With 23 seasons, nine victories and an unquantifiable quantity of schtick under his cowboy hat, OG Voice coach Blake Shelton plopped down in his red swivel chair for the last time Tuesday night to find out whether his team had brought him one more win for the road. And, based on the results of the polls that followed TVLine’s recap of the Top 5’s performances, the sing-off’s GOAT would be raising a glass to celebrate rather than drown his sorrows: Grace West had surged to the lead over Team Niall Horan’s Gina Miles.
Though our polls are notoriously unreliable predictors of what the overall voting will be, I had a hunch that Blake fans weren’t going to let him go home empty-handed. Then again, Grace could have split the vote with teammate NOIVAS, who had seemed to lose some steam after an incredibly strong start to the season. That would have given the edge to Gina, whose rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” was a real stunner. (Listen below.)
Before we found out whether Blake would be adding another trophy to his case, or Niall his first — or whether Kelly Clarkson or Chance the Rapper’s contestants were able to pull off the shocker of all shockers — we were of course treated to a heckuva night of entertainment. Among the more memorable moments was TikTok sensation Toosii wearing a jewelry store’s worth of bling and still having to try not to get lost in the lights and the fog as he walked through “Favorite Song.” Diplo and Lily Rose did their best to make us like “Sad in the Summer” as much as we do “Use Me (Brutal Hearts),” the DJ’s collab with Dove Cameron and Sturgill Simpson. And Maroon 5, with ex-coach Adam Levine rocking a Susan Powter ’do and an afghan, ran through the pretty, mellow “Middle Ground.”
As you’d hope, expect and demand, a whole lotta tribute was also paid to Blake on his way out. And a good bit of ribbing, too. “Don’t screw it up, you idiot,” teased longtime sparring partner Adam Levine at the top of the show. Former coach CeeLo Green was joined on stage by some of Blake’s former contestants on a mini-medley of retro hits for the ’80s aficionado. (Props to Season 20 winner Cam Anthony, who added the most energy to the performance.) In a pretaped segment, an MIA Gwen Stefani recounted her and her husband’s unexpected love story. Another clipfest featured Al Michaels recruiting a group of GOATS — including Dolly Parton, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Peyton Manning — to give Blake tips on retirement. (Host Carson Daly then retired the coach’s iconic jean jacket.) Later, we got a montage of a whole plethora of onetime coaches — everyone from Pharrell Williams to Jennifer Hudson to Miley Cyrus — giving taped shout-outs to Blake and a host of his former team members serenading him. Finally, George Strait showed up in a pre-recorded clip to wish his fellow country star well.
As for the coach/contestant duets, they went down as follows…
Gina Miles and Niall Horan, “New York State of Mind” — Gina’s Grade: A- | Before the tag team took to the stage, Niall explained that Billy Joel’s ballad had been on the list of songs that Gina had been considering singing on the show. And while I wouldn’t have thought it was exactly in her wheelhouse, she sounded splendid on it — kinda Melody Gardot-like and yet still utterly Gina-esque.
NOIVAS and Blake Shelton, “Home” — NOIVAS’ Grade: B- | Blake made sure to jovially point out ahead of his duet with NOIVAS that he hadn’t picked his hit, NOIVAS had. Why had he chosen it, though? Here, NOIVAS, whom I’d once thought of as an unstoppable force, came off… well, nice and nothing more. Perhaps especially next to Blake, NOIVAS’ vocal lacked depth.
D.Smooth and Kelly Clarkson, “Slow Dancing in the Dark” — D’s Grade: B+ | After dubbing his coach K.Smooth, D joined her for a lovely rendition of Joji’s hit that didn’t do a lot to up the energy of the evening. Nevertheless, D’s vocal was pretty, and he found a few spots to show off and demonstrate more than the trademark silkiness.
Sorelle and Chance the Rapper, “O-o-o-h Child” — Sorelle’s Grade: B+ | Interesting contrast between Chance’s lived-in voice and the sister act’s crystalline harmonies, but it kinda worked. In any case, the siblings’ harmonies were pretty divine — the sonic equivalent of a light breeze blowing through a chandelier. Odd, though, that the trio was used, basically, as background singers.
Grace West and Blake Shelton, “Again” — Grace’s Grade: C | Oof. This duet started off fine and also dandy but then went a little bit off the rails. Maybe part of the problem was that the band was so loud, it almost seemed to be fighting with Grace and her coach. Ultimately, the finalist, who I generally adore, seemed to get too far off to get back on track.
And in the moment(s) of truth, we learned that the audience had voted into…
NOIVAS (Team Blake)
Sorelle (Team Chance)
D.Smooth (Team Kelly)
Grace West (Team Blake)
Season 23 Winner
Gina Miles (Team Niall)
So, what did you think of the results? The season? Blake’s sendoff? Vote in the polls below, then see what Gina herself has to say here.