With five team wins under his belt, Blake Shelton has won more seasons of The Voice than any other coach on the show. As Shelton whittled down his team from six to three members in the Playoffs yesterday evening, his competitive spirit was as hot as ever. Ultimately, he settled on classic country singer Red Marlow, former Nicki Minaj backing singer Keisha Renee, and indie standout Chloe Kohanski. While four out of his six contestants were in the country genre, his decisions were likely a strategic move to diversify his team for the upcoming Live Playoffs.
First up, throwback country performer Marlow took on Vern Gosdin's 1988 "Chiseled in Stone," a 1989 CMA Song of the Year winner. With vocals that drew some obvious comparisons to Garth Brooks, Marlow cruised through the song with his smooth twang and punctuated the chorus with some gravelly inflections.
Next came Chloe Kohanski, whom Shelton recently stole from Miley Cyrus' team. Staying true to her folk-rocker sensibilities, the 23-year-old singer selected Cyndi Lauper's 1983 smash hit "Time After Time." In keeping Kohanski's love of storytelling, the cracks and breaks in her voice imbued the classic Eighties ballad with a new strain of millennial heartbreak. Eliciting much praise from the row of judges, Kohanski has earned herself the coveted spot as Season 13 teacher's pet.
After Kohanski, Shelton brought back his one comeback artist of the season, fan-favorite Natalie Stovall. Already well known in Nashville, Stovall fronts her band the Drive and plays fiddle with Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots. The musician tackled "Callin' Baton Rouge," famously covered by Garth Brooks on 1993's In Pieces and originally recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys. Making hip swaying, fiddle playing, and singing in unison look easy, Stovall's energetic performance still fell a little flat of her previous numbers on the show.
Stovall was followed by former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, who sang LeAnn Rimes' timeless "How Do I Live?" from her 1997 album You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs. After, Southern rocker Mitchell Lee took on Bryan Adams' Number One single "Heaven," though the song's key never quite fit Lee's range, a factor which may have led to his dismissal.
Last for Team Blake was Keisha Renee, who performed the Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge" from their self-titled 1990 album. Renee displayed a mastery of restraint for most of the song, aiming for coach Jennifer Hudson's heart as she finished the emotional anthem with an explosive conclusion.
The Voice returns tonight, Tuesday, November 14th, and tomorrow Wednesday, November 15th on NBC.