The first Voice Knockout Rounds episode of the season saved the best for last on Monday, with the two-hour show culminating in a fierce vocal battle between contestants Ashland Craft and Chloe Kohanski.
While Craft may barely be of drinking age, her powerful, raspy voice makes her one of the clear Season 13 frontrunners. Last night, the Piedmont, South Carolina resident surprised fans and coaches alike with her song selection: Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive," from 1987's Slippery When Wet. Craft previously impressed with her take on Morgane and Chris Stapleton's bluesy "You Are My Sunshine" in the Blind Auditions and Waylon Jennings' "Good Hearted Woman" in the Battle Rounds.
Assisting Craft's coach Miley Cyrus during rehearsal was special adviser Kelly Clarkson, who will join the show as a coach next season. Craft kicked things off by defending her curveball song choice. "Everybody associates me as that 'blonde-haired country girl,'" she said, "and I wanna show people that I have a little bit of a badass side to me."
She didn't need to do much more defending. Both Cyrus and Clarkson were suitably impressed with Craft's first take, praising her sultry rasp and similarities with the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines. "Ashland can totally be the female Chris Stapleton," added Cyrus.
With a guitar slung over her shoulder, Craft gave a confident performance that balanced her gritty vocal texture with a more polished upper register, reminiscent of "Redneck Woman" singer Gretchen Wilson – a comparison Blake Shelton noted at Craft's Blind Audition.
Going up against Craft was 23-year-old Chloe Kohanski, who performed Fleetwood Mac's contemplative "Landslide," from the group's self-titled 1975 album. Kohanski gave a valiant effort, but Cyrus went with her gut and chose Craft. Coaches Blake Shelton and Jennifer Hudson both pounded their buzzers to steal Kohanski, who decided to go with Team Blake.
Earlier in the show, Nashville resident Adam Cunningham performed Chris Stapleton's "Either Way," from 2017's From A Room: Volume 1. Though he lost his knockout round against ex-NFL player Esera Tuaolo, coach Adam Levine was moved enough by his soulful sound to go for the steal. Watch both performances below.