The knockout rounds concluded on Monday’s episode of “The Voice,” with Team Gwen Stefani swinging for the fences to deliver the best performances of the night. The pop icon hopes her third season will be the charm as she takes on five-time champ Blake Shelton, three-time winner Adam Levine, and sophomore coach Alicia Keys to become the Season 12 champion. Seven knockouts took place Monday night with Keys using her final steal to save the losing artist in the night’s best match-up. Be sure to read our analysis of the other knockout rounds from last Monday and last Tuesday.
Next week the live playoffs will air Monday and Tuesday with three artists on each team advancing to the top 12. Two artists on each team will move forward by claiming the most votes from viewers at home. Then each coach will have a chance to save one of their remaining contestants to advance as well.
Here are my rankings for the seven knockout showdowns on Monday’s show. Sound off in the comments and let us know if you think one of these artists has what it takes to win.
1. Stephanie Rice (“Safe and Sound”) vs. Troy Ramey (“Chandelier”) – Team Gwen
Two rock singers took on hits from pop stars for what proved to be the most competitive knockout of the night. Stephanie never shies away from pouring her heart into a performance, and her choice of this emotional Taylor Swift/Civil Wars track was brilliant. Her ability to tell a story on stage is unique this season and I always look forward to her stepping on stage. Troy’s choice to cover Sia’s smash hit was brave, but in some ways proved he lacks the vocal range it could take to win. Nonetheless, he’s a safe artist that sings in a style that typically wins over audience. Gwen chose Troy as the winner, which I thought was a mistake. But Stephanie will continue on Team Alicia after winning the last steal of the season.
2. Brandon Royal (“Redemption Song”) vs. JChosen (“Without You”) – Team Gwen
Gwen had two dynamic R&B singers in this knockout filled with passionate and soulful vocals. Brandon pulled from his Caribbean roots with a classic Bob Marley song. Different from his prior performances, this one was restrained yet beautifully delivered. JChosen went a more upbeat route with a David Guetta/Usher dance track. He is so naturally likable, it’s impossible not to be drawn into his performances and silky smooth voice. Gwen correctly chose JChosen as the winner, but it was sad to see Brandon’s run come to an end.
3. Andrea Thomas (“Cry”) vs. Lauren Duski (“When You Say Nothing At All”) – Team Blake
Blake pitted these two against each other because they are both pop-leaning country singers. While they may have looked similar on paper, they couldn’t have taken more different approaches in this knockout. Andrea powered her way through a Faith Hill hit, showing off every note her vocal range possesses. Lauren followed with a much more reserved, but emotional rendition of an Alison Krauss classic. In the end, less proved to be more as Blake chose Lauren as the winner, and ended Andrea’s season.
4. Davina Leone (“Toxic”) vs. Jesse Larson (“The Letter”) – Team Adam
For no real rhyme or reason, Adam paired up a young pop singer with a seasoned blues artist. Davina restructured a Britney Spears dance track into a dark, sultry ballad. Although the result was interesting, there wasn’t anything particularly gripping about the performance. Jesse took on a Joe Cocker classic, unleashing a gritty, inspired vocal while shredding it on an electric guitar. It was a somewhat uneven matchup with Jesse proving he could be a dark horse to win Adam his fourth title. Adam indeed chose Jesse as the winner, sending Davina home.
5. Jack Cassidy (“Unsteady”) vs. Vanessa Ferguson (“If I Was Your Woman”) – Team Alicia
Alicia felt both of these artists had “something to unleash” and wanted to see which one would rise to the occasion. Jack performed a contemporary rock ballad that felt unnatural. I’m not convinced this is the type of record he would make on his own, and he struggled to stay on key. Vanessa put pressure on herself by singing a Gladys Knight classic that Alicia herself covered on her sophomore album, “The Diary of Alicia Keys.” She won over all the coaches, with Blake stating “she could win the whole thing” if she sang that way at the finale. Vanessa was chosen to advance on Team Alicia and Jack was eliminated.
6. Aliyah Moulden (“Before He Cheats”) vs. Caroline Sky (“At Last”) – Team Blake
Blake paired up these two young pop stars that would likely compete for the same fan base in the live playoffs. Aliyah has an energetic, dynamic stage presence and had no fear in taking on a Carrie Underwood hit to show Blake she is a diverse artist. Although she pulled it off, I hope she doesn’t feel pressure to conform to country music simply because of the team she is on. Caroline went a different direction by taking on an iconic Etta James masterpiece. The soft-voiced teenager was all over the place and simply lacks the chops to pull this song off convincingly. Blake chose to move forward with Aliyah and Caroline was eliminated from the competition.
7. Malik Davage vs. Mark Isaiah (“Love Yourself”) – Team Adam
Adam paired up these young vocalists, but only a snippet of Mark’s performance was shown. The teen heartthrob of Season 12 already has coaches comparing him to Justin Bieber and I fully expect young female fans to come out in droves to vote for him. Although he still has to prove he has the pipes to become a champion, he clearly has star appeal. Unfortunately Malik was not only sent home, his swan song was not even televised.