the voice recap

The Voice Season 11 Premiere Recap: This Panel's on Fiyahhhhh

Breaking news: Miley Cyrus is not coming in like a wrecking ball to reduce The Voice to a pile of rubble.

Indeed, while more than a few fans of NBC’s Emmy-winning singing competition feared Cyrus’ addition to the Season 11 coaching panel would be marked by ghastly interludes of twerking, tongue-protruding and general obnoxia, the reality — based, at least, on Monday’s premiere — turned out to be quite the opposite.

The Artist Formerly Known as Hannah Montana burned Adam Levine with simple mathematics*; scored one of the night’s biggest laughs joking that she’d just run into an 8-year-old wearing the same ridiculous, flower-covered outfit as her own; and came across as downright thoughtful when courting various contestants to join her “squad.” (OK, yes, points deducted for use of the S-word, but I suspect Cyrus’ edict from producer Mark Burnett didn’t have much to do with courting exhausted, fortysomething dads with an aversion to Twitterspeak.)

*For those of you who tuned in late, Cyrus mocked Voice vet Adam’s boast that he’d won the show on three separate occasions. “Three out of 10?” she asked, mockingly. “It’s basic math and it did take me a second, but I don’t know… I wouldn’t have said that if I was you.”

Oh, and hey, Cyrus’ fellow newbie Alicia Keys? She’s wonderfully in touch with her muse, deeply generous when she loses out to a fellow coach, and yet competitive enough to drag Adam (punching bag’s a good color on him, BTW) if she really has her mind on a particular contestant. That dig about Adam not being as “deeply rooted” in soul was the TKO punch that won her the season’s first four-chair turn.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT THE COACHES! The show’s producers will take care of their all-stars from now through December. Instead, let’s rank the nine vocalists headed for the Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising.

9. Riley Elmore, “The Way You Look Tonight” (Team Adam) | It seems like every season there’s a dapper teenage boy who convinces the coaches his Frank Sinatra obsession makes him the second coming of Michael Buble. But Riley’s Blind Audition packed less of a whallop than a koala swatting a fruit fly off a slice of nectarine.

8. Courtnie Ramirez, “Mamma Knows Best” (Team Miley) | Perky Texas teen had no trouble handling the bombast of Jessie J’s hit, but her pacing on the verse was a tad sluggish, and her tone stretched into pterodactyl territory at the tippy top of her range. I’m more likely to want a flower off her coach’s hideous pantsuit than a download of Courtnie’s Blind Audition cover. In other words, I wish Courtnie had waited two or three years and gotten a full understanding of her instrument before bringing it to national television.

7. Gabe Broussard, “Lonely Night in Georgia” (Team Blake) | Nerves seemed to get the best of Gabe once Blake and Miley hit their buttons and ensured the 15-year-old’s spot in the Battles, but prior to that, he showcased an appealingly achy-breaky tone and a surprising amount of texture for one so young.

6. Christian Cuevas, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” (Team Alicia) | The night’s closing slot went to this sweet 20-year-old who recently lost his dad to cancer. And while it was hard to deny the emotional tug of Christian tackling Michael Bolton’s mournful anthem in the wake of his own personal loss, I wish the coaches had mentioned how the guy’s borderline tearfulness had an adverse effect on his vocal control, and how his boombastic steamroller eliminated any hope of nuance. Granted, dude might soar if Alicia helps him balance feeling with technique — and steers him away from early-’80s dreck — but for now, I stand by my contention that Christian made a less-than-thrilling conclusion to an above-average premiere.

5. Sundance Head, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (Team Blake) | There was a lovely, soulful string of notes toward the end of this audition from Sundance, who happens to have been an early favorite during Season 6 of American Idol. And while maturity may help him avoid the kind of vocal collapse he endured once Idol’s live shows began, Sundance needs more nuance and less reliance on howling — plus a pair of scissors to remove that unfortunate, braided beard — if he wants to emerge as a Team Blake dark horse.

4. Jason Warrior, “Living for the City” (Team Alicia) | Chicago theater major dressed like he was angling for a spot in an ’80s-era New Edition cover band, but his Gospel-infused twist on a Stevie Wonder classic showcased a sweet, smoky lower register that outweighed the handful of wobbly notes that crept in at the top of his range.

3. Dana Harper, “Jealous” (Team Blake) | Daughter of NBA pro Derek Harper can hit some ridiculous — and glorious — low notes, but chose touse them sparingly for her Lite FM reworking of Nick Jonas’ pop-R&B ode to the green-eyed monster. Dana’s sweet, slightly shy vibe makes her an easy contestant to get behind, but Blake might have to call Alicia on her offer to help him with song selection if Dana wants to go deep into the season.

