9:52pm PT by Ashley Lee
'The Voice' Recap: Knockouts Wrap With Country Matches and Makeovers
If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: Taylor Swift is embracing her own crazy.
"She just needs to sell to the audience that she's a total mess, because people love total messes — come on," she told the camera with a slight wink at one point. Yet as this season's universal mentor to the singers of Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams, she doled out a few more nuggets of expert arena-jaunt wisdom: "That's the difference between a singer and a performer; a singer sings for themselves and a performer performs for everyone else."
See who survived the sudden-death solo performances — in which they chose their own songs — and who escaped elimination by getting stolen away:
Team Blake's Allison Bray vs. Taylor Brashears
The country-girl showdown commenced with Bray's cover of Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon," for which Swift had the contestant take off her massively high heels during rehearsals and add some appropriately sloppy theatrics while barefoot. "She just needs to sell to the audience that she's a total mess, because people love total messes — come on," she told the camera with a wink. Brashears fine-tuned her pitch on Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," and in the ring, Williams noted the choice comes down to taste. Stefani applauded Brashears control and Bray's stage presence (but didn't like her shout-y moments), and in the end, Shelton picked Brashears.
Team Gwen's Ryan Sill vs. Beth Spangler
Sill tried his pseudo-swag (and smile — swoon!) on Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent," for which Swift helped him frame his big vocal moment onstage, and the stolen Spangler tried not to over sing JoJo's "Too Little Too Late." The coaches commended Sill's tone and command over the rhythm, and saluted Spangler as well, though her voice at times was still too "squirrel-y" and "abrasive," so Stefani went with Sill for his visible growth and unique style finally shining through.
Team Pharrell's Menlik Zergabachew vs. Jean Kelley
Both stolen contestants from Team Gwen, Kelley hoped to evoke the "beautifully sad" motivations behind Sia's "Chandelier," and revealed an already-polished, emotional rendition during rehearsals that blew Williams and Swift away. Zergabachew opted for Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved," but he kept closing his eyes while performing and wasn't commanding the stage. In the ring, Kelley's theatrics — visually and vocally — stood out over Zergabachew's coolness and occasional power, so Williams went with Kelley (despite Shelton's swinging imitation of a grandfather clock).
Team Adam's Blessing Offor vs. Chris Jamison
The stolen Offor hoped to show his genre versatility with John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland," and Jamison wanted to reveal his full bag of vocal tricks with Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay." Though both out-of-the-box song choices, Williams was more surprised by Jamison's modern take, as was Levine, who picked him to move on to the playoffs.
The episode also quickly noted that Levine picked Matt McAndrew over Rebekah Samarin in an unaired knockout match.
Team Blake's Grant Ganzer vs. Reagan James
Both talented youngsters, Ganzer touted the "cute boy factor" as well as his lower register on OneRepublic's "Apologize" (which he was initially too gleeful to sing) and James brought sass to the stage with Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style." Williams called James' swagger "addicting" and Stefani applauded a nervous Ganzer's technical abilities, but in the end, Shelton picked James.
Team Gwen's Anita Antoinette vs. Craig Wayne Boyd
Antoinette tried her charming reggae style on MAGIC!'s "Rude" (to which Stefani and Swift requested she add more of her playful stage character) and Boyd hoped to bring Stefani into his genre with Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See," during which Swift noted that confidence isn't enough to completely sell). Levine noted that Antoinette "has arrived, finally," and after a slight makeover (without the long hair and the distracting fringe), Boyd was told by Shelton, "You never looked so hot." The final winner of the night was Antoinette, but Shelton couldn't resist Boyd 2.0 and used his only steal to welcome him back to his team.