Ali Caldwell The Voice

The Voice Top 20 Performance Recap: Who Survived the Brutal Eliminations?

I will not use the words “rigged” and “election” in the same sentence this week — GACK! JUST DID! — but nevertheless, I suspect history won’t look too kindly on The Voice‘s “historic” decision to use real-time voting (and same-night eliminations) for Season 11 Top 20 performance night.

Do I think Mark Burnett and the good folks at NBC decided to shake up the format in order to favor heavily promoted front-runners over dangerous dark horses? There’s no real evidence to support that theory.

But with presidential election results pouring in Tuesday night, it (apparently?) left no room on the Peacock net’s schedule for a second set of performances or even a quickie results telecast — even though, historically, the Live Playoffs consisted of two performance shows plus a Wednesday results special. (Hmmm… so why didn’t we have 20 performances on Monday, and eliminations on Wednesday?!)

In any event, what we wound up with was a decision to pack into a mere 120 minutes all of the following: 20 individual performances; real-time voting (which left half the nation weighing in without the benefit of hearing a single contestant); eight nerve-wracking ousters; and, inexplicably, an approximate 37 minutes of Carson Daly stall tactics.

The entire affair proved as rushed as a Trump supporter stealing an “I’m With Her” sign off a suburban lawn.

“This is happening too fast!” exclaimed Blake Shelton, speaking for all of us. “I can’t wrap my head around this.”

I can’t either, dude! And thus, all I feel comfortable doling out are my letter grades for each performance — and a recap of the final public/coaches’ choices. (Next week, I’ll get back to the business of offering more detailed performance reviews, I promise!.)

Christian Cuevas, “Yesterday” — Grade: B
Kylie Rothfield “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” — Grade: C+
Wé McDonald, “Home” (from The Wiz) — Grade: C+ (a surprising stumble from a teen who’s been flawless all season — I’m glad she moved on, but she can’t afford to be this consistently sharp again)
Josh Halverson “Cupid” — Grade: B
Sa’Rayah, “I’d Rather Go Blind” — Grade: A-
Saved by America (Top 2 Vote-Getters): Christian, Wé
Saved by Alicia: Sa’Rayah
Eliminated: Kylie, Josh

Dana Harper, “Maneater” — Grade: B-
Austin Allsup, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” — Grade: A-
Jason Warrior, “One Dance” — Grade: B+
Sundance Head, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Grade: B
Courtney Harrell, “It Must Have Been Love” — Grade: C+
Saved by America (Top 2 Vote-Getters): Sundance, Austin
Saved by Blake: Courtney
Eliminated: Dana, Jason

Sophia Urista, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” — Grade: B+
Darby Walker, “Those Were the Days” — Grade: C-
Aaron Gibson, “Round Here” — Grade: C+
Belle Jewel, “Runaway” — Grade: D+
Ali Caldwell, “Times Have Changed” — Grade: A
Saved by America (Top 2 Vote-Getters): Aaron, Ali
Saved by Miley: Darby (say what now?)
Eliminated: Sophia, Belle

Brendan Fletcher, “To Love Somebody” — Grade: B-
Simone Gundy, “Diamonds” — Grade: A-
Josh Gallagher, “Colder Weather” — Grade: B+
Riley Elmore, “Luck Be a Lady” — Grade: D+
Billy Gilman “Crying” — Grade: A
Saved by America (Top 2 Vote-Getters): Billy, Josh
Saved by Adam: Brendan (this really should’ve gone to Simone)
Eliminated: Riley, Simone

What did you think of The Voice‘s action-packed, real-time Top 20 telecast? Which elimination stung the most? Which save left you most baffled? Vote for your faves on each team in our polls below — then expand on your thoughts 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. OhMy says:

    Man, nerves on parade tonight. I guess I can’t blame them, but not a great night. I pedicure it will get better.

