Juliet, Jermaine, and Chris fight to the finish, while Tony takes a swipe at one of the coaches.
They came. They sang. They conquered. Also: they covered Jay-Z.
With only one episode remaining this season, it was a very dramatic night for The Voice. Soon, there will be eliminations, tears, and at least one Hall & Oates performance. But that’s not going down until tomorrow. As Bob Seger once said, we’ve got tonight, babe. Why don’t you stay?
JERMAINE PAUL (TEAM BLAKE)
You’ve got to love Jermaine: the man can really handle a challenge. Otherwise, why would he choose a song that’s become such a universal punch line, it was sung by a talking dog in the movie Good Boy? And yet, somehow, in his white tux, Jermaine made R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” sound classy. His voice was slinky-smooth during the verses, he raised his eyebrows and scrunched down his brow for dramatic effect at all the right times, and he extended that final fly-eye-eye-eye as if his jaw could wiggle up and down forev-er-er-er-er-er. “You just sing with so much heart!” Christina gushed. So true! And it didn’t hurt that he cried.
For me, the best part was how much Blake loved him. Later in the show, Jermaine would put an R&B twist on Blake’s country inspirational “God Gave Me You” (“Way better than the original!” joked Carson) and perform an odd-couple duet with Shufflin’ Shelton on Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man.” But long before that, Blake was ready to pay tribute to his favorite team member. “I continue to feel like I learn things from you, Jermaine,” he said. “If I could channel what you channel when you perform? You gotta teach me that.” Blake, all it takes is a little R Kelly magic! He should take on Trapped in the Closet one of these days.
CHRIS MANN (TEAM CHRISTINA)
Recently, Chris admitted that the way he sings isn’t exactly “cool.” That was a little heartbreaking, especially when he got choked up about it. But honestly, I think it’s way cooler that he’s never tried to, like, cover a Japandroids song. He’s much better at facing Christina’s “The Voice Within.” The guy knows his niche: ballads that play at some rich person’s wedding while 50,000 turtle doves are released into the sky.
Chris’s duet with Christina, “The Prayer,” even looked like a wedding. He was wearing a tux. She was wearing a sparkly gown, cut all the way down to her… uh, dress. (“Yeah, Christina’s dress,” Chris later quipped. “I saw that.”) Together, they stood together under an altar, singing in some romance language that Blake probably can’t pronounce. And their voices were booming. Didn’t they sound amazing? Christina overpowered her mentee a bit, but if they’d held this ceremony in a real church, they both could’ve blown out the stained glass windows.
By contrast, Chris’s take on Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” was less exciting. There’s no denying that he’s got the most technical skill in this competition, but he’s so earnest and stiff, you want to untuck his shirt for him, just to loosen him up. Still, he’ll get some votes from that ASL translator who joined him on stage. From the passionate way she was signing, you could tell she was totally into it.
NEXT: Tony Lucca, Juliet Simms, and the bird you cannot change
TONY LUCCA (TEAM ADAM)
Before the Tony Lucca’s fans descend upon me and peck out my eardrums, let me just say: I like Tony Lucca, okay? Let him play “Devil Town” or “Death of Me,” and I could listen to him strummy-strummy-strum all day long. Tonight, his version of Maroon 5’s “Harder To Breathe” was pretty solid, and his duet with Adam on the Beatles’ “Yesterday” was lovely. Those guys can harmonize!
But I worry that Tony’s music just translates better in a bar than it does on stage. Nothing he did this season was all that memorable until he started a beef with Christina by covering Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” (It’s a long story.) And honestly, it’s lame that he’s now getting most of his attention at Christina’s expense. I can’t believe he chose Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” for his showpiece. Doing a bluegrass version of this song isn’t exactly an original idea: Hugo did it first, and way better, back in 2010. Also, didn’t the b–tch part feel a little pointed? When Christina complained that “the lyrical connotation was a little derogatory toward women,” she was half-right. It was derogatory toward one woman in particular: Christina herself.
At first, Adam tried to defend Tony’s song choice. “The [b–tch] is life getting at you,” he explained. “It’s called a metaphor.” But when Christina corrected him, pointing out that Jay-Z specifically mentions “girl problems,” Adam just gave up and stripped down to his “Team Xtina” t-shirt.
Cool idea, but Cee Lo’s “No Problems” t-shirt was funnier. Besides, if Adam really believed in metaphors, then why did he need to wear that shirt?
JULIET SIMMS (TEAM CEE LO)
For her tribute to her coach, Juliet chose Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” a song that couldn’t have been more appropriate. Because who dressed this lady for TV? She rocked some Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome shoulder pads, complete with spikes, while covering Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” with her coach, who happened to be sitting on a motorcycle. Okay, so she’s got their own style. Does that make her crazy? (Probably!)
But in a competition with so many buttoned-up types, crazy isn’t such a bad thing. Wearing a glowing red sci-fi goddess gown, she looked like some holy Queen of Mars during her solo performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” She raised her arms into the sky as if summoning her spacecraft. And her voice was phenomenal, like a human electric guitar. (It’s to her credit that she wasn’t drowned out by the actual electric guitar getting wailed on behind her.) She sounded like Stevie Nicks’ younger, wilder, more outer-space-y sister.
Are you allowed to yell “Freebird!” unironically after someone just played it? Because if so, Juliet offered a good reason to try that out.
Personally, I’m rooting for her, though I suspect that Tony Lucca might win. What do the rest of you think? I’d love to hear from someone who’s Team Chris or Team Jermaine. Though, in the end, I can’t help but support Purrfect the Cat‘s opinion: “Free birds? K srsly, @JulietSimmsALL FTW.”