Coaches Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton have chosen their final teams for "The Voice" live shows starting next Monday. Early in the season, things weren’t looking good for Stefani. I even mentioned in a previous article that her only hope was to luck out with some steals. Not only was she able to secure some quality steals (both from Team Adam), but her own contestants have stepped up their games as well. Stefani is no longer just along for the ride but has a legitimate shot at becoming the first female coach to win it all.
Will she be able to accomplish this minor miracle for the ninth season? Here are my rankings for her five artists with a look at who has the best shot of going all the way.
5. Regina Love
At 51 years old, this R&B singer from Atlanta is the oldest contestant remaining. With a powerful vocal of “Rock Steady,” Love captured the attention of coaches Adam and Blake in the blind auditions. She decided to join Team Adam, and in what turned out to be one of the best battles of the season, Love lost out to fan favorite Jordan Smith. Her inspiring performance garnered her a coveted steal and a second chance as part of Team Gwen. In another emotional knockout performance of “Midnight Train To Georgia,” Gwen couldn’t look past the fact that Love moved an entire audience with her soulful voice and chose her to move on to the live playoffs over Riley Biederer. Although Love arguably has the most soulful and powerful voice this season, her old-fashioned style and song choices don’t typically fare well with the home audience.
4. Viktor Kiraly
Kiraly is a 31-year-old New Yorker who moved to Hungary as a child. He first gained notice with an impressive blind audition of “What’s Going On” that earned him a four-chair turn. After choosing to go with Team Adam, Kiraly took out Cassandra Robertson in the battles but became yet another casualty of Jordan Smith in the knockout round. He was promptly picked up by Stefani, but it is still a mystery to me how Kiraly will fare in the competition. It will all come down to his live performance and if he is able to connect with the audience. At this point I don’t see him advancing into the later rounds, but he is definitely one to keep an eye on because he is a very good singer with a certain star quality about him.
3. Korin Bukowski
The 20-year old Miami native was only able to get the attention of Stefani during her blind audition of “Cecilia and the Satellite.” Since then her coach has seemingly embraced Bukowski and appears to be more impressed with her each week. She sailed through the battles and knockouts by taking out Chase Kerby and Summer Schappell with understated vocals offering depth and emotion. She is unique to the competition and is in her own lane, which I think works to her favor. With the right song, she could deliver some standout moments, and I do think she has what it takes to advance past next week.
2. Jeffery Austin
I was shocked when this 24-year-old from Chicago only got one chair to turn around during his powerful performance of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” during the blind auditions. I knew he would be in the competition for a while, and this was proven to be true when Gwen chose him to advance over Noah Jackson in the battles and then Kota Wade in the knockouts. Austin has a powerful, soulful voice that can deliver the big ballads that garner the big votes. His knockout performance of “Turning Tables” was the only song still on the iTunes singles chart well after the episode aired, proving America is already buying what he is selling. His test will be proving he is more than a one-trick pony. If he can show he is more than just a balladeer, he may have a shot of getting to the finale.
1. Braiden Sunshine
As of the day I publish this article, Gold Derby users are predicting Sunshine is the most likely to go home from Team Gwen with 2/1 odds. Let me tell you why you are all wrong about this 15-year old from Connecticut. During the blind auditions, his vocal of “The Mountains Win Again” was only able to garner chair turns from Gwen and Pharrell, but he had an instant connection with her during his performance. Since then he has only gotten more impressive in each round – taking out Lyndsey Elm fairly easily in the battles and then blowing Stefani away in the knockouts with “Feeling Good.” It left his coach’s jaw on the floor and opponent Ellie Lawrence packing her bags. Sunshine has charisma, a great story, growth as a performer, and the young girls are going to love him (no contestant will want to run into him in a Twitter-save situation). Not only that, but Stefani seems completely infatuated by him so if he has a slight misstep next week, I have no doubts she will come to his rescue and keep him in the running. Don’t underestimate this teen boy. Not only do I think he currently has the best chance of anyone on Team Gwen to win it all – I think he will prove to be one of the most popular contestants of the season.
We will be offering our analysis for Team Blake and Team Pharrell later this week. Click here to see our rankings for Team Adam. What are your thoughts about our rankings for Team Gwen? Who tops your own list? Comment below or sound off on "The Voice" every week in Gold Derby's reality TV forum.
Since the live shows start next Monday for "The Voice," our predictions center is now open. You can make weekly predictions about who will be eliminated each time. Also, you can go ahead and predict the overall winning artist and coach for this season. The top scorer for each week and for this ninth season will win $100 Amazon gift certificates. Just log in to your account (or create a free one) and start answering our weekly questions. The deadline for next week's event will be Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PT.
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Photo courtesy of NBC.