2. Ali Caldwell, “Dangerous Woman” (Team Miley) | Like a Jason Statham antihero, Ali’s tone may be rough-around-the-edges, but it’s anything but dull. I loved how she brought genuine sensuality and a grown-up sensibility to an Ariana Grande song that’s always  been the equivalent of a tapioca pudding in a world of thrilling dessert options. Better still, Ali’s pitch control extended beyond the big, belty choruses, and covered her more nuanced work on the verses. Miley may not need to win another four-chair turn: Ali’s got the type of talent to contend for the Season 11 crown.

1. Dave Moisan, “Sex and Candy” (Team Alicia) | Based on his pre-performance package, I doubted the charmisma quotient of this former junior Olympian who once got spanked (in the competitive sense of the word) by Michael Phelps. But the way he reinvented Marcy Playground’s late-’90s jam as a lascivious, Robin Thicke-y lounge track turned my opinion around like Phelps doing a flip turn at the end of a lap. The fact that Dave gravitated toward Alicia over Adam — despite his falsetto’s similarity to the Maroon 5 frontman’s — is further evidence that dude might turn out to be more than a pretty voice, but an intriguing innovator, to boot.

What did you think of The Voice Season 11 premiere? Who were your faves? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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71 Comments
  1. Andres says:

    How did Christan get 6th? It wasn’t the best performance of the night but it should be at least 4th. If he is under Alicia’s wing then he can go to unimaginable places. I really like Dave and Alision, I can see them going far in this season. I found Riley to be boring. I hope there are more good people to come.

    • Kristen says:

      Most likely because, as an artist, he is very similar to last season’s winner. His voice gave me chills, just like Jordan’s did, but the audience has already seen someone like Christian.

  2. Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

    I LOVED Ali and Jason!!! Also really liked sundance and moisan. Can’t wait for this season!!!

    • jr. says:

      For me, the show is getting a little repetitive and tiring. Judges say the same things and so do the contestants. I think they should mix it up. After having viewed all the contestants who auditioned and did not make, the judges should get to pick one of ‘those’ contestants. Maybe because the judges were waiting and thought better, was comming. Or may because of the unthinkiable, because of the way a contestant looked, etc., once they seem!

  3. Peachy says:

    Sundance Head was not robbed on “American Idol.” He flamed out.

    A.J. Tabaldo deserved to be in the “Idol” Season 6 Top 12 over Sanjaya.

    “The Voice” producers shouldn’t be allowing an “Idol” semifinalist who placed deep into the competition to audition.

    That distinction should be given to “Idol” semifinalists who were truly robbed, such as Kimberly Kelsey, Cardin McKinney, Junot Joyner, and Lauren Turner.

  4. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    Guess I heard something different as I wasn’t impressed with Dave at all. For me the top three were Dana, Ali and Gabe in that order.

  5. davmon says:

    Am I getting jaded? Seemed a mostly lackluster group tonight. Everybody they turned for could sing ok. Only a few stood out IMO–Ali, Riley, Dana, and Christian. While those four are very good, I do not sense a top five or six among them. Maybe they can learn, improve, and prove me wrong; but, right now, I sorta doubt it. For now, I’d say Ali has the most talent. Slezak likes Dave (decent head voice, but unexceptional) and Jason (good, but thin vocals) more than I.

    • dlraetz says:

      I fell asleep on the couch mid show

    • Emily says:

      It didn’t hold a lot of my attention either. I kept on getting up to do chores/errands during their performances. Riley was the first contestant to get my attention – I guess because he actual had strong tone and a definite style. Granted – he’s going to have to figure out how to modernize what he does because the standards theme will get old after a few performances. I thought Dave was just a rehash of Ryan Quinn from last season. Nothing really new to see there (and certainly not the most promising of the night). I have to admit that I missed watching Ali’s performance, but after listening to her recording today on apple music – she is my favorite so far. I really hope it perks up tonight.

      • Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

        Ali was VERY good, she has some covers that will blow u away even more, she’s covered songs like love in the brain, 1 + 1, tell me something good, etc. she’s definitely a contender

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      I would only have turned for Gabe Broussard. The rest did nothing for me. Slezaks choice for number one is ridiculous, but I guess that is what makes the world go round. I could not listen to Dave Moisan sing another note. He has zero star quality and a voice to match.

  6. AuntCammy says:

    I am doing my best to get over the way Alecia looks, homely and so much heavier than I remember her from years ago. I guess it is not pc to say these type of things anymore so I’ll just shut up and move on.

