‘The Voice’: Billy Gilman & Ali Caldwell Stand Out As The Best Of The Knockout Round
“Before they go live, they must survive,” said Carson Daly, kicking off The Voice Knockout Round with the best version of “if it doesn’t, you must acquit” he could come up with on short notice. The survival is real, though, because life gets really good for the contestants in the Live Round – or at least they get solid wardrobe upgrades, makeup and stage design.
Thirty-two Battle Round “survivors” competed for the 20 Live Round slots, broken down into 16 Knockout winners and four steals. Below is a look at who made it, how they did it and how their chances are looking next round.
Kylie Rothfield defeats Whitney and Shannon: The Swon Brothers remain alone in The Voice Duo Hall of Fame, as Whitney and Shannon can’t make it past Kylie. The latter sings Big Mama Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog” and shows such artistry in her bluesy sound. It’s her breakout moment. Top Praise: “You keep becoming who I never expected you to be, and still there’s so much more in you,” says Alicia. Live Round Prospects: Kylie came alive in the Knockout Round, largely because of her perfectly aggressive song choice. Keep doing you, Kylie, to advance in the lives.
Wé McDonald defeats Courtnie Ramirez: Wait, wait, wait — that was a high school student singing Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama?” Wé brings her mind-blowing voice, maturity and stage presence to defeat former Team Miley member Courtnie. Top Praise: “Your talent – oh my gosh – it’s ridiculous. Give me some of that!” says Blake. Live Round Prospects: See you in the Top 10, Wé!
Christian Cuevas defeats Belle Jewel: Christian is a Season 11 standout, and his velvety voice comes through in a performance of “Superstar” by The Carpenters. His talent is undeniable, and his song choice was on point. Top Praise: “I’m obsessed with your voice,” Adam tells Christian. The Steal! In her first televised performance, Belle Jewel wins Miley’s heart singing Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Cyrus tells her, “I love everything about you because to know who you are is really important – especially in the music industry – so you never get lost.” Live Round Prospects: Christian has Top 10 written all over him, and Belle could be a dark horse with her unique voice.Sa’Rayah defeats Michael Sanchez: Alicia has quite the competition between belter Sa’Rayah and piano playing soul singer Michael. Ultimately, Sa’Rayah gets the W with her rousing performance of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” Top Praise: “Sa’Rayah, you are a ray of light,” says Alicia, adding, “It was out of this world.” Live Round Prospects: Sa’Rayah has hit her stride! Team Alicia looks strong going into the lives.
Simone Gundy defeats Dave Moisan: Simone suffered the fate of an un-televised Battle Round, but bounces back with “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips. She’s got a stage presence with which former Team Alicia contestant Dave can’t even begin to compete. Top Praise: “The fighter that you’ve been your whole life up to this point, it shines through,” says Miley. Live Round Prospects: Simone has undeniable pipes, but also had an easy path through Dave’s lackluster Sam Smith cover. She’s got some tough competition in the next round.
Riley Elmore defeats Jason Warrior: Riley is just living his best life in his comfort zone. The classic crooner sings Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet,” and somehow his stiff performance earns him a spot in the next round over Jason. Top Praise: “When I hear you sing, it always shocks me. It always takes me back to a different time,” says Adam. The Steal! Jason’s rendition of Luke James’ “I Want You” is pitchy at moments, but Blake is impressed by his incredible range. “When you perform, it’s literally like you’re just lost in the moment, and I respect it so much. Your singing is unbelievable.” Live Round Prospects: The Buble of Riley is getting a little old, but he’s just so endearing with his backstage tears. Despite losing in both the Battle Round and the Knockout Round – there may be more to come from Jason. Coach him better, Blake!
Billy Gilman defeats Ponciano Seoane: Grammy nominee Billy proves his worth as a reality television finalist with his performance of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” Top Praise: “Not only do I admire your perseverance, you can emote so well and you can draw people in so easily to what you do. You have a very special gift,” Adam tells Billy. Live Round Prospects: Billy has a good shot at winning that trophy.
