The Voice 5th Judge: Incredible 3-Way Knockout Sends Two Frontrunners Home, Top 16 Revealed

The final round of Three-Way Knockouts definitely created some heartbreak on “The Voice” as there was only one Steal left, and several artists who were worthy of it.

One heartbreaking match-up brought three of the strongest performances of the entire season so far — and there was only room for one of them to advance. The Coaches weren’t lying when they said this new format was the toughest one thrown at them yet.

It also gave us one of the most inexplicable decisions we’ve seen yet with one of these three-way battles. Two of the artists did not step up to the occasion, while one of them blew everyone away with one of the best performances of the night — and somehow didn’t get picked.

Does it really sound that different through the television set than live? We can’t believe it.

By the end of tonight’s show, the Top 16 were revealed that would move onto the live shows starting next week. Due to election coverage on Tuesday, there will be no new episode that night, so this was a one-and-done showcase for the week.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Blake Shelton, Camila Cabello, Gwen Stefani, and John Legend. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

And just for fun, I’m going to rank the performances from worst to first and then see how they do as the season progresses.

(Cari Brindisi – “Love Me Like a Man,” Bonnie Raitt) Cari just went from strength to strength on this one, and even seemed to save a few surprises for her Coach, based on Gwen’s reactions. She had great falsetto moments, a bit of growl here and there, but mostly it was her powerhouse storytelling vocals that had our command. It was a great song choice because most singer-songwriters come at a song with a softer approach, but this one was about power and story in equal measure. It was a performance that you could not stop watching.

(Justin Aaron – “Can We Talk,” Tevin Campbell) Justin took Gwen’s note and came out with so much stage presence and swagger, we really felt like he was this confident dude getting some woman to melt in his hands. The power and range of his voice was otherworldly as he brought all his church presence and power into the world of R&B with a performance that left us breathless. The only thing we’d have liked to see was at least a few moments on the softer side so we could enjoy that contrast.

(Kayla Von Der Heidi – “Losing My Religion,” R.E.M.) After two belters, Kayla came in with this intimate vibe that was just as compelling. She practically purred her way through this, with a unique vibrato and tone that was haunting in the most interesting way. She strayed from the melody at times, but not too much, per her Coach, and created little moments that really pulled you in. We’d have liked a bigger moment (either in melody or cry or something that would punctuate the performance), but it was mesmerizing even so just as it was.

This was a shockingly tight battle with three very different performances. Honestly, this would be a great Knockout to see a Steal used because it would be a shame for any two of these to go. While Cari and Justin are the more traditional types of vocalists who do well on singing competitions, there is no one quite like Kayla. We are a sucker for an artist with a vision. Still, it’s hard to deny the growth Justin has shown in such a short time, so we’d be compelled to see how much further he could go.

Results: Justin wins

(Austin Montgomery – “You Look So Good in Love,” George Strait) There were moments of this performance that were nearly magical, but there was a hesitancy in his vibrato and his voice that made him sound almost fearful. It was particularly problematic in the early going before he hit the first chorus. But even after, there were notes he would hit and the emotion we felt was anxiety and nerves and fear, rather than heartbreak and longing, as the song wants.

(Brayden Lape – “Mercy,” Brett Young) Wow, this young man is really tapping into something raw on this journey. There was true heartbreak in his voice. It was tender and youthful but still felt like that real love lost that only teenagers know and feel with all of their souls. There’s a sweetness in his tone that is pure gold. He didn’t have to do too much on this one and we believed every word and hung on every syllable. That was breathtakingly, achingly gorgeous.

(Eva Ullmann – “Dangerous Woman,” Ariana Grande) Eva took on a huge challenge and she almost lived up to it. There were some truly impressive moments in this one, but it’s so hard to compare to how effortlessly Ariana runs through this range and all those notes. We could hear Eva straining a couple of times, and she lacked that conviction in a few. Half-baked kept coming to mind, meaning that it felt like this performance, song, moment, whatever just wasn’t all the way there yet for her.

It even felt like the performances of Austina and Eva were a little shortened, while Brayden got more time. Or maybe it’s just that his performance was that much more commanding, it felt like it was breathing and taking up more space. He did so much with so little, it truly felt like he was having a moment, and no one can stand in the way of a moment when it comes like that. Eva told him it was the best he’d ever sounded, and she was right. That was true authenticity.

Results: Brayden Wins

(Kim Cruse – “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” Ann Peebles [as performed by Tina Turner]) Kim took this to the back of the theater and then she sang for the people two blocks away. There was so much incredible power in her voice, and yet perfect control throughout. She sings with such passion and conviction, we believed the emotion of the piece from the start. Her talent is so effortless, and yet that voice is filled with the depth of a life that’s lived and loved and hurt and built itself back stronger. There’s experience in that voice, earned or not, that she definitely knows how to tap into.

