“The Voice” Recap: #VoiceKnockout Begins

Contestants battled it out Monday in the first night of knockout competition.

It's probably safe to say that Monday night's episode of "The Voice" was a knockout — or, better yet, a whole bunch of knockouts.

Monday's episode marked the beginning of the #VoiceKnockout rounds, as singers from the same team went head-to-head for a spot in the live shows. The coaches had to pick only one singer from each knockout pairing — but they also had the chance to steal the contestants who were eliminated in other teams' knockouts.

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Nate Ruess, the dynamic frontman of the band fun. who recently released his first solo single "Nothing Without Love," also made an appearance as a special advisor, coaching the contestants through the vocal artistry and stage delivery of their songs.

The first knockout face-off of the night featured two singers from Team Christina: Ashley Morgan and Sonic.

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"My team is bursting at the seams with future superstars," coach Christina Aguilera said.

Morgan, who Aguilera stole from Team Pharrell, performed Pat Benetar's rock anthem "Heartbreaker," while Sonic sang "A Woman's Worth" by Alicia Keys. Morgan's performance earned plenty of applause, but Aguilera picked Sonic to advance to the live show round.

Next up were Brian Johnson and Sarah Potenza, both of Team Blake. The smoky-voiced Johnson delivered a performance of "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" by James Morrison. Potenza sang "Wasted Love" by Matt McAndrew, a competitor from season 7 of "The Voice."

McAndrew returned to the stage to talk Potenza through the performance of his debut single. "Can you believe that @MattMcAndrew came to see me !!!" Potenza tweeted after her performance.

Shelton struggled with the decision, and ultimately picked Potenza. "There's absolutely nobody else like her in the competition," he said.

But before Johnson could even leave the stage, Adam Levine used his #VoiceSteal to make him the newest member of #TeamAdam.

"You should be in this competition one hundred percent," Levine said.

The third face-off pitted Nathan Hermida against Clinton Washington, both of Team Adam.

Ruess challenged Washington to sing his song pick — "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes — with more power than finesse. "I'd rather be moved by something than impressed by something," Ruess said.

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Hermida played to his strength as an airy-voiced tenor, singing "Leave Your Lover" by Sam Smith.

"I gotta go with my heart. The winner of this knockout is Nathan," Levine said. "His performance really spoke to my soul."

Because Anthony Riley had to leave the show for personal reasons, Coach Pharrell Williams challenged Mia Z, Paul Pfau and Sawyer Fredericks to compete for two spots in a three-person knockout.

Mia Z showcased her dynamic vocal range with a performance of "Hold On, I'm Coming" by Sam and Dave. Pfau picked up his guitar and sang John Mayer's bluesy version of "I Don't Need No Doctor" by Ray Charles, while Fredericks set down his guitar for a performance of "Collide" by Howie Day.

"We've been given a very rare circumstance, so this decision is very, very tough," Williams said. His first pick was Fredericks, and the second winner — announced after a tense break — was Mia.

Shelton paired two Team Blake competitors he stole from other coaches: Travis Ewing and Meghan Linsey, who had opened for Shelton on one of his previous tours. Linsey belted out a soulful rendition of the Aretha Franklin hit "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman." Ewing picked Gavin DeGraw's defiant song "I Don't Wanna Be."

"Even when you were playing on a country music tour, I always knew there was this soulful Meghan in there," Shelton said, before picking her.

In the final knockout of the night, Aguilera pitted Koryn Hawthorne against Kimberly Nichole. Nichole sang "If You Love Somebody" by Sting, while Hawthorne decided to sing "Try" by Pink.

The judges agreed that the matchup was best of the knockout rounds in the show. Aguilera struggled to choose between the two powerhouse singers, but finally decided on Nichole.

"She is such a firecracker," Aguilera said. "You never know what to expect with her."

Anguished at the thought of letting such a talented artist depart the competition, Aguilera begged the other coaches to steal Hawthorne for their teams. Just as Aguilera returned to her seat, Williams surprised both coach and contestant with a last-minute steal, promising Hawthorne another shot at glory.

"The Voice" returns Tuesday night at 8/7 Central on NBC.

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