‘The Voice’ knockouts: Was Aaron Gibson really better than Josh Halverson or did coach Miley Cyrus make the wrong choice?

He may have just lost his knockout on Monday to Aaron Gibson, but has Josh Halverson just become yet another frontrunner on season 11 of “The Voice”? Monday’s episode featured the last of the knockouts for this cycle, and rookie coach Alicia Keys might have made her already strong team completely unstoppable by stealing the indie-rocker. The increasingly competitive season had even more dynamic performances this week, but none as unique as Halverson, who may have what it takes to be crowned the reality series’ next winner.

Keys is facing off against fellow rookie coach Miley Cyrus, four-time winner Blake Shelton, and three-time champ Adam Levine, who all seem to have an uphill battle against the R&B superstar. Let’s take a look at Monday’s seven knockout pairings, who prevailed to reach the upcoming live playoffs, which ones were eliminated, and my rankings from top to bottom. Who will emerge to join the past 10 winners in this photo gallery of the Emmy-winning NBC reality program?

View photo galleries & artist details for all members
of Team Adam, Team Alicia, Team Blake and Team Miley

1. Aaron Gibson (“Die a Happy Man”) vs. Josh Halverson (“Whiskey and You”) – Team Miley
The night’s tightest knockout was between these indie-rockers who took two very different approaches to their delivery, yet interestingly similar approaches to their song choices. Both went for unconventional country tunes where they were able to bring their own style (perhaps influenced by their coach’s country roots). But Halverson delivered a stripped back performance that, although subtle, left the audience eating from the palm of his hand. His ability to inject so much feeling with such little fanfare on stage is truly unique and capable of winning this competition. Gibson took a more commercial approach, giving a more upbeat performance that was still able to show off his unique tone. In the end, Miley chose Gibson to advance forward with her, but Alicia wasted no time using the final steal of the season to reunite with her former team member Halverson.

2. Sa’Rayah (“Ain’t Nobody”) vs. Michael Sanchez (“Just the Two of Us”) – Team Alicia
I was bummed to see these two soulful singers paired up because they are two of my favorites in the competition. Knowing their coach possessed the only remaining steal, there was no chance for the loser of this knockout to advance. Sanchez delivered yet another rousing performance from behind the keyboard, proving he has what it takes to entertain both a live audience and viewers at home. Then Sa’Rayah took the stage to unleash her dragon of a voice like only she can, leaving jaws on the floor and even her competitor beaming with admiration of her performance. Although Sa’Rayah may turn off some viewers with her over-the-top style, she is exactly the type of vocalist I love to see on this show, and she was deemed the winner. I can only hope the eliminated Sanchez is able to return if coaches are able to bring back eliminated contestants this season like they have in the past.

3. Brendan Fletcher (“Soulshine”) vs. Nolan Neal (“Love is Your Name”) – Team Adam
The pairing of these two gritty rock singers was a bit of a surprise, considering both had potential to advance deep into the competition once public voting opened up. But it makes sense considering most coaches aim at team diversity for the best overall chance at winning. Neal once again showed off his range mixed with vocal acrobatics that make him hard to ignore. But Fletcher’s less flashy performance somehow shined brighter, because when you watch him perform, it feels like something you haven’t seen before. Thankfully Adam agreed with me, declaring Fletcher the winner, but Neal’s early exit is still a bit of a shock.

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4. Austin Allsup (“Breakdown”) vs. Gabe Broussard (“It Will Rain”) – Team Blake
Blake paired these artists together because they when they perform, they are both on the fringe of all kinds of different music. But there is a major gap in experience between Allsup, who plays over 150 shows a year, and Broussard, a teenager who is just coming into his own as a performer. Allsup’s confidence and ease on stage while grooving to a laidback rock song overshadowed Broussard’s emotional, yet still amateur-sounding ballad. And while neither artist “wowed” the audience, Allsup was declared the victor, ending Broussard’s journey this season.

5. Darby Walker (“Shake it Out”) vs. Maye Thomas (“Closer”) – Team Miley
Two indie-pop artists, but there’s only room for one on Team Miley. That was the coach’s strategy when she paired up these two edgy singers to face off in a knockout to move forward. While I don’t feel either of these artists have developed a truly unique sound, at this stage of the competition Walker is the more magnetic and memorable. She delivered strong vocals paired with an interesting presence on stage – in comparison to Thomas’ more disjointed and inconsistent performance. Miley selected Walker to move on to the live playoffs, sending Thomas home as a result.

6. Dana Harper (“You Give Me Something”) vs. Karlee Metzger (“Invincible”) – Team Blake
This knockout paired up two smooth singers who haven’t delivered the flashiest performances this season, but remained likable and consistent throughout. Metzger seemed to struggle this week, however, delivering perhaps her shakiest vocal in the competition. Harper, on the other hand, remained focused while proving once again that her deep, velvety voice is completely unique among female artists this season. I am convinced Harper has one of the strongest recording voices of the season and she was justly chosen to advance to the live playoffs, eliminating Metzger.

7. Sophia Urista (“I Can’t Stand the Rain”) vs. Josette Diaz – Team Miley
Only a portion of Urista’s winning knockout performance was shown tonight, while Diaz unfortunately had her final performance edited out of the episode completely. Although we were given a limited glimpse of Urista on this occasion, she has proven to be a beast on stage, and I look forward to what she will add to the live playoffs.

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