The Knockouts wrapped up on NBC's The Voice on Monday night, with coaches Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton picking the last of their artists who would advance to the Live Playoffs. Keys was the only coach with a steal remaining for this round, and she was very cautious in deciding on whom to use it, listening carefully for the voice that really spoke to her.
The first Knockout of the night came from Team Blake. Shelton paired Andrea Thomas and Lauren Duski. Thomas opted to sing "Cry" by Faith Hill, who appeared on last season of The Voice. Shelton was impressed with Thomas during her rehearsal, but she was having some pitch issues. Those pitch issues carried through to her Knockout performance. Even though she didn't hit all the notes perfectly, it was a moving performance.
Duski sang "When You Say Nothing at All" by Alison Krauss, saying that she wanted to sing a big emotional song. She also had some pitch issues, but in her final performance, she sounded strongest. Keys said Duski gave the more emotional performance of the two, but Stefani said she'd choose Thomas. Shelton chose Duski as the winner.
The next Knockout pairing of the night was Jack Cassidy and Vanessa Ferguson from Team Alicia. Cassidy chose to sing "Unsteady," accompanying himself on the keyboard. Keys helped him make the song his own and pushed him to connect with the words he was singing. In his performance, Cassidy effectively built the momentum of the song. He sounded great and brought strong energy to his singing, even while sitting at the keyboard.
Ferguson chose to sing "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, and also decided to play the keyboard. Keys encouraged her to tap into the emotions of the song as well. She pushed both artists to be reckless and tear down their walls. Ferguson gave the more memorable performance of the two, hitting huge notes. Stefani said she loved Cassidy's song choice but added that Ferguson knocked her out. Levine thought Cassidy's performance was a little off. All of the coaches seemed to agree that Ferguson could win the whole show. Sure enough, Keys chose Ferguson to advance.
Team Adam's Davina Leone and Jesse Larson, two very different artists, were up next. Leone, who started out on Team Gwen before Levine stole her, chose to sing "Toxic" by Britney Spears, putting her own spin on it. She described her version as slow and sultry, and Levine said he respected that it wasn't a cookie-cutter song choice. Leone played with the melody a lot, and the final performance showcased her artistry. It was one of the most memorable performances of the round.
Larson chose to sing "The Letter," accompanying himself on the guitar. Levine praised his powerful, soulful voice in rehearsal, calling him a beast. Larson gave a fun and lively performance, working the stage. "I've never heard you sing like that," Shelton told Larson, adding that he burned the house down. Keys wanted more from Larson on an emotional level. Levine chose Larson as the winner, and Leone went home despite her creative performance.
In a Knockout that wasn't aired in full, Levine chose Mark Isaiah to advance over Malik Davage, who was eliminated. Isaiah sang "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber.
Stefani paired Brandon Royal and JChosen for the next Knockout. JChosen picked "Without You" by David Guetta and Usher. JChosen gave a really solid soul-pop performance, bringing his natural charm to the song and connecting with the audience.
Royal chose to sing "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley. Stefani praised his confidence in rehearsal, saying that he brought his natural talent to the song and simultaneously conveyed the message of the lyrics. His final performance was beautiful. The simple arrangement really allowed him to show off his instrument. It was a delicate performance that was all about his voice. Shelton said JChosen nailed the song. Stefani said she was shocked by Royal's performance, but she surprised by choosing JChosen. Royal would have been a good addition to Keys' team, but she did not use her steal.
Aliyah Moulden and Caroline Sky from Team Blake were up next. Moulden picked "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood as her Knockout song. Shelton encouraged her to relax in rehearsal and really focus on her lower register. It was a great song choice that showed off just how much power Moulden can put behind her voice. She added just the right amount of grit to the performance, keeping the vocals strong throughout.
Sky decided to sing "At Last" by Etta James as a nod to her more old-school tendencies. Shelton pushed her to be clear and present with her singing. In her final performance, Sky delivered bold, beautiful vocals. Keys said Moulden's voice was strong, adding that both did so well that it was a tricky choice for Shelton. Stefani said this was her favorite performance of Moulden's. She said Sky's song choice was great, and Levine seconded that it was an ambitious choice. Shelton chose Moulden to advance to the Live Playoffs.
In the final Knockout of the season, Stefani paired Stephanie Rice and Troy Ramey. Rice chose "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift, identifying with the song's message. After her rehearsal, Stefani said Rice sings from her heart and that it's easy to believe her when she sings, calling her voice airy and pretty. Her final performance was captivating and tender. She sang from her heart, delivering a perfect performance on a vocal level and an emotional level.
Ramey, who was a four-chair turn during the Blind Auditions, sang "Chandelier" by Sia, bringing his own sound to it. He hoped to show off his ability to make something his own. Stefani warned him against changing the melody too much. His final performance was authentic and impressive, true to the emotions and melody of the original while still adding something new and special to it. Levine said that Rice gave the more impactful performance. Shelton described both as intense performers. Stefani said she relates to both artists in different ways, but she chose Ramey as the winner. Keys finally used her steal on Rice. "I did want her from the beginning," Keys said.
The Live Playoffs, featuring the top 20 artists of the season, kick off next week on NBC. On Tuesday night, The Voice revisits some of the top moments from the round. What did you think of the Knockouts tonight?