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The Voice recap: Live Finale, Part 1

The very final performances of season 9 bring us one step closer to crowning a winner

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Tyler Golden/NBC

The Voice

type:
TV Show
genre:
Reality TV, Music
run date:
04/26/11
performer:
Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys
broadcaster:
NBC
seasons:
12
Current Status:
In Season

Tonight was the very last night of performances on The Voice this season, and the show did all it could to make its final moments count. The four remaining singers packed three performances each into a tight two hours. These performances fell into three categories: duets with the coaches, Christmas songs, and personal selections by the contestants.

First, let’s talk about the songs picked by the singers themselves. Jordan Smith opens the show with “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music — you can just see the NBC live musical tie-in being conceived before your very eyes. As always, Jordan’s voice is extraordinary, full of thrilling high notes and massive power. Still, choosing to end his Voice history-making run on a rather stiff Rodgers and Hammerstein number, rather than looking forward to the type of song he’d put on an album tomorrow, is something of a letdown. Luckily, Jordan gets two more songs to recover some cool points before the episode is through.

Barrett Baber’s pick, “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett, is much more in line with the artist he hopes to become after he leaves this show. This single is very radio-friendly — which would explain why it made it to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. It’s folksy and funky at the same time, and that’s Barrett’s lane 100 percent. It also perfectly fits the narrative he’s been pushing all season, which is “Did I mention how much I love my wife and kids?” During the first half of the song, I’m missing the heat Barrett’s been known to lay on his best performances, but he picks up steam as he goes, and he ends the song on an emotional and energetic high.

Jeffery Austin chooses “Stay” by Sugarland as his final appeal for America’s votes. Gwen remarks on how rare it is to hear a country song flipped into Jeffery’s pop-soul style. By the time this dude is through with it, though, you never would have guessed “Stay” had been recorded any other way. Sometimes it is startling how good Jeffery is — as Blake put it, he sneaks up on you. This song is heartfelt and passionate, and it contains echoes of last week’s mind-boggling “Make It Rain.” As Jeffery finishes, Gwen stands up and declares herself the first female coach to win The Voice. Any other season, I’d say she’s right on the money. But with Jordan in the mix, any other winner would be an upset.

Emily Ann Roberts closed the whole show with her personal choice, Cam’s “Burning House.” It’s the first current song she’s performed this entire season, something I hadn’t realized. All the coaches go on and on about what a throwback her voice is, but what’s actually interesting to me is how that classic sound can be applied to the music that’s currently being made, not how much it sounds like the singers of yesteryear. “Burning House” is right in Emily Ann’s wheelhouse, despite her protestations that she’s “going out on a limb” with this final choice. It’s very pretty and a little melancholy, and Gwen calls it her favorite performance of Emily Ann’s all season.

Best Personal Song: I’m giving this one to Jeffery for putting pure passion above all else.

NEXT: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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