The Knockouts kicked off on season 15 of The Voice lastnight, with coaches Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson , Blake Shelton and Adam Levine presenting their artistes who made it through the grueling Battle Round. The 32 artistes remaining got to choose their own songs to sing against their matchup, and the winner will advance to the Live Playoffs. Coaches only have one steal for this round, but they also have the chance to save one artist this round if the matchup is particularly close. This season’s key advisor was Mariah Carey , who helped prepare the artistes to do their best.
The first artists up were Keith Paluso and Tyke James of Team Adam. Paluso chose to sing “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne . Carey encouraged him to soften the beginning, and Paluso eventually found the right tone for the gentle, emotional song. His phrasing and breath control were strong, yielding a soulful performance. He also landed the high note.
James sang “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash , and despite the common song choice, he found ways to make it his own. He connected with the lyrics and let his personality come through, and Clarkson called it a “fearless” performance. Ultimately, it was up to Levine, and he chose Tyke but tried to save Paluso, but Clarkson also swooped in for the steal. Paluso chose Team Kelly.
Team Kelly’s Cody Ray Raymond had to depart the show for personal reasons, so the next Knockout matchup involved three artists. Kymberli Joye, Zaxai and Natasia Greycloud all faced off in a battle of the divas.
Joye sang “The Middle” by Maren Morris and Zedd , and her gospel background came through, leading to strong ad libs and runs. She showcased impressive range and made the song her own.
Nastasia Greycloud followed with her performance of “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. The country singer showcased her range and strong creative sensibilities, making it clear that pop-country is the right lane for her. It already seemed like a close Knockout.
And then Zaxai stepped up with his performance of “Crusin” by Smokey Robinson. The song choice suited him well, and Carey worked with him on his falsetto. He brought charisma and strong vocals to his performance, leaving Clarkson with a very difficult decision to make. She went with Joye and Zaxai, leaving Greycloud on the chopping block. But Shelton unsurprisingly stole the country singer.
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