Sheeran joins as mega-mentor, bring some incredible performances, including an artist who puts new energy into his song and another who out-sings Blake on "God's Country!"
Ed Sheeran joined the ranks of “The Voice” for the first time as the mega-mentor for The Knockouts round, and he really did help bring out the best in the contestants.
That said, there wasn’t too much hard work as this is already one of the best groups of contestants we’ve ever seen on this show. Usually by this round, there are still weak vocalists to pick off, but everyone tonight brought it to the next level.
In a moment of kismet they couldn’t have predicted, one contestant chose Ed’s “Photograph” as their song to sing before knowing that he was going to be the mega-mentor, so, you know, no extra pressure.
Another singer opted to take on Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” right in front of him -- and we have to say, they may have put more power and feeling into it than even Blake has done. It was truly a magical and amazing moment.
There are no more Saves this round, but Steals still exist. And yet, a few of the night’s incredible singers not only lost Knockouts we felt they’d clearly won -- they didn’t get Saved. So while the Coaches may be happy with how their teams are shaping up, we’re bitter we had to let some of our favorites go. Can we build a team from those artists?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Ariana Grande and Blake Shelton. And just for fun, I'm going to rank the overall performances from worst to first so we can see how my favorites do as the season progresses.
(“Hold on to Me,” Lauren Daigle) It was a beautiful performance that had real emotional resonance in the early going, but Katie wasn’t able to sustain that raw connection to the lyric throughout. It started to sound more clinically sound, so while it was still enjoyable, we weren’t being drawn into her experience the way we were wanting … and certainly the way Lauren delivers it.
(“Valerie,” The Zutons) A little wild early on, Raquel really settled into this one and gave us a nice groove throughout most of her time on stage. We kept hoping she’d punch it vocally just a bit stronger, but even when she pushed for the high notes or the bigger moment, it always felt like she was still hesitating or even holding back.
This one was a little surprising as we felt like both artists took a step backwards from the Battle performances that put them here, and even their Blind Audition. Neither really owned this moment in the way the could have, so it comes down to who stepped up more. For us, we’d give that to Raquel, as she showcased more of who she is and put some interesting flare on her song.
(“PILLOWTALK,” Zayn) Gymani took this song places it’s never been before and the last third of it was absolutely mesmerizing. We’re not sure we took a breath for fear we might miss one slight nuance or run she was doing. The early parts didn’t seem quite so confident for us, though she has a lovely softer tone as well. It also sounded like she missed a note the first time she reached high. But overall, what an incredible interpretation and showcase of her power and range.
(“Strawberry Wine,” Deanna Carter) This performance was palpable in all the right ways, even as Kinsey kept herself in the lane of the original track pretty consistently. There were moments, but even those were subtle, like sneaky little emotional bullets. We could hear nerves a bit throughout this piece, as if she allowed Gymani’s power to shake her, but this was a very close battle. They’re so different, it’s really hard to compare.
Neither brought their absolute best to this Knockout, but both had some incredible moments and measures that kicked us right in the face and demanded that we feel what’s happening up there. It wasn’t top to bottom like that, but we were feeling it. Just for overall consistency, we’d have to say Gymani was ever so more together.
(“I Can See Clearly Now,” Jimmy Cliff) After a beautifully nuanced and hopeful opening few bars, Jonathan was all joy as he got into the heart of the song. We love that he held back and chose his moments when it came to his runs. It wasn’t just a great vocal performance, he managed to inject it with a lot of personality that told who he is as an artist. With the biggest challenge of his life in front of him, he pulled out all the stops.
(“Ain’t No Way,” Aretha Franklin) Wendy has been at the game for a lot of years now, and you could hear those life experiences in how she delivered this song. You don’t touch Aretha unless you got it, and Wendy just tore our hearts out with the power and pain in her voice. This was sublime and mesmerizing and all the words you can’t think of because all you can do is just be present in her moment. This was her moment.
Jonathan did everything he could, but he was up against a nearly impossible opponent. Wendy is a force of nature, a purist in the most beautiful sense of the word. She delivered the heart of that song right to our souls and left us breathless and in tears. It wasn’t even close -- which to Jonathan’s testament isn’t a knock to his talent at all. But it just wasn’t.