  2. James says:

    Ali, Billy, and SaRayah really impressed me tonight. Wè disappointed me! But I think she deserves an exception because she’s been flawless up until this point and the show was a bit too rushed. I would say as of right now, I would want to see Ali and Billy fighting for the crown, but I think Wè will probably be back in the game next week.

    • kevstar69 says:

      I actually thought Sorayah was better than We` but she should get a pass, due to Home being such a difficult song. The only one to get close to Stephanie Mills was Whitney.
      Christian was fantastic on Yesterday.

  3. analythinker says:

    My predictions were only correct for Team Blake and Team Miley. Slightly off on Team Alicia cause I thought people liked Josh (guess not), but am not surprised she picked Sa’rayah. Also, again, I underestimated the country fans and thought Riley was a shoo-in (thank goodness he’s out). But in a scenario where who’s left are Brendan, Riley, and Simone, I knew Adam would pick Brendan.

    • Lee says:

      I think Adam made the right decision. Riley is too green. Simone will have a tough time competing against We. I would’ve picked Brendan too.

      • Kat says:

        Riley is too young and should go back on another season. The other hard part about Riley is no one sings like that anymore. The young voters aren’t going to want him.

        • analythinker says:

          This might not be true. Right from the start when The Voice tweeted his name, he was on top of the votes, even surpassed Billy’s. But then the country fans came storming in for Josh [as well as Billy] and ousted him from the running.

    • ICMongeese says:

      I liked Josh a lot; I think his ouster is due to the change in voting–I wasn’t able to watch TV last night, so didn’t vote. HIs youtube from last week garnered (at the last time I viewed it) more hits then most others. This sucks for Josh. But I didn’t get to see his performance, so he might not have done well this week?

      • ICMongeese says:

        Answering my own comment here as I just now took a look at Josh’s clip from last night–poor song choice, off key–probably nerves. That’s too bad as my opinion is that he was a unique and interesting voice.

      • analythinker says:

        I prefer his performance last week, so I can see why people didn’t vote, but I saw the Twitter count and he was just right behind Sa’rayah. Was hoping for Alicia to pick him (because We and Christian were through from the votes) but I can’t say Sa’rayah did bad.

    • Lizzie says:

      I really like Josh, but that performance did not go well for him, and he was one of the contestants where the camera zoomed in so close that his entire head didn’t even fit onto my TV screen – really kind of creepy way to present the singers – not everyone was watching on their phone, some of us have big screen TVs. Sorry to see Riley go, he is not country in any way, so I don’t know what you mean by the country fans voting for him, unless you mean they know a good voice when they hear it. Sa’rayah will not last.

      • analythinker says:

        I underestimated country fans who voted for Josh Gallagher, not for Riley. If Josh isn’t country, Adam’s top 3 would be: Billy, Riley, and Brendan.

  4. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    Michael, I’m with you. The less said about tonight the better.

  5. Neil says:

    I think Team Alicia and Team Adam got it just about right (although I’d replace Josh G. with Simone).

  6. Gailer says:

    Lots of talent left behind tonight! I liked Simone but Brendan was good too. Adam had to let go the most talented I think.

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      I had not liked Simone until tonight. She showed restraint. She let the song build. It is a song I do not like but she sang it beautifully. The public robbed her of her spot. I do not blame Adam for picking Brendan, but both he and Simone should be live.

  7. Mge says:

    I am incredibly shocked that Darby is into the top 12 and we lost stunning contestants like Dana, Simone and Sophia. I am ultra pissed that she beat out Sophia and I think she has the most annoying voice I’ve ever heard on this show. Please, please get rid of her next week. Please.

    • analythinker says:

      IMO, the stylistic tone, which some consider as her best feature, can also hinder her performance, because at times it felt like she was veering off toward off-key realm. Also, the intonation. Can’t understand what she’s singing.

      • Mge says:

        Yeah, I think that her stylistic tone is much more likely to hinder her performance than to help it. She gets so into it that it doesn’t even sound like singing to me anymore.

    • Truffle oil says:

      Agreed 100%%%

    • MC says:

      Sophia gave one of the most steady and consistently tuneful performances of the night. The best voices don’t always win on this show.

