In the Knockout rounds of “The Voice,” coach Alicia Keys pitted four pairs of her artists against each other. She had to choose one singer in each duet to take on to the live shows that start on April 17. And Keys also stole one of the rejects of the other three coaches.
Keys lost her only season of “The Voice.” Which of her artists to survive the knockouts do you think could win her the competition this season? Below, a description of what each of these five did to get her attention. Be sure to cast your vote in our poll and then sound off in the comments section.
Blind Audition: “Tracks of My Tears” (March 14)
When Blue sang, Keys was the only coach still in need of an artist. The Knoxville native, 26, sang the blues with his rendition of “Tracks of My Tears,” the 1965 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Even though no other coach was contending for this talent, he is a good fit with Keys.
Battle Round: “Adorn” vs. RJ Collins (March 21)
Singer/songwriter Miguel had a big hit in 2012 with this chart-topping soul song. Blue dominated the duet while Collins struggled to connect with the lyrics. Gwen Stefani left no doubt which artist she preferred, gushing to Blue, “I don’t even know if I was listening to your voice, because I was so mesmerized by your body.” Not surprisingly, Keys picked him. And with no other coach wanting to steal Collins, he left the competition.
Knockout Round: vs. Quizz Swanigan (April 3)
Blue went with “Superstition,” a 1973 No. 1 for singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder. It worked well for him, especially after Keys counseled him to concentrate on conveying the lyrics rather than showboating. Thirteen-year-old Swanigan opted for “Chains” by Nick Jonas, a one-time member of a boy band who released this track when he went solo in 2014. After Keys finally chose to go with Blue, Stefani stole Swanigan as she was impressed when he had combined song and dance so effortlessly.
Blind Audition: “Don’t Let Me Down” (March 13)
This 31-year-old from Greensboro, NC is classically trained and knows her way around a song. She rocked the house with her performance of “Don’t Let Me Down,” the 2016 hit for The Chainsmokers. While Levine took a pass, Ferguson had Keys, Shelton and Stefani fighting for her affections. Shelton tried to make his case that he would not try to countrify her but ,in the end, she went with her idol, Keys.
Battle Round: “Killing Me Softly with His Song” vs. Autumn Turner (March 27)
Roberta Flack had a huge hit in 1973 with this chart-topping soul song, which won both Record and Song of the Year at the Grammys. In 1997, the Fugees did a cover that won them a Grammy for Best R&B Duo/Group Performance. Ferguson masterfully blended the two versions and got the backing of Keys while Turner struggled to connect with the lyrics. However, Levine and Stefani saw potential in her and she chose to work with the former, becoming the first of his steals.
Knockout Round: vs. Jack Cassidy (April 10)
Cassidy was, as the song title says, “Unsteady,” on this 2015 hit for the rockers X Ambassadors. Ferguson delivered an emotional performance of the soul song “If I Were Your Woman,” which had been a big hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips back in 1970. With Keys choosing to take Ferguson to the live shows, Cassidy was done.
Ashley Levin (Steal from Blake Shelton)
Blind Audition: “Let Him Fly” (March 2)
This 23-year-old Miami native delivered a stellar blues-tinged rendition of Patti Griffin‘s 1996 track “Let Him Fly.” Keys, Blake Shelton and Stefani all turned after she was a good ways into the song and Shelton convinced her that he would be the best fit for her style.
Battle Round: “How Blue” vs. Casi Joy (March 20)
This pairing might have been the last of the night, but it was the first in which all three of the other coaches fought to get the loser for their team. Joy and Levin were both outstanding as they crooned Reba McEntire‘s 1984 No. 1 country hit. Before revealing his choice, Shelton acknowledged he had made a mistake with this match-up: “I told you girls from the second I heard you singing together, I wish I hadn’t.” After he opted to take Joy to the knockouts, the others touted for Levin, who went with Keys in the end.
Knockout Round: vs. Lilli Passero (April 3)
Levin tackled “Fancy,” a 1969 hit for Bobbie Gentry that Reba McEntire had made her own in 1991. She decided to add some soul to this country tune and the combo worked wonders. Passero took on “Tears Dry on Their Own,” a 2007 R&B hit for Amy Winehouse, and was a revelation. Keys struggled with her decision before choosing Levin. After Adam Levine and Shelton made their case to Passero, she opted to become part of Team Adam Levine.
Stephanie Rice (Steal from Gwen Stefani)
Blind Audition: “Piece by Piece” (February 27)
It takes an impressive singer to cover Kelly Clarkson convincingly and this 27-year-old from Texarkana, TX did so with a rock-tinged pop vocal. What she lacks in range was more than made up by her emotion. Her performance convinced Shelton and Stefani to turn their chairs, resulting in the first head to head battle between the lovebirds. In the end, Rice chose Stefani as her coach.
Battle Round: “The First Cut Is the Deepest” vs. Caroline Sky (March 27)
Cat Stevens wrote this song in 1967 and, after P. P. Arnold had a hit with it, he included it on his own album that year. Keith Hampshire (1973), Rod Stewart (1977) and Sheryl Crow (2003) all enjoyed success with their versions of this melancholy tune. Rice was a revelation as she brought her own compelling backstory to the stage. While Stefani chose her, Shelton was impressed with Sky who, despite only being 16, also connected to the track. “Your voice is delicate and beautiful, and it kind of shreds at the same time,” he observed before using his second and final steal.
Knockout Round: vs. Troy Ramey (April 10)
As this was the last knockout of the series, we knew that Keys would steal one of these artists. Rice delivered a low-key version of “Safe and Sound,” a collaboration between Taylor Swift and country duo The Civil Wars that been featured in the 2012 movie “The Hunger Games.” Surprisingly, Ramey took on Sia‘s 2014 Top 10 hit “Chandelier” and made this vocal showcase his own. After he won Stefani over with his rendition, Rice ended up on Team Alicia Keys.
Blind Audition: “Runaway Baby” (February 27)
Despite only being 16, this California girl has been singing for years. Her version of the 2010 Bruno Mars hit “Runaway Girl” had all four judges hitting their buttons. They were surprised to discover that this big voice was coming out of such a little girl. After each made an impassioned plea for her vote, she chose to work with her idol, Keys.
Battle Round: “Tightrope” vs. Missy Robertson (March 2o)
As with Shelton’s first battle, this one pitted a woman against a teenager. However, while Brown struggled with her song, Villaranda soared when singing Janelle Monae‘s 2010 soul track, which was featured on the third season finale of “90210.” By comparison, Robertson was subdued and did not inspire any of the other three coaches to want her for their teams.
Knockout Round: vs. Dawson Coyle (April 4)
Coyle went with “Demons,” a 2013 hit for the rock band Imagine Dragons. It worked well for him, especially after Keys counseled him to concentrate on conveying the lyrics. Villaranda opted for a pop version of “Two Black Cadillacs” a 2012 country No. 1 for Carrie Underwood, the 2005 winner of “American Idol.” After Keys finally chose to go with Villaranda, Coyle was hoping for a steal from Shelton but it was not to be.