(“Falling,” Harry Styles) What a brilliantly earnest interpretation, Joshua poured so much heart into this moment that it poured out of the screens and ran all over us. On top of that, he’s got such rich depth in the texture of his voice, it’s like we’re listening to multiple layers at once. There’s that gentle falsetto, a cry on the edges and then that full-throated body. It’s a powerfully palpable instrument.
(“Photograph,” Ed Sheeran) With her own twist on it, and multiple instruments in her arsenal, Sabrina just set the stage on fire. She showed off her artistry in so many different ways, and she showed off the different facets of her voice. We loved when she was belting, we loved her intimacy, but mostly we loved the sincerity that shined through every bit of this performance.
The tightest match of the night, both Joshua and Sabrina were incredible. Both are such emotional singers, you feel every word they sing. Joshua is more of a broad performer, while Sabrina has an intimacy that she can bring out in her voice that’s just as compelling. It may be just personal preference, but for the dynamism and variety in her approach, we’d give Sabrina this one.
(“God’s Country,” Blake Shelton) Not the kind of song you might expect to be able to shine on in a singing competition, but Hailey took us to church on this one. That power was stunning to behold and left us breathless, unable to catch a breath. She had the same problem, missing a word toward the end as she scrambled to find one, but the overall performance was just mind-blowing. Did she just outdo Blake on his own song on his own team in front of him?
(“everything i wanted,” Billie Eilish) Nothing at all like what Hailey did, and yet just as effective. There is no where to hide on a Billie Eilish song, but Libianca didn’t need to hide. She had chest voice, head voice, power vocals, ethereal whisper. There were so many instruments she brought to this, we couldn’t take our eyes off of any moment of it. The only thing we’d say was lacking was that we weren’t feeling it as much as we were impressed by it.
Such different artists, and both incredible at what they do. Hailey is one of the most interesting and powerful female country vocalists going right now -- and she’s on this show instead of signed! -- while Libianca managed to inject some power into Billie without losing any of what makes Billie’s sound so unique. Just because of how it left us so breathless, we’d give this to Hailey.
(“Superstar,” Delaney & Bonnie) Pure soul from start to finish, this was like mainlining vocals straight into your heart. Holly had runs for days, but each with intention and executed to perfection. It was just soothing and so smooth to listen to, you could fall asleep … but in the best possible way. She makes it look so easy, but then you step back and realize just how much it isn’t.
(“Wichita Lineman,” Glen Campbell) Each of the siblings had a moment to shine and each of those moments was magical. They’re really impressive even as solo artists, but those harmonies are absolutely divine. The swell, the driving force of them, the way they so effortlessly come in and out of them, they may be the best harmonizers this show has seen.
Once again, two acts that could not be more different. Holly was so pure in her delivery, and we were drawn in by how smooth and gentle it was from start to finish. But Girl Named Tom had us on the edge of our seat waiting for the next vocal treat they were going to give us. Each morsel was more delicious than the last until those last falsetto notes. This was definitely theirs.
Result: Girl Named Tom Wins (John, Ariana Steal Holly) [Team Ariana]
“Dude, I feel like Americans just think English people just drink tea and know the Queen. So many people, they’re like, ‘Well, you have met the Queen, haven’t you?’ And you’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah I have.’” --Ed
“Did I steal you from Ariana’s?” --Blake (to Jonathan)
“You stole me from Mr. Legend.” --Jonathan
“The coaches quickly fade from my memory when I get somebody.” --Blake
“Jonathan, Wendy, are you okay? Am I alive?” --Ariana (after their Knockout performances)
“You’re the one that has a voice that’s so important you had to wear armor around it.” --Blake (about Wendy’s neckpiece)
“If I were you, I’m not you--” --Blake (to Ariana)
“You’re not?” --Ariana
“I paired Gymani and Kinsey because I’m an idiot.” --Kelly
“Are you ready for me to slap a little wisdom on this for you?” --Blake (to John)
“I just don’t like how you say the word ‘slap.’ Little gross.” --Kelly
“That was a little too much.” --Ariana
“When you came out here, I thought you went to Adam Levine’s tattoo artist.” --Blake (about Hailey’s shirt)
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.