The Voice‘s season 11 knockouts are now complete, and while there have been some serious letdowns leading up to this point, tonight’s third round illustrates the exact problem with the show’s bracket-style slim-down procedure. Sometimes, neither of the contestants really deserve to advance to the lives, while in other cases, both do. As a result, we end up with a Top 20 that doesn’t quite shape up the way it should, and it’s up to voters to whittle down those outliers in the live rounds while crossing our fingers that some of the unfairly pardoned would-be favorites get a callback from the coaches.
Here’s how tonight’s final knockouts round played out.
Team Blake: Austin Allsup vs. Gabe Broussard
It’s easy to develop a soft spot for young Gabe Broussard for his friendly face, bright demeanor, and decent amount of potential, but let’s be real here: There is no competition between these two tonight. Before the knockouts, Austin Allsup was dangerously close to typecasting himself as a yawn-worthy honky-tonker with no imagination, but even then he still had the edge over ho-hum Gabe. So when Austin manages to defy all expectations with his genre-blending, house-torching take on Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” it’s just a bonus for his fanfare potential in the live rounds.
He manages to imbue a little swamp into the tune, at Tim McGraw’s suggestion, opening up the number with echoes of Jace Everett’s bayou-ready True Blood theme song. Then he slips in some Robert Plant-approved rock-run screams and gives Steven Tyler a run for his breath-control money at the tail end. Altogether, it’s a riveting effort at proving he’s more than one-note, and it works. By comparison, Gabe Broussard’s high-school-talent-show-level lack of pitch precision during Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain” is a drippy wash.
Winner: Austin Allsup
Team Miley: Darby Walker vs. Maye Thomas
If this competition was called The Voice Sound-Alike, Darby Walker would march right to the finish line with her uncanny Florence Welch impression, but even without that moniker marker, this running impersonation gag is still SOMEHOW pushing her right on through on The Voice. It’s a head-scratcher, too, because her uninspired choice of Florence + The Machine’s hit “Shake It Out” seems to be pure necessity, and despite what everyone’s saying about her having a unique or distinct voice, all I can hear tonight is Flo 2.0. And it’s all her fault for once again making the obvious choice of an F+TM song. Head, meet desk.
But Maye Thomas isn’t any better in that regard. She’s apparently schooled in the Gwen Stefani goth-rock game — her take on Tegan and Sara’s “Closer” sounds like a No Doubt cover of the song gone wrong. And because Maye practically gives it away, and Darby’s cover was so much more on the nose, the latter wins it and advances to the Top 20. It’s a mismatch with some of the others who are getting through — and even more so against some of those who aren’t — so if she comes back with a F+TM song in the lives, she’s finished. Count on that.
Winner: Darby Walker
NEXT: The upset of the season?