Rihanna joins “The Voice” just in time for the Knockout Rounds

International superstar Rihanna poses with "Voice" coach Pharrell Williams during a taping of Knockout Rounds rehearsal. (Photo property of NBC & United Artists Media Group)

International superstar Rihanna poses with “Voice” coach Pharrell Williams during a taping of Knockout Rounds rehearsal. (Photo property of NBC & United Artists Media Group)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

This is it, Voice fans! The Knockout Rounds are here!

Tonight, we learned which artists became one step closer to inheriting Sawyer Fredericks’ crown.

In order to prepare their artists for the next stage of the competition, the coaches (Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams) recruited one of the world’s biggest stars to advise all of their teams: Rihanna.

The eight-time American Music Award and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter will help the coaches narrow their teams throughout the process.

Who rose to the occasion? Read on to find out…

Team Adam kicked off the night with a battle between Blaine Mitchell and Andi and Alex. The twins have been a fan favorite artist since their Blind Audition. However, they might have dug their own graves by choosing Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy.” But, they were up against Blaine. While he was the new kid on the block with Team Adam, he channeled another Team Adam alum (and former new kid on the block), Amanda Brown, and delivered a superb cover of James Bay’s “Hold Back the River,” which earned him a spot in the Live Rounds. It’s a little sad that Andi and Alex were eliminated, because they could have really gone far in this competition.

Gwen paired Braiden Sunshine and Ellie Lawrence together! In all honesty, Braiden reminds so much of American Idol alum Daniel Seavey (and that’s not a compliment). Braiden butchered “Feeling Good!” I had to go re-watch Melanie Amaro’s spectacular cover of the American standard to get his average cover out of my head. I loved Ellie’s cover of Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer.” She owned the stage and I thought that Gwen made a stupid decision by eliminating her.

As Blake tried his best to flirt with Rihanna, Barrett Baber and Blind Joe were the first members of Team Blake to enter the Knockout dome. Barrett chose Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather” for this performance, while Blind Joe selected Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” While I enjoyed Barrett’s tone and how he inserted emotion into the show, Blind Joe stole not only Rihanna’s heart (and the hearts of millions), but he cemented his place in the music industry. Blind Joe was the only artist so far tonight that gave me the chills and it is a shame that Adam, Pharrell and Gwen did not steal him! I sincerely hope that Scott Borchetta was watching the show, because Big Machine Records might need an artist like Blind Joe in the music industry.

Pharrell paired Amy Vachal and Madi Davis together for his first Knockout Round of the night. The girls also pitted two iconic female singer-songwriters together: the late Etta James and the one-and-only Joni Mitchell. The soulful and neo Jazz artist tackled Ms. James’ “A Sunday Kind of Love” that really reminded me of the very first time I listened to Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.” Amy gave me chills and captivated the audience all throughout her performance. As for Madi, she superbly interpreted Ms. Mitchell’s hit with a spoonful of compassion and a handful of heart. I really hoped that Ms. Mitchell watched this spectacular performance. While Pharrell chose Madi to advance to the Live Playoffs, Amy was the very first artist to receive a steal from a coach. While Adam and Blake bickered over the reasons why Amy should join their team, Amy picked the Maroon 5 front man.

Blake’s two steals (Chance Pena and Ivonne Acero) were paired for his last Knockout battle of the night.  I felt that Chance picked a wrong song in the form of Imagine Dragons’ “Demons.” That song has been covered excellently by both Will Champlin and Jeff Gutt. Sadly, Chance can’t hold a candle to either of them. His cover was a vocal mess and I am glad that he was sent home.  Ivonne stole my heart with her haunting cover of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me.” Her vocals gave me goosies and like Rihanna stated with her rehearsal that Ivonne’s vibrato was sick.  Congrats, Yvonne on making it to the Live Playoffs and producing one of my favorite performances of the season so far!

It turned out that both Jordan Smith and Viktor Kiraly summoned ghosts of Voice past to help them get into the Live Playoffs. Jordan Smith tackled Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” the song that helped Team Usher (and former Team Adam alum)’s Josh Kaufman won the championship crown in Season Six. Rihanna stated in the pre-performance package that she would not even touch an Adele song unless she was drunk and performing karaoke. Jordan proved Rihanna wrong and delivered an outstanding vocal that was on par with the Season Six winner. (Could this foreshadow a potential win for Jordan and Team Adam?)

Meanwhile, Viktor chose Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” for his battle. He had to prove himself twice.  Firstly, Adam covered the song with Maroon 5; two, Team Christina’s Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evans mastered this song during their Season Two battle….which still remains one of the best battles in the series’ history.  While it was not as memorable as either Jordan’s performance or Jesse and Anthony’s battle, Viktor’s falsetto shined an impeccable way.

There were no losers for this battle as Adam chose Jordan to move on to the Live Playoffs and Gwen stole Viktor!

Tomorrow night, the Knockout Rounds continue!

Melanie Amaro’s “Feeling Good” and Jeff Gutt’s “Demons” are property of FOX Broadcasting Company, Syco Entertainment & FremantleMedia North America.

Josh Kaufman’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” Will Champlin’s “Demons” and Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evans’ “If I Ain’t Got You” are property of NBC & United Artists Media Group.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar