The Voice recap: 'The Voice' season 4 performance finale
The final three take the stage for performances that will determine season 4's winner
As Britney Spears once said, “One two three, not only you and me.” And that’s just what tonight is all about: The top three artists going head to head to head(s) to see which one of them will get a recording contract and (maybe) become the first Voice winner to sell more than 46,000 albums.
With only Team Blake and Team Usher left in the competition, Adam and Shakira have turned into the ultimate cheerleaders — there are flags and accessories involved. But first, the coaches have to put their differences aside and take the stage together for only the second time this season singing “With a Little Help From My Friends.” These performances are where I really miss Christina. I feel like the coaches always stepped up their game when they were singing next to such a legend. Don’t get me wrong, this performance is great, and yes, I did hear that amazing note Usher just hit, but it feels a little disjointed. Adam forgets to come in at the right time, Usher and Shakira are clearly putting more into it while Adam and Blake hang back, and I can barely hear anybody over the band. Perhaps they’ve yet to adjust their volume from last year when Xtina was belting out the big notes. All in all, it’s fun but nothing special. I suppose so long as Usher has his falsetto, Shakira has her vibrato, and Blake and Adam have their guitars, the world is at peace — so long as Christina is at home watching this while wearing a tiny hat.
P.S. That image of Blake and Usher leaning in to hit the final note needs to be a poster. And by “needs to be” I mean, “will one of you please make me one?”
But back to the important stuff: Tonight, each of the top three contestants will perform three times. The Swon Brothers, Danielle, and Michelle each get to duet with their coach, re-perform their “defining moment” song, and then perform a new tune for us. And in other efforts to make sure this show will take up two hours of your Monday evening, the contestants will actually be performing entire songs. Oh, and there’s a special performance you will just have to wait and see!
Now that I’ve intrigued you so and Usher has informed us that “we’re humans being; we’re not just humans doing,” lets get to the first performance:
TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS
The song: “I Can’t Tell You Why” by The Eagles
The performance: The first duo to make it to the finale, this Swoncert is prepared to show America another side of The Swon Brothers: Falsetto!!! Dressed in all black and bringing an “extra spark of special” to the stage, these boys channel their inner swag to pull off a rather sultry performance. And I am loving it. I love the bluesy feel, and I dig the falsetto (most of the time). Most of all, I appreciate that it’s something different. It’s not my favorite performance. There are elements that don’t make me feel incredibly comfortable, but then the brothers smile, and I’m happy again. Clearly this season has worn me down.
The feedback: Usher thinks it’s great that the brothers “Finally found the girl part of your voice,” and Shakira (waving around her “Go Okies” flag) loves their universal appeal. Adam, the Eagles fan, thanks the boys for apparently dedicating the song to him and commends them for doing an incredible job. Blake thinks this is the best season of The Voice so far and loves how these two charmers are constantly evolving. I do have to say that Blake hits the nail on the head when he talks about all of us not knowing why we love them… and yet we can’t stop. Someone explain it to me! Is that sort of appeal something I can find somewhere? I’m great at Googling.
NEXT: Danielle and Blake sing a charming (albeit slightly inappropriate) duet
TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL
The song: “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift
The performance: It’s time for Michelle’s defining moment performance and surprisingly, she’s not singing “True Colors.” I suppose the difference between other finales and tonight is that this is the “defining” song and not the “breakout” song. I’m having a little trouble deciphering the difference, but I’m going with it, because this is my favorite Michelle. I love her red leather jacket, and I love this performance. As someone who admittedly is not a big Taylor Swift fan, it says something that Michelle makes me want this song on my iPod. So kudos to you, Michelle. Maybe. Or wait. I might be mad at you.
The feedback: After the crowd calms down and Carson points out the obvious — “That’s good for Michelle”– Shakira comments on Michelle’s contagious energy and the fact that she is needed “out there” as an artist. Adam and Blake agree that you can’t fabricate the kind of energy that Michelle brings to a room, and Usher (the proud fist-pumping papa) points out that Michelle doesn’t have enough relatives to fill the room, which means one thing: She has fans, you guys. And lots of them!
Well hello, you not-so-elusive Skybox! Up in the corner where Christina Milian lives, The Swon Brothers are ready to get serious for a moment and talk about their journey. More importantly, Christina loves them, and she loves them too. Wait, what? Final note: Christina wants videos of YOU doing your best impression of a coach. “Get up to uploading” NOW.
