Before getting to the 4-Way Knockout, we only had two regular Knockout duels to go, one for Team Kelly and one for Team Legend. Oh, and Kelly Clarkson had the only Steal left in the round. Do you see where this is going?
Why would you not hold back perhaps a Team Black or Team Gwen performance for this final night so we could at least wonder if that Steal was going to be used. This way, there was no surprise at all. How can we be excited for Kelly or the contestant if we know it’s coming?
As for the battles themselves, we were absolutely heartbroken that one of the most interesting and compelling artists of the season fell really flat in their Knockout round. But in that 4-Way, three of the four really brought their best.
America decides the fate of those four, which we’ll find out next week, so this will also serve as a teaser to how America might be leaning and voting as we move into the Live Rounds next!
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 in each round to see who my favorites are.
(“If I Could Turn Back Time,” Cher & “Real Good Man,” Tim McGraw) Marisa chose the track as it was written by her friend and champion Diane Warren, who stood by her when her label dropped her after she came out as gay. She spent so long running away from the melody to make it her own, she almost left it with no recognizable melody at all. She fell a little sharp a few times, as well, but there’s no denying it was heartfelt and passionate. She’s got a huge voice and came to make a statement, which she did. She could have toned it back just a bit, though. Tanner came out so much stronger than his audition, though, with a real sense of identity on the track. His voice was buttery and confident with character and power. The whole battle inverted our expectations and we’re surprised by our pick, too.
Kelly’s Winner: Tanner Gomes
My Winner: Tanner Gomes
Cami Clune vs John Holiday
(“I Put a Spell on You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins [as performed by Annie Lennox] & “All By Myself,” Eric Carmen [as performed by Celine Dion]) If one Coach has one Steal left and this is the final Knockout of the competition, haven’t you shot yourself in the foot as far as anticipation and shock that it’s going to be used? All that’s left is which singer winds up on which team, right?
Usher’s note for her to find the more haunting, ethereal quality in her voice to interpret this song really helped push her somewhere special, creating an unforgettable moment. We would have liked a little more of a whispering quality at times to really make it almost like her voice was coming in on the wind, but there’s no denying the impact of her subtlety. John also took his notes to rein it in and show more intimacy and emotional connection, without losing his incredible range and power. This guy is in a class all his own, and he took a huge step forward as an artist.
John’s Winner: John Holiday [Cami Clune Stolen by Kelly]
(“Cry,” Faith Hill) Taryn gave a competent performance, though it lacked something in the early going. This is a song that can pull you in emotionally in the right hands, but Taryn didn’t quite manage to do that. In a 4-Way Knockout, you need to connect and she didn’t quite pull that off. In fact, it got a little boring by the end.
Julia Cooper [Team Legend]
(“Wish You Were Gay,” Billie Eilish) Julia definitely channeled Billie’s vocal intonations and style throughout this piece, but she did it in a way that still felt authentically connected to her and her take on the piece. The subtleties were actually some of her strongest moments, with little runs and vocal surprises sprinkled throughout. It sounded very current and very cool.
Ryan Gallagher [Team Kelly]
(“Time to Say Goodbye,” Andrea Bocelli) As expected, Ryan just soared through this song, though we were expecting more of an impactful punch in that final note. There was buildup and anticipation throughout the piece and then he went out with a note no less impressive than the original, but underplayed. This is a hard one to gauge, as it’s not pop commercial, but his voice is very compelling and undeniably incredible. But he also didn’t do much to connect or tell us much about himself in the performance.
Larriah Jackson [Team Gwen]
(“One and Only,” Adele) With some very smart moments that were all her own, the 15 year old proved she had no fear of either her competition or of tackling such a signature vocalist. Larriah sounded totally herself, slipping effortlessly from head and chest voice and showing a lot of power and compassion. She found an emotional well deeper than her years -- a very Adele thing to do -- and managed to really shine.
While we picked Larriah as our winner, the cards definitely seem to be stacked in Ryan’s favor. He does bring something wholly unique on this show, and we’ve seen operatic talent soar on reality television before.
It’s also hard to deny that Billie Eilish is kind of the reigning influence in popular music right now, lending a lot of weight to what Julia brought in her interpretation of Billie’s track. She had a lot of similar qualities to her performance that would certainly resonate.
And finally, while we don’t think Taryn brought her best to this 4-Way Knockout, we can’t deny that there is a powerful country music base that supports this show -- and their boy Blake Shelton, so we wouldn’t knock her out just yet.
But Ryan was also given the final slot of the night, meaning his performance is freshest in people’s minds. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if their final ranking in the votes went in the (reverse) order of performance, with Larriah then Julia then Taryn falling behind Ryan’s victory.
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.