One performance leaves Kelly so emotional she can't talk, while another Knockout has Ariana wanting to change the rules so both artists can stay -- and we have to agree with her!
The final Knockout performances had one battle that left us speechless and the Coaches on their feet on “The Voice” it was that good.
This isn’t hyperbole. This is finale worthy competition coming during the Knockout Rounds. Ariana Grande even asked if the rules could be changed so they both could stay. It was a moment where you couldn’t get it wrong, and yet the Coach still managed to do it.
That wasn’t our only disagreement with the Coaches, either, as our hearts were fully broken twice more when two artists who had breakthrough moments still managed to lose their Knockouts and get knocked out of the competition.
The good news is that Carson Daly wrapped the show by sharing that each Coach had selected one artist from an earlier round (Knockout or Battle) who’d gotten eliminated from their team and pulled them back up for a social media shot at returning for the live shows -- but as one of those people gets eliminated tonight, we’ll save that for later.
Ed Sheeran continued to give great advice, including having one artist strip back the music behind them which really allowed their vocals to shine. The end result left us a blubbering mess of tears -- and that wasn’t even the only time tonight. If it keeps up like this, we’re going to have to start stocking a box of tissues next to us as the Lives get underway next Monday.
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.
(“I Swear,” John Michael Montgomery) Berritty was definitely channeling the country hit version of this song more, but we felt like he was straining a bit to hit the bigger parts of the chorus in the shortened version we got to see. We could also see why this particular Knockout was trimmed, as this wasn’t nearly up to the same level as a lot of the other contestants we’ve seen. It also didn’t give us a lot of hope for Peedy’s follow-up.
(“Unchain My Heart,” Ray Charles) We’ve no idea what version of this song Peedy was doing because it fell into that lounge singer version of it. We were not feeling this version, as he was coming off like a novelty act even more than he did the very first time we saw him and he was basically doing an Elvis impersonation. It’s just all too much of the same at this point.
While neither of them were particularly incredible, and neither would likely get very far once America gets a say on this one, we supposed we’d have to give it to Peedy’s Elvis take on “Unchain My Heart” just because it was a stronger vocal. But he needs to mix up his stage presence to showcase more of who he is other than an impersonator. Blake also went with him, but, “He’s my bold prediction for the finale” -- really Blake? That is bold!
(“Home,” Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) There was such a sweetness in this performance, you could hear the love of a father and son. It’s also been great seeing Sasha come out of his shell and grow even more confident as a performer with each performance. Tonight, though, we were blown away by all of Jim’s solo moments, as we’re not sure he’s had such a chance to shine. And, of course, the harmonies were great. It was just a solid performance.
(“Golden,” Harry Styles) It was a strange experience watching Manny because he was giving us everything visually, but we still felt like he was holding back a bit … or maybe he was just in his head a little too much. He did show a lot of dynamism throughout his time on the stage. We just wanted to hear a little more of it. There’s range, and a pretty cool gentle town toward the bottom register there, but all of it just felt a little hollow.
This was an interesting one, as neither act really blew us away. We’ve seen both of them be far stronger than they were here at the most pivotal moment of the show so far, just ahead of the live shows. Manny seemed a bit in his head, or overcome with nerves or something that was holding him back. Meanwhile, Jim and Sasha really did deliver, but on a song that didn’t have a whole lot of room to show off -- and we lacked the emotional connection we expected from their own connection to the song. For overall consistency throughout the season, though, we’d probably give it to them.
(“Wildest Dreams,” Taylor Swift) A little shaky at first, but as soon as she reached the first chorus, Lana roped us in and took us on an emotional journey with her the rest of the way. It was sublime the way she brought the message to life, really breaking our hearts along with hers. It was a beautifully subdued performance, choosing the perfect punctuation points with those few big moments.
(“Amarillo by Morning,” George Strait) First of all, Carson is top-notch on that fiddle, you can tell how comfortable he is on it with how he slides effortlessly into position and just soars. His vocals were equally confident and there was a sweetness to them. The problem for us was we didn’t feel the sincerity of the song because of that sweet delivery. He’s got a purity in his voice that is all talent, we’ve no complaints with his ability. We just felt a disconnect from the song.
We can’t fault what either of them brought to the stage, because they are both gifted vocalists and performers. Carson was definitely more consistent in vocal quality from top to bottom, and he had that extra element with the fiddle. But when Lana fell into her groove, we just instantly felt connected with her and the emotion of her performance, and that’s not something we ever got from Carson. We’d have to give it to her.
(“The Best,” Tina Turner) Her opening bars were incredible, with all of that same sultry energy Tina gives on the original. She really showcased a lot of grit and range, but when she strained toward the top of her range, she missed the mark on more than one occasion, coming in just off the note. It was jarring each time it happened, because she’s such a confident singer otherwise. She may have taken off a bit more than she could chew on this one, though we appreciate her challenging herself.
(“Impossible,” Shontelle) Respect to Shadale for putting her own stamp on such a recognizable song without sacrificing what makes the song so well-known. She showed off incredible range, with some grit in her voice even at the top. She put a very cool R&B vibe on some of this with some exciting runs, and a gentle heartbreak toward the end that actually left her a little broken -- but not until after she nailed each and every note. It was an incredible performance.
Neither of them really blew us away in the rehearsal footage, but both really came out strong tonight. Samara had incredible moments throughout her performance where you could feel that playful energy -- she was digging her own shoulder fringe, too -- but she was also inconsistent. Shadale, meanwhile, gave us everything and more in a performance that only really wailed once. It was otherwise just full of signature personality moments and a whole lot of heart. Kelly even got emotional just talking about it after. Even Samara could feel it, getting visibly emotional before the obvious result. She knew it was over.