Nolan Neal vs. Brendan Fletcher: Brendan finally puts some soul into his performance and advances past returner Nolan by taking on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Soulshine.” It’s still a little more coffee shop than powerhouse, but it’s enough for him to move ahead. Top Praise: “You aren’t the extroverted guy who’s going to sing the lights out, but I wouldn’t want you to try to be that guy,” says Adam. And that’s the top praise. Live Round Prospects: Tepid coach response and low energy add up to an unlikely doesn’t seem likely that Brendan will get much further on this show.
Ali Caldwell defeats Lauren Diaz: Ali attacks Sade’s challenging “No Ordinary Love” like it ain’t no thing, and hits out of this world notes with swagger. Though Lauren is talented, Ali defeats the former Team Alicia contestant handily. Top Praise: “To say that you could win this thing would be an understatement,” says Adam. Live Round Prospects: Adam’s right: Ali’s looking like a frontrunner.
Darby Walker defeats Maye Thomas: Though Darby’s cover of Florence + the Machine’s “Shake it Out” has some off-pitch moments and a hefty amount of yodel, it’s less yodel-y than Maye’s performance. Top Praise: “You’re only 17. It’s so incredible to see the very organic energy and individuality coming out of you at this point” Alicia tells Darby. Live Round Prospects: Darby has a unique tone, but the 17-year-old’s lack of experience makes her a wildcard.
Un-televised: In the one and only Knockout that didn’t air, Sophia Urista defeats Josette Diaz.
Sundance Head defeats Josh Gallagher: Sundance advances with a Miley Cyrus song, giving “The Climb” a decidedly more classic country sound. This provides an opportunity to not only show his soaring vocals, but also to connect with the audience in way he didn’t in his rock-driven Battle round. Top Praise: “You did so much of your own thing. You even changed some of the notes toward the end, which I wish I would have done to begin with. You gave it so much you-ness.” The Steal! Adam steals Josh after his solid performance of Brooks and Dunn’s “My Maria,” telling him, “You’ve just gotten better, and better, and better. A guy like you can go so far on this show and beyond.” Live Round Prospects: Neither performer stands out as finalist level, but a lot can happen between the Knockouts and the Live Round.
Courtney Harrell defeats Bindi Liebowitz: Though Courtney’s performance of Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High” starts off a bit shaky, it turns into an awesome wail fest. When she lets loose at the end and stops worrying about perfection is when she really makes the impact. Top Praise: “I didn’t have you as someone I should look out for to beat my team’s booty, but you might,” Miley tells Courtney. Live Round Prospects: Former backup singer Courtney had a great performance, but she still has more talent up her sleeve to unleash. Everyone loves those Live Round breakout performances, so this bodes well for Courtney.
Austin Allsup defeats Gabe Broussard: Veteran country singer Austin gives a technically strong and otherwise yawn-worthy performance of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” to defeat the 15-year-old Gabe. Better up that energy level in the lives, Austin! Top Praise: “Blake was your only turn, and to me, you are one of his best all of a sudden,” Adam tells Austin. Live Round Prospects: His overall similarity to Season 7’s champ Craig Wayne Boyd probably doesn’t hurt his Live Round prospects. But still: yawn.
Dana Harper defeats Karlee Metzger: We didn’t get to see Dana in the Battle Round, but she showed her chops defeating Karlee with James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something.” She sings with conviction, and doesn’t overdo it on the gimmick front. Top Praise: “Dana, there’s a real ease an a joy when you sing. I love almost the folksy smokiness of it,” Miley tells Dana. Live Round Prospects: Dana is a gem, but will have to throw in a few high-energy belters to make it much further.
Aaron Gibson defeats Josh Halverson: In the final Knockout of the round, Aaron defeats former Team Alicia member Josh with a solid performance of Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” – but, man, is it close. The coaches can’t seem to decide between the two evenly matched soulful singers. Top Praise: “Every time I’m like whoa, what is that voice? It has all of those layers and elements in there, and it’s subtly powerful,” Alicia tells Aaron. The Steal! All is right with the world when Alicia steals Josh back to her team. “I think your artistry deserves to be heard here, and in people’s homes, and in people’s hearts,” she says.
And with that, the Top 20 head to the lives! The Live Round premieres on Monday, and takes a break on Tuesday for NBC to cover results of a different vote that in no way involves Carson Daly.