*Insert Carson’s weekly compliment about Christina’s crazy red hair*
TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY AND BLAKE SHELTON
The song: “Timber I’m Falling In Love” by Patty Loveless
The performance: After meeting with Danielle’s family and attributing Danielle with the accomplishment of bringing classic songs to a whole new generation, Blake gets on stage with his prodigy for a performance I can’t quite figure out. There are kindergarten-esque alphabet letters with their initials in the background, and the vibe definitely seems youthful and fun. But why are Blake and Danielle singing about falling in love in a duet? It’s not 100 percent creepy, but I just don’t get exactly what the thought was behind it. That being said, they both sound good. Danielle definitely seems to push Blake, because he’s sounding particularly impressive. Also, I love Danielle’s sparkly outfit!
The feedback: There is no official feedback on the coach duets, so here’s what I have to say: It was fun; it was sweet; it was a little confusing; you both sounded great and looked cute. How’d I do? Somebody give me a red chair, a big button, and some vocal lessons STAT!
TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS
The song: “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins
The performance: This is another defining moment pick that surprises me but makes me a very happy viewer at the same time. I thought for sure we were going to relive the George Jones tribute, but no. Instead, we get to relive the Kenny Loggins performance, which comes complete with more candles than should ever be legal indoors. And this might be my favorite Swon Brothers performance of the season. Yep, I went there.
The feedback: Usher loves how these guys are able to personalize a classic, and Adam has to take a moment to find words after Usher stole his “verbatim.” What he comes up with is that it’s good to hear a classic again, an old song that doesn’t feel old, you know? Totes. Namaste, Adam. On the other side of the coaches, Blake just can’t wait to hear that version on his truck radio back in Oklahoma. He also thinks that the harmonies get better with every passing performance, and I don’t disagree. Harmonies aside, there’s one thing that’s certain about this duo: Love em or hate em, I don’t think it’s possible to wipe a smile off the face of a Swon.
NEXT: Michelle’s performance is full of literal magic
TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL
The song: “Why” by Annie Lennox
The performance: For Michelle’s solo performance, Usher’s “diamond in the rough” — the quirky girl with glasses who managed to teach the unteachable and oh-so-cool Ursher something — is getting emotional. I have so many comments about this performance, the first one being: What. Just. Happened. Michelle is singing to a mirror (her journey has come full-circle, y’all!), and then it’s actually not a mirror. The camera pans and then the entire set is gone. The camera pans again and there are like 30 people singing backup directly behind Michelle. What kind of sorcery is this?! I will probably never get those answers, but in terms of vocals, I think Michelle nails this performance. I love her sparkly shoes — trend of the night! — and I love her delivery of the lyrics. However, I think the magic element pulled me a little bit away from her actual vocals. But I came back down to earth just in time for Carson’s best line of the night, claiming her “coaches are Usher and David Blane.” Nailed it, C!
The feedback: Shakira thinks that humility and talent combine to make the perfect recipe for long-term success, and Blake still can’t get over the freakin’ mirror trick of it all. However, he did love Michelle’s laid back performance. Usher, meanwhile, thought/thinks that Michelle is phenomenal, and he believes that likeability and capability equal a successful artist. These coaches are all about recipes tonight. Between that and all the images of families having lunch, I’m about to need a snack.
TEAM BLAKE: THE SWON BROTHERS AND BLAKE SHELTON
The song: “Celebrity” by *insert helpful reader comment*
The performance: Spoiler: The Swon family is just as lovable as your favorite duo. When the brothers got punished growing up, they couldn’t leave their room until they wrote a song. How’s that story work for a Grammy acceptance speech? But the parents are only one part of this successful journey. The other part is the tall country man with great hair, who takes the stage with his duo for a joyous performance. There’s a huge American flag, people dancing, three guys with guitars, and one “yeehaw!” God Bless Amurica, everybody!
The feedback: My review: That was SO MUCH FUN. You three are adorable. I can’t even stand it.
TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY
The song: “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis
The performance: In another pair of sparkly shoes, Danielle takes the stage to relive her defining moment. Her vocals are perfect as always, but I do have one question. I know she’s amazing and young and all things good, but why hasn’t anyone even addressed her awkward stage presence? Why isn’t she performing to a mirror? (A real one, not one of Usher’s magical set pieces.) I genuinely think it’s something that would’ve made a big difference had Blake helped her with it. Example a) The uncomfortable guitar solo in this performance. But before you hate on me let me just point out that I described her vocals as “perfect.” Now, if you still want to hate, go ahead.
