So, we've made it to the finals of The Voice. To earn those crucial last votes, each of the finalists takes the stage twice, once with an original song and once to duet with their coach. And even though I've kind of wavered back and forth on The Voice overall this season, I have to admit that tonight's performance-packed show was downright entertaining. But who did enough to become the show's first winner? Let's break it down.
No Voice recap is complete without at least one comparison to American Idol, but in this case, The Voice wins again. The best aspect of tonight's show was that each of the original songs were miles ahead of any Idol coronation song. Ever. While they weren't all "hits" in my book, at least they were real songs with real lyrics that didn't emphasize climbing mountains or loving anything "this big." (And, hey! Katharine McPhee is in the house promoting Smash! OK, last Idol mention of the night.)
Some thoughts on tonight's performances:
The Coaches, "Under Pressure"
Is it sad that the four pros gave my least favorite performance of the night? And it's really hard to make me not love this song. The whole thing felt like it was put together about five minutes before the show went live. None of the singers looked comfortable or like they had any idea which parts they were supposed to sing or not sing. Luckily, the rest of the evening was much more polished than this disaster.
Random aside: Best line of the night? Carson Daly, remarking on the loudness of the crowd. "It's just like TRL 10 years ago! I can't hear anything." Let it go, Carson. We all have; you should too.
Javier Colon, "Stitch by Stitch" (Team Adam)
This was easily my favorite song of the bunch, even if it didn't necessarily give Javier much room to do anything extraordinarily different than he already has. But then again, maybe he doesn't need to. Even though it was kind of a mellow way to start of the finalists' performances, I definitely had the chorus stuck in my head for a while after the song ended, which is always the true sign of a radio-ready single.
The Judges Say: Blake is in awe of Javier's voice and is just impressed at how nice he is offstage. Christina said the song suited his voice and he executed, and Cee Lo says he embodied the song as his own, which is the sign of a true artist. Adam gets a little choked up as he says he can't root for someone he doesn't love, and he loves Javier very much.
Dia Frampton and Blake Shelton, "I Won't Back Down"
Based on their outfits, Dia and Blake seem to be using this performance as an audition for the upcoming Men In Black sequel. I love Tom Petty and I thought it was a good duet. However, while the unique tone of Dia's voice is great, her voice is also very thin. I thought she often got lost in the mix here, and on the night when you really want to stand out vocally, that's not exactly the best thing to do.
Vicci Martinez, "Afraid to Sleep" (Team Cee Lo)
This was my least favorite original of the bunch, and I think it did Vicci a number of disservices. The key of the verses was very low and her voice got muddled in with the instrumentation. Then during the "epic" build of the song, Vicci sounded very shout-y, especially on the big note at the end of the bridge, which I'm hoping was supposed to sound better than it did. She danced and did her thing, but I wouldn't say this was Vicci's finest vocal moment on the show.
The Judges Say: Adam says he bought every moment of what Vicci was selling. (He also gave her a pair of jeans earlier in the day.... Wait for it...) Blake says he can't say Vicci has been in his pants (!), but says Vicci insists on being a big deal on stage, and now she is. Christina, who looked like she was two seconds from passing out for the entire first half of the show, calls Vicci a dynamic performer. Cee Lo says he hopes Vicci is as proud of him as he is of her.
Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, "Give Me Everything"
OK, fine, one more Idol comparison. Apparently every singing show must invite at least one marginally talented, overexposed artist to perform. (See also: Black Eyed Peas on...pretty much every show ever.) The performance wasn't anything great, but it did feature a bunch of scantily clad backup dancers doing their best raunchy grinding. That's otherwise known as what Cee Lo calls heaven.
Beverly McClellan and Christina Aguilera, "Beautiful"
Of course Christina picks her own song for Beverly. I really can't get into how infuriating this was to me, because we'd be here all night. That said, the arrangement was nice and Beverly made some nice vocal choices. I was particularly pleased with how she attacked the song with her own style rather than letting Christina bulldoze it. Don't get me wrong: It's a great song and was not a terrible choice for Beverly, but ... ugh, Christina. Ugh.
Dia Frampton, "Inventing Shadows" (Team Blake)
My second favorite of the original songs. This one was tailor-made for end-of-episode montages on Grey's Anatomy. Or 'shipper tribute videos on YouTube. Although I didn't like the line of the chorus that went into the falsetto (or rather, I kept waiting to no avail for the one chorus where Dia sang it in full voice), it was a perfect fit for Dia's style, and she sang it really well. And apparently Ne-Yo stayed around after his performance to be one of the dancing silhouettes in the background!
The Judges Say: Christina says Dia is lovely but calls Blake out for using "shadow dancers" after calling out the mimes earlier this season. Cee Lo says it is was wonderful and that she will no doubt be No. 1 on iTunes again. Adam thinks it is amazing, but he didn't like the distraction of the shadows. Blake says the real distraction will come when all the judges realize Dia's song is at the top of iTunes tomorrow.
Javier Colon and Adam Levine, "Man in the Mirror"
I really do believe that Adam and Javier have bonded, and their voices blend really well together. That said, this was just an extremely well-sung karaoke version of the Michael Jackson classic. True, they admitted in the intro package that you don't want to mess with a great song. But I would have liked them to try something to make this more memorable than it was.
Brad Paisley, "Don't Drink the Water"
Hey, kids! When you're in Mexico, don't drink the water. Just do tequila shots! The song is not my cup of tea, but it was fine. Not sure why Blake completely took over the song when he jumped into duet, but Paisley's a pretty great guitar player as well, so I didn't mind watching him do a little soloing.
Beverly McClellan, "Lovesick" (Team Christina)
I would rank this original third overall. It fits Beverly's voice really well, but I kind of wished she had stripped it down and just done it at the piano. I guess she had already done the ballad with Christina, but I think her voice would have stood out more with a less rocky arrangement. Either way, my favorite thing about Beverly is just how much joy she displays while singing. She seems to be having the time of her life every time, which is nice to see.
The Judges Say: Cee Lo says she killed it. Adam says she transcends the competition and just makes everything fun. Blake says if music was crack, Beverly would have a serious problem. Christina praises her work ethic but then goes on and on about how big a deal it was for her to share "Beautiful" with someone. Although it's kind of a nice compliment to Beverly... ugh, Christina.
Vicci Martinez and Cee Lo Green, "Love Is a Battlefield"
What. The. Hell. Cee Lo turned the stage into the Thunderdome for this number. I love Pat Benatar (and also loved Cee Lo joking that the youngsters at home should Google her to figure out who she is), but I just thought the overblown production was a bit much. And all those karate kids doing flips that close to Cee Lo's spiky shoulder pads? Eeek. Vicci sounded pretty good on the song, but I couldn't really focus on anything because of the seizure-inducing strobe lights at the end.
Based on tonight's performances alone, I have to give the edge to Javier or Dia. But don't count Beverly out. What did you think of the performances? Which original song are you still humming? And most importantly, who do you think should win? Vote in our poll and share all your comments below!
So, we've made it to the finals of The Voice. To earn those crucial last votes, each of the finalists takes the stage twice, once with an original song and once to duet with their coach. And even though I've kind of wavered back and forth on The Voice overall this season, I have to admit that tonight's performance-packed show was downright entertaining. But who did enough to become the show's first winner? Let's break it down...