At 14 and 15 years old, this unexpected powerhouse duo leave the Coaches floored as the Battle Rounds wrap.
The Battle Rounds came to a close on “The Voice,” and they saved some of the best performances for last.
We’re still picking up our jaws after two of the youngest-ever contestants just mopped up the competition with an incredible performance -- at 14 and 15 years old! And they weren’t the only ones stepping up their game to impress the Coaches.
We saw fresh takes on Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” that took those songs to a whole new dimension. And we saw the last Save and Steal of the round, as Blake pounced on an incredible vocalist while Kelly tried to take back a mistake pairing with her Save.
One contestant carried an additional weight to the stage that certainly resonates today as he had just learned that his mother tested positive for COVID-19 while caring for his Covid-positive grandmother. It’s a pain so relatable to Americans, and an additional challenge as the quarantine protocols for this show has kept him away from both.
Impressively, no one really faltered on the night. But that made it much harder for the Coaches, who definitely got it wrong in at least one case, letting one of the night’s most unique and memorable voices walk out the door.
Where’s my Steal?
With the final Save of the season, we've got a new favorite for the four-way Knockout, but we're scared at some of the incredible vocalists that might not survive the next round as the season is enjoying an embarrassment of talent.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Blake Shelton. And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are.
(“I Love Me,” Demi Lovato) While we only got a few moments of runs from each of them, we picked up on some pitch problems from Emmalee, while Kelsie had the more interesting tone to her voice. Hers sounds more like a storyteller, while Emmalee had more of a generic, but quality, voice.
Kelly’s Winner: Kelsie Watts
My Winner: Kelsie Watts
Ben Allen vs Sam Stacy
[See Emmalee vs Kelsie Watts for video]
(“Free,” Zac Brown Band) Sam didn’t get any opportunity in the short clip we were given, as we only saw him harmonizing with Ben, but we can say that there is a richness to Ben’s voice that we don’t remember Sam having the first time we saw him. Ben just feels more sure of who he is as an artist.
Blake’s Winner: Ben Allen
My Winner: Sam Stacy
Tori Miller vs Van Andrew
[See Emmalee vs Kelsie Watts for video]
(“Exile,” Taylor Swift & Bon Iver) This was another short vignette where all we got was harmonies, but even in those we could see that Van has more of a sense of his musical identity with grit and authenticity in his more rocking vocals. Tori was right there with him, but his was the voice that stood out and demanded to be noticed.
(“Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” Creedence Clearwater Revival) Aaron’s crisp delivery didn’t quite fit the grittiness of the original track, while Ian naturally sits in a similar pocket. That said, Aaron’s soaring vocals took the track in some interesting places, but it also had an interesting impact on Ian. Suddenly, he was pushing his range and really showing off even more of what makes him remarkable. Unfortunately for Aaron, it just left him looking like a guy with a great voice, while Ian sounded like a unique and memorable artist.
Blake’s Winner: Ian Flanigan
My Winner: Ian Flanigan
Marisa Corvo vs Ryan Gallagher
(“I Surrender,” Celine Dion) Ryan had the additional emotional weight of having just learned his mother was just admitted into the hospital with Covid, after helping take care of his Covid-stricken grandmother. And through it all, to be part of this show he’s had to stay separated from them.
Marisa admitted to nerves on this song, afraid to live up to Celine’s big voice, while Ryan’s operatic voice is almost too overpowering for its tenderness. In other words, they needed to find that middle ground to make it their own.
Ryan was, as expected, just effortless on the song, but Marisa really came into her own, making the track her own and injecting it with so much heart and passion and ache. Hers felt more genuinely emotional, while Ryan’s performance was technically flawless. As a duet, though, they complemented one another beautifully, making another tight matchup..
(“You’re All I Need to Get By,” Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell) With both of them coming with about equal mastery of their vocals, it came down to those subtle differences in performance and personality. In that, Casmè had the slightest edge over Rio. She also made some more interesting and dynamic style choices in her intonation that differentiated her take from the track, where Rio played it more straight. This was definitely a tight Battle.
(“I Need a Dollar,” Aloe Blacc) We kind of love the different energies of these two artists, with Liam bringing that body-writhing rock vibe while Ryan is laid-back cool -- but both have incredibly nuanced tones to their voices.
The pair really worked out, though, with Ryan stepping it up and meeting Liam’s energy and performance level to the point they almost matched each other note for note. Ryan had a fresh urgency to his performance we hadn’t seen before, while Liam rocked it out with some impressive vocal trickery. Both choices were equally compelling and incredibly watchable..
Gwen’s Winner: Ryan Berg
My Winner: Liam St. John
Cami Clune vs James Pyle
(“Wicked Game,” Chris Isaak [as performed by Boy & Bear]) James was battling himself as much as Cami in this, opening up about his OCD struggles that kept him from performing and pursuing his dreams, because of his head battles, for so many years.
This was an incredible pairing, with both artists rising up to the challenge of the other. They had the strongest harmonies on the night and an incredible interpretation of the song. We felt connected to them connected to each other and the lyrics. And we were surprised by the end who emerged as our winner because it was that close.
John’s Winner: Cami Clune [James Pyle Stolen by Blake]
My Winner: James Pyle
Carter Rubin vs Larriah Jackson
(“Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” Meghan Trainor) These two teens -- 14 and 15 years old! -- synched their vibratos at the end of this, that’s how in tune they were. It was just incredible. Larriah pulled out such conviction and pathos from her core, she had us in the palm of her hand from the beginning.
She was definitely ahead of Carter throughout, but that was no knock against his incredible vocals and pitch-perfect choices. She just had a little more depth. But at their young ages, both are astonishing and have potential for days.
Gwen’s Winner: Carter Rubin [Larriah Jackson Saved]
My Winner: Larriah Jackson
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.