    • H.naledi says:

      Sooo many bad song choices. I burst out laughing when Darby started in the chorus. I wasn’t as big a fan of Sophia’s — too much like the Rod Stewart original. I’m gonna miss Simone. She had immense control.

  8. dj says:

    This format was terrible. The rush-rush vibe seemed to really impact the performances of some of the people who had been solid in the past. I think it irritated Adam and Blake that they couldn’t spin the performances in time to influence the vote. I wonder if anyone charted on iTunes. I’ll have to go look. I think they probably got much fewer votes in general than they get on a normal live show.

  9. Kimmy Moores says:

    We only messed up because this nonsense playoff night completely ruined contestant morale thanks to such an unbelievable amount of nerves being placed on them.
    This was legitimately worse than any of the eliminations from AI’s last 2 seasons.

  10. Kimmy Moores says:

    Billy- overrated as hell and pimped beyond repair, staging and arrangement scream pimpage
    Belle performed better than Darby, easily. Darby was miserable. Sounded like I was trapped in an Eastern European Nightmare.

    • Meme says:

      Billy is so amazing that he is hard to rate at all as no one can outsing that beautiful voice. You should listen a little closer next time.

      • Sue Glover says:

        I agree. Best performance of the night.

      • Julia says:

        Billy has a very good voice but that performance was not current at all and he is not a pop singer. Not even close.. I don’t get why they are pimping him so hard because there are a bunch of very talented contestants this season who are far more current than he is. No one should care that he had a couple of hits when he was 12. He’s not 12 anymore.

        • Ann says:

          I’m actually just watching The Voice for Billy. I’ve never watched this show before this year. I’d bet he has a huge following from hi fans when he was a child star, so I’m sure that’s why they’re pimping him. That, and the fact that he might be the only Voice contestant who can sell millions right off the bat, due to his large following from his younger days. That guy had his own Christmas special on one of the major networks!

        • Jag says:

          I realy dont understand the pimping with Billy… i mean that is his story you cant blame it on him. See his staging very simple. He didnt even have to sell his performance aside from his voice. So what gives?

    • Sue Glover says:

      Billy had a great performance.

    • Annie says:

      I was not impressed with Billy tonight at all. And Darby? Ugh. Sophia would have been a much better choice from Miley.

    • cindy neuhold says:

      I agree about Darby. She sings so down in her throat. I can’t stand to listen.

    • A.R. Vega says:

      I agree, Billy is overrated garbage.

    • Lizzie says:

      Billy actually played his voice like an instrument, with some ability and style that surprised me. Like most of them last night, there was too much one dimensional volume from beginning to end, but he actually did some things with his voice that caught my attention. Belle has a lovely voice. Darby, goodness, how she made it into the lives is only on Miley and their quirky business together – her performance last week was far better than this round, and yet here she is for another week – if Riley is too young to stay, how about Darby?

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

    OMG!!! Ali . . . . I’m speechless. Now THAT was a Moment!!! She came out and SLAYED!!! Her and Sarayah were not playing any games!!! Also loved we (despite her nerves, she’s incredible), Aaron. Simone ( robbed ), and Billy!!!

  12. Lmm says:

    Hated it!

  13. scott says:

    Wow…so many contenders getting the axe. I am definitely convinced the producers want to pave the way for their favs. Of the eliminated performers, the most pro-ready of them all was Sophia and Simone. Darby is just wasting a space on the show. And as usual, my favs got eliminated way too soon. So I guess I’m rooting for Courtney, Sundance, and Billy. And am I the only one who thinks Adam has a strong team now while Miley’s team got weaker?

  14. Trent says:

    I definitely think Jason was the most robbed contestant this episode. Also, kinda surprised that Darby and Riley weren’t voted through by Twitter… Although I’d have been happier if Darby didn’t get through.
    My favourites from the night were Jason, Sa’Rayah, Billy and Ali. They slayed it.

