‘The Voice’ Top 20: The First Cuts are the Deepest

Oh the carnage! It’s cutting time at The Voice! So far, the singers have passed the Blind Auditions, the battled it out in back-to-back rounds to advance to the live shows. But by the end of the night 20 will become 12 as each of the four teams loses two members. And pulling the band-aid right off, this year’s round of 20 allows for live voting as the show goes on, meaning that there’s no waiting for a full night of results (or even a West Coast airing) before it’s time for some vocalists to say their farewells. So let’s get down to it and see who’s left.

Team Alicia Keys

America Picks: Christian Cuevas
The singer has shown a velvety voice and a smooth delivery throughout and there’s more of that in his simple yet engaging performance of The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” The performance earned a standing ovation from all four coaches to start the night.

America Picks: We McDonald

We goes with the Stephanie Mills song “Home” from The Wiz, a track that may not be as well known as the songs from her previous performances, but it is a good showcase for the rich, deep and powerful tone of her voice, especially with a late song note that she holds with grace and power. Was it her strongest performance? No, but it’s still solid enough to advance to the Top 12.

Alicia Saves: Sa’Rayah

Did you wonder how long it would be before powerhouse Sa’Rayah went with an Etta James song? “I’d Rather Go Blind” allowed the singer to perform her vocal gymnastics all over the song, with softer moments and times where her pure vocal force could have knocked over a majority of the crowd.

Evaluation: This is one where the right choices were made. The typically solid Kylie Rothfield seemed to let the nerves invade during the opening moments of her rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and Josh Halverson made the rare misstep in tampering with the arrangement of the Sam Cooke classic, “Cupid.” It did elicit a standing ovation from his coach, but didn’t completely connect with the voting audience.

Team Blake Shelton

America Picks: Sundance Head

Sundance Head took on Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” and he delivered a soulful, but occasionally over the top rendition. If there was an argument to be made against Blake’s Top 3, it might have been here, but America chose the two country vocalists on Blake’s team to move forward over his three soul singers.

American Picks: Austin Allsup

Austin Allsup went with the upbeat country rocker “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” by Waylon Jennings and it was arguably his best performance to date. He’s becoming a true contender for the final spot on Blake’s team.

Blake Saves:  Courtney Harrell

For much of the season, Courtney Harrell has been one of the stronger voices in the competition and despite what seems like an odd fit, she has definitely thrived under Blake’s mentoring. But tonight was not one of her better performances as Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” did not seem like a good match. Blake came forth with the save, but she cannot afford any missteps with song choice moving forward.

Evaluation: Dana Harper took a chance with Hall & Oates’ “Maneater,” initially making the bouncy pop hit into a soulful ballad … and it worked. But oddly enough, it didn’t connect as well once she returned to the original arrangement. Jason Warrior has continually been saved by the coaches the last two rounds, and while his performance of Kyla and Wizkid’s “One Dance” was smooth and his stage presence (especially playing to Miley and Alicia) was top notch, it just missed the cut … barely. Still, an argument could have been made for him to move forward over two of the three singers on Blake’s team.

Team Miley Cyrus

America Picks: Aaron Gibson

Aaron pulled out the ’90s alterna-classic “Round Here” from Counting Crows for his performance and his raspy voice helped in portraying the desperation of Adam Duritz’ original vocal, but it also hindered him a bit in hitting a few of the singer’s power moments. It was a solid performance, but not his best.

America Picks: Ali Caldwell

Ali quite simply delivered one of the performances of the night. Her rendition of Irma Thomas’ “Times Have Changed” was soulful, impactful and powerful in all the right spots. She has emerged as Team Miley’s frontrunner and earned a standing ovation from all four coaches.

Miley Saves: Darby Walker

Darby went with Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days,” a theatrical little ditty that allowed her to capitalize on her mix of lilting vocals and power notes. It’s was an odd choice, but one that Darby’s coach appeared to love, which may have put her over the top for the save.

Evaluation: Sophia Urista‘s raspy, husky voice was a surprisingly solid compliment to Rod Stewart’s ’70s classic “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and her stage presence was solid. There was definitely an argument to be made for a save here. Meanwhile, Belle Jewel‘s unique style turned Del Shannon’s “Runaway” initially into a torchy ballad before switching gears into toe-tapping earworm, but much like Dana earlier in the night, the mixing of styles didn’t do her any favors as one portion of the song seemed stronger than the other.

Team Adam Levine

America Picks: Billy Gilman

Getting the final spot of the night, it was not really in doubt that Billy Gilman would be moving forward. However, he showed he earned it with a beautiful rendition of Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” showing the amazing depth and range of his voice and leaving goosebumps upon hitting certain notes.

America Picks: Josh Gallagher

Adam has been a fan of Josh’s throughout the season and finally stole him from Blake. Josh’s rendition of Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather” was solid and had some really strong moments, but it was not all that dynamic a performance. He’ll need to step it up moving forward.

Adam Saves: Brendan Fletcher

The bartender-turned-rocker and his gravelly great voice took on the Bee Gees classic “To Love Somebody” and delivered it with the heartfelt connection he needed to in order to advance. It was somewhat surprising he needed a save to more forward.

Evaluation:  Simone Gundy lived up to the name of the song she covered, taking on Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Once considered a frontrunner for Team Adam, her omission from the Top 12 was one of the bigger head scratchers of the night. Meanwhile, the kid crooner Riley Elmore stayed in his wheelhouse with Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady.” You can see the talent and know he will develop, but this time luck was not on his side.

The Voice - Season 11

Top 12 Rankings

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

Due to the presidential election, there will be no Tuesday episode of The Voice this week, with the Top 12 returning next Monday at 8PM ET / PT on NBC.