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the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts
Courtesy of NBC

Monday’s episode of The Voice put tears in the eyes of Mega Mentor Reba McEntire, she was so moved by one performance — and that was just in rehearsal. Me, I was more blown away by a different performer and their ability to give me goosebumps. Who made you see stars on Night 1 of the Knockouts? Let’s run through all of the contestants’ efforts, then we’ll discuss.

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Team Blake: NOIVAS singing “I Put a Spell on You” (Grade: A+) defeated Tasha Jessen singing “Take Me to Church” (Grade: A-) — Tasha stolen by Niall | The minute NOIVAS started running through his take on the Nina Simone/Annie Lennox version of the classic, I thought two things: 1. Perfect song choice, pal. 2. Bye, Tasha. Not necessarily improving her chances of reaching the Playoffs, even Blake noted, was the fact that the key she chose for Hozier’s hit set her up for a big finish… but a lotta obstacles before she got there. In the moment of truth, ho. Ly. Crap. NOIVAS sang like a man possessed! He was all but literally aflame, loose and free, wild and absolutely in the moment. Hell, he so left it all on the stage, he fell to his knees when he was done. Total showman. Absolutely captivating. Chills on top of chills. Trying to follow that (!), poor Tasha delivered a performance that was strong and inventive enough to beat almost anybody… except NOIVAS. Thankfully, she was stolen by Niall, who observed how impressive it was that she had not choked, even with having to hit the mic after the explosion that is NOIVAS.

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the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts Team Kelly: ALI singing “Best Part” (Grade: B+) defeated Marcos Covos singing “Jesus, Take the Wheel” (Grade: D+) | In rehearsal, ALI was sounding appealingly tangy and jazzy, so much so that I wanted to listen to her sing Daniel Caesar feat. H.E.R. over mimosas at brunch. Marcos got to go big enough on his Carrie Underwood cover that he probably had the edge, though — if, as Reba suggested, he let the audience into what he was feeling. (Though he’d always had a strong relationship with God, it had been sorely tested when he came out and was rejected by his family.) On stage, ALI was a delight squared, less singing the song than absolutely feeling it. There may have been a couple of ad libs in there that were iffy, but overall, she was concentrated sunshine filtered through her mic. Up second, Marcos started off a little shaky, like he was having trouble with his phrasing and intentionality. And when the song went big and he started going on runs, he was just… off. How Chance said that they’d both given “very memorable performances in Voice history,” I’ll never understand. Marcos had had such a bad time of it that significantly less of his number was shown than ALI’s.

the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts Team Niall: Gina Miles singing “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Grade: A) defeated Kate Cosentino singing “Call Me” (Grade: C) | When Gina announced that she’d be singing Gotye’s hit because her dad had played it a lot as a DJ, my reaction was… uh-oh. But then I heard the soft-spoken powerhouse tear into it and was like, “OK, then; she’s got this.” Kate’s jazzy approach to Blondie’s golden oldie sounded, at least at first listen, weaker. When Gina stepped up to the mic, she was nothing short of hypnotic. NOIVAS may have the biggest voice in the contest this season, but for my money, Gina has the coolest one. And as shy as she may be off stage, on it, she is no shrinking violet. We’ve seen singers with way less presence win the whole shebang. (Right, Jake Hoot?) Batting cleanup, Kate got off to a terrific, bewitching start as she sang Debbie Harry slowly. But once she started rocking out, it felt like her voice was too thin to fill the space that was opened up before her. She’s got personality for sure, and talent, but this was the best showcase for neither. No contest, IMHO; Gina all the way.

the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts Team Chance: Ray Uriel singing “Lately” (Grade: A) defeated NariYella singing “Bust Your Windows” (Grade: B) | Jazmine Sullivan? Awesome pick for NariYella. To the point that the only advice Reba could give was to ditch the mic stand and bring the sass. Ray was counting on the passion that he’d put into his Stevie Wonder cover to make the audience feel it. Singing first, NariYella was vocally on point, but the persona that she brought to bear was more, “I’ll leave a strongly worded note under the windshield of your car” than “I’ll bust your windows.” Following her, Ray gave a hella smooth performance and, more importantly, one to which he seemed super connected. NariYella can bring the fireworks, sure, but the four-chair turn didn’t exactly overwhelm with the attitude that “Bust Your Windows” calls for, so one-chair turn Ray had the edge. As Chance put it, he “had the more compelling performance.”

the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts Team Blake: Kylee Dayne singing “All By Myself” (Grade: C+) defeated Walker Wilson singing “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” (Grade: B) | Kylee gave herself a tall order with the Celine version of Eric Carmen’s classic, but Reba felt that she’d reached that peak — she made the Mega Mentor cry (even if she just made me worry that this might not go well). Testing out his song second, Walker brought to the fore personality plus and a vocal gritty enough to be used as sandpaper. When the spotlight fell on Kylee, I kept waiting for her voice to really erupt and to feel like she was in control and taking us someplace. But, although she finally nailed the big note (which may be all anyone remembers), her performance was a lotta buildup leading to a little letdown. When Walker took his turn, the contrast was stark. Unlike Kylee, who felt disconnected from her song, Walker came off like he was casually telling us his story with a voice that was spewing gravel with every syllable. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the personality that he’d shown off in rehearsal, but I still preferred his performance.

the voice recap NOIVAS kylee dayne knockouts Team Kelly: Cait Martin singing “All the Man That I Need” (Grade: A) defeated Kala Banham singing “Iris” (Grade: A-) — Kala stolen by Chance | Ya know what? Writing about Kylee a second ago, I was struggling figuring out how to explain what was lacking from her performance. Then I heard Cait rehearsing Whitney and was like, “Oh — that’s it. That’s so it.” Kala sounded solid on her Goo Goo Dolls cover but maybe not as unique or exciting as she had singing Joni Mitchell more softly in the Blinds. First on stage, Cait just slayed — not a false note passed her lips. And when the ballad grew, her vocal did with it. Truly a Star Is Born performance. (At least I thought so until Blake mentioned that he’d heard a lotta sharp notes; goes to show what I know!) Finishing out the night, Kala started off absolutely beautifully; that intimate quality to her voice is stunning, no? Then came the belting parts, and I’ll be damned. She killed ’em, reducing me to a puddle with the urgency and emotion with which she sang. And those high-powered runs? Awesome.

So, which singer really knocked you out? Vote in the poll below, then hit the comments with your reviews of Monday’s performances.

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