The Voice : Mama Said Knock You Out!

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The Voice, Season 4, Episodes 11-12, Shakira

 This week The Voice had their KNOCKOUT rounds! Which is really an “exciting” way to label another elimination round before the audience can vote. On a previous recap, I may have thought that the talent didn’t stand out as much as the judges’ chemistry but boy, was I wrong. The show’s now down to its Sweet 16, who will compete in live performances every week and dependent on you, the audience, to vote to keep them in the game. I’ve taken the liberty of selecting from each of the judge’s final four teams, who I think has the biggest chance of winning within their own groups.

Team Blake, Danielle Bradbery: Danielle is the youngest competitor this season and has the least professional experience, two things you would NOT expect to be strengths. But Danielle has proven everyone wrong by having an unusual ability of strong vocal control and is just naturally pitch perfect. She’s also adorable enough to be a Disney starlet, but not so much like a Disney starlet that it makes you want to puke cuteness everywhere. Not to jinx her twenties, but she looks like a combination of Lindsay Lohan and Taylor Swift when they were nice teens before their respective downward spirals.  I think she’s gonna pick up that “America’s Sweetheart” title pretty quickly. One note of caution: she keeps using this angle that she's never performed in front of an audience before, but she has a YouTube channel that says otherwise…nice lie, Mark Burnett (producer of The Voice).

Blake’s other finalists are Justin Rivers, the Swan Brothers, and Holly Tucker. His team is generally very pop/country and may get picked off quickly because they’ll all appeal to similar groups, splitting up votes, despite their equal amount of talent.

Team Adam, Amber Carrington: On the outside, Amber may seem to offer much of the same as Danielle with the blonde teen sweetheart look, but Amber is a little older with some more tough experience. If we were to do some American Idol comparisons, Danielle is more Carrie Underwood, whereas Amber is more Kelly Clarkson. Amber sang Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” and has the ability to explore rawer, darker emotions while not straying too far from contemporary pop/rock music that everyone loves. And just because she sings more serious music, doesn’t mean she’s a crazy goth girl, so she’s not alienating anyone. I could foresee a final showdown between Danielle and Amber towards the finals for sure.

Adam’s other finalists are Judith Hill, Caroline Glasser, and Sarah Simmons. Readers, you may argue Judith Hill is Adam’s strongest contestant, and while I agree that she has the most experience and technical abilities, most people watching this show vote for someone they connect with. We haven’t gotten a lot of insight into who she is as a person aside from having sung with a range of celebrities including Michael Jackson. She seems like a pro already, and voters may want to give a chance to someone who hasn’t had similar opportunities.

Team Usher, TIE between Michelle Chamuel and Vedo: My instinct is to say Michelle Chamuel is just gonna kill this competition because she’s so unique in her appearance and personality, but sings all the Top 40s we know and love. She’s the perfect contradictory balance of intriguing and familiar. We don’t know much about her, but we like what we see. She’s done covers of “I Kissed A Girl”, “Titanium”, and “Raise Your Glass.” I think she’s the girl who a lot of us are: different and quirky, but still a part of mainstream culture. I also think there’s a ridiculous genuineness that comes off when she speaks and sings that you can’t help but love. I mention Vedo as well, because he was the surprise to me. A lot of voters will sympathize with him because his mother was terminally ill when he auditioned and died shortly thereafter. Her death has shaped the way he performs and you can tell how true his emotions are, and I think it’s made him a greater performer. I think his story and the progress he’s made in the competition will work to his advantage.

Usher’s other finalists are Josiah Hawley and Cathia. Josiah is the pretty boy with a  smooth voice option, while Cathia is a fiery Latina that got booted from Shakira’s team and stolen by Usher. She may also have a chance at her own Cinderella story because Shakira began with three teen Latina singers and though she had chosen the other two over Cathia in the battle rounds, those same two didn’t survive the Knockouts. Maybe Cathia should sing “Fighter” next?

Team Shakira, Garrett Gardner: Shakira’s team is pretty evenly stacked and the most diverse of all the teams, so it’s hard to say who will do best against their own teammates because they might just all make it to the end together! But Garrett’s story of auditioning last year, not getting picked, and his redemption by being selected this year will completely work in his favor. Also, Shakira has developed a very strong bond with him that she notes repeatedly through the season and audience members will respond to that as well. He’s also like my dream prom date 5 years too late, minus his lip ring, woof. He’s just adorable and will appeal to teenage girls in a much more realistic way than Josiah from Team Usher. I think if Garrett can find a Bieber-like girl following, he could take the whole show.

Shakira’s other finalists are Karina Iglesias, Sasha Allen, and Kris Thomas. As I mentioned, all three are pretty stacked and different from one another. Shakira developed her strategy well and I’d be happy with ANY of her finalists winning the show.

Next week begins the Live Playoffs, and in another American Idol move, The Voice is making us watch THREE nights in a row…hopefully they don’t make this a habit. We DO watch other shows, NBC. Check back next week to see who made the cut and who had the best performances!

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