It's knockout rounds time! The judges can only keep five singers, so they have to be more strategic and demanding of the contestants. They also each get one more steal. Knockout rounds also signify a rare moment of autonomy for our singers, who get to choose their own songs. Monday's battles were relatively tame and mostly predictable. If there was a lesson to be learned from tonight, it would be that choosing a Kelly Clarkson power ballad massively increases your chances of winning.
TEAM CHRISTINA: AMBER NICOLE VS. JOSH LOGAN
Songs: Amber Nicole sings "Mama Knows Best" by Jessie J; Josh sings "Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder
Battle: Initially this looked like a kamikaze battle where the coach pairs a singer with someone significantly better in order to weed out the lesser talent. Amber Nicole is a phenom diva with a giant voice and Josh does a pretty good Adam Levine impression. Or at least that was the latest singer he was capable of imitating. He chose a Stevie Wonder song this time and, lo and behold, he sounded suspiciously similar to the soulful singer. While the coaches praised Josh's sound-shifting ability (Cee Lo: "I keep discovering you, bro"), I thought his impersonation talent was a liability -- it shows Josh doesn't have his own style. I still don't know what Josh's personality is beyond wearing a fedora and being able to mimic others. Meanwhile, Amber Nicole belted out a huge song and I thought she was a sure win. Coach Christina ends up choosing Josh in the first shocking moment of the night. Thankfully, Cee Lo and Blake attempt to steal Amber Nicole. She chooses Cee Lo because he's represents a "risk" for her.
TEAM CEE LO: KAT ROBICHAUD VS. MONIKA LEIGH
Songs: Kat sings "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette; Monika sings "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles
Battle: Coach Cee Lo pairs these two powerful female singers, looking for the "most showstopping performance." Well, he got two very different kinds of showstoppers. Onstage, Kat is like a loose firecracker on a sidewalk and Monika is an elegant tapered candlestick on a dinner table. Kat outperforms Monika vocally and visually. She high kicks, she scowls, she isn't afraid to look possessed, heck she even fake-backwards-collapses. And her singing is infinitely more exciting than Monika's smoky runs -- Kat's voice is so raw and nervy, it sounds like a vocal chord is about to burst. The coaches see through Monika's stiff choreography and and lackluster song choice. Coach Cee Lo chooses Kat in the clearest battle of the night.
TEAM BLAKE: HOLLY HENRY VS. NIC HAWK
Songs: Holly sings "Creep" by Radiohead; Nic sings "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera
Battle: Oh dear, this is where song choice really makes a difference. As much as I love Holly (and especially her reverse Wednesday Addams frocks this episode), her song choice really set her back. She's got that haunting sweet voice, but it just couldn't match the power and heartache in Thom Yorke's original version -- she revealed her lack of range with this one. Meanwhile, Nic goes totally left field and picks an Xtina song. He's probably the only male contestant in the competition who struggles singing in the lower registers. I love his personality, but sometimes I think he's more sassy style than vocal substance. But even though Holly botched her song choice, I thought she sang technically better. Shockingly, Blake chooses Nic, who admits even he's surprised he made it. No steals for Holly.
NEXT: If Patrick Monahan and Kelly Clarkson were in a fistfight, who would win?