The Voice is getting closer to the Live Playoffs for season 9. But before we get there, the contestants have to make it through the Knockouts, which have now begun. This time, each singer gets to sing separately, but the coaches still have to choose between one of two artists who have been paired up, and they only get one Steal each.

BuddyTV was on a conference call with the advancing artists from the first night of the Knockouts. Amy Vachal and Viktor Kiraly shared their thoughts on being stolen. Braiden Sunshine discussed what got him to change up his hair style. And many of the singers gave some insight into working with adviser Rihanna.

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Why Did Amy Vachal Choose Adam Over Blake?

In the Battle Rounds, each coach had two opportunities to steal an artist onto their team. But for the Knockouts, they only have one Steal, so it becomes that much harder for them to choose who they want to bring on board. Amy Vachal received the very first Steal of this round, when she joined Team Adam after being eliminated by Pharrell. The pressure was on her to choose, though, because both Adam and Blake pushed their buttons. “I didn’t expect to get stolen at all, let alone have two buttons pushed.”

“That moment was a blur for me,” she admitted. “You have two of the handsomest, most charming people on the planet saying the sweetest things you’ve ever been told in your life. And I was just a little over-stimulated.” She went on to say, “You can’t go wrong between the two of them. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I chose Adam because I just felt like we would see more eye to eye on the road ahead.”

“It was kind of awesome” was how Viktor described the situation of being stolen by Gwen from Adam’s team. “A guy can’t wish for a better situation. [Adam is] a super nice guy and super intelligent. … You can really tell he likes being on The Voice and helping people. And now I finally get to meet up with Gwen Stefani and learn from her. So I think it’s a super situation.”

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A “Surreal” Experience with Rihanna

During the Battle Rounds, the coaches brought in such stars as Missy Elliott, John Fogerty, Selena Gomez and Brad Paisley to help mentor the contestants. But during the Knockouts, there’s only one adviser for everyone. This season, that person is Rihanna. And the contestants were excited to be able to meet and work with her. “Somebody needs to pinch me because I’m dreaming and I need to wake up.” That’s how Blaine Mitchell explained what was going through his head during the mentoring sessions. He called the whole process “surreal,” but says that both Rihanna and his coach Adam are “down to earth that it’s like being in the room with a couple of friends.”

Jordan Smith also used the word “surreal” when talking about working with Rihanna. “She’s a person that I’ve grown up hearing her music and her voice is so signature,” he said. “She’s just so well known, and you hear her music everywhere you go. And to have her standing there in front of me talking to me about my voice and giving me advice on how to be better and how to use my body language and how to really let loose and just feel the music, but also to hear her compliments about my voice, was incredible.”

He shared that during rehearsals, there was a moment when it really hit him what this was all about. “I was almost moved to tears. But right in that moment, it was like I felt God,” he explained. “And it was just like, you’re here right now. You’re living your dream. I’m giving you everything that you desired. I’m allowing you to wake up in the morning and do what you love, and to meet all of these amazing people and learn and improve in ways that you never knew you could improve.”

When I asked Ivonne Acero what it was like to work with Rihanna, the Team Blake artist got really excited when speaking about her. “I don’t even know how I didn’t pass out in front of her,” Ivonne said. “I was so in awe of her presence, and the fact that she was so technical and she was literally putting me to work was so cool because a lot of the media today doesn’t really talk about how great some of these artists are today. … I still can’t believe that I got the opportunity to work with her.”

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What’s Up with Braiden Sunshine’s Hair?

The Voice may be about the contestants’ voices, but after the Blind Auditions, their looks become more polished as well. Gwen Stefani has been wanting to change up Braiden Sunshine’s hair, something that Rihanna even talked about. It looks like he did take their advice for the performance. “The suit and everything, and the hair, that was fun,” Braiden said. How about the hair, though? “It took a long time, so whatever Gwen wants to do with it, because she’s very good at that. I don’t know how that one’s going to turn out.”

It sounds like we might expect him to be more open to these kinds of changes going forward, especially after what Rihanna told him. “I get messed with about my hair all the time because it’s a bit different than the normal straight cut that people usually get. But I was kind of concerned that people would mess with me about it. And then [Rihanna] said that they won’t mess with you when you’re making money. And I’m like, let’s try it.”

The Voice airs Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.