Congratulations to NBC and the entire behind-the-scenes team at the The Voice! You made it all the way through your first season with Miley Cyrus on the coaching panel without a single twerking incident, wardrobe malfunction or naked body writhing atop an instrument of mass demolition.
I’ll admit, I had my doubts — even though, admittedly, I’ve got “We Can’t Stop” and “Party in the U.S.A.” in my iTunes library.
But tonight’s revelation that Miley is continuing to work with semifinalists Ali Caldwell and Aaron Gibson to help advance their post-show careers firmed up my ever-growing feeling that the polarizing pop diva was exactly what NBC’s reality singing competition needed to keep its feel-good freshness in tact.
Now, all Miley needs to do is get better at winnowing down her team in the Battles and Knockouts — and find ways to be more consistent/strategic in the art of contestant song selection — and she might just take home the whole enchilada when she returns for next fall’s Season 13 proceedings.
As it was, though, Tuesday’s finale wound up being a showdown among two members of Team Adam and one each from Team Blake and Team Alicia.
Following his trio of terrific performances on Monday — not to mention his ultra-consistent and consistently brash showing all season long — I found myself rooting for Team Blake’s Sundance Head, and no, not just because he was a semifinalist on Season 6 of That Reality Show I Keep Believing Will Return to Fox Next Month (aka American Idol) (you can’t really blame me, though, after Kelly Clarkson’s epic “It’s Quiet Uptown” duet tonight with Billy Gilman, can you?)
But enough about my inability to let go of the past (although wouldn’t it be nice if Sundance’s Idol compadre and one-time duet partner Sabrina Sloan popped up on The Voice come February?)
With that pipe-dream (or is it) tossed into the universe, let’s get to the results!
Josh Gallagher (Team Adam)
Wé McDonald (Team Alicia)
Billy Gilman (Team Adam)
The Voice Season 11 Winner
Sundance Head (Team Blake)
Congrats, Sundance! You may not have been producers’ Chosen One from the start, but your consistency and willingness to take risks made you the undeniable Season 11 champ!
Now, on to my Season 11 Finale Awards!
MOST EGREGIOUS CROSS-PROMOTION
Just spitballing here… I wonder if Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande’s rendition of the Sing soundtrack cut “Faith” (flanked by the Top 12) might’ve played less like an advertorial without extended footage from the film in the backdrop — and without an ad for the flick kicking off the subsequent commercial break.
PERFORMANCE I DIDN’T EXPECT TO LOVE THAT I WOUND UP NOT LOVING
Josh Gallagher (with bring-back artists Austin Allsup and Brendan Fletcher), “My Kinda Party” | No disrespect to the trio’s perfectly servicable vocals, but what could’ve possibly possessed them to cover this brutally curated collection of modern country-radio clichés. Not my kinda party — not at all, I dare say.
PERFORMANCE I DIDN’T EXPECT TO LOVE THAT EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS
I’ve been befuddled all season by Josh’s appeal with voters — not to mention his earning a spot in the finale — but his duet with Cam on her country smash “Burning House” was both tuneful and heartfelt, and among the more successful pairings of the entire episode.
I’m gonna need Horatio Caine and the folks from CSI: Miami to get me a closeup of John Legend’s trousers — not for nefarious reasons, but to get a better sense of that dark-stones-on-the-beach pattern I’d like to replicate in my own wardrobe. On a less superficial note, he and Wé sounded really good on his new single “Love Me Now.” Bonus points to the established star, too, for being generous with solo lines for his young duet partner.
WORST SOUND MIX
Did someone kill the feed from Sting’s microphone during his rendition of “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” or was the entire performance some sort of tantric whispering session gone awry?
BEST DISPLAY OF GIRL POWER
I know Billy snagged the entire first verse of his bring-back cover of “Proud Mary” for himself, but it was Ali Caldwell, Sa’Rayah and Courtney Harrell (who co-wrote Anastacia’s epic “Stupid Little Things”) who stole the show with their shiny gold dresses, kicky confidence and uninhibited vocal stylings. Hey, if Fifth Harmony can top the charts, these’s no reason these grown and sexy chicas can’t follow suit, am I right?
PERFORMANCE THAT MOST MADE ME MISS THE TRADITION OF ALLOWING THE ENTIRE TOP 20 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FINALE
“I really hate this,” grumbled my husband, during The Weeknd’s rambling, interminable rendition of “Star Boy,” and I agreed — especially since Season 11 standouts like Jason Warrior, Sophia Urista, Kylie Rothfield, Simone Gundy, Dana Harper, Josh Halverson and Belle Jewel got benched to (presumably) make room for him.
LEAST EFFECTIVE SHOWCASE
I know Sundance’s last memories of his late brother include flashbacks to their trip to a Kiss concert, but what do “Detroit Rock City” and “I Wanna Rock N Roll All Night” have to do with the kind of music the bearded country-soulster wants to produce post-show?
COOLEST CONSOLATION PRIZE
As Voice fans, we know full well that our finalists may or may not get any kind of major label release and/or promotion. Which makes show’s gifting of a Toyota-sponsored, tricked-out home recording studio for Sundance, Billy, Wé and Josh all the more pertinent.
BEST IN SHOW
Two words: Kelly Clarkson. Three more words: “It’s Quiet Uptown.” Four additional words: Anyone have Hamilton tickets? Five final words: Billy Gilman sounded good, too.
Sundance’s decision to bring back Team Blake counterparts Courtney Harrell and Austin Allsup played as genuine as it did adorable — and the trio sounded loose, relaxed and mostly in tune during their ditty.