The feedback: Shakira, in a black cowboy hat, talks about grabbing the bull by the horns (how is that a pun?) and still loves Danielle. Adam says Danielle has an unbelievably perfect voice live and thinks she’s the winner of this thing, and Blake cannot get over how very very very very important Danielle is as an artist.I still don’t fully get that. She’s young, and that’s great, but how is being young (something everyone is at some point) more important than being truly different and unique (cough, Michelle)?
NEXT: Usher and Michelle are cuter than newborn babies laughing in unison
The mothers have invaded the Skybox and — in what’s sure to be tomorrow’s New York Times headline — they love their kids! But Mrs. Swon takes home the prize for favorite mom when she skips the “I’m so proud” sentence for “Remember, no backup plan.” Here’s to hoping all that song writing pays off, bros!
Enough with all this sky business! It’s back to the stage for a group performance, where the top three sing “Home.” They’re quickly joined by everyone who has quite literally gone home this season: The Top 16! I’m all Sarah! Josiah’s hair! Cathia, is it? Sarah! Sarah! Other thoughts: Josiah and Michelle are still the cutest ever, and what’s with that awkward moment between Holly and Justin?? (Voice gossip!) Also, I still can’t get over Adam’s amazing team and the fact that none of them are in this competition anymore. I’m a little embarrassed as a voter. Another important note: This marks the first and only contestant performance this year to receive a four-coach standing ovation, not to mention that Xena war cry Usher just let out.
TEAM USHER: MICHELLE CHAMUEL AND USHER RAYMOND IV
The song: “One” by U2
The performance: Ugh, these two. They are too cute to handle. First, Usher takes Michelle’s family to lunch while wearing adorable glasses, and then they all cheers with coffee mugs. Then, Usher gets on stage with Michelle and the two hold hands. The real kicker? Usher doing the Michelle squat with her… twice.
The feedback: YOU TWO ARE THE CUTEST. I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT. Another note I’d like to point out: This show has done great things for Usher. I feel like I forgot what a vocalist he is until he came on here, and now he’s pushing himself to match Michelle note for note. The lesson? Singing competitions aren’t just for amateurs, it’s never too late to learn, and whatever other clichéd truth you want to put here.
TEAM BLAKE: DANIELLE BRADBERY
The song: “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans
The performance: Wrapping up the night is Danielle’s solo performance, and her first chance to sing a full-on uptempo song. With yet another elaborate set behind her and yet another pair of sparkly shoes, Danielle hits the stage in blue jeans, and for the first time, I can see progress in her facial expression. She’s being young, and she’s having fun. Her voice is as amazing as always, and in this moment, I don’t have an issue with her winning the full thing. She’s not my personal favorite, but I enjoy this side of her more than anything else I’ve seen.
The feedback: The crowd is loving this performance, as is Usher, who has a great one-liner of his own tonight: “If I only knew that Nashville wasn’t a state, she would be on my team.” Is there anything sexier than a man who can make fun of himself? No, there’s not. Well, except for a man who can make fun of himself and look like Usher does shirtless, but I’ll stop there. Adam finally admits that Danielle’s perfection is boring him. He claims it’s in a good way, but I feel like he slightly understands where I’ve been coming from all season. And Blake is still thanking the big man upstairs that Danielle came on this show. So that 16-year-olds everywhere can have a chance at life? Someone clue me in on this young thing, please.
So that’s that. I’m actually fairly content heading into tomorrow. I personally want Michelle to win, but I am falling more and more in love with The Swon Brothers. Plus, their smiles are infectious. However, Danielle certainly seems to be this year’s iTunes favorite, and we all know how that worked out for Cassadee. I feel like we’re in a win-win-win situation, though I would like to see someone other than Blake win. I have nothing against Blake, but have you seen Usher’s smile?
What did you all think of tonight’s performances? Who’s going to win this thing? Who should win this thing? And who are you most excited to see tomorrow? I heard the words “Christina Aguilera” and “One Republic” and I was in. If only my favorite ‘ship — Adam and Sarah — would duet, then I’d truly be in heaven. Sorry. It’s my last recap. I had to end on a predictable-yet-honest note. This season has been a countrified good time, guys.
Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill