And the winner of 'The Voice' Season 18 is…


The Voice aired its first (and hopefully last) at-home finale this Tuesday. Technical difficulties unfortunately marred Carson Daly’s live winner announcement, as a muted Blake Shelton attempted to offer some digitally scrambled encouraging words to his two contestants, Todd Tilghman and Toneisha Harris — an awkward moment that no doubt reminded viewers of all those janky Zoom meetings they’ve had to endure lately. But, awkward or not, there was no mistaking the result when Carson revealed that, quite predictably, Todd had prevailed.

Carson revealed that Team Kelly’s Micah Iverson and Team Legend’s CammWess had placed fifth and fourth, respectively… but he oddly didn’t announce the second- and third-place order for Toneisha and Team Nick’s Thunderstorm Artis. Maybe Carson was having audio issues, too.

It was an anticlimactic result, aside from the unavoidable stiltedness of the announcement itself. Sure, it was clear that Todd — an everyman pastor who delivered his remote Playoffs performances in either his small-town church or his homeschool rec room surrounded by his eight adorable kids, and stuck to MOR balladry throughout the season — was the frontrunner among the finale’s top five. But it did seem like an interesting indie troubadour like Thunderstorm or a powerhouse diva like Toneisha might have a shot. Still, it was impossible not to root for a nice guy like Todd, and the coaches did their best to celebrate from their separate homes with their Party City supplies (especially Blake, as this was his seventh victory after a four-season losing streak). Meanwhile, Carson stood alone on the empty Voice soundstage back in Los Angeles amid his own confetti shower.

Other finale highlights that were definitely celebratory included various virtual performances — including a bit of cross-promotional synergy as Lady Antebellum sang their new single “Champagne Night,” the first winning entry from Songland to ever be officially released to radio, while partying at home with their red Solo cups. Nick and his fellow JoBros digitally teamed with reggaetón star Karol G for a cool animated presentation of their new single “X,” and all four coaches dedicated special solo songs to heroes working on the COVID-19 frontlines. (Blake received an assist from his girlfriend and on/off Voice castmate, Gwen Stefani.) Keeping with this theme of positivity, Bon Jovi also appeared from home to sing their new empowerment anthem, “Limitless.”

The coaches also dueted with their contestants — Nick and Thunderstorm on Phil Collins’s “You’ll Be in My Heart,” John and CammWess on Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Kelly and Micah on Lady Antebellum’s “I Run to You,” and Blake with Todd on John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” and with Toneisha on Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” The latter was a bit of a mismatch, but the Todd/Blake number showcased a swaggier, looser side of Todd’s personality that I wish he’d flaunted more during this season. (Perhaps if this had been a longer season, Todd would have had that opportunity.) And those other three duets were lovely — as was a group performance of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” featuring contestants from past Voice seasons. It was especially nice to see and hear Lauren Duski, Ricky Duran, and Britton Buchanan again, though I wonder why this segment didn’t feature more contestants, or at least a few more recognizable ones.

Anyway, to further remind viewers of the glory days — the days when The Voice took place on an actual stage, in front of an actual live audience, with actual decent sound — throughout the night Carson introduced vintage coach group numbers from past seasons, going all the way back to the original panel (Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, and Blake) doing “Crazy” on Season 1’s very first episode in 2011. Maybe things will be back to relatively normal by the time Season 19 premieres — presumably — in the fall. See you then.

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Originally published