‘The Voice’: Karen Waldrup, Nathan Chester, Madison Curbello, Bryan Olesen and More Make the Season 25 Lives

The Voice season 25 Playoff Rounds kicked off on Monday, which means that coaches John Legend and Dan + Shay had some tough decisions to make!

The first round of Playoffs saw the remaining five singers from Team Legend and Team Dan + Shay take the stage for one more performance — with a song picked by their coaches. At the end of the show, the coaches were faced with perhaps their toughest choice yet, narrowing five singers down to the three that will go on to compete for America’s vote in the upcoming live shows.

While John and Dan + Shay could receive feedback from their fellow season 25 coaches Reba McEntire and Chance the Rapper during the Playoffs, the final decision was up to them alone.

Check out the full recap of the season 25 Playoff finalists below — plus, the reveal of who made it through to the live shows!


Nathan Chester

After a two-chair turn Blind Audition performance of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” Nathan has been a Team Legend favorite all season. He won his Battle with a show-stopping cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and kept it soulful in the Knockouts with Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”

In the Playoffs, Nathan stuck to his guns, turning The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” into a modern soul standard, earning him praise from all four coaches.

Kamalei Kawa’a

The native Hawaiian singer wowed the coaches with his Blind Audition performance of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” ultimately landing a spot on Team Chance. He continued his winning streak with a heartfelt Battle Round rendition of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Over the Rainbow,” however he lost in the Knockouts — only to be stolen by Team Legend.

In the Knockouts, Kamalei returned to a winning formula, making another impressive Bob Marley classic his own, with “No Woman No Cry.”

Bryan Olesen

This season’s oldest contestant, Bryan got three chairs to turn for his Blind Audition performance of OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” After landing on Team Legend, Bryan wowed his coach so much with his Battle Round rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” that he skipped the Knockouts entirely.

Bryan returned for the Playoffs with a beloved karaoke track — “Africa” by Toto — and once again, his impressive vocals put a whole new spin on the yacht rock classic.


One of season 25’s impressive bilingual performers, Mafe earned a four-chair turn — and eventually, a spot on Team Legend — with her Blind Audition cover of “Bésame Mucho.” After Battle and Knockout Round wins with Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and Ariana Grande’s “Almost Is Never Enough,” respectively, the talented Miami singer was ready to try and make the live shows.

Thrilled to see that Team Legend’s Playoff mentor was a fellow Latin performer, Maluma, Mafe impressed both him and John with her Playoff cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

Zoe Levert

A rare one-chair turn trying to make it to the live competition, Zoe won over John with her Blind Audition performance of Taylor Swift’s original writer’s rendition of the Little Big Town single “Better Man.” She stayed strong with Battle and Knockout Round wins — singing Maren Morris’ “The Bones” and The Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” — showing off her country potential in an attempt to win fans over.

For Zoe’s Playoff performance, John threw it back to the late ’90s, tasking her with putting a fresh spin on the Goo Goo Dolls’ soundtrack classic, “Iris.”


Karen Waldrup

The experienced singer won over both of the country-leaning coaches in her Blind Audition, with a passionate performance of Jo Dee Messina’s “Bye Bye.” But after Dan + Shay blocked Reba, she landed with the rookie coaches, thanking them for the support with a Battle Round win on their track, “Save Me the Trouble.”

Karen continued her season 25 run in the Knockouts, acing Trisha Yearwood’s country classic, “Georgia Rain,” and kept things going in the Playoffs with a stunning performance of Lainey Wilson’s “Heart Like a Truck.”

Anya True

The impressive 17-year-old singer won over Dan + Shay (and Chance, though he lost out) with her Blind Audition performance of Stephen Sanchez’s “Until I Found You.” She went on to win her Battle Round duet of John Mayer’s “Half of My Heart,” as well as her Knockout Round, with Aurora’s “Runaway.”

For the Playoff Round, Anya took on a heavy task in covering Taylor Swift’s epic ballad “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” — and while she didn’t perform the whole 10 minutes, the young singer did put her own unique spin on the breakup classic.

Olivia Rubini

Olivia was the last performer to make a season 25 team, when John hit his button following her rendition of Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time.” While she lost her Battle Round performance of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” she was stolen by Dan + Shay, and went on to win her Knockout with a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

The singer made another retro (for her) choice in the Playoffs, putting her soulful, indie rock spin on The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You.”

Tae Lewis

A new addition to Team Dan + Shay, Tae initially won a spot on Team Reba with Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” in the Blind Auditions. He won his Battle Round performance of “We Don’t Fight Anymore” by Carly Pearce and Chris Stapleton, however, ultimately lost his Knockout — with Cody Daniel Johnson’s “Nothin’ On You” — before being stolen by the rookie coaching duo.

For the Playoffs, Tae broke out a country classic, Randy Houser’s “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight,” that he said reminded him of family and his musical roots.

Madison Curbelo 

A four-chair turn who sailed through the competition with fresh performances of beloved classics, Madison returned to The Voice after an unsuccessful audition in season 20, winning over all the coaches with her bilingual Blind Audition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

After choosing to join Team Dan + Shay, Madison impressed her rookie coaching duo with her Battle Round performance of “Lucky / Suerte,” by Jason Mraz and Ximena Sariñana — so much so that they granted her a Playoff Pass, allowing her to skip the Knockouts entirely.

in the Playoffs, Dan + Shay’s team mentor, Saweetie, called Madison a “little sister,” offering her plenty of advice to impress with her performance of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.

And the live finalists are…

Dan + Shay were up first to pick their finalists on Monday, and for their first selection, they went with Madison Curbelo. “How in the world would you not let Madison through to the live shows?” Dan said to the cameras. “There’s just something about her voice. You feel it in your soul, and your heart.”

Next up, the duo selected Karen Waldrup. “We moved Karen forward because she delivered an absolutely incredible performance,” Dan raved. “She is so consistent, she is someone we can depend on.”

Finally, Dan + Shay rounded out their team for the lives with Tae Lewis. “I know when those live shows come around, the lights go on, the cameras are on Tae, he’s gonna deliver,” Shay marveled. “He is so exciting, he’s so energetic, and he wants this, almost more than anybody in the entire competition.”

Up next was Team Legend, and while John was faced with some tough decisions, his first choice was the easiest: Nathan Chester. “He’s been so consistently fantastic,” John raved. “I love that he gives us the full performance — from choreography, to vocals, to everything. He’s the full package.”

For his second choice, Jon stuck with his one-chair standout, selecting Zoe Levert. “She’s just gotten better and better with time,” the proud coach praised. “This performance was my favorite in this round. I was waiting to be moved in the moment, and Zoe did exactly what she needed to do.”

As for the last live selection of the night, John’s tough call ended up on Bryan Olesen. “Bryan is a star, and whenever I’m watching him perform, I feel like I’m at Bryan’s concert,” John praised. “His presence on stage is so competent, his voice is amazing — Bryan deserves to be in the lives.”

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.


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