    • kevstar69 says:

      His One Dance was a mess! And that’s one of my favorite songs this year.
      Would have been better with a slower reggae beat.

      • Trent says:

        I’m actually not the biggest fan of the original. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed his? Either way, he hands down was better than Courtney

    • Lizzie says:

      Why would you expect that Darby would have been voted through? Riley I don’t understand why he didn’t make it, but Darby needs to go, and unfortunately she did not.

      • *I’m not the biggest fan of her voice, delivery or that performance (a bit too contrived for my taste). However, she has been getting a lot of hype from the show. And I also noticed that on the The Voice’s Twitter account that the tweet to save Darby had the most retweets as well.

  15. s. scannelli says:

    Except for Ali, mileys team was really terrible,and I mean TERRIBLE. Ali was fantastic. Blake was right, if each team did not have 3 going thru other people from the other teams would have
    passed up mileys team.


  16. juliegramm says:

    West Coast hasn’t even seen it yet and folks are voted off. Boo. It’s the end of the line for me. I’ll read these recaps and catch a few songs online. Bad job, NBC.

    • dj says:

      Yeah, I didn’t even think about that. Way to disenfranchise a whole coast, NBC. It reminds me of the elections when they call a winner before all the polls have closed. Plus, they lost big iTunes money with this format. When I looked a minute sgo, the top song of the night for the Voice was Billy Gilman’s Cryin’ at #58. He would’ve cracked the top 10 on a normal live show.

    • Heather K. Solon says:

      Totally agree may not watch anymore

  17. Sue says:

    What a train wreck. That is all.

  18. Melaniem says:

    This format was a trainwreck that definitely favored the more hyped contestants. Really upset Josh H is gone but think he was done in by a WTF song choice. Thought both Sundance and Austin were excellent. Both Darby and Belle were trainwrecks-actually thought everyone but Ali on Team Miley were underwhelming tonight. The public really mucked with Adam by choosing Josh G, although I thought he deserved it based on performance. You could tell Adam was not happy but glad he saved Brendan

  19. Sue says:

    It was so rushed that it was hard to tell who was singing what. So frenetic, for no reason (Wednesday still exists, NBC, even with a presidential election). I am happy Ali got saved (best performance of the night), and I pretty much don’t know who else sang and what (since most of the guys were good but somewhat interchangeable, IMO, except Billy). And people dissed AI for moving too fast.

  20. Jill says:

    What exec thought it was a good idea to alienate everyone on the west coast? Besides the fact that I realized at minute one that I couldn’t vote which despite rarely voting really annoyed me, this episode was way too rushed. This was a poor planning decision all around.

  21. Gailer says:

    I think Adam has better country singers than Blake!

  22. Morisot says:

    These folks want to be performers — this live format really showed that a lot of them are not ready.

  23. S says:

    Even though tonight felt rushed and we didn’t get the best performances from all the performers, I am excited for the rest of the season. I think this is the closest competition that we have had since the Matt McAndrew (he was robbed a win!) season. Hopefully the upcoming weeks give us some stellar performances!!

  24. davmon says:

    This rush job felt like a vaudeville show that already had its money and was in a.hurry to get outta town.

  25. DrKellyNotMD says:

    I like Simone a lot, but I think Adam was smart to choose Brendan over her. There are a lot of other singers in Simone’s “lane” this season (Wé, Ali, Courtney) & Brendan brings something completely different to the mix. The only other singer genre wise similar to Brendan is Aaron & I think Brendan is the stronger of the two.

  26. kevstar69 says:

    Sundance killed it on that song!
    If Billy Bob Thornton and Derek Hough had a baby, it would look like Austin.

  27. Annie says:

    Wow, a lot of bad song choices tonight.

    • MC says:

      Dana’s “Maneater” was an especially horrible choice. It’s virtually impossible to advance with that song.

    • polarvortex says:

      Absolutely! Who picks these stupid songs anyway! Cupid? Runaway!Do ya think I’m sexy?

