It’s almost time to vote! And, not just for that election. The Voice‘s live shows are just a few days away after tonight’s knockouts and the coaches are right about one thing: there do seem to be some promising contestants on board for Season 15, even if tonight’s crop is (for the most part) ho-hum.
Let’s take a look at who makes it through in the final stretch of the knockouts.
Team Kelly: Chevel Shepherd vs. Sarah Grace
Kelly Clarkson decides to put her two teen singers against each other tonight and both have their charms. Chevel Shepherd goes pretty literal with her rendition of The Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier,” but it’s a ballad she clearly knows well. She’s got a similar banjo-style reverb quality to her voice as Natalie Maines and puts her range on trial throughout the number. Even if she does have some rattly moments throughout the delivery, this is still a very pretty performance.
Meanwhile, Sarah Grace’s performance is okay enough, too. She’s got a more simpering bluesy quality to her tone — even grimacing for effect during her take on Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Like Chevel, she hits a couple of sick notes that punch things up but otherwise lets the rhythm of this one carry the day. In the end, they’re both on par with one another, and Kelly can’t bear to send either of them home, even if she does (rightly) give Chevel the W.
Winner: Chevel Shepherd
Steal: Saved by Kelly Clarkson.
Team Adam: DeAndre Nico vs. Jake Wells
There are a few artists and bands whose songs really don’t leave a lot of room for interpretation, and Coldplay might just be one of them. Because Jake Wells’ rearranged rendition of “Yellow” is a total wash and even the producers know it — why else would both the rehearsal footage and the performance itself be so abbreviated? Between his wonky falsetto reaches and clunky transitions, it’s just a mess and doesn’t work. Jake might still be a compelling singer, but he’s done himself zero favors tonight.
Meanwhile, DeAndre Nico is basically throwing everything he’s got at his performance of Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted.” He’s infusing some R&B, soul, and even gospel sounds into this country number, and it’s a little chaotic, even after key adviser Mariah Carey tries to distance him from doing too much at once with all of those runaway runs. That said, his voice is much, much cleaner throughout the performance, so by comparison, it’s an easy choice for his coach to make.
Winner: DeAndre Nico
Team Jennifer: Anthony Arya vs. Kennedy Holmes
If you were wondering what happened to Kennedy Holmes after her big blind audition, wonder no more. After being montaged in the battles, she returns to face Anthony Arya, and they’re both such sweet people that it’s hard to know whom to root for. Anthony’s rendition of “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” proves he’s found his sound, and although the song is just a hair too fast for him to really put forward the kind of tender touches we’ve heard from him in the past, his talent and personality are still clear.
But Kennedy’s a force tonight. Mariah and coach Jennifer Hudson warn her not to go too full steam with her performance of Pink’s “What About Us,” so she throws in a few obligatory head notes to bookend the song. But otherwise, it’s all power, precision, and poise. Anthony’s nod as he watches her go is a lot like that worried Jay-Z meme: he knows he’s being outshone and still can’t help but enjoy it.
Winner: Kennedy Holmes
Team Blake: Colton Smith vs. Kirk Jay
OKAY, KIRK JAY. OKAY. Considering his battle was montaged, it might’ve been easy to forget about our deep country-loving pal Kirk here, but tonight he’s ready to remind us all what he can do. After Colton Smith suffers an audibility issue that makes his performance of “Lady Marmalade” mostly unplayable, this knockout is basically Kirk’s to lose, but he doesn’t slack a bit as he takes on Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know.”
Kirk decides to bring out his skills on the keyboard to keep things interesting, and Blake and Mariah wisely advise him to stay seated through the whole song instead of trying to stand up for dramatic effect at the chorus. And I’m sure glad they did that because it added an extra layer of serenity and honesty to his delivery, which was already pitch freaking perfect. His range, the slight nasally quality to his voice, the suit, the whole thing just works. He said he had a former love interest in mind when choosing this song, and it shows in the sheer emotion he emits here in this performance. It’s a runaway, no doubt. But Colton’s old coach JHud knows he’s capable of so much more than we’ve seen tonight — and let’s face it, she loves his style — so she offers him her sole steal to bring him back home.
Winner: Kirk Jay
Steal: Colton Haynes to Team Jennifer.
Team Adam: Delaney Silvernell vs. Steve Memmolo
Earlier in the season, Steve Memmolo was advised to avoid being too cutesy or schmoozy with his singing so that he wouldn’t risk looking ridiculous, but when he turns all that personality right back on during his performance of Allen Stone’s “Unaware,” it’s his saving grace.
Delaney Silvernell has created an uphill battle for herself in her song selection. Kesha’s “Praying” is a song of raw redemption, and in addition to the ridiculous high notes, she put her very publicly broken heart and mind into every line, which is what made it so immediately captivating. Nevermind the fact that Delaney is struggling with the notes in the intro, it’s her inability to find that place of purpose that makes this delivery very difficult for her to pull off.
Steve, on the other hand, is struggling to let go and have enough fun and confidence with the high notes to really land his lyrics during rehearsals, so by the time he gets to the big stage, he just goes all in with the ego. It’s all a little cartoonish, yes, but his vocals are so much cleaner when he’s leaning into that side of himself.
Winner: Steve Memmolo
Team Blake: Chris Kroeze vs. Michael Lee
Last but not least, we have Chris Kroeze and Michael Lee, a pair of pseudo-rockers who are each very passionate — albeit in very, very different ways. Chris’ version of “Burning House” is like an ’80s lover’s lament, and it’s totally working. He sounds like a delightful cross between Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, and Meatloaf with his gentle, soft rasp and fluid scale runs. It’s very cozy and convincing until …
Michael Lee follows him up with the same level-10 intensity that he barreled through the battles with. It’s a tall order to try to replicate the vocals in “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band, but he takes that growly strength and just goes for it. By the end, it’s easy to forget almost everything that came before, which is probably why Blake gives him the win for this one. That said, Chris has certainly proven his muster here tonight and gets a well-deserved save from coach.
Winner: Michael Lee
Steal: Chris Kroeze saved for Team Blake.
With that, the knockouts are done, and we’re off to the lives. After this round, the five artists I’m most excited to hear next week are Dave Fenley, Tyke James, Reagan Strange, Kirk Jay, and Kymberli Joye because although they’re all so, so different, they’ve each had more than one stellar showcase here so far. Who are you eager to vote for next week?
Adam Levine – Tyke James, Radha, DeAndre Nico, Steve Memmolo, Reagan Strange, Funsho, Kameron Marlowe.
Blake Shelton – Michael Lee, Dave Fenley, Chris Kroeze, Kirk Jay, Colton Smith, Funsho, Natasia Greycloud.
Kelly Clarkson – Sarah Grace, Chevel Shepherd, Abby Cates, Kymberli Joye, Cody Ray Raymond, Zaxai, Keith Paluso.
Jennifer Hudson – Patrique Fortson, Kennedy Holmes, Franc West, MaKenzie Thomas, Sandyredd, Colton Haynes.
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