Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! (And Cher has a new single.)
The Voice Winner Danielle Bradbery
Credit: NBC
The Voice - Season 14
S4 E27
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Allow me to introduce this season’s winner of The Voice: Danielle Bradbery. You remember her: blonde thing, 16, covered in confetti? After two hours of singing and smiling and jokes, she was crowned. Would you believe me if I said I kind of like Danielle now? No trolling: Her essential weaknesses (generally robotic performance style; slow-to-warm lower register) were covered over by her blossoming strengths (bubbly behind-the-scenes personality; love of Hunter Hayes). Tonight Danielle was the teen prodigy I didn’t vote for and a fun-seeming teenager. But that was only one of the many surprises and paradoxes in this double-dose finale, which packed in so many musical performances and gimmicky videos while appearing to stand completely still. I took three pages of notes. One of them is entirely about Cher. But first…

At the top of the show, Carson promises us so much talent and so many favorites: Pitbull, Nelly, Christina (and Christina). He takes us on a whirlwind recap of last night’s performance finale, including another look at the endlessly, unnecessarily strange Blake/Danielle duet. Records, Carson tells us, have been broken. How many? Which ones? “Unprecedented” and “a lot.”

With a flick of the light board and the drop of a curtain, Xtina enters, complete with Pitbull (who I always forget is so bald). Absent for a season — in body, if not in spirit — the once-and-future-coach owns it. Strangles it, too (the song), a little, but it’s mostly positive. Her voice is enormous. The song (re: Pitbull) isn’t really. But the premise is that America has forgotten about Xtina and needs to be reminded. Also, where did all those streamers come from? Was there a vocal trigger, set to send them raining down when she hit a certain note? I swear I looked down and in a flash, the stage was gleaming.

It’s time — maybe the last — for some inter-coach banter. Blake is turning 40! Shakira baked him a cake! Which revelation surprised you more? Other revelations: Adam (mystery beard in full effect) doesn’t necessarily stand by his call that Danielle is a lock for the win while Usher isn’t going to be proud of Michelle if she wins — he’s already proud of her.

Next is the first contestants’ performance, with The Swons reuniting alongside Holly, Justin, and Amber on Lady A’s “Stars Tonight.” Their harmonies remind me of how much I love Lady A songs when they aren’t sad while making me sad because Amber is back, but only for a song. Paradoxes, remember?

NEXT: Bad bromance

Up in the Skybox, Christina Milian shares viewers’ impressions of the coaches. More importantly, did you notice her phone? Most importantly, did you see Danielle’s face when Blake told her that she’ll be performing with Hunter Hayes? It moved — her face moved.

Least important is a whole video dedicated to Adam and Blake’s bromance, a phrase which here is used to allow for more puns of affectionate language-slash-hold a beat before more performances. It is a whole thing: Adam and Blake’s first meeting; Adam and Blake’s greatest moments. Adam and Blake; Blake and Adam. Adam on Blake; Blake on Adam. It’s a whole thing. It is a whole thing. And guess what? They’re not really not bros any more.

Michelle steps up for her famous person duet, this time with One Republic on “Counting Stars.” The beginning is rough — Michelle is dialing it up too much. But then, in a watch-me-now turn, the band dials up with her and everyone squat-stomps along (yay!) while video screens play footage of animated animals running and flying and Adam crawls into Blake’s lap.

What kind of comedic video does Usher get? The kind that lets Blake make jokes about his coaching techniques and probably buy two Shake Weights. The Swons bring good humor to their thinly-sketched bits. Corollary: The Swons have been bringing it this week, no?

More famous people, sans non-famous people: Florida Georgia Line shows up to sing “Cruise,” whose opening bar is some kind of high-octane summery sorcery and which most country fans have probably already told you was a big deal last year before Nelly hopped on-board the remix because sometimes Nelly goes to Nashville. The F/G guys bop around more than I was expecting, like Michelle before Usher made her sing into that mirror.

Up in the Skybox for the final time (sigh), Christina has gathered our Top 3 (yes, ugh, they’re referring to The Swons as one person now) for some final thoughts about how much they all love each other and they do, they all love each other. Michelle says she’s been inspired to be both a better singer and a better person, which is sweet, and Danielle says that they’re like her big brothers/sister, which is extra-e sweet.

Back from the struggles of their solo performances, Kris, Vedo, Josiah, and Garrett reunite for “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” and their performance effectively does three things: 1) Injects some much-needed, much credible R&B coolness into The Voice‘s later-season arc; 2) Makes spinning on cue cool; and 3) Makes fedoras cooler.

Also: Holly plays the saxophone, which we learned in a reveal so immediate that it felt ridiculous. But no, Holly can play the saxophone, bangs and all. I’m not saying she should replace Clarence Clemons, but I’d throw her a few bucks in the subway. Surprises, remember?