      • H.naledi says:

        It seems they asked my Great Aunt Mamie for song suggestions. Missing were “Sunrise, Sunset”, “Buttons and Bows” and “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.” Maybe that’s next week.

  28. Barry says:

    Most stressful night I can recall in this show for me… Ali, Sarayah and Billy were the best of the night, Billy is technically perfect, but I feel absolutly nothing when he sings which frustrates me. Simone was robbed, period; Darby over Sophia was a “Hell No” situation; So disappointed with Wé, nerves definitely got the best of her tonight, maybe the competition is not such a foregone conclusion after all… Devastated to see Josh H. Dana, Kylie, out but they weren’t at their best tonight. So much great talent gone tonight, hopefully next week won’t be such a punch in the face and get a better level of performances overall. This format was awful.

  29. kevstar69 says:

    I’m really not surprised Miley chose Darby. This is the same woman who wrote an entire album about her dead dog and gave it away on the Internet for free! Are we really shocked by anything she does, at this point?

  30. Heather K. Solon says:

    This show sucked!! Felt very rushed and no one really sounded great.awest coast didn’t get to vote. Boo on you The Voice👎

  31. Bob Nelson says:

    Really disappointed, tuned in only to find out that I can’t vote. They could have waited a week, I like We, but she was terribly off key. I don’t think she should have gone forward. Leaving half the country out of voting tonight and on instant saves is my biggest gripe about this show. Since it doesn’t matter who I would have voted for, set the DVR and changed the channel.

  32. Annie says:

    I had to work tonight so I didn’t watch in real-time; therefore, I also could not vote. I just got done watching it on my dvr. All I can say is, I’m glad two of my favorites have moved on: Aaron & Brendan.

  33. Tony The Tank says:

    This show is history. Said it when Miley and Alisha came as judges and this new format where you can’t vote is disgraceful. And I don’t by We got more votes than Josh. I smell a fix on NBC. She had so many bad notes and the worst performance. Bye BYE not watching no more.

  34. Michele says:

    Adam blew it – should have saved Simone so he would have someone to compete against the powerhouse females on the other teams. Maybe he was too rushed!

    • Russ says:

      He is was not as rushed as everybody makes it out. He had 4 and a half minutes when he started talking. If he had not rambled on about each individual singer on his team. He would have had plenty of time to make a decision after Carson announced the 2 saved. It is on Adam for not prioritizing when he should be talking and when he should have shut his mouth.

    • tvloverSA says:

      His got Billy who is final material and Brandon really brings something different and by the way simone was just not good enough to compete with the 3 ladies …I am happy that Adam stood for the artists he believes on ..

  35. Music In My Bones says:

    1. Brendan Fletcher 2. Aaron Gibson 3. Simone Gundy. 4. We’ McDonald

    Brendan has incredible depth; he FEELS the song lyrics. His textured voice drew me in from the first time I heard him sing. I hope he wins!

  36. Hso says:

    Haven’t watched yet but I’m sad to see Josh go. He was one of my favorites after the knock-offs.

  37. Susan says:

    Worst season of the voice. I won’t be watching anytime soon. No Dave Moison Michael Sanchez Dana Harper. Left with screamers and average talent. Worst decision ever to cram this the way NBC did.

  38. I believe that rushing through the performances was a terrible idea, having the show on either Wed. or next Monday would have been a far better choice. I couldn’t vote, I don’t have either of the choices mentioned….this is probably my last year of watching.

  39. tony says:

    DARBY!!!! come on miley save your girl crushes for another show please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. i hated this show soooo much …it was like a circus…and america did not even have time to adjust to the songs befre another popped up -i think they forgot we need to hear the coaches and get educated so we too can be more informed voters…there was no guidance and i am sure americans are not all singing experts …but we learn from what the judges say and from rehashing the emotion and technique in each song…who had time??? plus…i did not even understandhow to vote until halfway through the show…bad choice nbc- i almost do not even want to watch the final 12- i might not! too many talented people went home with no chance to prove themselves or their abilities.

    • Morisot says:

      I think most of us have a pretty well-developed sense of what sounds good to us (or what makes us cringe for that matter.) Do we really have to have arbiters instruct us on what we should like or find pleasing!

    • Jag says:

      Hate it so much? I wonder what kind of resolute you have for still watching.

  41. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Song choices sabotaged so many. Felt manipulative. Did not like all the b.s. Had high hopes for some honest critique during live shows, but after tonights sabotage of Belle among others and putting Darby through despite her butchering a beautiful, poignant song from the late 60s that you could not possibly make sound bad. Then Alicia said with a straight face that she would choose Darby. Miley tops it off with ‘I dont listen to anyone” and then does just that. Looks like the girls have caved in. We are headed for more bad performances getting undeserved praise. Sad.

  42. Judith says:

    Can’t figure out exactly what Michael’s issue with Brendan is. He has one of the best voices if you ask me! How many times is Darby going to skate by with a horrible performance? Sophia should have her spot.

    I will miss Josh H. the most of those cut. Was looking forward to other performances of his. Kind of strange he had the top iTunes seller one week and is suddenly gone the next.

    I hope to God this new format is an anomaly only because of the election. It’s horrendous!

  43. Whoa – thanks to the Indian’s post-season run (next year, boys!), we hadn’t watched any of this season until this elimination slaughter. Oy, that was not a good night to start watching the season. Really didn’t like most of the lot of contestants – more than half were off-key performances or screeching. Not sure we’ll be back next week. Here’s looking forward to Season 12!

  44. ICMongeese says:

    Wow, I missed last nights program and Josh is out already?

  45. Kathy says:

    Not a fan of this format at all and I don’t like the fact that this is an East Coast show and all of us on the West Coast are completely left out of the voting. It was too rushed and you could tell in all of the performances tonight. Not sure I will watch next year. Very disappointed!

  46. Lizzie says:

    The first half of the show was fairly terrible. Pitch all over the place from multiple singers, just some overall bad singing – I wondered if their earpieces were working, it was so bad. Most of them singing so loud it was like they were trying to eject their lungs like aliens. I love Brendan, but he didn’t sound like his full self last night. Dana – that lovely warm tone is really something, but kept waiting for the mandatory bigger note stretch, and it seemed sort of uneventful. Darby was an absolute mess, like a pony trying to run through a display of china and tripping every other step. Just about every performance was rushed by the band, the singer had to run to try to catch up. We’ – yikes, I thought for sure she was going home after that performance. I love Riley, but that was not his best, although he has such a recordable voice, so young. Several not at all ready for prime time, and lets us know the wonders of editing that we have seen in the previous performances.

    Blake and Adam both had stronger, better singers who went home, than some of what was put through on Alicia’s team, and may God help all of those singers who chose Miley.

  47. betsi says:

    Why did Belle get a D+ ?!! She was amazing.

  48. Roger says:

    The show was waaaay too rushed! Ridiculous! Unfair for the singers to be herded in like sheep and then exit. With all of the preliminaries the singers have a right to be pissed in the end. The Voice should be ashamed for a VERY POOR production and a sad ending for those who had to leave when the judges especially Levine had little time to choose wisely nor did the voters at home have enough time to vote or couldn’t because of the time zones!!!

  49. Holly says:

    The new format is crap. Like mentioned, a lot of people are not allowed to vote this way. I loved Josh H., but I agree the song choice was poor. He didn’t even sound like the Josh from his prior performances. The only one I really enjoy besides him is Sundance, but not sure it’s worth continuing to watch. Too many screamers again – why do people enjoy that so much. Once in a while, it’s ok with the right song. But an entire album of someone screaming the lyrics – no thanks. I like a more mellow style of singing but that never seems to win.

  50. Excellent Aunt says:

    Who will take over coaching for Miley…I thought she said that if Trump was elected, she would leave the country. LOL. Probably wouldn’t matter, since she has the weakest team.