The Voice recap: Usher joins The Voice for The Knockouts
This round kicks off with a bang(er).
When rapper, producer, and NCIS field agent LL Cool J once said, “I’m gonna knock you out/Mama said knock you out,” I think he was talking about the third round of The Voice. That’s right, kids — we’re in the Knockouts now. Each team has seven artists remaining, which means we’ll be getting three Knockout performances from each, plus one Four-Way Knockout between the contestants Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, and Blake Shelton elected to save in the Battles. Each coach also has one steal this round. Oh, and the Usher Raymond has arrived as the season 19 mega-mentor. Let’s get started, shall we?
Team Legend: Tamara Jade, “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder vs. Casmè, “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
Oh, so I see: We’re not messing around with the Knockouts. John Legend puts up two powerhouse soul singers for his first Knockout because... he loves to torture himself, I guess? Both Tamara and Casmè crushed their Battles and have picked songs for this round that could really work in their favor. Tamara’s doing Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” to speak to the dark moment we’re going through, and when she rehearses with John and Usher, they tell her that she “took the song to church,” and their only note is to not let her passion get away from her. Casmè’s taking a risk by leaning more into her pop/rock sound, but Usher says that if she can put more of her own stamp on the song, it’ll be a big moment. As good as Casmè is, once Tamara performs “Higher Ground,” there’s no shot that she isn’t moving through. She’s a professional up there giving the coaches a full-blown performance. Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. And then it does again. Casmè’s bringing her A-game, too — there’s even more power behind her vocals than she’s shown us before — but how could you let Tamara go? The coaches all agree that John really screwed himself over with this pairing and he knows it. Alas, he must make a decision.
Winner: Tamara Jade
Team Gwen: Payge Turner, “Creep” by Radiohead vs. Ryan Berg, “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” by Drake White
Ryan Berg has a great sound and knows how to tell a story with his music, but the moment Payge Turner says she’s doing “Creep,” this is her Knockout to lose. After her first go-around at rehearsals, both Gwen and Usher tell her to push the drama a little more — they want to really feel the emotion of the song. “It’s okay to fall apart on stage,” Usher tells her as Payge tries the song again and gets teary-eyed by the end. The more connection, the better. They give Ryan the opposite critique: He’s pushing his voice too much and it takes away from the emotion of the song. Unfortunately, it doesn’t much matter anyway because although Ryan is excellent and the coaches still praise his “gentle rasp,” Blake describes Payge’s performance as her having “an out-of-body experience.” John calls Payge “a revelation.” Gwen’s just proud that Payge took all the notes she and Usher gave her during rehearsals and used them to perform the way she did. There was drama and emotion and artistry, and Gwen can’t say no to that.
Winner: Payge Turner
Team Blake: Ben Allen, “She Got the Best of Me” by Luke Combs vs. Worth the Wait, “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker
It’s always tough for a solo artist to go up against a trio, but Ben Allen’s going to try his hardest. Blake tells Usher that these two acts are his “classic country singers” and he thinks it’s best to keep it to one moving forward. Ben’s voice is a big, deep, radio-ready country voice and Blake applauds him for using the Knockouts to show he can do contemporary country. He warns him about too many “country dips” on notes and Usher instructs him to “pull back a little” and remember to tell the story of the song. These notes help Ben give what John Legend calls another “consistently good” performance. He’s consistent! Reliable! Kelly tells him that “no one’s worried about [him] faltering.” It’s not exactly the most exciting or passionate critique an artist can get, but Gwen does tell Ben that this was her favorite performance of his. She’s a fan — that’s not nothing! Meanwhile, mother-daughter trio Worth the Wait steps on stage and gives what John says is “easily [their] best performance.” In rehearsals, Blake told them that they really needed to tighten up their harmonies — that’s their advantage in this competition and they need to use it to the fullest extent. The note must hit home because their harmonies have never sounded better.
Winner: Worth the Wait
Steals: Well, Gwen really meant it when she said this was her favorite Ben Allen performance — he’ll be joining Team Gwen for the Live Playoffs.
Still to sing in Knockouts: Madeline Consoer, Sid Kingsley, Desz, Tanner Gomes, Marisa Corvo, Ryan Gallagher, Kelsie Watts
Team Gwen: Payge Turner, Ben Allen (steal)
Still to sing in Knockouts: Joseph Soul, Chloé Hogan, Carter Rubin, Larriah Jackson, Van Andrew
Team Legend: Tamara Jade
Still to sing in Knockouts: Lauren Frihauf, Bailey Rae, John Holiday, Julia Cooper, Cami Clune
Team Blake: Worth the Wait
Still to sing in Knockouts: Taryn Papa, Jus Jon, Jim Ranger, Ian Flanigan, James Pyle