Monday’s two-hour episode of “The Voice” episode was crammed with seven knockout match-ups. This was the final pre-taped stage of the competition that culled the 32 remaining artists down to 20 for the live shows. In these rounds, 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. With Levine, Shelton and Stefani used their steals last week, Keys was the sole coach with one in her pocket. In a break with tradition, the coaches had no advisers this season.
Below, take a read of our recap of each of the seven knockouts, including that one steal by Keys, 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.
Blake Shelton: Lauren Duski (“When You Say Nothing At All”) vs. Andrea Thomas (“Cry”)
Duski went with “When You Say Nothing At All,” a 1995 country hit for Alison Krauss that Irish singer Ronan Keating turned into a pop hit in 1999 when it was featured in the film “Notting Hill.” It worked well for her, especially after Shelton counseled her to concentrate on conveying the lyrics. Thomas opted for a pop version of “Cry” a 2002 country No. 1 for Faith Hill. After Shelton finally chose to go with Duski, Thomas was hoping for a steal from Keys but it was not to be.
Alicia Keys: Jack Cassidy (“Unsteady”) vs. Vanessa Ferguson (“If I Were Your Woman”)
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.
Adam Levine: Jesse Larson (“The Letter”) vs. Davina Leone (“Toxic”)
Larson rocked the house with “The Letter,” a 1967 No. 1 for The Box Tops that Joe Cocker covered in 1970. His singing was matched by his guitar playing. As Leone got her start as a YouTube star with her covers of Britney Spears tunes it made sense for this teen singing sensation to pick Spears’ 2004 top 10 hit “Toxic” as her knockout song. After Levine went Larson, she needed Keys to steal her but that didn’t happen.
Gwen Stefani: JChosen (“Without You”) vs. Brandon Royal (“Redemption Song”)
JChosen liked the sound of “Without You,” which had been a huge hit worldwide in 2011 for French DJ David Guetta and Usher. Stefani counselled her artist to find the sweet spots in the song that could show off his voice and he aced this song that he dedicated to his ailing mother. Royal, who hails from the Virgin Islands, tried his luck with this 1980 classic by Bob Marley and the Wailers. JChosen was the winner, praised by all the coaches for his song choice, while Royal was faulted for trying to sing a song so associated with one artist.
Blake Shelton: Aliyah Moulden (“Before He Cheats”) vs. Caroline Sky (“At Last”)
Moulden connected with the crowd with her rendition of Carrie Underwood‘s Grammy-winning”Before He Cheats.” With the guidance of her coach, she gave this 2005 country tune an edge. Sky tried her best with “At Last,” the 1941 big band tune that Etta James made her own in 1960. Even though did a decent job, her coach opted for Moulden, who had been with his team from the blind auditions.
Adam Levine: Malik Davage (“Rock with You”) vs. Mark Isaiah (“Love Yourself”)
Davage had a good time with “Rock With You,” which had been a hit for his idol, Michael Jackson, back in 1979. 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. Isaiah went with “Love Yourself,” a 2015 No. 1 for Justin Bieber. Under the guidance of his coach, Isaiah 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.
Gwen Stefani: Stephanie Rice (“Safe & Sound”) vs. Troy Ramey (“Chandelier”)
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.