Welcome to the second and final night of The Voice Knockouts. It should be exciting for a few reasons: Obviously first and foremost, James Taylor is back as Mega Mentor and he is a delight. Also, don’t forget that both Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson have their "steals" available, which is always fun. Finally, we’ll get our first-ever four-way Knockout, in which the four artists the coaches saved in the Battle Rounds will duke it out and America will get to vote on which one of them will earn a spot in the Live Rounds. That’s a lot going on tonight, folks! Let’s get started.
Team Legend: Thunderstorm Artis, “Preach” vs. Mandi Castillo, “Stand By Me”
Team Legend coming right out with two of its heavy-hitters. The nice thing about this matchup is that John really can’t go wrong choosing between Thunderstorm and Mandi, and also whoever loses is definitely going to be stolen. Neither of these two is going anywhere this soon. It’ll be a tough choice since Mandi is doing something unexpected in picking such a classic song and John is obsessed with how her voice sounds like “honey.” Thunderstorm — who, as John Legend points out, is 100 percent the “musical baby” of James Taylor and John — is doing a John Legend song but with an acoustic twist, and he’s never sounded bad a day in his life. As good as both these vocalists are, neither of their performances is really "blow your hair back" type performances and both Kelly and Blake point out that although evenly matched in vocals, it seemed like Mandi wanted it more. John Legend loves Thunderstorm’s tone, but calls Mandi “flawless.”
Winner: Mandi Castillo!
Steals: No surprise here: Thunderstorm Artis moves over to Team Nick.
Team Nick: Arei Moon, “You Don’t Know My Name” vs. Jon Mullins, “Thinking Out Loud”
Arei Moon is such a star, huh? In her rehearsal, Nick Jonas is completely blown away by how much Arei’s grown just in the few weeks of this competition. This Alicia Keys song is a perfect choice. It shows off her range and her control. When she gets on stage to perform, she oozes confidence. And that line in her lower register? Just so, so smooth. Jon Mullins, who Nick stole from Team Blake, has so much power behind his voice and also emotes the hell out of it. He really tells a story with his vocals. Jon does a lot of tricks — his head voice sounds great — but there’s something about how effortless Arei makes her performance feel that cannot be denied.
Winner: Arei Moon!
Team Kelly: Tayler Green, “Time After Time” vs. Micah Iverson, “Graveyard”
Tayler and Micah have opposite strategies for their Knockout. Micah is singing a Halsey song — something outside of his wheelhouse. He wants to push himself, he tells Kelly and James. They’re really impressed with his choices in rehearsal, but most importantly: Micah picking this song means that we get to witness James Taylor playing a little Halsey on his guitar. What a world! Tayler, on the other hand, is singing an iconic Cyndi Lauper song and she’ll have to fight to make it her own. After they make a few adjustments to the arrangement, Kelly says that this is easily the best Tayler has sounded on the show. And that remains true when Tayler steps on stage for real. There’s so much emotion behind her performance and she delivers with a power we haven’t seen from her before. Unfortunately for Micah, his risky song choice doesn’t pay off. There are no big moments for him to show off what we know he can do, and it seems like he has some breathing issues. But Coach Kelly has loved Micah since day one, so she is agonizing over this choice.
Winner: Surprising everyone, she sticks with Micah Iverson! Will this pay off in the Live Rounds? We shall see!
Team Nick: Allegra Miles, “Chandelier” vs. Jacob Miller, “Better Now”
Both of Nick’s artists have a few notes after performing their Knockout songs in rehearsal. Jacob’s “vocal delivery is perfect,” says Nick, but they want to kick up the tempo a little bit and James Taylor advises Jacob to loosen up physically. Allegra, on the other hand, puts so much emotion into her performance, but some of it is lost due to her lack of enunciation. Nick also suggests finding a moment for Allegra to take a note and “soar.” Nick is spot on there: That moment in “Chandelier” that he gives her to show off what she can do is magic. She does still need to work on enunciation, but her passion and stage presence is impossible to ignore. Blake tells Nick that Allegra “is [his] chance to win The Voice.” Jacob’s performance is cool but lacks Allegra’s emotional intensity.
