I’ve had it, people. Seriously. After The Voice coach John Legend chose Bailey Rae over Sid Kingsley in the Battles, I thought I’d had it, but I hadn’t. Now I have. In Tuesday’s final episode of the Knockouts, Kelly Clarkson made a decision that was so boneheaded and backassward, I… I seriously can’t. I’m not just annoyed, I’m flippin’ ticked. And if you read on to find out who she chose as the winner of her last face-off — and even more so, if you saw the performances — you’ll understand why. Facepalm. Extreme facepalm. Ugh.
Team Kelly: Tanner Gomes performing “Real Good Man” (Grade: B) defeated Marisa Corvo performing “If I Could Turn Back Time” (Grade: A) | “You’re my straight boy crush,” Marisa couldn’t help but exclaim upon getting a gander at her and her hotel neighbor’s Mega Mentor, Usher. But she quickly regained her composure and slayed pal Diane Warren’s Cher hit. All Kelly and Usher wanted was for Marisa to tweak the melody and make the song more her own. When Tanner ran through his Tim McGraw hit, he intended to show off his fun side. Erm. Not sure he did, though. “This song is all about personality,” Kelly noted. I wasn’t confident that Tanner had enough of that to defeat my new favorite (since the Battles). On stage, aw, man… Marisa freakin’ reinvented that timeworn Cher song and turned it into a number that could rip your heart out. She started off soft and vulnerable, sacrificing nothing of her vocal power, and built to crescendos that would’ve forced a live audience to its feet. She’s just amazing. And when she goes for a run, it’s a dang marathon every time. “Bye, Tanner” was all I could think when she was done. In his turn in the spotlight, Tanner was vocally solid, but he was so outclassed by Marisa, it wasn’t even funny. She was a star, he was your dad after one beer too many at the family barbecue. Adorable, enjoyable, but no challenge for the likes of Team Blake’s Ben Allen or even Team Legend’s Bailey Rae. I nearly fell off the couch when Kelly dumped the sublime Marisa for Tanner! I’m literally aghast right now! He’s fine, but c’mon! I don’t remember when I’ve been more legit upset about a coach’s decision. Wrong, wrong, wrong and also, BTW, wrong.
Team Legend: John Holiday performing “All by Myself” (Grade: A) defeated Cami Clune performing “I Put a Spell on You” (Grade: A) — Cami stolen by Kelly | Hard as it was to get past the last Knockout, I managed — and assumed that this one was John’s to lose. As Cami put it, her competitor could do everything that a female singer could do, only better. But she’d smartly chosen a number that would allow her to act as much as sing. And the classic really came to life (afterlife?) after her coach and Usher advised her to modern it up in a haunting Billie Eilish way. Still, John doing Eric Carmen/Celine Dion’s power ballad seemed pretty unbeatable. “How is he able to sing this high?” wondered Usher. “What just happened?” His coach challenged John to do what Aretha would do with the song and bring more of himself and his passion to his performance. Up first on stage, Cami utterly killed. Her styling, her drama, her vocal, even her stankface and the Halloween nails… it just all worked — gangbusters. I’d play this [bleep] on a loop; I actually prefer it to Annie Lennox’s version. Go on, attack at will. This. Was. Divine. Following her, John was, as expected, spectacular. But at first, I thought that he was sticking too close to the original to stand out next to what Cami had done. At second, I thought the same thing. It was pitch-perfect, but… Oh. There it was. When he hit his first humongous note, I physically felt him stealing away the win. And his last long note was straight out of Wicked (no?). I’d have given the win to Cami in this instance, but they were both awesome. A Knockout that actually knocked me the hell out.
Taryn Papa (Team Blake), “Cry” — Grade: A | So Taryn is 100-percent pro. From the get-go, she struck me as to the stage born. The oomph of her vocal just never wavered — and this is a song that requires a helluva lot of oomph. Her voice also had a fantastic “tear” in it that gave the impression that she was really feeling it. Solid as a brick house.
Julia Cooper (Team Legend), “Wish You Were Gay” — Grade: B+ | And now for something completely different… Julia’s jazzy take on the pop hit was spot-on, but given that I suspect the audience for The Voice is more Billy Idol than Billie Eilish, I kinda figured she was toast. Appealingly quirky toast.
Larriah Jackson (Team Gwen), “One and Only” — Grade: A+ | The second the teen opened her mouth, I was like, “This is over.” Larriah is heaven-sent, a kid who’s just meant to be in the spotlight. She’s powerful, precise and as appealing as a box of kittens. That voice of hers just does. Not. Quit. Mini-Whitney. I’m tellin’ ya. If she doesn’t win the Four-Way Knockout, spoiler alert: My sulk will be epic.
Ryan Gallagher (Team Kelly), “Time to Say Goodbye” — Grade: A | OK, well, it was hard not to swoon when the opera singer got going. He didn’t just class up the joint, he brought to bear a vocal that was as beautiful as anything that nature could conjure up. But I suspected that he hadn’t actually gone big enough with it. He had the strength to give us chills, and instead, he just gave us tingles.