7:20pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': Season 11 Knockouts Conclude With Final Steal
The final Knockouts went down on The Voice tonight, and Alicia Keys was the only coach with a steal left going into the night. Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus and Adam Levine used their only Knockouts steals earlier on in the round. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw were there to help artists fight for the remaining spots in next week’s Live Playoffs.
Austin Allsup and Gabe Broussard from Team Blake were up first. Allsup decided to sing “Breakdown” by Tom Petty, saying that he wanted to do something gritty. McGraw noted that Allsup is authentic and also told him to give the beginning some more “swampiness.” Shelton said the song choice reflects the fact that Allsup has a bit of a rock edge in addition to being a country artist. Broussard chose to sing “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars, saying that he wants to show that he can break out of blues. “You sang the crap out of that song,” said Hill.
Allsup got things started with his sultry and growling performance that really tapped into who he is as a country-rock artist. He played guitar, and the whole performance conveyed just how experienced and sure of himself he is. Broussard’s performance was different, reaching a more emotional place. Broussard is more vocally impressive, even though he’s only 15 years old, but Allsup is really the kind of artist that Team Blake champions. Keys praised Allsup’s tone and energy. “The control in your voice is really not normal,” Keys told Broussard, laughing. Cyrus said she was fangirling over Broussard when he was singing, but she also added that Allsup’s song choice was great. Even though the other coaches seemed to be leaning toward Broussard, Shelton picked Allsup, saying, “Austin definitely has a place in country music right now.” Even though she didn’t have a steal left, Cyrus made sure to let Broussard know how much she loves his voice.
Team Miley had the next Knockout, with indie-pop singers Darby Walker and Maye Thomas facing off. Walker chose to sing “Shake It Out” by Florence + the Machine, bringing her unique tone to it. Hill and McGraw were impressed by how she made it her own. Thomas picked “Closer” by Tegan and Sara, and Cyrus noted that it sounded like she knew the song very well. “They are both stylists,” Hill said of Walker and Thomas as they headed into their Knockout.
Walker went first, giving a haunting and powerful performance that showcased her interesting balance between a throwback sound and a more contemporary pop flair. The performance had strong momentum, and she had a bold presence. Thomas had a really fun performance, too. The performance really came together, especially thanks to some creative choreography that really allowed her to occupy the stage. Levine praised that movement. Shelton said that Thomas had the more consistent vocals. Keys added that Walker is authentic, but she echoed Levine’s thoughts about Thomas’ choreography. “You don’t move like anybody else,” Cyrus told Thomas. “You both nailed it,” she added. Cyrus surprised by picking Walker as the winner.
Levine paired rock singers Brendan Fletcher and Nolan Neal next. Fletcher chose “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band, wanting to something emotional and soulful. Levine noted that Fletcher is “so good at bringing a song to life.” Hill encouraged Fletcher to smile, since it’s a happy song. Neal, who said that Levine taught him about the importance of song choice when he first auditioned unsuccessfully in season 10, decided to sing “Love Is Your Name” by Steven Tyler. Levine told Neal to lose the guitar for this one. McGraw noted that Neal is someone he would want to see do a two-hour show.
Fletcher brightened up in his performance, but there was some grit to it, too. It was a solid but unremarkable performance. Neal followed with something much more memorable, giving a bold and captivating rock performance that allowed him to finally break out of his shell for real. “Two beautiful voices, really powerful in their own right,” said Keys. She added that the range required by Fletcher’s song choice didn’t really showcase all that he’s capable of. Cyrus noted that she wanted to see Neal in concert, but also praised Fletcher’s tone. “Neither one of you deserve to go home,” said Levine. He picked Fletcher, which was another surprising move. “People are going to love his music,” Levine said when Cyrus told him she was shocked by his choice.
Team Alicia’s Michael Sanchez and Sa’Rayah were up next. Sa’Rayah picked “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan, saying she felt it was soulful and passionate. Keys and Hill helped her figure out the dynamics and momentum. “She’s just amazing,” said Hill. Sanchez picked “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers, also hoping to show off his piano playing a little more after teasing that skill in the Battles. Keys encouraged Sanchez to still find the emotional parts of the song, even though it’s up-tempo.
Sanchez still managed to have great stage presence and energy, even though he was sitting behind the piano the whole time he was singing. His rhythm was really strong, and it was a fun, bouncy performance. Sa’Rayah had incredible performing skills, too. She had the crowd with her every second, and she kept the vocals on point. She’s someone who could win the season. Keys’ advice about building to the big note paid off. “I think you’re super, super special,” Cyrus told Sanchez. Levine called them the “illest duo of all time.” Shelton was blown away by some of the notes that Sa’Rayah belted out. The coaches loved Sanchez’s piano playing, but this is The Voice, so it has to be all about the voice. Keys made the right choice and kept Sa’Rayah.
For his last Knockout, Shelton paired Dana Harper and Karlee Metzger because he said they occupy the same lane musically. Harper picked “You Give Me Something” by James Morrison, which she said really reflects whom she is as an artist. Shelton agreed that it sounded like the kind of music she might make after the show. Hill praised her subtlety and delivery. Metzger picked “Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson. Shelton stressed the importance of enunciating and really paying attention to her breathing.
Harper set a very high bar, proving she has the whole package in her performance, which was dialed-back and present. She’s Team Blake’s strongest asset, and she delivered one of the best performances of the night. Metzger followed, and while she has a powerful voice, she still seems inexperienced, especially compared to Harper. She still has some growing to do as an artist. Cyrus said Metzger came out of her cocoon and added that Harper was really “honest and true” without trying too hard to wow. Shelton thankfully picked Harper as the winner.
In a Knockout that wasn’t aired, Cyrus chose Sophia Urista over Josette Diaz.
For the final battle of the season, Cyrus paired Aaron Gibson and Josh Halverson, her two soulful rockers. Gibson decided to shake things up by singing a country song: “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett. Cyrus admitted she wouldn’t have picked it for him, but she was surprised by how well it worked. Halverson, who used to be on Team Alicia before Cyrus stole him in the Battle Round, chose to sing “Whiskey and You” by McGraw. McGraw himself was impressed with Halverson’s take. Cyrus got goose bumps during his rehearsal.
Just as Carson Daly teased, it really was the most soulful Knockout of the season. Halverson got it started with his subtle and mesmerizing performance that had all the coaches caught up in the moment. It was an emotional performance, but his vocals were strong, too. Gibson followed with an equally layered and impressive performance that encapsulated his artistry. Both have similar strengths, which made the decision difficult for Cyrus. Shelton described Gibson’s voice as “edgy” and “hard.” He added that Halverson is the “most chill human being” he has ever seen. Keys said it was one of the best Knockouts in terms of musicianship. Cyrus struggled, but she picked Gibson. Keys had that steal left, though, and she used it to steal Halverson, who will get another shot in the Live Playoffs. "I've been waiting for you, Josh," she said.
Tomorrow night, The Voice will revisit highlights from the Knockout round. Five members from each team will compete in the Live Playoffs next week.