  7. Keith says:

    I will just dvr it and skip over Miley’s comments

    • Quinn says:

      Good you do that and I’ll skip over the Adam and Blake crap! You know I think if you would actually listen to her, you might be impressed. I hate that we just write someone off because they don’t seem to be “normal” or that they made some mistakes. Good gosh! People grow up you know

      • Wws says:

        It’s not about being different, it’s the fact that Cyrus is musical luncheon meat. Yes, she got a decent voice, but She needed over 35 different writers and producers to churn out one 50 minute CD. That’s not an artist with a point of view, that’s a wind up doll. That’s just someone who is just an amalgamation of other people’s talents.

        • bobsaccamanna says:

          Go on youtube and watch some of her backyard session material, there is nothing cookie cutter about her.I love when people judge someone without actually listening, and as far as being a judge/mentor goes, Miley and Alicia breathed new life into a show that needed resuscitation. Talent wise it wasn’t a great show but chemistry wise it was the best in years.

          • Wws says:

            I have listened to her, I have her CD because I liked the first single well enough. But that’s how I know how many other people it took to make it. literally dozens. As I said, she’s got a good voice (although not significantly better than any of the people she’s coaching) But I just don’t see how she can mentor effectively when she practically had to print a phone book to credit everyone on her album who actually made the music. it was clear she had little to do with it and the music she’s churned out so far indicates that she’s a not a wheel, she’s a cog.

    • kevstar69 says:

      Some people just like everyone to be a cookie cutter version of themselves. Boring, predictable.
      Miley was on last year and actually knows music, and probably listens to all types. She will be an excellent coach, as will Ms. Keys.

    • Sharon Cooke says:

      You missed some good stuff then.

  8. davmon says:

    As to coaches, Alicia is impressive; she is a class above the rest. Like a visiting music conservatory grad student, hanging out with high school kids talking music. Knows her stuff and really connects with contestants she wants. Miley is better than I expected–never mind her fashion; after all, I loved Pharrell and his boho fashion was almost as eccentric. Adam and Blake? well, just more of the same. Is it getting old to anyone else? Maybe they can develop interplay with the newbies, so they are not totally retreading.

    • Jillette Razer says:

      Sinatra imitations are tired. I commend people that do it… that boy tonight had an exquisite voice. its like vocal gymnastics though, it’s impressive that someone so young like him or sal valentinetti can sound like that but come on. Try something even remotely personal and inspired.

      • davmon says:

        I agree that the young crooner Riley was really good. (I really enjoyed Amy Vachal a couple times back who also did jazzy crooning.) For his age, this kid is great. We will see what his song range is in future. He will need consistent quality to go deep. But Slezak putting him last is way wrong. I had him top four of night. Have to hear more to know just how good he is.

  9. Riley and Christian were great, I don’t know if you were basing this on personal taste, but I thought they were both great. Them and Ali are my favorites of the night. I’ll admit I might be biased since Jazz is my favorite genre (listen to it everyday, before I was watching the Voice, and right now, lol).

  10. bluesman3535 says:

    Math: 10 seasons, 4 coaches. Expected wins per coach = 2.5. 3 wins is 20% higher than average.

  11. Lorna says:

    I love watching this show . But the bickering and the bringing down between the coaches specially Adam and Blake is getting old , it’s giving me a bad taste in my mouth . Please show a little respect for each other . Kids are watching you.
    Thank you !

  12. OhMy says:

    Not sure about the love for David. Did not like that.

  13. SuperChic says:

    First time I have watched in years and I am so excited for this season. Talent tonight has been amazing. Sundance Head and Dave Moisan are my fav’s for the night.

    Can’t wait to see more.

  14. steve says:

    miley cyrus sucks as a judge, along with alicia keys

  15. dj says:

    It sure wasn’t Adam’s night. He’s way behind the way things are looking right now.

    I love Alicia. She reminds me of Pherell in that, of the four, I’m most interested in hearing what she has to say to the contestants, and she seems the most sympathetic. The others all seem like competing used car salespeople.

    It was interesting to me how no mention was made of Sundance’s time on Idol. I recognized his name right away (it’s kind of unique) and I was wondering how they were going to handle it. I was trying to remember: how many ex-idols have been on now? Frenchie, that guy who was Danny Gokey’s friend. Is that all? Maybe Sundance didn’t want to say anything, or maybe the Voice doesn’t want to be known as the second chance for Idol rejects (not that I would classify any of them that way–they’re all great singers).

