Courtney Harrell

The Voice Recap: Don't Dream It's Over

Anyone know if the Vegas casinos are taking wagers on who’ll win Season 11 of The Voice?

The smart money, of course, is on a finale showdown between teen sensation Wé McDonald and onetime child country star Billy Gilman, but that just means there are juicy odds to be found on dark-horse contenders like Courtney Harrell and Christian Cuevas, both of whom set off vocal explosions during Night 2 of the Knockout Rounds.

Granted, former backup singer Courtney doesn’t have the “she’s only 17!” energy that’s like catnip to exec producer Mark Burnett and his team. And Christian’s raggedy amateur edges lack the jaw-dropping technical polish Billy’s displayed in all three rounds. But don’t discount the dreams of contestants with chops big enough to cause blunt-force trauma with a single glory note.

For all of its pre-ordained Cassadee Pope- and Sawyer Fredericks-style wins, let’s remember that The Voice has given us its share of surprise champs, too. And isn’t the show long overdue for an upset in the vein of Craig Wayne Boyd or Jermaine Paul?

With that in mind, allow me to rank tonight’s Knockout showdowns from least- to most-promising winner — bearing in mind I’ll be back overnight to update this URL with more detailed performance reviews.

3. Team Adam: Billy Gilman – “Fight Song” defeats Ponciano Seoane — “I See Fire” | The night’s most lopsided Knockout found poor Ponciano getting the “it’s an honor just to be nominated (as sacrificial lamb) treatment. Billy, meanwhile, reimagined the hokiest/catchiest hit of the decade as a percussive, country-soul hymnal that would’ve been perfect strapped to a bottle rocket and launched into the middle of the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks spectacular. Which is to say Billy’s performance was completely impressive, but perhaps lacking the intimate beauty of Rachel Platten’s original.

2. Team Alicia: Christian Cuevas — “Superstar” defeats Belle Jewel – “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Belle stolen by Miley) | Christian, perhaps more than any of Season 11’s hyped contestants, really needs a coach’s help to improve his occasionally wobbly technique. Because if dude can somehow soak up said intel and improve his intonation by, say, 15 percent, his underniable likability, scratchy vocal tone and sense of emotional abandon could carry him deep into the season. In this round, Christian was the clear choice over Belle, who delivered a pleasing but oddly subdued effort on a very cool song choice. I just wish her Blind and Battle hadn’t gotten the dreaded montage treatment – unfairly placing her at the bottom rung of Live Playoffs participants in terms of Season 11 screentime.

1. Team Blake: Courtney Harrell – “River Deep, Mountain High” defeats Bindi Liebowitz — “Son of a Preacher Man” | Admittedly, Courtney didn’t do much to modernize her Tina Turner cover, but I was mighty impressed by the way she piled dramatic flourish on top of dramatic flourish; the way she twisted the melody heavenward on the final “if I lost you, would I cry”; the way she never seemed to find the ceiling of her upper register. If Blake doesn’t imprison Courtney in a jail of classic R&B diva ditties — and pushes her to be more consistent about using her ferocious, on-stage physicality, then Courtney’s a genuine finale threat. Courtney’s exacting execution and ambitious note choices made Bindi’s task nearly impossible, especially when her pitch began to suffer in the final third of a cover that was otherwise slinky, seductive and deliciously, deliberately behind the beat.

Individual Rankings Based on Knockout Round Performances
4. Belle Jewel
3. Billy Gilman
2. Christian Cuevas
1. Courtney Harrell

What did you think of Night 2 of The Voice Season 11 Knockouts? Who did you like best? Take our poll 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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  1. Mge says:

    I’m really glad that Belle didn’t have to be montaged three times- plus, she’s got a lovely tone! I think all four that moved on tonight were very deserving.

    • Charlie C says:

      I agree. Plus, it felt so refreshing to a contestant that was always montaged, to finally have screen time and actually doing great. I see her as a underdog in the competition who I could completely root for.

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      She was my favorite of the night. Great song choice and great delivery. Simple effortless beauty. I am happy that once again Mylie shows smarts and scooped her up. At least we get one more performance from a girl whose montage snippets were intriguing and did not disappoint when her entire performance was finally shown.

    • davmon says:

      Thank you. I thought she was by far the best. Everyone else overreached and oversang and should not have won a college talent show.

  2. Andres says:

    At least belle wasn’t montaged again. I thought today was a good episode, and I think that everyone that has advance can potentially go far.

  3. Trent says:

    Sure, Billy did get a little shrill in his upper register. But I think I’d still place him over Courtney and Christian, who both served up some Idol season 5 realness

    • Mike says:

      Billy surprised me tonight after last week where his win was “suspect”. I think he earned it this time. Though I wish he would have used Rachel’s more quiet ending to the song then what he did.

    • Meme says:

      I heard no “shrill” but agree that he won the night for sure.

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

    Belle and Courtney were the absolute best!!! 😍❤️ Absolutely loved them both. Hopefully they both go very far!!!

  5. dj says:

    Great show tonight! I love it when it’s hard to pick your favorite performance! I thought the winners of each knockout were obvious except for Christian vs. Belle. I am thankful Belle was stolen because she deserved it after that beautiful rendition of Don’t Dream it’s Over. It would have been very sad if she sang don’t dream it’s over … and then it WAS over.

  6. dlraetz says:

    Now I have Fight Song on ear worm. Thanks Billy

  7. dan says:

    Courtney was really, really out of breath. Or was that just me? Still good.

    • davmon says:

      I like Courtney personally. But that song has been overdone and her interpretation was pedestrian. She and Bindi both seemed to suffer from a lack of coaching. There were many points they did not seem to know where to take the song. Shouldn’t happen.

