At the end of the April 17 live two-hour episode of “The Voice,” Alicia Keys saw two of her six artists — Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson — win the public vote to make it into the Top 12. She then chose Stephanie Rice from her four eliminated acts to also take on to the next round.
Keys lost her only season of “The Voice.” Which of her three remaining artists could win her the competition this season? Below, a description of what each of this trio 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.
Live Playoff 1: “Love on the Brain” (April 17)
Keys kicked off her sextet by having her strongest male artist sing a song that would have been a big ask for any of the women: Rihanna‘s top five 2016 soul hit “Love on the Brain.” That Blue was able to make this music his own is a testament to his talent. He handled the falsetto with ease and earned praise from Keys, “There is not a soul on this planet that can deny the gift that you are offering here,” before winning the public vote.
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.
Live Playoff 1: “Lean On” (April 17)
Ferguson took the 2015 dance hit “Lean On” by Major Lazer & DJ Snake and slowed it right down, turning it into a smooth jazz-themed number. Keys endorsed this risky move, “I love how you are breaking all the rules.” After her coach declared, “I love that you have no limits,” the public followed suit and voted to keep her on the show.
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.
Live Playoff 1:”Every Breath You Take” (April 17)
Rice took a risk by tackling “Every Breath You Take,” the signature song by The Police that had ruled the charts for eight weeks back in 1983. Choosing to stay seated at the piano throughout her performance, Rice delivered a raw version of this classic that won praise from Keys who described her as “a pure, beautiful artist.” After the public did not put her through to the next round, it was not a surprise when Keys did.