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The Knockouts began Monday night on NBC’s The Voice, with artists going head-to-head with solo performances that will determine which 24 artists advance to the Live Playoffs. This season, current coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine and Alicia Keys teamed up with past Voice winners Chloe Kohanski, Cassadee Pope, Jordan Smith and Chris Blue, respectively. Coaches are able to steal in this round but also can save one contestant on their own team.
The first Knockout of the night came from Team Blake. Shelton had Jaclyn Lovey go head-to-head with Kyla Jade. Lovey sang “Put Your Records On,” and Jade, who has experience as a background singer for former Voice coach Jennifer Hudson, sang “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. Shelton stole Lovey last round, so she said she wanted to prove herself. Shelton said the winner would be whoever ended up showing the most confidence.
Lovey went first, delivering a sweet and lovely performance. The song choice was great, but she seemed a bit nervous and it didn’t end up being her best work on the show.
Jade followed with the much stronger performance, finally coming out of her shell and showing she has what it takes to be in the spotlight instead of just singing backup. All four coaches gave her a standing ovation. The results were unsurprising: Shelton chose Jade as the winner, and Lovey went home.
Team Kelly was up next for a country showdown between Justin Kilgore and Kaleb Lee. Clarkson said she didn’t want to split the country votes by having too country singers on her team, so she had to put them up against each other.
Lee went first, singing “Free” and accompanying himself on the guitar. He delivered a strong lyrical interpretation and gave an emotional performance, showcasing good storytelling abilities, which is definitely important in country music. But he was a bit lacking in the performance department, looking slightly uncomfortable on stage.
Kilgore, who was a four-chair turn during the Blind Auditions, followed with his performance of Garth Brooks’ version of “Shameless.” His performance had a lot of momentum, and he showed a little more personality and charisma than Lee. Kilgore is more of a modern country singer than the more classic Lee. Levine wasn’t a fan of Kilgore’s intensity and favored Lee. Clarkson indeed ended up picking Lee, noting that he is the stronger country singer. Kilgore went home.
Team Adam was up for a Knockout between Jackie Foster, who Levine stole last round, and Mia Boostrom.
Foster, who wants to be an alternative rock artist, sang “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence, which was a bold song choice, but she did it justice. She took Jordan Smith’s advice to open very quietly and then build to the bigger parts. She put on a very fun show.
Boostrom, singing “Wade in the Water,” gave a much more subtle performance, but it was good, bringing out the jazzier side of her voice. Boostrom is the kind of artist who can sing just about anything, and her performance brought Levine and Clarkson to their feet. Shelton said Foster proved a female rocker can win the show, but Clarkson called Boostrom the dark horse. Levine ended up choosing Boostrom as the winner, but before Foster could be eliminated, Clarkson hit her steal button and Levine hit his save. Keys and Shelton eventually hit their steal buttons, too, so Foster had her pick of coaches. She ended up joining Team Alicia, which will be a good fit for her.
Team Blake was up again, with Austin Giorgio and Spensha Baker going head-to-head. Shelton praised Giorgio’s confidence, and Kohanski said both artists were so different from each other and unique for Team Blake, so Shelton would have his work cut out for him in picking a winner.
Giorgio, singing “Almost Like Being in Love” by Nat King Cole, went first. He gave a solid jazz performance, showcasing his artistry with all of his vocal and performance choices. He certainly stands out on Team Blake.
Singing “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton, Baker followed with an emotional and delicate performance that had strong dynamics throughout. It was a raw performance, and it led to her being chosen as the Knockout winner. But Shelton also opted to save Giorgio, which was probably his plan all along. Both artists will compete on Team Blake in the live playoffs.
Team Alicia was finally up for a Knockout between Jonny Bliss and Miya Bass.
Bliss went first, singing “Alive” by Sia. It was an ambitious song choice, and he sang it well, showing off his huge range and making the song his own, especially when he sang some of the lyrics in Spanish. He proved he has a strong sense of who he is and what kind of artist he wants to be, which is something Keys usually values.
Bass followed with her performance of “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran. It wasn’t the best song choice for her, and she sang it too close to the original most of the time. Some of her runs stood out, and her technical skills are solid. It just wasn’t very memorable. Keys chose Bliss as the winner.
Team Adam had the last Knockout of the night. Levine paired Drew Cole and Jackie Verna.
Cole sang “Slow Hands” by Niall Horan, which was an excellent song choice. He seemed confident onstage and brought his own style to the song. It was his best performance of the season so far, and he really came to life on stage.
Verna followed with her performance of “American Honey” and proved she was evenly matched with Cole. Even though they have completely different styles, they both sang with confidence and effortless style. Both delivered on the vocal and performance fronts, leaving Levine with a difficult decision to make. A steal or save situation seemed inevitable since all of the coaches thought both artists did such a great job.
Levine chose Verna as the winner, and sure enough, he hit his save button to keep Cole. But never one to turn down a chance to fight Levine, Shelton also hit his steal button. Both made passionate pleas, but Cole decided to stay on Team Adam.
The Knockouts continue Tuesday night on The Voice. What did you think of Monday night’s performances?
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