Winner: Allegra Miles!
Poor Anaya Cheyenne: We get a quick look at Team Kelly’s final Knockout, but only see part of Mandi Thomas’s performance (she throws down on Maren Morris’s “My Church”) and not one bit of Anaya’s. Mandi Thomas moves on to the Live Rounds.
Team Blake: Cedrice, “Love on the Brain” vs. Toneisha Harris, “Diamonds”
Remember when John Legend gave up Cedrice? Hilarious. She was saved by Blake Shelton, but he has immediately tossed her into a matchup just as strong as her Battle with Thunderstorm Artis: Blake pairs Cedrice with Toneisha Harris. It makes sense since both fill a similar lane artistically — here, they even both choose Rihanna songs — and Blake needs to suss out who’s the better pick. In rehearsal, Toneisha makes it seem so effortless and James Taylor says she is one of his favorite voices in the entire competition. In the actual performance, she does James proud. DEAR LAWD. There are such dynamics in her performance and she builds up into a stunning end. Cedrice is also as captivating as ever, but Toneisha is on another level.
Winner: Toneisha Harris is Blake’s front-runner, he can’t let her go.
Steal: Poor Cedrice is on an emotional roller coaster on this show, as she is once again eliminated and then stolen — this time, she lands on Team Kelly. “You’re a Jonas brother away from having all four coaches,” Carson Daly points out.
Todd Michael Hall (Team Blake), “Somebody to Love” vs. Nelson Cade III (Team Legend), “Best Part” vs. Michael Williams (Team Nick), “You Are the Reason” vs. Samantha Howell (Team Kelly), “Always on my Mind”
Todd Michael Hall, Blake’s rocker with an insane range, starts things off on this four-way Knockout. He goes with a OneRepublic song that still has a ton of range, but admittedly, I miss the ‘80s rock flair. Technically, there are some misses and his stage presence isn’t up to the level we’ve seen before either.
Nelson Cade III from Team Legend follows with his voice that John Legend describes as both “sweet and raspy” all at once. Again, we’ve seen Nelson be more technically on point than he is here — is the four-way Knockout just freaking people out? He gets back to the Nelson we know by the end, but will it be memorable enough?
Speaking of memorable: Who is this Michael Williams and why haven’t we seen him before?! He’s never sounded better than he does on Calum Scott’s ballad. He does exactly what he needs to: He showcases some real power, flawlessly flies through his runs, and dang, really shows off his falsetto. Coach Nick is beaming with pride.
The four-way Knockout is rounded out with Kelly Clarkson’s country gal, Samantha Howell. She is so good in rehearsal that James Taylor salutes her. Salutes her! By the end of her performance, she really opens up into some big, power notes. Kelly Clarkson reiterates that Samantha has a tone unlike anyone else in country.
Now, it’s up to America. Who deserves that final spot in the Live Rounds, folks? Next week, we’re getting a little behind-the-scenes look at season 18 thus far, so we won’t know which of the four will move on until The Voice returns ... which is TBD. Until then, let’s talk front-runners. Who do you think has a chance to make it all the way in season 18?
Team Blake: Joei Fulco, Todd Tilghman, Joanna Serenko (stolen from Team Legend), Toneisha Harris
Four-Way Knockout: Todd Michael Hall
Team Legend: Cammwess (stolen from Team Kelly), Mike Jerel, Zan Fiskum, Mandi Castillo
Four-Way Knockout: Nelson Cade III
Team Nick: Roderick Chambers, Thunderstorm Artis (stolen from Team Legend), Arei Moon, Allegra Miles
Four-Way Knockout: Michael Williams
Team Kelly: Megan Danielle, Micah Iverson, Mandi Thomas, Cedrice (stolen from Team Blake)
Four-Way Knockout: Samantha Howell