blake shelton the voice nbc 'The Voice' live blog: The knockout rounds begin

With just one more week before the live playoffs in Season 4 of “The Voice,” it’s time for the knockout rounds, wherein coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Shakira and Usher once again force one of their artists to compete another, deciding who stays and who goes. Who will make it to the live shows? Only time will tell.

First Knockout: Team Adam – Amber Carrington vs. Midas Whale

Songs: “I’m With You” – Avril Lavigne (Amber); “Higher Ground” – Stevie Wonder (Midas Whale)

Performances: Amber sounds incredible on Avril’s overused and, at times, tepid track. It’s nice to hear her step outside of the country zone we’ve heard her in thus far. I hadn’t been too fond of Midas Whale prior to this, finding them to play more the role of backup artists in their battle rounds. It was nice to have them put down the guitars and put on a show.

Winner: Amber. It’s not a surprise that Adam picks her. Maybe a duo will make it to the live shows one day. Maybe.

Second Knockout: Team Shakira – Garrett Gardner vs. Tawnya Reynolds

Songs: “Too Close” – Alex Clare (Garrett); “Hell on Heels” – Pistol Annies (Tawnya)

Performances: Garrett is really impressing me with this song. Every time this kid has come out and performed on this show, he’s shown a marked improvement from the time before. He takes direction really, really well, which should be valued. Tawnya is pretty snoozy. I don’t know if it’s a poor song choice (I’m not familiar with the Pistol Annies) or if she’s just bland; either way, I’d hand this one to the comeback kid, Garrett.

Winner: Garrett

Third Knockout: Team Adam – Amy Whitcomb vs. Carline Glaser

Songs: “House of the Rising Sun” – The Animals (Amy); “Little Talks” – Of Monsters and Men (Caroline)

Performances: Amy is surprisingly powerful in her performance. She’s not really an artist I’d paid much attention to up until this point, but this knockout round demanded attention. Caroline, who’s already worried about not having a big voice must be freaking out.

Recognizing the limitations to her voice, “Little Talks” was a sage song choice for Caroline. That being said, I feel like it still revealed too many of the limitations that plague her. She’s adorable, but she’s outmatched.

Winner: Caroline. Whoa. Super interesting choice from Adam, especially after he and the other coaches recognized Caroline’s problems. Also, the best friendship between Caroline and Amy is adorable.

Fourth Knockout: Team Shakira – Kris Thomas vs. Mary Miranda

Songs: “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong (Kris); “Every Breath You Take” – The Police (Mary)

Performances: Disclaimer? Neither of these two sounded good in rehearsals. Boy, oh boy, did they not sound good. During his performance, Kris played around with the melody in a weird way that I didn’t really enjoy. He’s got a beautiful falsetto, however.

Mary consistently sounded like she was just underneath the note. Her opening verse wasn’t pleasant, at all. She recovered towards the end, but it was rough for poor Mary, who I’d really liked thus far.

Winner: Kris

Fifth Knockout: Team Adam – Judith Hill vs. Orlando Dixon

Songs: “Always on My Mind” – Willie Nelson (Judith); “All My Life” – K-Ci & JoJo (Orlando)

Performances: Poor Orlando. Is there any chance he’s anything more than a sacrificial lamb in this paring? Judith is astounding with her song. Her performances continue to back up the frontrunner status she earned herself back in her blind audition. Simply beautiful.

Orlando pulls out all the tricks in his bag, just like in his battle round with Ryan. At times, his voice seems a little lost in the mix with to the background singers. He’s perfectly lovely, but it’s not enough.

Winner: Judith

Sixth Knockout: Team Shakira – Karina Iglesias vs. Monique Abbadie

Songs: “Are You Gonna Go My Way” – Lenny Kravitz (Karina); “The Power of Love” – Celine Dion (Monique)

Performances: Karina is a lot of fun; a bit of a revelation, to be honest. She added some flourishes that were a lot of fun, without overtaking the song and overpowering the melody. It’ll be interesting to see how Monique compares.

Monique is impressive, though I think it’s her least impressive performance so far. It’s always interesting when the artist gets to the point where they get to pick their own song. Often times (as might be the case here), they shoot themselves in the foot with a poor song choice.

Winner: Karina. I think Shakira made the right choice, though it’s a bummer to see Monique go. Future contestants, pay attention: Song choice matters!

Seventh Knockout: Warren Stone vs. Sarah Simmons

Songs: “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” – Cutting Crew (Warren); “Wild Horses” – The Rolling Stones (Sarah)

Performances: Oh boy. This one’s going to be a doozy.

Warren steps out of his country mode and, I think, finds where he truly belongs. This song and this genre fit the fireman like a glove. He sounds terrific. Is it enough to take Sarah out?

Sarah is just out of this world. There’s something so effortless about her voice. Warren sounded amazing tonight and, in any other instance, he’d have won. It’s a shame both can’t stick around.

Winner: Sarah. Duh.

Eighth Knockout: Sasha Allen vs. Shawna P.

Songs: “At Last” – Etta James (Sasha); “Maybe I’m Amazed” – Paul McCartney (Shawna)

Performances: Sasha has been a favorite of mine since her blind audition. I was devastated when Adam dropped her in the battles, but so glad that Shakira saved her. And this performance is the reason why. There was a timelessness to Sasha’s vocal — it didn’t need any out of control flourishes. It was straight-forward and stellar.

It’s nice to see Shawna show a softer side of herself. With her experience and her story and her natural ability, you can’t help but root for her. I don’t envy Shakira with this choice.

Winner: Sasha, simply because she gave Shakira goosebumps. My favorite goes through, but I’m so sad to see Shawna go.

What did you think of tonight’s knockouts, “Voice” fans? Are you ready to see Team Blake and Team Usher go head-to-head tomorrow night? See you then.

Posted by:Billy Nilles