LOS ANGELES, Nov 30 — The top 10 artists of season 11 took the stage on The Voice tonight, all fighting to get votes and downloads as the competition tightens. Two artists will be eliminated tomorrow night, so the stakes were high. Coaches Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Blake Shelton no longer have any say in the results, but they helped their artists get their performances ready for the stage.
Billy Gilman from Team Adam kicked off the night, and even though Gilman has been trying to move away from his country roots and establish himself as more of a pop star, he decided to go back to where he came from by singing Anyway by Martina McBride. Gilman described this as a full-circle moment, because McBride was the reason he got his record deal as a young country singer. It wasn’t Gilman’s most exciting performance, but it was a decent start to the night. Gilman brought some of his pop sensibilities to the song and nailed the final chorus. He got standing ovations from all four coaches. Levine was very pleased with Gilman, and Shelton was happy to see him go back to his country roots. Cyrus was blown away as well.
Team Blake’s Courtney Harrell was up next, singing If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher. A bold 1980s song was exactly the right choice for Harrell. She sang with conviction and delivered huge vocals. Harrell has the performance skills it takes to really work the audience and take control of the stage. She continues to be the most surprising and exciting member of Team Blake. The performance had momentum to it, and the coaches were enthralled. “That voice comes out of you in a way that’s just relentless,” Keys said. “I love the way that you take the expected and turn it on its head.” “Your stage presence and your personality came out like it never has before,” Shelton added.
Josh Gallagher from Team Adam decided to sing Real Good Man by Tim McGraw. Gallagher talked about how even though Levine isn’t a country artist, the two have been working well together as coach and artist. Levine gave Gallagher some advice for how to play with the rhythm and how to connect with the lyrics. Gallagher gave a high-energy and fun performance. Levine has really brought him out of his shell, and it becomes clearer each week who Gallagher is as an artist. “I just felt like you were really in your element,” Keys said, praising his control.
Team Miley’s Aaron Gibson, who was in the bottom two last week, sang Rocket Man by Elton John tonight. Cyrus really worked hard with Gibson to try to keep him out of the bottom artists this week. “This is the time to really dig in and push yourself,” Gibson said of the double-elimination week. Gibson gave one of his best performances, bringing his raspy vocals to the song and playing along on the guitar. He is a compelling singer, but he isn’t quite as bold as some of the other artists left in the competition, and it’s hard to get a lot of momentum out of these impressive but understated performances every week. Plus, Gibson seemed a little nervous this week. Cyrus said she’s a big fan of him. “You don’t need glitter and glam. What you need is your guitar and your voice,” she said. Gibson is certainly authentic.
Team Alicia’s soul singer Christian Cuevas followed with a performance of Million Reasons by Lady Gaga. “I can’t do Gaga like Gaga, so I gotta make Gaga into Christian,” Cuevas said, adding that he chose the new song because of its message. He indeed made the song his own, taking Keys’ direction about using more of his head voice and utilising restraint. The performance was compelling and powerful, Cuevas tapping into the raw emotions of the song and implementing all of Keys’ advice about how to shape the vocals. “I think that was a very timely performance,” Shelton said. “We’ve been waiting for that incredible moment, and I think you may have just had it.”
Team Blake’s Austin Allsup also decided to take the 1980s route, singing Missing You by John Waite. Shelton said he wants viewers to see a softer side of Allsup, and this song would do the trick. Allsup definitely showed something a little different tonight, delivering an emotional performance. Cyrus was moved to tears. “I really believed you, and it was really powerful,” she said, adding it was her favourite performance of his. “Congratulations on taking a classic song and making it your own,” Shelton added.
The youngest artist left in the competition, Team Alicia’s We McDonald was up next, singing God Bless The Child by Billie Holiday. She said she would be thinking about her family and all the sacrifices they’ve made for her to pursue her singing career while performing the song. Keys encouraged McDonald to tap into her opera training. McDonald worked the crowd and gave the most exciting performance of the night. She nailed the runs, and her last note was unbelievable. “There’s nobody like you!” Keys exclaimed.
Team Adam’s Brendan Fletcher sang True Colours by Cyndi Lauper, with a stripped-down arrangement Levine helped him put together. It was something different from Fletcher, and it was the right call. Fletcher finally had a real connection with what he was singing and brought his own sound to a popular hit. Fletcher’s phrasing was a little bit awkward, but overall it was one of his strongest performances because it was unexpected and creative. Levine was blown away by Fletcher’s artistry and said he was finally truly in his element.
Team Blake’s soul-country singer Sundance Head decided to do some bluegrass this week, singing Me And Jesus by Tom T. Hall. Shelton helped him crack the arrangement. Head gave a fun honky-tonk-ready performance that will likely resonate with country fans. Head has a clear sense of what kind of artist he is, but he is far from being one of the season’s most impressive straight-up vocalists. “Every time you sing, I’m just right at home,” Keys said.
Team Miley’s Ali Caldwell closed out the night with a performance of Without You by Harry Nilsson. Cyrus said that this song will show viewers what kind of music Caldwell would make as a solo artist. It was a great way to close out the night, with Caldwell giving a bold and emotional performance. Her vocals were big and beautiful, and she got standing ovations from all four coaches. “My new goal in my life is just to make you the biggest star in the world,” Cyrus said.
Tomorrow night, two artists will go home. Who got your vote tonight? — The Hollywood Reporter/Bloomberg