(“Run to You,” Whitney Houston) Jeremy’s voice is silky smooth like butter and a bubble bath all rolled into one. You just want to snuggle into it and feel its warm embrace all over your eardrums. He made a Whitney song his own without sacrificing her dramatic range, and did a lot of it in his own full voice. The masculine tone was accented by his beautiful falsetto -- perhaps the strongest in this competition -- in a performance that was technically flawless. The only thing lacking for us was an emotional connect.
(“Falling Slowly ,” Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova) Who knew Xavier had that much depth and texture in his young voice. This was his most polished and mature sounding vocal, with just an incredible timbre, vibrato control. Only his first falsetto didn’t quite ring true for us, but otherwise he took us on a journey that we felt. We are blown away at how rich his tone is for such a young singer.
Jeremy is by far one of the most gifted singers in this whole competition, and he pulled out his whole arsenal for this one, hitting each note effortlessly. It was a very bold and cool song choice, and he totally nailed it. Xavier also took on a big song, and one that was an extra challenge for the heart of it, and totally surprised us by stepping up to it like it was nothing. This is one of those moments where we’re actually surprised that we think Xavier took this one by a razor-thin margin because Jeremy absolutely deserves to make it to the lives! But Kelly went on the season as a whole, and gave it to Jeremy.
Bella DeNapoli vs. Katherine Ann Mohler [Team Ariana]
(“Chandelier,” Sia) Bella didn’t nail all of her big notes, but she was rock solid on the heart of the chorus. Where she really got us, though, was in the tender verses. There was such a beautiful intimacy in her voice, with a bit of that confessional tone Sia delivers so well, that made us feel right along with her the inherent sadness behind the lyrics of a party girl. It was a beautifully told story, with just a few inconsistencies when she was trying to showcase that upper register and strength we already knew she had.
(“Poison,” Bell Biv DeVoe) What an incredible interpretation of an iconic song. Stripping it down to the melody and making a real story out of it, Katherine Ann absolutely nailed this delivery. It was subtle, breathy and so emotionally impactful. Every choice she made was so compelling, intriguing, fascinating and, best of all, unexpected. Not only did we feel this, we were anticipating each measure just to see what she would do with it, and that is true artistry.
Both of these ladies, who have become dear friends, brought their own unique artistry and vibe to their respective songs, and both of them had some really beautifully special moments. There was an eeriness, a danger to how Katherine Ann took on an old-school R&B classic, but then Bella pulled out all the angst and sadness in Sia’s song, even more than the original, and had us feeling it in a different way. For us, it would go to Katherine Ann for the consistency throughout, and just how exciting it was to watch unfold.
(“Inseparable,” Natalie Cole) Every choice Jershika made was pure magic. She had runs so intentional, so mesmerizing, it was exciting just listening to where she might take each note. Her voice is so rich, so full and so classically soul and R&B blended together, she made “Inseparable” absolutely effortless, wailing in ways Natalie didn’t even do on her own song. This was a masterful performance -- and she made it look so easy!
(“Tennessee Whiskey,” Chris Stapleton) How do you follow one of the best performances of the entire season. By matching it with one of the best performances of the season and perhaps the series. What a mind-blowingly authentic vocal performance filled with such richness, passion and power. Paris poured even more soul onto this track, perhaps, than Chris and Chris’ version leaves us shattered every time. This was unbelievably beautiful and we are broken.
Ed declared that if he had a Steal, this would be where to use it and he was absolutely right. He also said Jershika was the best vocal he’d heard -- and that was before he heard Paris. Are these the top two singers in the whole competition? They could well be because this was one incredible performance after the other. This could be the finale -- and in fact, both of these singers could very well get there because there’s no way one leaves after that. For sheer connection, we’d give the win to Paris and then demand someone pick up Jershika!
This season, one more contestant will come back to join in the live rounds, and they’ll be decided by a Twitter vote. These are contestants who were knocked out either in the Battle Rounds, or in the Knockout Rounds.
Ariana and Kelly both pulled artists from the Battles, giving a second shot to Vaughn Mugol and Aaron Hines, respectively. Meanwhile, Blake and John chose Hailey Green and Samara Brown, who both fell just short in the Knockouts (Samara in tonight’s show).
We’re happy to see Aaron get a second chance, because we thought he’d won his Battle against Gymani because his performance felt more authentic to us. The same goes for Vaughn, who we felt really stood out against Katherine Ann Mohler. The ladies definitely made solid choices.
Hailey is another case where we thought she actually won the round she was eliminated, going up against Libianca. She took a song we didn’t think you could showcase yourself on (Blake’s on “God’s Country”) and did just that, with a beautifully anthemic interpretation.
As for Samara, we gave our thoughts on her above. She’s a very exciting vocalist, but this wasn’t her strongest performance. We’d be torn between her and Sabrina Dias for who’d most deserve a second chance. Sabrina is the more interesting artist, but Samara does have an impressive voice and a tone of power in her tiny frame.
Ultimately, though, we’d probably be more excited to see Hailey come back just because she is such an exciting and authentic country music vocalist, and we don’t really have anyone doing that right now. If not her, we’d settle for Vaughn as he had a very cool take on a challenging Nelly part -- but we’re still feeling confident it’s going to be Hailey.