season 14 is bringing the Knockouts to a close. The final round before the cutthroat live shows doesn't have some of the best performances this season. There's few, if any, real standout performances, and the winner of each Knockout seems predetermined, even if it's not. However, The Voice
does spice things up by throwing out so many Steals and Saves.
Going into the final round of the Knockouts, Kelly Clarkson has a Steal and a Save. Meanwhile, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton both have their Steals intact. Of course, the coaches use all their advantages, which, besides giving host Carson Daly laryngitis from wailing, provides an explosive end to the Knockouts.
Britton Buchanan ("New York State of Mind") vs. Dallas Caroline ("Bless the Broken Road")
Poor Dallas. Dallas goes into this Knockout believing that because she's the only country artist on Alicia Keys' team, she has a real chance of making it to the live shows. It's not a terrible idea ... if Dallas wasn't matched up against Britton.
Britton has emerged as one of the early frontrunners for The Voice crown. This Knockout continues to show off Britton's vocal skills. The dichotomy between Britton's nervous personality off-stage and his confident on-stage persona is remarkable. Britton is a more likable Sawyer Fredericks. Meanwhile, Dallas is very shaky and uncertain.
Thankfully, because Alicia is such a great coach, the match doesn't feel quite like a slaughter. Dallas is on her way out from the jump, but Alicia does mentor Dallas all the way to the finish line. Alicia can get a little too pretentious and flowery sometimes, but she is the most nurturing and heartwarming coach. This is Alicia at her best.
Winner: Britton Buchanan
D.R. King ("(I Know) I'm Losing You") vs. Tish Haynes Keys ("Lady Marmalade")
I enjoy Tish and D.R., but it's the right move by Kelly to pair them together. It's so rare that a power ballad singer succeeds in the live shows, and the quickest way for a team to flame out is by stacking the deck with belters. (See, as an example, every season with Christina Aguilera.)
Speaking of Christina, Tish makes the wise decision to choose "Lady Marmalade" and crushes it. D.R.'s performance is fine. It shows off his vocal prowess nicely, but it isn't much fun to listen to as a performance. Tish, however, commands the stage.Weirdly, Kelly ends up appreciating D.R.'s "artistry" more.
Winner: D.R. King
Things aren't over just yet. Kelly uses the final Save of the season to try to salvage Tish, just as Adam pushes his Steal button. It would probably be best for Tish to go back to her original coach, Adam, but Tish goes with something new, making Adam blue. Kelly, though, might regret this one.
Save: Kelly saves Tish Haynes Keys!
Dylan Hartigan ("You are the Best Thing") vs. Wilkes ("The Climb")
There's a pair of confusing decisions for this Knockout. The first is Blake thinking that gyrating pretty boy Dylan Hartigan makes sense on the same stage with comatose hipster Wilkes. The second is Wilkes choosing Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" for his performance. In Wilkes' case, the surprise works. He does an incredible job, blowing Dylan out of the water.
Blake's choice doesn't work too bad for him either. Dylan is a lot better than he was in the Battle Rounds, singing-wise. He still has an annoying swagger, and he humps his way across the stage. Yet Dylan sounds good this time. Blake does appear to be sacrificing Wilkes for Dylan, but it was strange that Blake saved Dylan in the first place.
At the last possible second, Kelly pushes her Steal for Dylan. Kelly realizes, after the fact, that this is turning her team into a huge sausage fest. If it makes Kelly feel better, more men have won The Voice than women.
Steal: Kelly steals (back) Dylan Hartigan!
Gary Edwards ("Many Rivers to Cross") vs. Rayshun LaMarr ("Fallin'")
Adam starts this Knockout with one of the bluntest and brutally honest introductions from a coach. He explains that Gary and Rayshun have similar approaches and only one of them should make it on his team, though that comparison might be a little overly generous in Gary's favor. I watch The Voice as if it's literally my job, and I forgot that Gary was on the show (though that could just be because he was montaged in the Battle Rounds).
Gary's Knockout is passable but nothing too special. On the other hand, Rayshun just destroys. The big risk Rayshunn takes by choosing Alicia's first big single pays off in spades. The coaches and the audience go wild for Rayshun, as well they should.
Winner: Rayshun LaMarr
The Voice keeps the Steals coming, even when they don't make sense. Blake sweeps in and uses his one and only Steal to take Gary. Gary's a nice guy, so it's almost impossible to hold this against Blake, but it's definitely an "impulse Steal."
Steal: Blake steals Gary Edwards!
Alexa Cappelli ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road") vs. Jorge Eduardo ("Adorn")
Before Alexa and Jorge open their mouths to sing, the outcome of this Knockout would seem obvious. Alexa has gotten almost no screen time, and Kelly's has a huge and obvious crush on Jorge. Jorge has dominated Team Kelly.
This becomes really disappointing when Alex start singing. She has a lovely voice, but she got shafted by The Voice editors this season. Jorge does a nice job. But in her first real performance (since her brief audition), Alexa sparkles.
Alexa's lack of screen time might end up severely hurting her live show chances, but Kelly, for now, has faith.
Winner: Alexa Cappelli
Reid Umstattd ("Let Him Fly") vs. Jordyn Simone ("Tell Me You Love Me")
Is it a montage if only one artist sings? Whatever you want to call it, Carson fills us in that Adam advances Reid Umstattd to the next round. Carson/The Voice doesn't even bother to explain who Reid has defeated to advance. According to empirical evidence and official sources, though, it's Jordyn Simone, and she sings "Tell Me You Love Me."
This is a sad end to Jordyn's Voice story, which included a Battle so good that Adam had to steal her.
Winner: Reid Umstattd
Kelsea Johnson ("Rise Up") vs. Sharane Calister ("All I Could Do is Cry")
This being the last performance of the Knockouts and Adam having one Steal left, it's obvious that both Kelsea and Sharane are moving forward. It's just a matter of which "A" team they end up on when the dust settles. Thankfully, Sharane and Kelsea make the predictable outcome of their Knockout irrelevant by pulling out the stops for two show-stopping and emotional performances.
Both ladies connect to the heart of their songs. Keslea dedicates her performance to her departed grandfather, and Sharane uses the song as a catharsis for her own tumultuous life. (As a refresher, Sharane was separated by her twin due to the foster system.)
Both ladies do an excellent job. Kelsea does seem more polished on just a techincal level. However, Sharane is a diamond in the rough. She could easily become the dark horse of the competition come the live shows. Kelsea is already a contender.
Winner: Kelsea Johnson
Steal: Adam steals Sharane Calister!
What do you think of the final Knockouts? Who used their Steal and Save the best? Are you disappointed to see any of the artists leave the compeititon? Which team are you rooting for going into the live shows? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)