Gwen Stefani lost her two previous seasons of “The Voice.” Which of her two remaining artists — Brennley Brown and Hunter Plake — do you think could win her the competition this season? Below, a description of what each of them has sung so far this season. Be sure to cast your vote in our poll and then sound off in the comments section.
Brennley Brown (Steal from Blake Shelton)
Top 11: “River” (May 1)
Brown tackled “River,” Joni Mitchell‘s 1971 signature song. This 15-year-old had great success last week with another 1970s tune, “Long, Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt and could well find herself in the top 10 on iTunes again. She looked and sounded like a winner and Stefani praised her. “Your voice is so beautiful, you are so beautiful. I don’t know what else to say.”
Top 12: “Long, Long Time” (April 24)
Brown nailed “Long, Long Time,” Linda Ronstadt‘s 1970 breakout hit that earned her the first of an eventual 28 Grammy nominations. At the end of the song, guest coach Shania Twain was on her feet and declared, “This really is as good as it gets, no matter what age you are.” Agreed Stefani, “That was perfect. The opening was unbelievable.”
Live Playoff 2: “Fly” (April 18)
Brown picked the perfect song, “Fly,” a 2015 hit for country duo Maddie & Tae. Stefani was effusive in her praise, “You have so much style, so much personality, and I know everyone’s going to vote for you.” And the public did indeed, putting her through to the top 12.
Knockout Round: vs. Aaliyah Rose (April 4)
Stefani pitted her two 14-year-old girl singers against each other. Brown opted for the 2007 Patti Griffin folk tune “Up to the Mountain,” which was inspired by the final speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. before he was assassinated in 1968. The original “American Idol” champ Kelly Clarkson had covered this to much acclaim on a 2007 charity episode of that talent competition. Brown did herself proud, structuring the tune so that it built to an emotional climax. As Rose got her start as a YouTube star with her covers of Meghan Trainor tunes it made sense for this teen singing sensation to pick Trainor’s 2015 top 10 hit “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” as her knockout song. After Stefani went with Brown, her fellow Shelton used his one steal on Rose.
Battle Round: “Better Man” vs. Lauren Duski (March 20)
Duski did an outstanding job conveying the emotional intricacies of this 2016 Little Big Town tune about a break-up while 15-year-old Brown, whose never had a boyfriend, struggled to connect to the lyrics written by Taylor Swift. After Shelton sided with Duski, Adam Levine and Stefani tried to rescue Brown. Stefani won her over in the end by telling her, “There something about your innocence that I would want to work with.”
Blind Audition – “Stupid Boy” (February 27)
Although only 14, this Apple Valley, CA native eventually impressed Alicia Keys and Shelton with her interpretation of Keith Urban‘s 2006 Grammy-winning “Stupid Boy.” She started off shaky but finished strong and chose to go with Shelton.
Top 11: All I Want” (May 1)
Plake picked “All I Want,” a little-known 2013 track by the Irish alt rockers Kodaline. He delivered a powerful performance, full of passion and emotion. Levine loved it and told him “you are very subtle, simple.” And his coach enthused, “This is talent. A real artist that writes music, that plays instruments.”
Top 12: “Somebody That I Used to Know” (April 24)
Plake rocked the house with his version of the 2012 Grammy-winning Gotye/Kimbra collaboration “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This change-of-pace performance won over Twain who noted, “I love the way you have this beautiful, mild, calm personality, but when you dig into the song, it turns into, like, a full blown-out concert just now.” Concurred Stefani, “We know you as this emotional singer; to be able to actually have the energy of that song, the way you produced that.”
Live Playoff 2: “Elastic Heart” (April 18)
Saving the best for last, Stefani did well by Plake by having him sing the plaintive”Elastic Heart,” which had been a big hit worldwide for Sia in 2015. The singer and song were perfectly matched and Stefani gushed, “You are the star on my team.” And she was soon proven right as he won the public vote.
Knockout Round: vs. Johnny Gates (April 3)
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.
Battle Round: “Dancing on My Own” vs. Jack Cassidy (March 27)
This pairing might have been the last of the night, but it was the first in which two of the three other coaches fought to get the loser for their team. Inexplicably, Keys chose to showcase her two remaining male artists with this 2010 hit tune by Swedish dance diva Robyn. After being denied three full performances in a row, we saw Cassidy and Plake give it their all. Keys opted to keep Cassidy, who sounded stronger in the choruses, while Stefani opted to use her second and final steal on Plake.
Blind Audition: “Carry One” (March 13)
The pop band fun released “Carry On” five years ago and this 20-year-old from Baton Rouge, LA managed to make his one voice sound just as strong on this powerful tune about perseverance. Keys and Stefani both wanted to mentor him but he went with Keys as he likes that she writes the songs she sings.