As the number of contestants was whittled down on Monday night’s episode of The Voice, it became easier and easier to pick out who would most likely be the winner of their respective knockout. Jesse Larson’s Knockout performance on The Voice was basically a win that was secured from the moment he took the stage, despite the fact that he had to prove his mettle against worthy opponent Davina Leone.
During his pre-taped segment, Larson revealed the reason why he was fighting so hard to stay on the show. For him, this isn't merely about fame or great fortune. Competing on The Voice is, for him, about paying homage to his father and, most importantly, showing his wife that he is able to go all the way with his singing. It was a beautifully saccharine reveal, but helped to soften the otherwise hard-hitting powerhouse singer.
For Knockouts, Larson chose to sing Joe Cocker’s “The Letter.” The music and lyrics perfectly illustrated just how badly he missed his wife. This was no mere separation for Larson; this was a really emotional (albeit temporary) loss for him. The intensity of Cocker’s voice, already so deeply ingrained into the song, served as a benchmark for him to meet while singing. In expressing that love and longing, he was able to perfectly bring down the intensity he normally brings to his performances. It was a nice change to see from him.
As for the notes on his performance, coach Adam Levine could only remark while Larson was coming in full throttle with his singing (this was definitely a good thing), he wanted to make sure the soulful singer was moving around and really using the stage to his advantage during his performance. There was a lot of pent-up energy with his static position on the stage; getting him to move around would help channel that energy and emotion he wasn’t pouring into his voice find a way out somehow.
Performance after performance, Larson has emerged as an unlikely frontrunner on The Voice. A good-natured, guitar-ripping singer regularly likened to Cee-Lo Green by Levine, Larson brings a lot to the table in the way of soulful rock performances. While other teams are up to their ears with soul singers or R&B singers, Larson’s managed to carve out a niche for himself on Levine’s team with his unique talents — and it doesn’t hurt that he can wail like nobody’s business on that guitar.
When it came time to perform, Larson brought down the power a few notches but really assimilated Levine’s note about using the stage during his performance. This version of Larson felt restrained, piping in all that longing to see his wife again into the impassioned lyrics of “The Letter.” The was more of a evenness there, something so hopeful yet held back in his voice that really secured the performance as a slam dunk. It must be why Levine chose him over Leone to head to the live performances; are you really surprised?