'The Voice' Recap: Season 15 Knockouts Premiere - Rolling Stone
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‘The Voice’ Recap: An Evening of Close Calls

Knockouts begin with covers of songs by Ariana Grande, Aerosmith, Robyn and more

The all-important Knockout rounds began on NBC’s The Voice Monday night, with some of the strongest competition Season 15 has seen so far. In fact, one of the show’s biggest personalities narrowly avoided elimination for a second time.

In the night’s final performance, soul-rocker SandyRedd absolutely shredded a devious rendition of Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” taking on the high-flying Patrique Fortson for Team Jennifer Hudson. Dipping deep into her lower register on the advice of celebrity advisor Mariah Carey, the Chicago mother of two let loose with cannon blasts of gritty power, but she somehow still lost the round to Fortson, whose expertly-crafted cover of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was an undeniable highlight of the evening. Luckily, Hudson still had a “save” to use, so both performers are moving on to the show’s live rounds.


Close calls seemed to be a theme for the night, with another early favorite from Team Adam Levine enduring a near knockout as well. Filipino stunner Radha had the guts to sing a Carey hit in front of the vocal legend herself, delivering what amounted to a pristine rendition of “I’ll Be There.” Unfortunately, it was also a bit sterile for Levine’s taste, leaving the door open for young Reagan Strange, whose slow and Spartan cover of Calum Scott’s cover of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” felt far more authentic. Strange won the round, but once again Rahda was spared with Levine’s save.


Over on Blake Shelton’s team, Nigerian-born Funsho breezed through his Knockout with a vibey run through the Weeknd’s “Earned It,” with Shelton admitting that Katrina Cain “handcuffed” herself by choosing to sing “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers and Daya. Likewise, MaKenzie Thomas overcame Mike Parker with a gorgeous, uber-chill rendition of the Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love.”

But the night began on a tasteful country note, setting the stage for the drama that came later. First up was surfer-turned-rancher Tyke James, whose surprising song choice of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” prevailed over Keith Paluso’s soulful, smoky rendition of Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing.” With much less opportunity to embellish, James nonetheless endeared himself to the crowd, slipping a tasteful bit of rasp and loads of personality into the lovelorn classic. Paluso once again lost despite a strong performance, and was once again saved by another coach — this time Kelly Clarkson.


Meanwhile, a triple-shot battle between gospel-belting Kimberli Joye, Nasvhille’s Natasha Greycloud and Hatian-American Zaxai drove Clarkson to the brink of a nervous breakdown. With Joye owning the challenging Zedd and Maren Morris hit, “The Middle” — “opening the gates of heaven,” as Hudson described it — that left only one spot remaining. Greycloud put her best foot forward on a slow-burning cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” but it wasn’t enough for Clarkson, who agonized over the decision, ultimately choosing Zaxai and his smooth rendition of Smoky Robinson’s “Crusin’.” One got the impression the move was made with an eye toward who might stand the best chance in the upcoming live rounds, because Greycloud’s torchy offering was top notch.

Knockout rounds continue on Season 15 of The Voice tonight at 8/7c on NBC.



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