The Voice recap: 'The Knockouts Premiere, Part 1'
The knockouts begin with an all-new save button.
Well, here’s something new: After much campaigning by Blake Shelton (or so he claims), the coaches can now opt to use one, and only one, save bid to keep a teammate they’d otherwise send packing during this round. It’s called a save, and it’s available in addition to the usual steal option for all four coaches. So, basically, if and when there are two teammates the coach can’t bear to see go from any given competition, he or she no longer has to make that heartbreaking decision. Of course, the other coaches can still chime in and steal someone away, save bid or none. This is going to get interesting.
Let’s take a look at how The Voice‘s first knockout rounds shake out tonight, shall we?
Team Blake: Jaclyn Lovey vs. Kyla Jade
Jaclyn was a smart steal for Blake Shelton, but when he pairs her with Kyla Jade, well, he’s hardly setting her up to be the next Chloe Kohanski, despite the team advisor’s assurances that it can happen. Kyla is an obvious favorite for Blake thanks to the fact that she’s a unique talent for his team and she’s been killing it since the start, shyness issues or none.
Tonight, Jaclyn does a lovely (name pun!) rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” showcasing that sweet, light little voice she’s got just fine. It’s a touch whispery in parts, but overall, the song is a good fit and shows off her skills as well as anything could. Kyla, meanwhile, is on a mission to take control of the conversation (yet again) with her spirited version of “You Don’t Own Me,” and guess what? It’s a success. She does get a little pitchy when she gets to the upper reaches of her volume, but there’s so much grit and grind in her stage presence that it’s easy to overlook…for now at least. It definitely wouldn’t have been an upset for Jaclyn to win, of course, but this decision also makes sense.
Winner: Kyla Jade
Team Kelly: Justin Kilgore vs. Kaleb Lee
Justin Kilgore might’ve been a four-chair turn, but his confidence is nowhere near as developed as his counterpart tonight. Whereas Kaleb Lee makes his everyday man appearance look easy, Justin’s practically riding the struggle bus across this stage tonight. Perhaps it has something to do with his song choice — Garth Brooks’ “Shameless” is a challenge for anyone — or maybe it’s the fact that he’s going second against a guy who’s just laid down something relatively uncritiqueable, but his nerves drag his entire showcase down and leave him sounding pitchy and unprepared for the larger notes of the number. Kaleb, though, holds steady with his crackly soft rock sound and makes his brand of mellow look good. I don’t know that he makes it all the way with that kind of restrained posturing, but it’s an easy call by coach Kelly Clarkson to keep Kaleb Lee and to save her save for someone else this time.
Winner: Kaleb Lee
Team Adam: Jackie Foster vs. Mia Boostrom
As inimitable as Amy Lee’s voice is, Jackie Foster gives it her all with Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” She’s got the requisite level of ache and haunt in her tones, and although she doesn’t hit every note on the dot, she makes a strong statement all the same. But while Mia Boostrom’s battle win might’ve been a bit of a head-scratcher, she clears up any lingering confusion by bringing some jazz and joy to her take on “Wade in the Water.” It’s a tricky number to execute, given the breadth of its historical significance, but her tones are respectful of the original while modernizing the piece all at once. It’s a close call as to who’ll win, but ultimately Adam opts for Mia again.
Jackie’s nowhere near done with this show, though. Adam tries to spend his sole save on her, but then Kelly and Blake chime in with the steal bids. Eventually, things get so competitive that Alicia Keys decides to throw her metaphorical hat into the ring as well, and guess who comes out victorious? The woman who recognizes that “rock and roll is born from the blues and soul.”
Winner: Mia Boostrom
Steal: Jackie Foster to Team Alicia (Recap continues on next page)
Team Blake: Austin Giorgio vs. Spensha Baker
Of all the oddball pairings of the evening, this one has to be the weirdest. Austin Giorgio belongs in a smoky nightclub in the early ’50s, and Spensha Baker’s readying herself for a stage somewhere in Nashville. And yet, there’s something unexpectedly simpatico about their pairing that allows the two to feed off each other a bit.
Otherwise, Austin’s rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Almost Like Being in Love” might not have had a few key riffs to take it out of the rote note memorization realm, and his playful Fred Astaire-style footwork is certainly inspired as well. Meanwhile, Spensha takes a leaf from Austin’s playbook as well by drawing back a bit and slowing down her song to deliver a more measured and purposeful lyrical run. Both choices are smart, as we see how Austin’s playfulness and skill in his genre could work for a modern-day audience, and Spensha’s slowdown invites us to enjoy the emotion of her delivery. Blake might choose Spensha as the one he can’t lose, but he uses his only steal to make sure Austin doesn’t go home yet, either.
Winner: Spensha Baker
Steal: Austin Giorgio stays on Team Blake
Team Alicia: Johnny Bliss vs. Miya Bass
Oof, Miya, Miya, Miya. Miya Bass held her own in the battles, but because of how much Adam Levine likes Drew Cole (more on that later), she didn’t win it and was instead scooped up by Alicia Keys. That transition must’ve really taken a toll on her confidence because all of the confidence and composure that she’d displayed in previous rounds is gone tonight, and instead we’re left to look through our splayed-out fingers at our screens as her take on Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” plays out. The good news for Miya is that we all know she’s much better than what we see here tonight.
Johnny Bliss, meanwhile, does enough with his performance of Sia’s “Alive” to stick around. He does exactly what his coach tells him to, in accelerating the decibel level of his choral run and finding four different ways to sing the titular word, and even though he gets a teensy bit off-key near the end, it’s good enough to beat his competition this time.
Winner: Johnny Bliss
Team Adam: Drew Cole vs. Jackie Verna
Well, well, well. Drew Cole might be Adam Levine’s most obvious keeper of this season, considering he sounds and acts like someone who’d definitely fit in his music circle, but Adam Levine almost lets him go after hearing what Jackie Verna’s able to do.
Drew’s take on Niall Horan’s “Slow Hands” is fine — good even. But there’s hardly any revelation to what he’s done with it. We’ve heard him sing before, and his rocker snare is still totally intact, but it’s expectable. Compare that to Jackie’s version of Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey” that’s a little bit messy and a little bit perfect, as she lets her natural twang lead the way through a maze of surprising note choices. Drew’s more technically on-point tonight, but Jackie’s captivating, too. As Adam puts it, “her voice is searing, it has an impact without being harsh.” Adam chooses her and risks running Drew off with another save bid-gone-wrong, but Drew knows he’s a company man and decides to stick with his coach.
Winner: Jackie Verna
Save: Drew Cole stays with Team Adam
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Gary Edwards, Jackie Verna, Jordyn Simone
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Christiana Danielle, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Sharane Calister, Dallas Caroline, Jackie Foster
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Jorge Eduardo, Alexa Cappelli, Jamella, Tish Haynes Keys, Kaleb Lee
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Pryor Baird, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Jaron Strom, Dylan Hartigan