‘The Voice’ Contestants Amp Up Competition in Knockout Rounds

After some stressful blind auditions and then battle rounds, we’ve finally made it to the highly competitive knockout rounds on NBC’s The Voice, and it just isn’t getting any easier for coaches or competitors.

Before the contestants started the brutal competition, coaches Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton explained to newbie coach Jennifer Hudson that they each got one steal and one save, the winners from knockouts would go on to the live rounds. But the catch is that even if you save a performer, they don’t have to pick you.

International pop superstar Mariah Carey lent her talent and ear to all of the coaches and their teams as the key adviser, but she was also utterly charming, doling out hugs and praise like a kindergarten teacher on tie-your-own-shoes day.

The competition began with Team Adam pitting park ranger Keith Paluso singing Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing” against surfer Tyke James who put his own spin on Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

After delivering equally great but uniquely different performances, the coaches weighed in and were torn, advising Adam to pick both. In the end, though, Adam begrudgingly declared Tyke the winner, however, as soon as host Carson Daly declared that Keith was available to steal or save, both Adam and Kelly hit their red button. And Keith, who had started on Blake’s team, then was stolen by Adam in the battles, ultimately chose Kelly. “I”m really glad I got to steal Keith,” Kelly said. “I’ve been wanting him since the blinds secretly. I think he’s a storyteller. If he breaks down that wall a little bit more, he’s going to be unstoppable because people are captivated by that kind of vulnerability.”

Unfortunately, Team Kelly lost a contestant unexpectedly when Cody Ray had to step away from the competition for a personal reason. In a tweet, he wrote, “To all my supporters and new fans, thank you all for the love with my journey so far, but due to personal matters, I’ve had to bring my Voice chapter to an end. I’m okay, my family’s okay and stay tuned for new music coming. Sending love back.”

This also meant that Kelly had to put three of her team members against each other. So, it was Kymberli Joy vs. Zaxai vs. Natasia Greycloud with two of the singers continuing in the competition and one being knocked out.

Natasia, who lives in Nashville and is active in the live music scene there, chose “Tennessee Whiskey,” made famous by Chris Stapleton while gospel singer Kymberli, who also provides background vocals for Childish Gambino, picked Maren Morris and Zedd’s “The Middle.” Haitian-born Zaxai opted for the groovy, Motown smash “Cruisin’” by Smokey Robinson.

After the last note was sung, it was clear that Kelly had her decision cut out for her and her fellow coaches were no help. Blake even hinted that he couldn’t help her out because he had his steal already planned.

However, after Kelly announced that the winners were Kymberli and Zaxai, the good-natured Oklahoman slammed his red button for Natasia saying, “OK, I lied.” “Going into the live playoffs, I need some females on my team, so I’m in shock I was able to get Natasia,” he said. “She’s definitely one of the strongest vocalists in the competition.”

Jennifer’s team was up next with MaKenzie Thomas with her unique take on the BeeGees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” while her teammate, Mike Parker, nailed The Script’s “Breakeven.”

Now, it bears mentioning that during their rehearsals, MaKenzie brought Mariah to tears with her ethereal version of the disco classic. Then, during the actual competition, Kelly revealed, “I legit got a leg cramp…that one riff that went to the Lord, said hello, came back down, gave me a leg cramp.”

It was hard to beat that kind of endorsement, and as torn as the coaches were, J-Hud pushed MaKenzie through the knock-outs while Mike was sent home. Backstage the winner remarked, “It’s crazy to think that I didn’t turn a chair last season and now I’m going to the live playoffs.”

Team Adam was back up for another turn, and it was obvious from the start that this pairing was going to be difficult for the Maroon 5 frontman. Radha, a vocal powerhouse, and Reagan Strange, a true stylist, would be facing off in the knockout rounds—Radha with the Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There,” which Mariah also covered, and Reagan with Calum Scott’s “Dancing On My Own.”

This time, the tears weren’t Mariah’s, they were Adam’s. “This is a bittersweet pairing for me,” he told Mariah, “because they’re both so special.”

After two remarkable performances, though, Adam did have to choose just one contestant and he said, “I’m going to go with the person who just kind of dazzled me in a way that is hard to explain.” And with that, he chose Reagan.

Hold up, though! He didn’t waste too much time before he saved Radha, too. “Adam used his only save on me,” she said backstage. “I’m so thankful. I knew from the beginning that Adam believed in me.”

Finally, Nigeria born Funsho and electro-pop singer Katrina Cain were at bat for Team Blake, but before the talented pair met with Mariah, the pop diva was having a little fun at Blake’s expense. “Apparently, Adam is the reigning king of this show,” she told the lanky cowboy. “But I’ve won the show twice as many times as Adam,” he said.

Obviously, she was pulling his long legs and Blake even told her, “I always knew that you and me would be friends.”

While that remains to be seen, what we did learn is that Funsho was performing The Weeknd’s “Earned It” while Katrina selected “I Need You” by The Chainsmokers (featuring Daya).

Both artists delivered solid performances of their respective songs, but the coaches leaned towards Funsho and Blake remarked that he thought Katrina may have suffered from her song selection. Unfortunately, Katrina did not move on in the competition.

The knockouts ended on a super exciting note when Jennifer pitted rangy Patrique Fortson against soulful SandyRedd.

Before Mariah could meet the contestants, though, Jennifer told her, “I think you know by now, I gotta singing team.” “I would expect nothing less. You’re you,” Mariah replied.

It was fiercely close with Patrique singing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and SandyRedd singing Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.” Even Mariah admitted to being “blown away” by both of the singers. And the coaches were no help in making the decision either, however, Adam knew how it would pan out. Sounding more like an auctioneer than a coach, he said, “I’m going to break it down for you. I’ve been doing this show for 15 seasons. Here’s the deal—SandyRedd has been impressing us from the start. She was a four-chair turn, we all wanted you, but she went with Team Kelly. Patrique, you were only me and Jennifer, nobody else turned for you. At the end of the day, what’s going to happen right here is because Patrique was a revelation here, she’s probably going to pick Patrique.” “SOLD,” exclaimed Kelly.

He was partially right. Jennifer did choose Patrique as the winner, but she also opted to save SandyRedd.

In addition to the televised competition, Ele Ivory and Lynnea Moorer were battling it out on The Comeback Stage with Kelsea Ballerini. Ballerini ended up selecting Lynnea to advance in the competition.

To tally things up, both Kelly and Blake have saves left, and both Adam and Jennifer have steals left so next week’s continuation of the knockouts will be very exciting!