Nick Jonas cracks a joke, it immediately backfires.

And so The Voice marches on. It’s the first night of Knockouts — the last round ahead of Live Playoffs — so the pressure is on. There are no "saves" this round (and remember, the four saves from the Battle Rounds will be duking it out next week in the first four-way Knockout voted on by America), but each coach does have one "steal" to use, so expect those to start flying right away. There will surely be some great artists up for grabs. Oh, and in case you could’ve ever forgotten, James Taylor has arrived on The Voice as season 18’s Mega Mentor and it is glorious. Just soak in that joy. It’s basically self-care.

the voice
Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC

Team Blake: Levi Watkins, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” vs. Joei Fulco, “When Will I Be Loved”

Blake pairs up Joei and Levi for his first Knockout and it makes a lot of sense: They’re both on the younger end of his team (Joei’s 23, Levi’s 14) and both of them are a nice blend of country and rock-n-roll. Joei picks the Linda Ronstadt version of “When Will I Be Loved” and both Blake and Mega Mentor James Taylor love the choice because it shows off her huge range and power. Levi has a tall order since he’s singing a Waylon Jennings song about oh you know, just being in prison and living a real outlaw life. That’s a tough sell for a sweet 14-year-old. He doesn’t exactly succeed in doing that during his performance, although his vocals are great. Still, Joei’s vocal talent can’t be denied and honestly, her Cher vibrato is so stinkin’ cool, it would be hard to let that go.

Winner: Joei Fulco!

Steals: n/a

Team Kelly: CammWess, “Say Something” vs. Megan Danielle, “Piece by Piece”

Well, this Team Kelly battle is just primed to make everyone cry, huh? Kelly, of course, is immediately in tears when she learns that her own song, “Piece by Piece,” is something that Megan Danielle can relate to, and then cries again after hearing how Megan makes the song her own (and maybe again just a little bit, when James Taylor starts singing a part of it). But don’t count CammWess out. James Taylor is especially impressed with the control Camm has over the quieter moments. He shows this control once again during the actual performance and holy hell, friends, he gives a chill-inducing vocal. The falsetto? Yes, please. As Blake points out, Camm has finally had his big moment with this performance. But don’t count Megan Danielle out. Kelly is so taken with her story and her storytelling capabilities — you feel everything she’s feeling. John also applauds her tone and control. This one is tough, but Kelly knows exactly what to do to save both of her team members.

Winner: Megan Danielle!

Steals: Immediately, both Nick and John try to steal Cammwess. Although Nick hilariously points out that he’d tell Camm “the same thing he’d say to a friend getting back together with an ex: Why?” Camm can’t fight it, he returns to Team Legend.

Team Legend: Darious Lyles “Me and Mrs. Jones” vs. Mike Jerel, “Versace on the Floor”

John Legend has put himself in the middle of a big ol’ pickle because both Darious and Mike have proven that they can deliver. In rehearsal, Darious really nails it — he even gets James Taylor to harmonize with him, the icon is so into the performance — but Mike falters a bit. He has a lot of pitch issues to work on ahead of the performance. No one said covering Bruno Mars was easy, okay? During the performance, Darious does his thing once again. He is so smooth up there. I appreciate the great outerwear choice and I appreciate the effortlessness in his singing. Mike comes out on stage and although Nick points out some problems with his higher register, no one can deny that he really sells his performance. That grit in his voice makes him stand apart and Coach John Legend just can’t deny how excited Mike gets him. He has an X-factor that John thinks will really resonate in the live rounds.

Winner: Mike Jerel!

Steals: n/a

Team Nick: Roderick Chambers “Redbone” vs. Tate Brusa “The Scientist”

Roderick and Tate have nothing in common except for the fact that they are both on Team Nick. Nick describes Roderick as a “Luther Vandross type” and Tate as more in the pop/rock genre. Roderick choosing “Redbone” for this round is particularly shrewd, as it shows him in a more contemporary light. In rehearsal, both Nick Jonas and James Taylor want more attitude and personality from Roderick and um, he delivers when it counts. He sounds great in his chest voice and completely annihilates the end of the song — the runs, the big falsetto note — this is a new Roderick. On the Tate side of things, we’ve only seen him with his guitar up to this point, but for Knockouts, he’ll be playing this Coldplay hit on the piano. Nick and James have a lot of notes on his arrangement, but even during the performance, the arrangement doesn’t really play to Tate’s strengths. Tate fights for it and has some great moments, but Roderick easily wins both technically and performance-wise.

Winner: Roderick Chambers!

Steals: n/a

Team Blake: Todd Tilghman, “Anymore” vs. Cam Spinks, “Rumor”

Both of these guys are leaning hard into the country this round, with Todd taking on a big Travis Tritt ballad in honor of his wife (and by “in honor of” I mean that his wife made him pick it). Blake Shelton and James Taylor do a little producing magic to Todd’s arrangement, but the main note is honestly just: “Please settle down.” Todd’s voice is tremendously powerful and the natural rasp he has makes it really special. He doesn’t disappoint in the actual performance. Cam Spinks is our tried-and-true country boy, but Blake wants Cam to have a little more “attack” when he sings. On stage, he seems to shrink even more and has a host of pitch problems. Blake loves that Todd really feeds off the live crowd, his passion is as undeniable as his vocal talent.

Winner: Todd Tilghman!

Steals: n/a

Team Legend: Zan Fiskum “The Story” vs. Joanna Serenko, “Angel From Montgomery”

Welp, friends, this is a great match-up. John Legend stole Joanna from Team Nick and she’s been a real standout from the early rounds. She’s doing the Bonnie Raitt version of “Angel From Montgomery” and James Taylor tours with Bonnie Raitt, so whatever he says really goes. The only note for Joanna is to add in a moment where she can go big and make the song more dynamic. It really works on stage. Joanna sounds like a pro up there and that cool run at the end? Perfect. And then comes Zan. In the Battles, she was praised for her ability to go soft and sweet when the song calls for it and then can bring the power when it's needed — this Brandi Carlile song calls for both (it is a beast), so it’s perfect to show off what Zan can do. It becomes even clearer how perfect this song is for Zan when she performs it on stage. All of her choices are spot on and the emotion she brings to the performance is moving.

Winner: Zan Fiskum!

Steals: It’s another double steal! Nick Jonas wants Joanna back on his team, but his smooth line earlier about not getting back with your ex really backfires here. Joanna plays along: She doesn’t want to move backward, she’s moving on from Nick. Joanna Serenko joins Team Blake.


Team Blake: Joei Fulco, Todd Tilghman, Joanna Serenko (stolen from Team Legend)

still to perform: Todd Michael Hall (save), Toneisha Harris, Cedrice (stolen from Team Legend)

Team Legend: Cammwess (stolen from Team Kelly), Mike Jerel, Zan Fiskum

still to perform: Mandi Castillo, Nelson Cade III (save), Thunderstorm Artis

Team Nick: Roderick Chambers

still to perform: Allegra Miles, Michael Williams (save), Arei Moon, Jon Mullins (stolen from Team Blake), Jacob Miller

Team Kelly: Megan Danielle

still to perform: Anaya Cheyenne, Micah Iverson, Samantha Howell (save), Mandi Thomas, Tayler Green

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