7:18pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': Knockouts Begin With Two Steals
The Knockout round kicked off Monday night on NBC's The Voice, with James Taylor joining as celebrity mentor. Coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas each get one steal for this round. The artists who they saved during the Battles will also have to go head-to-head for the final spot in the live shows.
The first Knockout face-off came from Team Blake. Shelton had Joei Fulco and Levi Watkins sing against one another. Watkins performed “I Ain’t Living Long Like This," working with Taylor to arrange the song in a way that suited his personality and style. He sang well, but he wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Fulco was in her performance of the Everly Brothers' “When Will I Be Loved.” Shelton picked Fulco as the winner, and Watkins went home.
The standout performances of the night came from Team Kelly. In her first Knockout, she had Megan Danielle sing against CammWess, whom she stole from Legend during the Battles. Danielle sang Clarkson’s own “Piece by Piece,” and she delivered a strong lyrical interpretation in addition to technically sound vocals. CammWess sang “Say Something,” and he gave a standout performance not just on the night but for the whole season so far. Both displayed power and range. The song choices were on point, and Clarkson was left with a very difficult decision, but it also seemed certain that both would stay in the competition. Sure enough, while Clarkson picked Danielle as the winner, Jonas and Legend both swooped in to steal CammWess. He decided to return to Team Legend.
Team Legend then delivered strong Knockout performances by Darious Lyles and Mike Jerel. Lyles sang the Billy Paul hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” while Jerel sang “Versace on the Floor” by Bruno Mars. Jerel struggled with some pitch issues in rehearsal, but he brought it together for his final performance, which showcased range and style. Lyles sounded strong and also worked the stage well, and while the other coaches were impressed with his performance, Legend went with Jerel, and no one opted to steal Lyles.
Jonas’ first Knockout pairing ever matched up Tate Brusa, singing “The Scientist” by Coldplay, and Roderick Chambers, singing “Redbone” by Childish Gambino. They both chose their songs for personal reasons — Chambers because he used to sing it to his son when he was a baby and Brusa because has dad loves Coldplay — and that yielded very personal, emotionally resonant performances from both artists. Chambers showed the biggest improvement from rehearsal to performance, and that worked in his favor. Legend chose to keep him, and Brusa was eliminated.
Team Blake’s second Knockout face-off of the night went down between Todd Tilghman and Cam Spinks. Tilghman opted to sing “Anymore” by Travis Tritt, while Spinks sang “Rumor” by Lee Brice. Spinks showed a lot of improvement from his past few performances, but he still under-delivered. Tilghman gave the more memorable performance, layering in dynamics as he sang. This one was an easy choice: Shelton kept Tilghman, and Spinks went home.
Team Legend delivered the last, stellar Knockout of the night. Zan Fiskum sang “The Story” by Brandi Carlile, and Joanna Serenko, who Legend stole during the Battles, sang the late John Prine's “Angel From Montgomery.” They both made strong song choices and worked with Legend and Taylor to come up with the best arrangements. They both delivered dynamics and emotion. Both artists would ultimately stay in the competition. Legend decided to keep Fiskum on his team, and Jonas and Shelton both swooped in to try and steal Serenko. She chose to join Team Blake.
The Knockouts continue next week.