The Knockout Round came to a close on The Voice tonight, with current coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine and Alicia Keys making the last of their tough decisions ahead of the Live Playoffs. They also joined forces with past Voice winners Chloe Kohanski, Cassadee Pope, Jordan Smith and Chris Blue, respectively. The 24 artists to advance after this round will compete in the Live Playoffs next week, singing for America’s vote for the first time this season. Levine and Shelton went into the evening with steals remaining, and Clarkson had both her save and her steal to use.
The night started with a battle from Team Alicia. Keys paired her youngest singers, Britton Buchanan and Dallas Caroline. Buchanan opted to sing “New York State Of Mind” by Billy Joel, and Keys suggested during rehearsal that he play piano during the performance but also take a chance to step away from it. Caroline, meanwhile, planned to sing “Bless The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, and Blue and Keys worked with her on making sure to overcome her nerves.
Britton was up first, and he definitely sounded best when at the piano, losing a bit of his comfort once he stepped away. But it was a solid performance throughout, and he showed a lot of potential for more growth.
Caroline was up next, and while she brings something different to Team Alicia as a country singer, it was a weak performance, affected by her nerves. She didn’t seem nearly as comfortable on stage as Britton, and Levine and Shelton both said he gave the stronger knockout performance. Keys indeed chose Britton as the winner, and Caroline went home.
Team Kelly was up next with a knockout showdown between powerhouse singers D.R. King and Tish Haynes Keys. King wasted no time showing off his range during rehearsals with his rendition of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by The Temptations, but Haynes Keys brought the heat, too, by taking on “Lady Marmalade,” a bold song choice. This definitely seemed like the kind of knockout pairing that was destined to end in a steal or save.
King got things started with a big performance that he nailed on every front. It was entertaining, but he also showed off all the layers of his instrument, proving that he was one of the best vocalists in the competition.
Haynes Keys also rose to the occasion, showing off her powerful voice on the hit without oversinging it. Her runs were incredible. And the judges were blown away by both artists, which put Clarkson in a comfortable position with making her choice. She chose King as the winner, but she then immediately hit her save button, as expected. But Levine wanted in on the action, hitting his steal button. Haynes Keys opted to stay with Team Kelly, which was the right move.
Next up was Team Blake, with knockout performances from Dylan Hartigan and Wilkes. Shelton said he was looking for who could deliver the most well-rounded performance. Hartigan opted to sing “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, and Kohanski coached him on finding dynamics. Wilkes decided to slow things down by singing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
Hartigan went first, bringing a lot of chemistry to his performance and implementing Kohanski’s feedback well. His technical skills were paired with excellent performance skills.
Wilkes definitely took the bigger risk with his song choice, and it paid off, helping him stand out and showing just how versatile of an artist and singer he is. He made the song his own, bringing something special to Team Blake. Shelton opted to keep Wilkes on his team, and Clarkson hit her steal button, keeping both guys in the competition.
The first Team Adam knockouts of the night came from Rayshun LaMarr and Gary Edwards. Edwards opted to sing “Many Rivers to Cross,” which Levine said was an ambitious song choice. LaMarr made an ambitious song choice, too, opting to sing his own rendition of Keys’ song “Fallin’.” Levine encouraged both artists to really let loose when singing.
Edwards gave a very strong performance, starting bold and staying bold throughout. He put a lot of power behind his vocals and also showcased impressive artistry. It was one of the standout performances of the night.
But LaMarr somehow managed to top it, delivering a brilliant take on Keys’ song with a bit of a rock twist. While Edwards gave a stellar performance, LaMarr turned in a showstopper, making it clear that he’s a frontrunner in the competition. It seemed likely that both artists would stay. Levine chose LaMarr as the winner and unfortunately didn’t have a save left to keep Edwards around. But Shelton was there to go in for the steal, ensuring that both artists would compete in the Live Playoffs next week.
Team Kelly was back up for vocal showdown between Alexa Cappelli and Jorge Eduardo. Cappelli was singing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and Clarkson praised her control in rehearsal. Eduardo chose to sing “Adorn” by Miguel.
Cappelli was up first, delivering a solid performance that centered the vocals. Her phrasing was on point, and she showcased that control that first struck Clarkson. Her lyrical interpretation helped make it seem like she was singing her own song.
Eduardo followed with the much stronger performance, seeming more confident on stage and paying attention not just to vocals but to stage presence, too. Keys noted that he was in his zone, but she called Cappelli the better singer. Clarkson surprised by choosing Cappelli as the winner, and Eduardo went home.
In a knockout that was not aired in full, Levine chose Reid Umstattd over Jordyn Simone.
In the final knockout matchup of the season, Team Alicia’s Kelsea Johnson went up against Sharane Calister. Johnson sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day, and Blue and Keys worked with her to figure out her phrasing. Calister chose to sing “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James.
Johnson went first, delivering a moving performance and hitting some serious notes. The dynamics were electric, and she built to a satisfying climax.
Calister brought a lot of the same strengths to the table, delivering an emotional performance and big notes. Keys was impressed with both of her singers, but she ultimately chose Johnson, noting that she’s mysterious. Levine used the final steal of the season to scoop up Calister for Team Adam.
Next week, The Voice goes live with the first playoff performances of the season and the first chance for viewers to vote on who moves forward. What did you think of tonight’s knockouts?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.