You” was a little too much. When you’re adding more runs to a song than Whitney Houston did, you have to wonder if you’re on the right track. Pharrell liked it though and gave her a standing ovation. Katriz’s version of Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman” was sweet, though she did still look like -- as Pharrell eloquently put it -- she was “carrying eggs.” The 15-year-old’s powerful vocals, though, took it to the next level, which Blake said was her “200 percent.”
PHARRELL PICK: DaNica
SHOULD’VE PICKED: Katriz
TEAM ADAM: Damien vs. Toia Jones
Damien’s version of LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” was so proper, even more proper than the original, that it was a bit off-putting, though he did hit all the right notes. Toia’s take on Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” however, was incredibly good, nailing the vibe and hitting amazing runs. She was entertaining, even before she told Blake, “Excuse me, I can’t breathe. That song for skinny girls.” Unfortunately, Adam sent her home.
ADAM PICK: Damien
SHOULD’VE PICKED: Toia
TEAM BLAKE: Tanner Linford vs. Jessie Pitts
Jessie’s version of Elton John’s “Your Song” via Ellie Goulding was perfect for her, allowing her to show both her range and her endearing performance style. Tanner tried hard to sell Train’s “Calling All Angels,” but it just wasn’t the right fit, even when he was working what Taylor called “the cute boy factor.”
BLAKE PICK: Jessie
SHOULD’VE PICKED: Jessie
TEAM PHARRELL: Luke Wade vs. Taylor Phelan
Luke slayed Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” with his distinctive, soulful voice and his cool choice of runs. He’s still a front-runner, but Taylor’s version of Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” was surprisingly timely and upbeat, offering a tough challenge and perhaps the most entertaining performance of the night.
PHARRELL PICK: Luke
SHOULD’VE PICKED: Luke (Adam steals Taylor)