Welcome to the playoffs.
The top 17 contestants on “The Voice” laid it all on the line Monday during the first live show of the season, but not without some drama.
It started even before the first live performances of the evening, when host Carson Daly revealed the winner of the four-way knockout that between Team Blake Shelton’s Emma Caroline, Team John Legend’s Carolina Rial, Team Nick Jonas’ Devan Blake Jones and Team Kelly Clarkson’s Savanna Woods.
After the votes were tallied, Daly revealed America voted to save Blake Jones, who was overcome with emotion. “You can hear a thousand ‘no’s’ but that one ‘yes’ can change everything,” he said to Jonas, the only coach to turn for him in the Blind Auditions.
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With Blake Jones’ win, Jonas had an immediate leg up in the competition. He entered the playoffs with five artists compared with the other coaches’ teams of four.
Here’s what happened in the first live show of the season:
Clarkson entered the live shows with “one of the most unique teams I’ve ever had.” She said her team is composed of “people I not only want to listen to, but I want to hang with.”
Corey Ward kicked off the performances with an emotional rendition of Lewis Capaldi’s “Bruises,” which literally brought him to his knees in the middle of the stage.
Jonas said his passion is both a blessing and a curse: “Sometimes that passion sacrifices some of that technique but I will take that over technicality.”
Clarkson told Ward to “forget technique” because “you can’t teach someone to be emotional.” She added that Ward, who failed to earn a chair turn during the Blind Auditions on Season 19, “makes me cry every time you sing.”
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The tears didn’t stop there. Gihanna Zoë’s rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” had her “tearing up in the end.” Legend said Zoë was “channeling the Queen Bey,” referring to music royalty Beyoncé. (Not too shabby a compliment!)
Team Clarkson is rounded out by Zae Romeo (who sang Miley Cyrus’ “When I Look At You”) and Kenzie Wheeler (“Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn).
Legend’s team is filled with “diverse, powerful” voices that “deserve to go all the way to the finale,” he said.
Ryleigh Modig sang Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License,” a song that “we’ve all heard… a thousand times it seems like over the past year,” Daly said, but there was “something special about that.”
Legend agreed that Modig “put so much heart, soul, sadness, beauty and emotion into” her rendition. He added that he’s “feeling so lucky that you are on my team.”
Modig cut him off: “Stop, I’m lucky.”
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Team Legend is also composed of Zania Alaké (Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman”) and Pia Renee (Jazmine Sullivan’s “Need U Bad”), but his “superstar” Victor Solomon was the clear standout on Team Legend, bringing all the coaches to their feet.
“I would like to point out that this is the first four-coach standing ovation for the night,” Legend said after Solomon brought the house down with a rendition of “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder. “Flawless. Perfect physical performance, vocal performance. So much energy and charisma. Wow!”
Jonas said his “strong” team of “powerhouse voices” will make for “some nervous coaches.” And he may be right.
Houston native Dana Monique showcased her soulful sound on En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” earning the second standing ovation of the night. Jonas said Monique “blew that out the park.”
Team Clarkson is made up of Andrew Marshall (Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On”), Jose Figueroa Jr. (Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon”), Devan Blake Jones (Backstreet Boys’ “Shape of My Heart”) and Rachel Mac (Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow.”)
“You really set the bar pretty high,” Shelton said to Mac, “and what my team is about to do will shut the door.”
Shelton declared he has the “team to beat yet again.” Although the confident country crooner “says this every season,” he may know what he’s talking about as the most winningest coach in “Voice” history with seven titles under his cowboy belt.
Clarkson said Jordan Matthew Young is “way too cool to be on Blake’s team” following his rocking version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman.” Shelton said Matthew Young’s performance “was literally a breathe of fresh air for this night.”
Team Shelton is rounded out by Anna Grace (Passenger’s “Let Her Go”) and his former group member Pete Mroz, who sang Lowen & Navarro’s “We Belong.”
“I have a special place in my heart for you. We were literally in the trenches together 25 years ago,” Shelton said, referring to his time in the Young Riders with Mroz. “Fast forward 25 years later, to see you still have raw talent and a passion for singing… great job.”
Cam Anthony closed the show with a standing ovation for his powerful rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” Shelton said he could be “the first superstar that we launch off this show.”
“I’ve never had more people ask me about an artist on my team in 20 seasons of doing this show,” Shelton said. Legend added, “Every time I hear Cam sing, it breaks my heart that Nick would use his block (on me) in such a way.”
The singers’ fates are now up to America. The results of overnight viewer voting will be revealed during Tuesday’s live show (8 EDT/PDT).
The field of 17 will be narrowed to 9, with only two singers from each team advancing, plus an instant-save wild card contestant.
“The Voice” continues Tuesday at 8 EST/PST on NBC.