Here we are. It’s been a long road, people, but we’re at the finals of this season of The Voice. The competition boiled down to four dudes: the sensitive indie-ish rocker Matt McAndrew, the country star Craig Wayne Boyd, the falsetto-wielding Chris Jamison, and the heart-wrenchingly emotional Damien, who came back as the show’s wild card.
Three of the top four come from Team Adam, with Craig Wayne Boyd belonging to Team Blake. Based on tonight’s performances, I’d say this competition comes down to Craig and Matt, both of whom already feel professional and stardom-ready, fitting into their respective genres while also standing out as unique artists. On this show, the artists performed three songs: a cover, a coach duet, and a completely new song they debuted for which they also made a video (embedded throughout this recap).
Matt started with his original song called “Wasted Love” (from Brandon Lowry, Chantal Kreviazuk, Shimon Moore, Mike Fiorentino, and 1916 Management). Now, look, I’m biased. Matt is the artist I would be most likely to listen to outside of the context of the show, and this is a song I could see myself putting on my iPod. Personal preferences aside however, it’s a song that allows Matt to be the big-voiced emotional heartthrob we all want him to be. (Okay, or at least I want him to be.) The performance was threatened by overproduction—fire and smoke and a choir!—but Matt’s talent overcame that.
Adam almost teared up when talking about Matt after his original song. “I’m a huge fan of this guy, and he’s not even done winning yet,” Adam kvelled. Then, Adam joined Matt on a duet of “Lost Stars,” a song Adam himself sings in the movie Begin Again. (It’s also a potential Oscar nominee.) Though a choice like this seems self-aggrandizing on Adam’s part, it actually worked great, given that “Lost Stars” feels like a song that belongs more to an artist like Matt than one like Adam. They sang as if they were a duo.
Matt closed out the show—which just feels like a good sign for him—doing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The performance was beautiful and reserved until he went big at the end. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is tricky because it’s so well known it’s hard not to seem gimmicky doing it. Matt played it safe for the most part, but that was the most effective choice.
Craig Wayne Boyd
Craig started his night with his original song, a song that was originally written by Mark Marchetti and Stephanie Jones for Blake: “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face.” Blake explained, “The only reason that I haven’t recorded this thing is because it’s so freaking hard to sing.” Well, it didn’t seem hard for Craig, and that’s his best feat. He’s just so sure of himself that he already appears to be minted.
For their duet, Craig and Blake sang “Boots On” by Randy Houser. They seemed to be a having a blast jamming out, but it wasn’t a song that let vocals shine. That was remedied however when Craig sang his solo cover song, Alabama’s “In Pictures.” The performance—which had all kinds of resonance for Craig, a father—was simple (he just sat on a stool), but potent. Ultimately, the night proved Craig’s range within the realm of country music. He can be both rollicking and ready to lay some feelings on you.
Damien is a remarkably consistent performer who does what he does fantastically. That’s both an asset and a flaw, given that he’s up against the versatility of Matt and Craig. He began with a slow and soulful rendition of “A Song for You,” during which he methodically moved around the stage and ended on a sweet high note with a run.
His duet with Adam—Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”—was probably the best duet of the night. They both showed off what they could do, while still working in tandem. It was at times epic and just a listening pleasure. But Damien also hit the jackpot when it came to his original song: He got a Max Martin production also from writers Johan Carlsson and Ashton Parson. (Max Martin is the Swedish pop genius behind all of your favorite ’90s hits, countless other pop songs, and those current Taylor Swift tunes you can’t stop singing. Blame him or bow down. It’s your call.) Pair the catchiness of the song with Damien’s incredibly solid delivery, and “Soldier” felt like a potential hit.
Chris began his night by teaming with his coach on Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without U.” Despite the fact that it’s hard to listen to Thicke without cringing from cheesiness, this was a good song for the two of them. It was loaded with falsetto, which really makes Chris stand out. Adam’s high notes still sounded more developed than Chris’, but Adam let him go big on that last note.
Chris got an original song from the team of Elof, Kellen Pomeranz, Alex Lacasse and 1916 Management. “Velvet” is what can be described as a “sexy jam” with a lot of falsetto, Chris’ signature, which felt a bit shaky during the live performance. This is clearly what Chris and The Voice want to sell, and I’m not quite buying it.
For his last song, his cover, Chris got to do Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.” On one hand, this is a great choice Chris, who seems more and more like he wants to be heir to JT’s throne. On the other hand, Chris is not Justin, and the interpretation felt too much in line with the original to truly standout, despite some fantastic notes.
Check out the EW Community to read season 2 semifinalist Katrina Parker’s take on last night’s episode of The Voice.