“The Voice” moved on to the first of three Knockout rounds on Monday (April 3). This is the final pre-taped stage of the competition that will cull the 32 remaining artists down to 20 for the live shows. The four coaches — Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani — no longer pick the songs that their artists perform in match-ups against each other. However, they do get to declare a winner of the sing-off and each can steal one of the rejects of the other three. In a break with tradition, the coaches had no advisers this season.
Below, take a read of our recap of each of the six knockouts and then weigh in with your choice as to the best of these match-ups by voting in our poll and sounding off in the comments section.
Alicia Keys: Chris Blue (“Superstition”) vs. Quizz Swanigan (“Chains”)
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.
Adam Levine: Hanna Eyre (“Bleeding Love”) vs. Autumn Turner (“Respect”)
Eyre liked the sound of “Bleeding Love,” which had been a huge hit worldwide in 2007 for Leona Lewis, who had won the U.K. version of “The X Factor” the year before. Levine counselled the 15-year-old to find the sweet spots in the song that could show off her voice. Turner, who Levine stole away from Keys in the Battle round, took on “Respect,” a 1965 hit for Otis Redding that Aretha Franklin made her own in 1967. Eyre was the winner, praised by all the coaches for her song choice, while Turner was faulted for trying to sing a song so associated with one artist.
Gwen Stefani: Johnny Gates (“Million Reasons”) vs. Hunter Plake (“I Want to Know What Love Is”)
Plake explained that his father had influenced him to sing the power ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is,” which had been a No. 1 for Foreigner back in 1984. Sitting at the keyboard, Plake personalized this song and delivered a winning performance. Surprisingly, Gates chose Lady Gaga‘s 2016 track “Million Reasons,” that had done just so-so on the charts. And he didn’t accompany himself on the guitar, which left him looking forlorn. While Keys praised him, she didn’t opt to use her steal when Stefani named Plake as the winner of this knockout.
Blake Shelton: Casi Joy (“My Church”) vs. Felicia Temple (“My Heart Will Go On”)
Joy connected with the crowd with her rendition of Maren Morris‘ Grammy-winning “My Church.” With the guidance of her coach, she gave the 2016 country tune an edge. Temple tried her best with “My Heart Will Go On,” the “Titanic” theme song that had been a worldwide hit for battle round mentor Celine Dion in 1997. Shelton had stolen Temple from Keys and she tried hard to show him and us that he had not made a mistake. Even though she made this iconic song her own, her new coach opted for Joy, who had been with his team from the blind auditions.
Adam Levine: Johnny Hayes (“Statesboro Blues”) vs. Josh West (“Carry On Wayward Son”)
Hayes had a good time with Blind Willie McTell‘s 1928 blues song “Statesboro Blues,” which had been a hit for The Allman Band in 1971. Levine had warned him to make sure that we could hear every word of the lyrics and he tried hard to deliver on his promise to do so. West went with “Carry On Wayward Son,” the 1977 hit for rock band Kansas. Under the guidance of his coach, West worked on structuring the tune so that it built to a climax and on the night, he wowed all the coaches with his powerhouse performance.
Alicia Keys: Ashley Levin (“Fancy) vs. Lilli Passero (“Tears Dry on Their Own”)
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 Levine and Shelton made their case to Passero, she opted to become part of Team Adam Levine.