Here we go! It’s the last night of the knockouts, and no, we’re not left to just sift through the stragglers tonight. In fact, the last round boasts an interesting trend of competitors being near-mirror images of each other, which makes the coaches’ jobs in sending someone home that much harder. The good news for them is, thanks to a save and a steal, they don’t always have to.
If the decisions are this tough already, imagine how crazy the rest of the season’s going to be. With two dozen competitors going forward, we’ve still got a lot of Season 14 still ahead of us. For now, let’s take a look at who else is headed to The Voice‘s live rounds.
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan vs. Dallas Caroline
Dallas Caroline has been going in the opposite direction of where she should all season. She started out with a blind audition that was strengthened by the sheer surprise of her song selection, then she barely made it through the battles because she got smacked with a bad case of nerves and was ultimately saved by Alicia on the off-chance that might’ve been a one-time issue, and tonight, well, she proves it wasn’t a fluke that she failed to collect herself last time. Her take on Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” is riddled with pitch problems, and her pretty and piercing tones do little to redeem the showcase.
Meanwhile, Britton Buchanan is a surprise tonight as well, for exactly the opposite reason. His rendition of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” is made all the more mature by his ability to perform it on the piano and still deliver a moody slow burn that’s schmoozy and effective before he smartly ratchets up the excitement with some choice growls and body work. It doesn’t hurt his fan favor potential that he’s a dead ringer for Jesse Plemons, and while he may not have a ton of range to show for himself, his control and poise makes him an easy winner for tonight.
Winner: Britton Buchanan
Team Kelly: D.R. King vs. Tish Haynes-Keys
Kelly Clarkson knows that she has a pair of powerhouses in D.R. King and Tish Haynes-Keys, so she decided to match them against one another just for fun (after all, with a save in each coach’s back pocket, they can afford to line up some pairings where no one really wins or loses). With D.R. King and his performance of “I Know I’m Losing You” — a Temptations song he’s chosen to do the Rod Stewart version of — there’s a lot happening. He hits the top of his power pretty quickly and pretty much stays there all song long. Ordinarily, that’s annoying, but he’s just so into it that the energy is infectious.
The same can be said for Tish Haynes-Keys’ giant performance of “Lady Marmalade.” She’s got a similar amount of spirit and tonal decadence, and if the roof is still connected to the place, she’s definitely given it some stress marks with this. Contrasting them is pretty difficult, really, because they both can belt, they both have voluminous voices, and they’re both gospel-ish singers by nature. I’d give Tish the edge on account of her actually showing off some of her mid-range tones here, though it’s already clearly decided that Kelly’s not sending either of them home tonight.
Winner: D.R. King
Save: Tish Haynes-Keys stays on Team Kelly
Team Blake: Dylan Hartigan vs. Wilkes
Dylan Hartigan just became a lot more interesting. In his blind audition, he seemed to want to step away from his boy-bander roots and into a folksier sphere for purposes of his pride. However, there (where he earned just one chair-turn from Kelly Clarkson) and in his battle (which he lost but was stolen by Blake Shelton), that appeal was really the only thing carrying him through. Tonight, he seems to give up on the effort to shed that side of his persona and embraces his inner smooth singing style, and you know what? It’s working for him. Between his vocal control, the fact that he’s wisely dialed down his showmanship, and the honey tones he plays with, this is a dramatic improvement over anything he’s done yet. Well played.
That said…Wilkes. He’s just intriguing, no doubt about it. Tonight, he wisely makes the decision to sing something a little outside of his wheelhouse to help draw out some of the subtler aspects of his talent that might be overlooked by a less careful ear than the coaches. What works so well for Wilkes is his ability to throw in an effortless run amid a series of scratchy rocker beats that sounds so pretty and natural at the same time. This song’s a little fast for him, but he manages to infuse his rock star aesthetic into the pop-drama number without losing any of his authenticity. There’s a note in the end that he seems to go too high on, but instead of trying to course-correct, he just leans even harder into it and sounds rad. He’s one to watch, and yet, now so is Dylan. It’s a good steal for Kelly to bring him back home to her team, despite being the coach-host of a, in her words, “fella’s club” at this point.
