'The Voice': Frantic Night of Live Voting Determines Top 12

The Voice Season 11 - Live Playoffs 1 - H - 2016
Trae Patton/NBC

This season, The Voice introduced live real-time voting during the performance episodes of the Live Playoffs. Tonight, the Top 20 sang while fans voted in real time on Twitter and the official The Voice app. Two artists advanced to the top 12 immediately based on voting, while coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus each got to pick one artist from their team to be a finalist. Voting was limited to specific windows, and the show moved very quickly.

Team Alicia was up first. Christian Cuevas got things started by singing “Yesterday” by The Beatles and playing guitar. It wasn’t a very exciting start to the night, but Cuevas has an undeniably beautiful voice. He just didn’t do enough to really make the song his own, and a higher energy performance would have been a better start to the night.

Kylie Rothfield was up next, singing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. The song choice was a little strange, but Rothfield sang the hell out of it. She brought the energy that was lacking in the first performance of the night, but it wasn’t exactly exemplary of who she is as an artist.

Rothfield was followed by young artist McDonald, who sang “Home” from the musical The Wiz. It was a great song choice, and McDonald put powerful vocals behind the theatrical performance. It was something a little different, and McDonald is a refreshing presence this season.

Josh Halverson followed, singing “Cupid” by Sam Cooke. It was another strange song choice, and the performance was overly sentimental. It just didn’t seem like Halverson was connecting emotionally to the lyrics. In some ways, the new voting system worked against The Voice by making things so rushed. It just seemed like artists were having trouble really being present and making the most of their time on stage.

Sa’Rayah sang “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, getting things back on track in terms of song choice. She hit some incredible runs and really showcased her strengths. Keys has a team full of powerful singers, and Sa’Rayah might just be the tightest with her technical skills. It was one of the strongest performances of the night.

It was time for Team Blake to take the stage. Dana Harper went first, singing “Maneater” by Hall & Oates. It was another theatrical performance of the night, but it lacked the dynamics of McDonald’s grand performance. Still, Harper is one of the more interesting and versatile artists on Team Blake. She brings something special to the table, and she’s a captivating performer.

Austin Allsup sang “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” by Waylon Jennings, and he brought impressive vocals to the energetic performance. He’s a strong entertainer, and he was great on the guitar, too, even though that’s not what this show is about. It’s about the voice, and Allsup delivered on the vocals as well.

Jason Warrior sang “One Dance” by Drake, which was a great song choice. He really made it his own and brought something totally different to the Team Blake performances. He was a bold presence and delivered a smooth, beautiful vocal. Warrior put it all out there with this performance.

Next up was Sundance Head, singing “Blue Ain’t Your Color” by Keith Urban. It was one of the more straightforward country performances of the night. Sundance put a lot of soul into it, showcasing his artistry and the kind of country music that he wants to make.

Courtney Harrell closed out Team Blake’s performances by singing “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette. She showed off her incredible vocals as well as her incredible performance skills. Harrell impresses week after week. She definitely has what it takes to win the season, and she did not disappoint tonight, keeping the bar high for the rest of the performances.

Next, the results for Team Alicia were in. America voted to save Cuevas and McDonald, and Keys thankfully saved Sa’Rayah.

Team Miley was up next, starting with Sophia Urista, who sang Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” She gave a fun performance, but it wasn’t particularly memorable. Team Miley definitely has more impressive vocalists. Urista put on a good show, but it wasn’t exciting enough for this stage of the competition.

Darby Walker followed, singing “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkin. She put her own spin on the song and reflected a strong sense of who she is as an artist. She represents the creativity and young talent that Cyrus has championed all season. Her performance was original and stood out, which was very hard to pull off on this performance-packed night.

Aaron Gibson was up next with his rendition of “Round Here” by Counting Crows. It was a solid song choice for him. He connected with the words he was singing and delivered a raspy, sultry vocal that really worked with the song.

Belle Jewel sang “Runaway” by Del Shannon, putting her own twist on the song. She had interesting phrasing, and even though she had some pitch issues, she showed a lot of creativity. It wasn’t one of the best performances of the night, but Jewel has strong performance instincts.

Ali Caldwell finished up the Team Miley performances by singing “Times Have Changed.” It was a solid song choice, and Caldwell connected emotionally with the song. It was another highlight of the night, Caldwell really proving that she has the full package.

Next up, the results were in for Team Blake. America voted to save Head and Allsup, suggesting that America is most interesting in Shelton’s straight-up country artists. Shelton saved Harrell. It became clear that the coaches were making the better decisions than the viewers.

It was finally time for Team Adam to show off their skills. Brendan Fletcher started out, singing “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees. It was a personal best for Fletcher, who really came to life in this performance. He sang from the heart and showcased strong musical instincts.

Simone Gundy followed, singing Rhianna’s “Diamonds.” She showed off incredible range and had a huge performance that kept the energy high even though it was so late into the night. Gundy delivered one of the best performances of the night. “Diamonds” is a difficult song to sing, but she nailed it and also managed to bring her own personality to the performance. She definitely stood out on Team Adam.

Josh Gallagher followed with a strong performance of “Cold Weather” by the Zac Brown Band, proving that Team Adam has a strong country presence this season. He had powerful vocals, and it was one of his personal best performances of the season.

Riley Elmore maintained his reputation as the young crooner this season by singing Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be A Lady.” He brought his signature throwback sound to the song, playing to his strengths and working the crowd. He appeared confident, and the song choice suited him.

Billy Gilman closed out the night by singing “Crying” by Roy Orbison. It was a strong but not exceptional performance. Gilman is experienced and has an impressive voice, but he has yet to surprise in this competition. It was solid, but it wasn’t a powerful end to the night.

With the performances finally over, it was time for the last of the results. From Team Miley, America voted through Gibson and Caldwell. Cyrus picked Walker, who she described as her “mini-me,” as her save. From Team Adam, America voted to save Gilman and Gallagher—which were surprising results. Levine opted to save Fletcher.

The performances arguably were way too rushed in this episode. Live voting is an interesting concept, but the process was confusing, and it would have been nice to hear a bit more from the coaches. What did you think of the new Live Playoffs format? The top 12 will perform next week.