NEXT: All-American girls

Given the chance to reunite past performers, Danielle calls on Amber, Caroline, and Sarah to sing Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl,” which is a nice gesture accompanied by nice, matchy-matchy red dresses and an arrangement that sounds like Carrie’s original chart-topper but not. And all that clapping has got to go. Was it even louder than usual? I put down “foot-claps” in my notes. (Burning question: Why did Sarah skate onto the stage, apparently late for her group number?)

Finally, it’s time for a video America can agree on: more Voice confessionals. Technically, it’s the “best of the rest,” but did you know that the cute one of The Swons got a perm once? And also Usher and Michelle share joint custody of two puppets and Shakira thinks Adam has pretty ears and Usher has a problem with ripping his pants.

Bruno Mars appears from the past, accessorized with sparkles, to perform his newest single, “Treasure,” as if he has literally just stepped out of his music video. With the lights and the synchronized male swiveling, it’s fun-distracting instead of distracting-distracting.

After a lengthy introduction about how much The Swons like classic rock, etc. etc., they take the stage with cooler-than-you-old-guy Bob Seger, on “Night Moves.” Their guitar playing is clutch — and The Voice wants you to know it! Note the loving pan. Though the voting is already tied up, their Seger duet is smart. Each time The Swons wrap their voices around a non-country song, it grabs more non-country fans. At the start of the live rounds, I worried that their happy-hour shtick would get narrower each week. It’s actually made them more comfortable. Bonus: “Night Moves” is referenced by my second-favorite episode in my second-favorite season of The O.C.

The last judge to get commemorated via video is Shakira, and the producers want us to know that she is smart and also that that is kind of weird (and funny! and cute!) because English isn’t her first language. The whole thing is uncomfortably cross-wired but blessedly brief.


It’s the final stretch before the winner is announced, and the last of the former contestants round up for a group number: Cáthia, Judith, Karina, and Sasha on En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (Your’e Never Gonna Get It). In fact, the foursome has so much fun that my first thought was, What if they’d gone in on something more contemporary that could have really hooked iTunes? But then I remembered that each had already been eliminated. Sad surprise!

The producers favor us with an inside look at a “day in the life” of a Voice contestant, which seems to mostly involve hair, makeup, wardrobe, and going to photo shoots that then turn out to be car giveaways. (Burning question: Do The Swons really have to share one car? They’re brothers, not the Morgan Twins.)

As teased at the top of the finale, Danielle duets with Hunter Hayes on “I Want Crazy,” and his Tigger-like bounce either inspires some bounce in her or makes up for a lack of it. The whole thing is harmless, shameless synergy and it’s my favorite Danielle performance to date because there’s no pre-packaged “a-ha!” moment. It’s just her singing with someone whose chemistry she’s obviously responding to — and hey, Hunter is cute. (We’re basically the same age.) (It’s fine.) Balloons then rain from the ceiling.

Michelle reunites Team Usher for Stevie Wonder’s version of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” and while they have a spot of trouble finding a groove to start, each of the four meld joyfully by the chorus before falling into a semi-group hug by the end, as Usher jumps up on stage to meet them.

Final-final confessionals! Winning would be everything for each of them.

Cher! Hereafter “The Goddess of Pop,” TGoP is premiering her new single, “Woman’s World” (a solid late-’90s cut), beneath a crazy hairdo and while wearing drop crotch pants. I cannot. This outfit makes no sense to me. Describing it would break my caps-lock. Her backup dancers are all sporting variations on that theme, though, so there is some overarching purpose. WHAT THE HELL, CHER.

The lights come up and the Top 4 3 gather and thank each of their coaches and Carson reads out the order, starting with third:

THIRD PLACE: The Swon Brothers

SECOND PLACE: Michelle Chamuel

WINNER: Danielle Bradbery

Though the victory itself was hardly surprising, Danielle was surprised. Indeed, she could barely victory-sing a few lines of “Born to Fly.” As a few canny commenters predicted, the cameras quickly cut to Blake, bounding up to hug his prodigy. (Burning question: Where did that trophy come from and how much does it weigh?)

So it ends, y’all. It’s been an emotionally exhausting season for me, falling in and out and in and out over contestants and coaches, from the early rush of the blind auditions all the way through the rat-a-tat country factory that was most of the final episodes. I hate myself and I love myself. Now there’s no more Voice for a whole season (literally — just the summer).

Was this the series’ best crop of contestants, as we heard over and over and over again tonight? Whose maybe-album are you buying first? And remember: Xtina is coming, trailing streamers.

Episode Recaps

The Voice - Season 14
The Voice

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.

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