Steal: Dylan Hartigan to Team Kelly
Team Adam: Gary Edwards vs. Rayshun LaMarr
In another case of apples versus apples tonight, we have Gary Edwards and Rayshun LaMarr. And their performances are both delicious. Gary goes first with his take on Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross,” and it’s clear from his showcase that he is INTO it. In fact, he’s so lost in the music that it allows him to make some amazingly bizarre and random runs that are risky and still so compelling. It’s hard not to enjoy what he’s doing, even if it isn’t the most polished piece of all time. It’s too bad we didn’t get to hear his battle because it had to be at least entertaining.
Meanwhile, Rayshun has a similar vocal aesthetic as Gary, vacillating somewhere between an R. Kelly jazz vibe and the raw soul of Marvin Gaye. He could probably hold his own with that viral isolated version of “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Even Alicia Keys is amazed at his ability to deliver such a clean note delivery on some of those impossible moments from her iconic song, “Fallin’.” The edge goes to Rayshun, though, as he turns his voice into a literal instrument by imitating a sax for a few seconds. Gary gives us a lot to think about tonight, and then Rayshun comes in and makes everyone forget he even has a competitor. It’s a hard-fought match that Rayshun rightly wins, but Gary’s still a force to be reckoned with, too.
Winner: Rayshun LaMarr
Steal: Gary Edwards to Team Blake
Team Kelly: Alexa Cappelli vs. Jorge Eduardo
The fact that Jorge Eduardo has already played this game (in Mexico’s La Voz) and came fairly close to winning then means Alexa Cappelli has her hands full with this showdown, and yet, she makes her victory tonight look easy. Her performance of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is layered with both her warm tones and her fidelity to the notes of the original version, even powering some tricky spots with the kind of finesse you wouldn’t expect from a high school singer.
Meanwhile, Jorge Eduardo struggles to bring back that stage presence that had Kelly so wrapped around his finger before. His attempt to sing Miguel’s “Adorn” is thin and full of nerves. Even Kelly seems a lot less charmed by his little trick of pointing directly at her during the “you” lyric. It reminds me of that time Enrique Iglesias got exposed on a hot mic — he’s had an off night that everyone got to bear witness to, and here, it costs Jorge a ticket to the lives.
Winner: Alexa Cappelli
Team Adam: Reid Umstattd vs. Jordyn Simone
Welp. Something must’ve been up with Jordyn Simone’s performance during her bout with Reid Umstattd for the producers to not only trim out her entire performance, but to let her go without even mentioning her name. What we do know is that Reid’s take on the Dixie Chicks’ “Let Him Fly” is drawn down and full of competent notes — albeit, a little repetitive. It may not be an Alisan Porter moment here, but it’s obviously enough to get him through this round.
Winner: Reid Umstattd
Team Alicia: Kelsea Johnson vs. Sharane Calister
Last but not least, we get to see yet another pair of powerhouses bring all they’ve got to the stage by way of Kelsea Johnson and Sharane Calister. With Kelsea, her decision to sing Andra Day’s “Rise Up” means she’s doing something that’s extremely timely and popular, so she has to stick to the source material a little more closely than if she’d gone with a throwback anthem. But she’s still able to riff off of the chorus often and well enough to make it her own without dismantling the version everyone knows, and if her nerves are an issue, she betrays none of that with her fluid, lovely performance. In fact, her decision to slow down the final verse just makes me want her to circle back and sing it all over again. Nicely done.
Meanwhile, Sharane’s take on Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry” is about effusive as music gets, as she’s coming from a very real place of heartbreak and letting that splatter across the stage with every syllable of this song. It’s not a perfect performance by any means, but the attachment and ambition is clear. Whatever Kelsea might lack in courage, Sharane’s got it to spare. They both deserve to stick around a little longer, so it’s convenient that Adam Levine just so happens to have the last steal to throw down here.
Winner: Kelsea Johnson
Steal: Sharane Calister to Team Adam
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Jackie Verna, Sharane Calister
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Christiana Danielle, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Jackie Foster
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Alexa Cappelli, Tish Haynes Keys, Kaleb Lee, Dylan Hartigan
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Pryor Baird, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Gary Edwards