Season 8 of NBC’s “The Voice” made show history last night when it pit three of Team Pharrell’s contestants against each other instead of the usual two. The reason, according to the judge, was the abrupt and mysterious departure of Battle Rounds winner Anthony Riley.
Monday’s episode saw Paul Pfau, Mia Z and Sawyer Fredericks sing one song each with only two of them allowed to advance onward from the Knockout Rounds. Typically the Knockouts are a two-way battle. The trio’s coach laid out the stakes of their history-making Knockout and blamed the change on Riley leaving for “personal reasons.” The excuse was vague and almost felt like the show was brushing away one of its Season 8 frontrunners.
This has led many Riley fans to speculate as to why he’s no longer singing in the competition. Somehow, a rumor got started that Riley was kicked off the show for refusing to compete in the Knockout Rounds against Mia Z. None of these rumors seem to be based on anything but speculation and therefore do not offer a clear reason as to why the former street performer wouldn’t want to go head-to-head with Mia. However, given her stellar performance during last night’s show, which propelled her to the Live Playoff Rounds, it would be easy to see any player in the competition afraid to go up against her.
Another rumor indicates that Riley was forced to leave the show after the controversial move to dedicate his Battle Rounds victory to convicted murderer Mumia Abu Jamal and “political prisoners everywhere.” Jamal, a former political activist, is in prison for the murder of a police officer in 1981. However, circumstances surrounding his trial have caused many to call for his immediate release. While the move was a bit more polarizing than fans of “The Voice” are typically used to, it hardly seems like a reason to either walk from the show or be asked to leave.
A source spoke to Yahoo News about Riley’s exit saying that both of the rumors surrounding his exit were completely untrue. However, he or she was not able to elaborate more on “The Voice” singer’s abrupt departure any more than saying the vague “personal reasons” line.
In any case, the show continued on without Riley, sending Mia Z and Sawyer Fredericks on to the next round. Meanwhile, Paul Pfau simply didn’t have what he needed to move forward and was sent home for good as a result of the very first three-way Knockout Round in “The Voice” history. Tune in tonight at 8 p.m. EDT for more Knockouts on “The Voice” on NBC.