“The Voice” Recap: Blake Goes All Country

photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Blake Shelton came through the knockout rounds country strong. “That makes me very proud,” said the winningest coach at the end of the night. Here's who will represent Team Blake when the live playoffs begin next week:

Justin Rivers

In a battle of the pop singers with twang, Blake gave props to Savannah Berry for  putting her own countrified twist on Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me,” but it was Justin who came out on top with, of all things, a Miley Cyrus ballad, “The Climb.” “He’s a country star, there’s no doubt about it.” And that’s coming from the 2012 CMA Entertainer of the Year, y’all!

Holly Tucker

Luke Edgemon got Adam Levine all fired up, in a good way, with a number from his days as a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers—yes, Luke used to be on Glee! And singing “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry as though it were a smooth R&B jam would have won Luke a spot on Team Adam, but too bad he was trying to impress Blake: not an easy task when Blake was swooning over Holly Tucker before she even took the stage! “Such a powerful singer and I feel like I’ve been handed a gift from The Voice gods,” said the coach as she practiced Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” Then, after her performance, more praise: “Holly took vocal chances and swung for the knockout. She pulled out every trick that she could.” Blake said the decision wasn’t easy, but c’mon, we all knew it would be Ms. Tucker.

Danielle Bradbery

“This is going to be so cute, but so deadly,” said Blake when he paired 16-year-old Danielle, doing the Carrie Underwood ballad “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” against former gymnast Taylor Beckham, who wanted to show her softer side on Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette.” “We’re going to make Usher look so clueless, I can’t wait,” said Blake to Taylor, his steal from the R&B star. But there would be no gloating after Taylor’s performance fell flat, leaving Blake with only one option: “She pretty much handed that round to Danielle with her song choice.” Sorry, Taylor, you’re outta here.

The Swon Brothers

Blake saved his classic-country artists for last, pitting Grace Askew against the Swon Brothers. Grace’s decision to sing “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Tina Turner in order to show her bluesy side may have worked against her, especially knowing what we know now: That Blake was going full-out country in Season 4! His advice to her was “enunciate.” After her performance, Usher suggested that her guitar was a distraction, and then threw his support behind the Swon Brothers, who got the joint jumping with their cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” Guess Blake got lost in their rock 'n' roll, because he’s taking the duo to the live shows.

And speaking of Usher, he too had some tough decisions to make on Night 2 of the knockout rounds. After all was said and done, the new kid on the block was happy with the diversity of his team. And Blake called Usher’s final four a “serious threat.” Here’s who made the cut.

Josiah Hawley

Jess Kellner was in for a surprise, and not the good kind, after performing James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something.” She faced off against pretty boy Josiah, who set out to show his bad-boy side with Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” but failed to impress the majority of coaches—well, with his singing at least. After Adam ended his critique by calling Josiah super-handsome, Blake added that he agreed: “Not about the looks, I try not to pay as much attention as [Adam] does. The way you performed . . . it seemed calculated. Maybe loosen it up a bit. I think I like what Jess did better.” But Usher sees potential in the former male model as an alternative artist—and probably as a huge vote-getter once the live playoffs begin. So it was Josiah over a tearful Jess.

Michelle Chamuel

Usher’s unique coaching style (it involved calisthenics) led to an energetic performance by self-declared nerd rocker Michelle, who showed Audrey Karrasch just what a knockout was when she took the battle with Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.” “It was like somebody told her she won the lottery before coming out onstage and I was right there with her,” said Blake. Cheers to Michelle!

Vedo

C. Perkins didn’t stand a chance. The former member of Team Shakira picked a Chris Brown song, “She Ain’t You,” that didn’t showcase his voice, but was applauded for the energy he brought to the stage. Then, as Adam put it, “Uh-oh, here comes V!” The kid can sing and he was full of emotion, dedicating “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams to his mom, who died shortly after the auditions. Usher was visibly moved and said he was proud to take Vedo to the live playoffs.

Cathia

In probably the biggest upset of the night, Latin singer Cathia, also formerly of Team Shakira, blew the judges away, delivering a sassy and confident performance of “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson. It would take a strong singer to beat out coach favorite Ryan Innes, who chose Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be.” “It’s a toughie one,” said Shakira of the decision. But a lack of grit and soul on Ryan’s part gave Cathia the edge. Welcome to Team Usher.

Next up: An hour recap, “The Road to the Live Shows,” airs tonight.

So which team do you think is built to win this thing?

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