    • Normandy says:

      Colton Swon was on Idol first. I think during Frenchie’s season on The Voice they did talk about Idol. Don’t remember if Rockstar INXS was ever mentioned for Jordis Unga, but it’s not not a big deal on The Voice. There have probably been several former Idol contestants on the show.

      • Peachy says:

        Colton Swon didn’t make the the Top 24 of Season 7, although some people (like Sleazak) hoped he would.

        Frenchie Davis was disqualified in Season 2 for that topless photo nonsense.

        Jon Peter Lewis (Season 3) was part of the duo Midas Whale in Season 4 of “The Voice.”

        No one remembered (or remembers now) JR Aquino from Season 4 of “Idol.”

        Sundance Head placed in the Top 14 during Season 6 of “Idol.” That’s too deep in the competition to be justified a second chance on “The Voice.”

      • ladyjocelyn says:

        Jon Peter Lewis (the infamous “Pen Boy” from Idol) was also then part of Midas Whale on The Voice. Conversely, MacKenzie Bourg went from The Voice top 10 to Idol’s top 4.

  16. Ram510 says:

    Just another episode of The Voice, nothing to see here

  17. Dennis says:

    LOVE Alicia and Miley!!!!

  18. David New says:

    The two new coaches did not come across well. In fact I found them boring. The chemistry between the four needs a ton of work

  19. Kristen says:

    Riley Elmore… blah. He could sing for commercials, maybe? Won’t last long at all.

    Courtnie Ramirez… had one note? She sounded like she was just screaming the whole song. Nothing special to her voice at all.

    Gabe Broussard… holy moley. His voice was like velvet to my ears. It was smooth and had a jazzy feel. I could listen to his music all night. You could definitely tell he was nervous, so I’m excited to see what he can do once he gets comfortable.

    Christian Cuevas… man, that voice is so clear, clean, and pure. Chills times a thousand! The feeling, the emotion, love it!

    Sundance Head reminds me so much of Chris Stapleton. I love, love, love this genre of music. There is so much soul and passion and grit behind each and every note, and I hope that he goes far in this competition, but I’m worried he will get outvoted to the likes of someone like Christian Cuevas.

    Jason Warrior is a performer. He has a good voice, but most of the reason I liked him was because of what I saw, rather than what I heard. I feel like he’s too forgettable.

    Dana Harper is a dark horse. She showed so much restraint, but the tone and clarity in her voice carried through. Then adding in that low rumble and her ability to hold a constant note with no wavering. Given the right guidance, this girl could sneak up on everyone.

    Ali Caldwell is fierce! The fact that she didn’t pick Alicia blows my mind as that is her wheel house. I truly love her voice, but I have a feeling she won’t win it. There’s just something about her… I can’t see her singing some “old country song” like Miley says, but I truly, truly hope that I am proven wrong.

    Dave Moisan had me at the first note. His voice is so… pretty. Then in seconds I wondered whether he had any soul in his voice, which followed shortly after. I love his rendition of “Sex and Candy”. I like everything about that performance.

  20. Angie_Overrated says:

    Not the best premiere, but there were a few who showed potential. I’ve got a great feeling about the panel though. Overall not bad. B+.

  21. Mary says:

    Miley sucks…..if she stays I’m done with the show…..

  22. Mary says:

    Miley sucks! If she stays I’m done watching. ….

  23. John R says:

    Miley “burned” Adam re his Voice titles? Uh, do the math yourself. Adam has won 30% of The Voice titles (3 over 10 years). In that time he has been 25% of the judges panel (1 of 4). He’s meeting expectations.

  24. Roxanne says:

    Where is Billy Gilmore on the voting list? I disagree about Riley. I thought when he and Adam sang a duet, it was one of the most charming few minutes of the night.

  25. roxanneinthecity says:

    Why are some of the performers missing from the voting list? I disagree about Riley Elmore. I thought when Riley and Adam sang their duet, it was one of the most charming few minutes of the show.

  26. jim Rodgers says:

    Come on Ladies. 4 episodes and the same hideous clothes every night. Not great for ratings I’m sure.

  27. Cindy says:

    Won’t watch because of Miley!!

  28. Sharon says:

    I love the voice, but please don’t bring Miley Cyrus back. This girl has never won a Grammy, my idea of a coach, you must have won an award. Miley has got to go.

  29. wally says:

    The Voice has lost it’s luster with the addition of Miley and Alicia. Alicia sounds uneducated and looks like she just hung laundry up to dry. Miley is just irritating and her flower outfit, stupid.

  30. addrya says:

    Miley’s comments are so lame, not talking about her appearance . Nobody around to give her an honest advise ?