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The Voice recap: Season 11, Episode 18

The coaches get subtly political while another contestant goes home

Posted on

Tyler Golden/NBC

The Voice

TV Show
Reality TV, Music
run date:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson
Current Status:
In Season

Aaaand now we’re at the number of the season: 11.

Tonight’s elimination round features the first true coaching performances of The Voice‘s 11th run — apart from those random impromptu duets that came together during the blinds, of course — and they’re arguably the strongest of the entire series, particularly when it comes to their timely relevance.

Adam Levine gathers his eclectic group for the first message-centric music moment of the night, jamming out with the angst-riddled ’60s wartime anthem “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. His array of men at the mic couldn’t be more different, sound-wise, but they all manage to blend their tones with the tune and produce a subtle nod to a chaotic atmosphere. They don’t precisely harmonize, but their audial distinctions aren’t distracting, either.

More direct is Alicia Keys’ approach. As a bit of promotion for her new album Here, she was expected to debut the single “Blended Family (What You Do For Love),” but considering the massive political and societal unrest resulting from the election — or, as she politely phrases it, “the current climate” — she instead delivers her prescient song “Holy War,” with a little instrumental assistance from Adam. The song is all about loving, being loved, and individual betterment, and I am here for it. Well played, Alicia.

Last but not least, Miley assembles her squad for a tribute to her godmother, Dolly Parton, and manages to make another poignant point with their rendition of her classic song, “There’ll Always Be Music.” Whether purposeful or not, the lyrics do touch on something important about the relevance of the arts in times like these: “There’ll always be music as long as there’s a story to be told / There’ll always be music ’cause music is the voice of the soul.” The fact that she nails it and makes me want her to put out a country album is just a bonus, really.

Tl;dr — Everyone has their own unique platforms, and these coaches did their best to make use of theirs tonight without being obnoxious about it.

Now, About That Top 11

The dragged-out process of announcing America’s vote results is visibly excruciating for those left to linger as name after name gets ticked off the list of favorites. But the pair that ended up in the bottom two tonight didn’t seem to have a clue this would happen to them.

In order of announcement, America voted in (drum roll, please):

  1. Ali Caldwell (Team Miley)
  2. Wé McDonald (Team Alicia)
  3. Brendan Fletcher (Team Adam)
  4. Courtney Harrell (Team Blake)
  5. Billy Gilman (Team Adam)
  6. Darby Walker (Team Miley)
  7. Austin Allsup (Team Blake)
  8. Christian Cuevas (Team Alicia)
  9. Josh Gallagher (Team Adam)
  10. Sundance Head (Team Blake)

That left Sa’Rayah (Team Alicia) and Aaron Gibson (Team Miley) at the mercy of the instant-save voters, after singing for their supper/support and having to endure repeated face-rubbing about their foot-out-the-door status by exchanging flowery hyperboles with their coaches.

Stating Their Cases

Neither Sa’Rayah nor Aaron Gibson bother to break new ground with their “save me” performances, which might be the mistake for Sa’Rayah, since she’s already had trouble garnering a voter base. Her rendition of The Whispers’ “Rock Steady” is as earnest and Tina Turner-esque as her heart can manage (especially without slipping on those crazy heels), and she has the requisite funk-and-growl technique to make up for last night’s big miss.

Aaron, meanwhile, sticks to what he knows and opts for Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House,” which allows him to stay directly within the four walls of his comfort zone, except to wax auctioneer for those sped-up snippets of the chorus here and there. Again, nothing earth-shattering from either of these guys, but judging by the runaway results of the instant vote previewed during the commercials, this wasn’t exactly a squeaker decision. Aaron did what he needed to do to stick around, while Sa’Rayah is sent packing with Alicia’s words of encouragement: “Continue to walk in your light, mommy. You already won.”

Was it the right call? Absolutely. But now Aaron should be on high alert, knowing he’s not as much a favorite as he (and everyone else) might have expected.


  • Team Adam — Billy Gilman, Josh Gallagher, Brendan Fletcher
  • Team Alicia — Christian Cuevas, Wé McDonald
  • Team Blake — Sundance Head, Austin Allsup, Courtney Harrell
  • Team Miley — Aaron Gibson, Ali Caldwell, Darby Walker