7:18pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
‘The Voice’: Season 13’s Knockout Round Starts With an Early Steal
Monday night marked the start of the Knockout Round on NBC's The Voice season 13. Artists were once again paired with fellow team members, but for this round, they each got to sing a song of their choosing solo, and their coach picked whose performance was best.
Coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson prepared their artists, but the show was also joined by celebrity advisor Kelly Clarkson, who imparted some of her own musical wisdom on the contestants. The coaches only had one steal each during this round, so the pressure was on. Artists that advance from this round will compete in the Live Playoffs.
The first Knockout performances of the night came from Team Blake. Adam Cunningham, a seasoned Nashville singer, sang “Either Way” by Chris Stapleton, and former NFL player Esera Tuaolo sang the classic “Superstar” by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell and made famous by The Carpenters. Cunningham accompanied himself on the guitar and put a lot of grit behind his vocal. Tuaolo didn’t deliver a perfect vocal, but he did showcase greater range and more dynamics than Cunningham. Tuaolo’s soulful voice stands out on Team Blake, and his performance particularly impressed Hudson. Shelton chose Tuaolo as the winner, but Levine swooped right in to use his only steal of the round right away on Cunningham. It seemed like an odd choice, but Levine sees potential in the country singer.
Between performances, Hudson and Clarkson managed to bond over their American Idol roots without actually saying American Idol. Team Jennifer was up next, with Lucas Holliday singing “Tell It Like It Is,” originally recorded by Aaron Neville, and 15-year-old Shi’Ann Jones singing “Who’s Lovin’ You” by The Jackson 5. Clarkson said that Holliday makes her excited to be a coach for season 14. She also encouraged Jones to really connect with her lyrics. Holliday delivered a solid but unexciting performance. Jones brought more emotion and depth to her singing, and Hudson chose her to advance to the Live Playoffs. Holliday went home.
The next Knockout performances came from Team Adam. Young artist Addison Agen sang “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth, and Dennis Drummond, who has played guitar for The Voice’s Adam Wakefield, sang Bob Dylan's “All Along the Watchtower" as interpreted by Jimi Hendrix. In rehearsal, Clarkson worked with Agen on her head voice. Agen, who was stolen from Team Miley, ended up giving a gorgeous performance. Drummond’s guitar playing outshined his singing significantly during his number. Levine picked Agen as the winner, and Drummond went home.
Team Miley was up next, with Karli Webster singing Roy Orbison's “Blue Bayou” and Janice Freeman singing “I’m Goin’ Down,” a Rose Royce song which was later covered by Mary J. Blige. Webster’s performance had good momentum, and her beautiful tone stood out, but she struggled a bit on the high note, and it just didn’t seem like the most polished performance. Freeman, on the other hand, gave a very vocally tight performance that showcased her strong sensibilities when it comes to runs. Freeman, who is a cancer survivor, advanced to the next round, and Webster was eliminated.
Team Jennifer was back up with Knockout performances from Eric Lyn, who sang “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye, and worship leader Davon Fleming singing “I Can Only Imagine.” Lyn gave a solid but unmemorable performance. He didn’t seem to bring anything special to Team Jennifer, whereas Fleming sang with conviction and took some risks with the vocals. Fleming occasionally sounded like he was straining, but he sounded lovely on the high notes. Hudson chose Fleming to advance to the Playoffs, and Lyn was eliminated.
In the final Knockouts of the night, Team Miley’s Ashland Craft sang “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and Chloe Kohanski sang “Landslide.” Craft accompanied herself on guitar and gave a fun country-rock performance, putting a lot of power into her singing. Kohanski’s slow and brooding arrangement of the Fleetwood Mac song was also impressive, and Cyrus was left with a difficult decision to make. She chose Craft as the winner, but Hudson and Shelton both seized the opportunity to try and steal Kohanski, who definitely did not deserve to leave after that incredible performance. Kohanski joined Team Blake.
The Knockout Round continues Tuesday night on NBC.