  8. John says:

    Tonight was one of the better Knockout episodes I’ve seen, but I’m really shocked more people aren’t talking about Christian. That song has HISTORY, and he still delivered a personalized, emotional performance. Alisha tends to be a little too overly emotive about performance, but I genuinely believed her when she looked like she was going to tear up in the middle of “Superstar” ’cause I was feeling the same way.

  9. Tim says:

    Can anyone help me understand why I am not a huge fan of Billy? I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not sure if its the register that he sings in, or if he seems to lack a connection to his song choices. With the bench so deep this season, I’d be disappointed if he was one of the final 4.

    • Well, he’s very polished. Maybe that feels inauthentic to you? I also find there is a disconnect for me between his admitted talent and drive and how I feel when he performs. I’m staying open to where he goes from here, but he doesn’t engage me as some others do this season and have done in past seasons.

    • Caroline says:

      I know what you mean. His voice is so, so beautiful but his performances come off as a bit “canned” if you know what I mean. There’s also something a bit old-fashioned and cruise singer-ish about his style. He seems to be an intelligent guy though, and open to coaching maybe Adam can get him to tone it down a bit. I hope so, I’d like to see him win.

    • analythinker says:

      I think his voice doesn’t have a lot of nuance (or grit, perhaps). IMO, the smooth clear/clean tone worked well when he was a kid, but he’s struggling with it as an adult.

    • Meme says:

      Then you don’t know what a real artist is supposed to be like. He has it ALL!

  10. I’d have ranked them,

    3. Christian
    2. Billy
    1. Courtney

  11. danin says:

    I love me some Christian. And Courtney..stellar! Wow!

    • MC says:

      Courtney killed it on the Tuesday show. I was very impressed by her precision and great enunciation. She brought drama to the song, but stayed in tune and had good pitch control throughout her vocal. It was a technically impressive vocal that was also enjoyable.

  12. Jules says:

    With SO many amazing singers this season I feel like Christian is a bit overrated. We’ll see how it goes when the lives come around.

  13. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Loved Belle Jewels voice. Jazzy seductive effortless beauty that she used to flip a great song and make it better. Sure it lost some of its edge but the sheer beauty she conveys could make anything a joy to listen to.

  14. devon2453 says:

    Dude, Billy Gilman last? You’ve just proved you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about

    • davmon says:

      Billy has me underwhelmed. Often he starts a line with an almost metallic tenor before hitting pocket and the same erupts at moments throughout.. Has talent, but not a great voice. Sorry.

      • Meme says:

        What kind of musical training have you had?

      • devon2453 says:

        Surprisingly, I think he’s gonna do okay despite you being underwhelmed

      • MC says:

        I totally agree with you about Billy. However, I expect him to do well in the competition. I disagree with you about Courtney, especially when you see that her performance was very true to the spirit of Tina Turner’s original. It is also a very difficult song to sing and I only noticed one small moment when she lost some control of her voice.

  15. davmon says:

    Seasons past, the band and arrangements were good or great. Tonight, twice the arrangement and music playing was fighting with the artist. First with Bindi–it was as if intentional sabotage, clearly meant to mess with Bindi’s confidence. Then with Christian—who at first fought through it, then later seemed to come apart. In the process, Bindi lost to Courtney, who was no great shakes tonight either. Oddly, Christian was nevertheless chosen by Alicia over Belle who was exquisite in her phrasing. Fortunately, Belle was snapped up by Miley.

  16. Meme says:

    I loved Courtney and Christian but Billy is still my choice. He truly is “perfection”.

  17. Jenna says:

    I think I find Billy’s voice too “perfect” and calculated, so I just find him super corny/cheesy and emotionless. It didn’t help that he chose the cheesiest song ever, and performed it so unconvincingly. I preferred Ponciano by far, but I knew Billy would win because Adam has already proclaimed him the winner of this season, a la Jordan Smith or Alisan Porter, who I also felt nothing from. I find it irritating when the judges preordain the winner who is always some predictable vocal acrobatic.

  18. Paula says:

    I really have to ask what Adam Levine did to you that your bias against him and his contestants is so obvious. I have been a loyal follower but it has come to the point that,while I enjoy your with and writing, I no longer see you as any kind of authority on these reality shows. You need to rise above whatever insult or slight and move forward. At least the polls I am reading are not punishing Billy because of Adam. I have been wanting to ask for some time now but kept hoping I was wrong.

  19. Gailer says:

    I’m watching now and sorry, Billy didn’t deserve to win that round. He must be the chosen one this season?

  20. Ethel says:

    I don’t understand how Billy Gilman can be a contestant on this show. Isn’t it for unknowns and people wanting to get their big chance? He had his shot

    • Trent says:

      Then people like Cassadee Pope, Alisan Porter, Meghan Linsey and countless others who have had recording contracts or moderate success in the industry wouldn’t have been able to enter either. This show has become equally about second chances, as much as it is about giving first opportunities to up-and-comers.

  21. Annie Jakowenko says:

    Blake is going to win again, and he should because he was smart enough to get Courtney!

  22. Annie Jakowenko says:

    By the way, Tim and Faith were awesome. They are bigger than life, and I’m thrilled to see them come on and support their friend Blake and do this gig

  23. kierankramer says:

    It’s sad how few comments there are! I miss the glory days with Michael and Melinda discussing American Idol and The Voice. I still don’t get why The Voice has won three Emmys when none of its winners have gone on to become superstars.

    Michael, I treasure your crazy similes. The fondue pot one cracks me up!