(Emma Brooke – “I Hope,” Gabby Barrett) She took a totally different approach to Gabby with something cleaner and purer, but the twist of the knife at the hook was just as vicious. We loved that Emma knows who she is as an artist and a performer, and chose her own way to spin the tale rather than try to mimic the original. The changes to the melody were slight and tasteful and showcased that pure, trained voice of hers beautifully. A great song felt fresh and exciting all over again.

(The Marilynds – “Chasing Cars,” Snow Patrol) Their solo work never sounded stronger, and those harmonies are second to none. This is the best The Marilynds have ever sounded at a time when that’s exactly what they needed. There was such sincerity in their delivery, we found ourselves not only mesmerized by their gorgeous voices together, but by the heart and emotion they were delivering, as well.

John really stacked this Knockout with three incredible artists, and then they all came out and gave their best performances yet, making this almost impossible. After Kim’s performance, we thought it was all over. Then Emma came out and really tapped into something raw and real and we weren’t sure. Then The Marilynds came out with something unlike what anyone else is doing, and we were at a complete and total loss for the first time since these Knockouts began. We changed our minds a million times, but after that personal story, we feel like The Marilynds may have the hunger to tackle those lives in a way that’s unexpected. But we also knew they wouldn’t win.

Results: Kim Wins

(Devix – “Yellow,” Coldplay) We appreciated that Devix was trying to free his physicality a bit, but it didn’t look natural half the time. Vocally, though, he was just incredible on a very challenging song. It featured gorgeous falsetto with vibrato, full voice and some belting notes that he nailed effortlessly. He’s a natural talent who just needs to get more confidence as a performer on stage, because his tone and the quality of his vocal performance are already incredible.

(Andrew Igbokidi – “Everybody Hurts,” R.E.M.) There was an unexpected hesitation in Andrew’s performance, and then it just kind of didn’t go anywhere. He’s got this lovely tone, but we weren’t feeling the sentiment of this song. There is pain in the lyrics and we weren’t getting that from his vocal. Maybe it was stripped back too much, but it started to feel repetitive and just hollow by the end, like we were on a journey that had no end.

(Steven McMorran – “It Will Rain,” Bruno Mars) All the pain we were looking for in Andrew’s performance was in the first line of Steven’s strongest outing to date. He hit another level of connection and authenticity with this performance. We didn’t even need those falsetto notes at the end, because we could hear all the emotion in every note that came before. This is not an easy song to sing, but he took to it as if he’d written it and it was his story to tell.

Devix is an incredibly gifted vocalist, while Andrew has something special he hasn’t quite tapped into yet. But for this Knockout, it was Steven who found the right formula at the right time to strike magic on that stage. Everything about his performance felt polished and ready. This is the kind of earnest portrayal that gets people to pick up their phones and vote.

Results: Devix Wins

(Alyssa Witrado – “Don’t Stop Me Now,” Queen) Taking on one of the biggest showmen in all of entertainment, Alyssa was inconsistent in her own showmanship on this one. There were moments that were electrifying, but then we could feel things deflating at other times. It felt that way with her vocal performance, too. She’s definitely an interesting artist, but there wasn’t a real consistency or wow moment in this one to leave us breathless, and we felt like that’s how we should be feeling.

(Daysia – “Get Here,” Oleta Adams) Daysia sounded almost like her voice was a bit hoarse throughout this. She finally found her moment toward the end, but a few missed notes along the way and that strangely disconnected tone up until that moment left us shaking our heads a little. After she hit that big note with confidence, she wrapped it up beautifully, so it was half good.

(Sasha Hurtado – “Make It Rain,” Ed Sheeran) From the first note, Sasha was in a zone that almost felt like we were listening in on her innermost passions. It felt so intimate as to almost be invasive. Her tone was so smooth, each note reached effortlessly. She sat in that pocket throughout and invited us into her world and it felt like we’d just witnessed something truly otherworldly. Those ending notes were– they were just everything.

Daysia felt like this moment swallowed her up — she hasn’t yet grown into her talent — while Alyssa gave us the sense that she’s up for this challenge, but maybe took on more than she could chew with Freddie Mercury. He’s more than most can chew. Only Sasha really took command of this moment and never let it go, so far as we’re concerned. She was in a league of her own on this one … so why didn’t her Coach pick her?

Results: Alyssa Wins (John Steals Sasha) [Sasha Joins Team Legend]

Team Blakebodie (29, Los Angeles, CA)Brayden Lape (16, Grass Lake, MI)Bryce Leatherwood (22, Woodstock, GA)Rowan Grace (16, Rapid City, SD)Team CamilaDevix (28, Queens, NY)Eric Who (22, Orangeburg, SC)Kate Kalvach (27, Oklahoma City, OK)Morgan Myles (35, Nashville, TN)Team GwenAlyssa Witrado (19, Fresno, CA)Justin Aaron (34, Junction City, KS)Kevin Hawkins (28, Dallas, TX)Kique (18, Miami, FL)Team LegendKim Cruse (30, Woodville, TX)Omar Jose Cardona (33, Orlando, FL)Parijita Bastola (17, Severna Park, MD)Sasha Hurtado (18, Dallas, GA)

“The Voice” goes live starting next Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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