The Voice recap: Gwen Stefani saves the day with a last-minute steal
It seems like a rip-off to only get three Knockouts in one episode, but then again, we also get the unexpected Blake Shelton–Taylor Swift comedy hour. So maybe it evens out? Regardless, in the second night of the Knockouts we get three matchups, none of which have particularly surprising outcomes, but all of which offer some solid performances. So again, we’re breaking even? Let the people sing!
Team Legend: Khalea Lynee, “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion vs. James Violet, “Stay” by Post Malone
John Legend stole soulful acoustic bird James Violet right out from under Gwen Stefani, who was hoping to save him during the Battles, so it seems a little wasteful to put him up against Khalea Lynee, a true powerhouse on Team Legend who is most certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. To prove that point, she picks the Celine Dion bop “Because You Loved Me.” As Kelly notes, she somehow makes this song seem effortless. It’s not! All the judges really want from her is to show a little more emotion, other than that, she’s perfect. James puts up a valiant effort and shows some real range we hadn’t seen before, but even he knows this is a done deal. At least he’s cool about it, noting that “there’s no better person to lose to” than Khalea since she’s so dang good. A gracious loser!
Winner: Khalea Lynee!
Steals: He may be a gentleman, but the other coaches pass on James Violet.
Team Gwen: Kyndal Inskeep, “Elastic Heart” by Sia vs. Jessie Lawrence, “Dancing With a Stranger” by Sam Smith and Normani
I can’t even see Jessie Lawrence without getting emotional thinking about his Battles performance in which he and Rose Short brought the house down with their voices and then rebuilt it with their tears. Tonight, however, Jessie is picking more of an upbeat, playful song and although in rehearsal Gwen tells him it’s her favorite performance of his this season, it falls flat on stage. The lack of emotion and intention behind it is made alarmingly clear when he goes right after Kyndal Inskeep who is basically laying her (elastic) heart on the stage with this stripped-down version of the Sia song. Mega Mentor Taylor Swift is blown away by her voice, which contains both quirk and control. All of the coaches warn her to avoid picking songs by artists that sound so similar to her in the future, but she nails this performance. An artist with heart and style to her voice? It’s Gwen’s dream.
Winner: Kyndal Inskeep!
Steals: The coaches are very picky with their steals this round, so we must bid farewell to dear Jessie.
Team Blake: Joana Martinez, “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas vs. Ricky Duran, “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes
During the Battles, Blake Shelton commented that he heard a little bit of Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes, in Ricky’s voice, so honestly, props to this dude for rolling with that and picking a Black Crowes song. I still can’t really nail down Ricky’s genre — maybe just A Rocker in Suits? — but he is a true performer. This matchup basically comes down to Ricky’s experience versus Joana’s power. We have lots of power vocalists on this show (we always do!) but it’s still always shocking to be reminded that the voice coming out of Joana Martinez belongs to a 15-year-old. The coaches basically say as much in their post-performance critiques: Joana has “a spark” and it’s always interesting to watch someone so young progress through this show, but Ricky is the consummate performer and that may be more valuable at this point. It’s not the most electric of Knockouts, but I guess they can’t all be winners.
Winner: Ricky Duran!
Steals: Gwen wanted Joana in the Blinds, and she wants her again now. Or she just made a pact with Blake to steal someone from his team. Either way, Joana moves to Team Gwen!
We have two more nights of Knockouts and just two steals left in play (Blake and John are still holding on to theirs), as we slowly inch toward live performances. Who are you most looking forward to seeing next week? Who are your front-runners? Will Taylor Swift ever stop pointing out the nervous tics of The Voice artists?