The Voice recap: The final five sing for the win
Welcome to The Voice season 21's finale performance night, everybody. Our final five artists will each have two more shots to impress tonight in hopes of winning the crown — er, V trophy.
Let's all be real, we're coming into this thing tonight knowing that this is Team Kelly's folk trio Girl Named Tom's to lose. They've been cruising through the competition, though it's not like they don't have some tough competitors to face: There's powerhouse and passionate vocalist Jershika Maple, soul singer and ultimate performer Paris Winningham, the dark horse teen who peaked at the right time Hailey Mia, and the other likely winner, industry vet Wendy Moten, who just can't seem to hit a bad note. It's a stacked final five!
Tonight, they'll each be singing one uptempo song to showcase "who they are as an artist" and one ballad dedicated to someone special. Let's see who makes the best case for first place.
Team Kelly: Hailey Mia, "Deja Vu," by Olivia Rodrigo
One of young Hailey Mia's standout moments in the competition was her performance of Olivia Rodrigo's "Traitor" in the live playoffs, so it makes sense that she'd head back to Olivia for this pivotal performance. And both Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson are right: This is the perfect lane for her voice and general vibe. She's got the angst, the anger, and the vulnerability down. Kelly especially loves this song choice because it will show off all shades of Hailey's voice, moving from soft to big power moments, from falsetto to chest voice. Also not for nothing, but she is starting to look a lot like Ariana Grande, another pop star who started young. It's not her best vocal, but it's a fun performance to kick off the night and says a lot about who she would be as an artist moving forward.
Team Blake: Paris Winningham, "Me and Mrs. Jones," by Billy Paul
For his ballad dedication, Paris Winningham is honoring his biggest supporter, his father. He's also going with another classic soul song that makes it easy to show off his charm and prowess on stage. It always feels like we're at a Paris Winningham show. "That was a vibe, man," Carson Daly tells the soul singer. John Legend describes the power of Paris perfectly: He can be "smooth and silky" and then "rev[s] it up" to hit some huge notes that take you by surprise. His coach Blake Shelton tells him that he just sold a whole bunch of tickets to shows he "[hasn't] even booked yet."
Team Kelly: Girl Named Tom, "The Chain," by Fleetwood Mac
In reminiscing about their journey on this show, Girl Named Tom admit that they came into this thing sure they were going to pick Blake Shelton as their coach, should they have the chance. They were a four-chair turn in the Blinds, but it was Kelly's pitch about pushing them out of their comfort zone a la Johnny Cash doing Trent Reznor that sealed the deal. The rest is history! After this performance, Blake still thinks GNT are country, and it's true they could easily go down that route. Still, as this song choice demonstrates, they can surprise more by using that rock edge. I still prefer last week's "River," but it's always nice to see GNT do something a little out of that comfort zone, like Kelly predicted way back when.
Team Legend: Jershika Maple, "I'm Goin' Down," by Mary J. Blige
Jershika Maple, our final Instant Save winner of the season, dedicates her ballad to her church community, the people who helped her "embrace her gift" and act as a huge support system. It's very nice, but can we just talk about this song? By now we know Jershika can sing anything, but this song is really Jershika in her element. It's sexy, soulful, and she brings some real power to it. Kelly, who was her original coach, calls her "the one that got away" and is once again impressed at how easy Jerkshika makes singing some of these terribly difficult songs look. Jerksika's own coach couldn't be prouder, telling her that she's "dominated every week" and that it has been "a privilege and a joy" to both coach her and watch her perform.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten, "How Will I Know?," by Whitney Houston
What a journey Wendy has had — and I mean that even before her big fall. She's spent decades as a backup singer, and by joining forces with coach Blake Shelton has reignited a dream of a solo career. Blake loves that as seasoned as Wendy is, we've still "seen some growth in her as an artist," and he calls her "masterful." She sounds technically great on this Whitney bop, although it isn't the most emotionally connected performance. Still, with that sequined caped suit and the end of that song, who really cares? Ariana can't believe Wendy sang Whitney that well and still "optioned up at the end. How is that even possible?" she asks. Blake calls it "one of the greatest live vocal performances [he has] ever heard." So that's that right there.
Team Kelly: Hailey Mia, "idontwannabeyouanymore," by Billie Eilish
Hailey is dedicating her ballad to all the youths out there, reminding them to screw what other people think and just be themselves. Her song choice, all about dealing with insecurities, speaks to that. It's an excellent song choice for her and easily the better of her two performances tonight. John Legend calls it his "favorite performance" of hers this season and can't say enough about how "rich" and "full of heart and soul and authenticity" her voice is. Kelly concurs. She thinks Hailey's tone is what sets her apart from the rest. It's round in the right places, it breaks in the right places, and it's what makes her "an amazing storyteller" at such a young age.
Team Blake: Paris Winningham, "Ain't Nobody," by Chaka Khan and Rufus
Paris started out on Team Legend, but after singing "Tennessee Whiskey" in the Knockouts, it only seems right that he was stolen by Blake. On paper it's a bit of a risky pairing, but it's obviously worked for Paris. So he's taking another risk by singing this enormous Chaka Khan song. It's not his best or most controlled, but wow, when he takes it to another gear in the chorus — those growls — it's really something. Kelly, who can barely be heard over the applause (the people love Paris!), comments on his swagger and his perfect balance of "power and restraint." Blake has nothing more to add except: "Ladies and gentlemen, this guy deserves to win this show."
Team Kelly: Girl Named Tom, "Baby Now That I've Found You," by the Foundations (Alison Krauss version)
The sibling trio dedicate their ballad to… each other? Which is fine? Anyway, for this performance they're back on their folky-country vibe. It's not their most compelling performance, but if you love what Girl Named Tom do, you'll also enjoy this. Their harmonies remain, as always, stellar. Ariana of course loves the harmonies, but also thinks it's special to see their growth as individual artists, and thinks they've really grown in those solo moments. Kelly tells her team that while powerful songs like "The Chain" are great, she loves that GNT aren't afraid to do something quieter. She digs their "angelic" vibe.
Team Legend: Jershika Maple, "Rolling in the Deep," by Adele
Jershika! Our little security guard that could! Honestly, how was she not singing for a living before this competition? Even before she (once again) annihilates her song, John Legend calls her "truly one of the best vocalists [he's] ever worked with." While people have heard this Adele song a million times, it is full of the anger and power and "fight" that have propelled Jershika through the competition. Also, you've never heard it done by Jershika Maple. The power here is unreal, and there's so much energy radiating from the stage. John says that while there are great singers in this competition, Jershika's "combination of being so technically good and being so soulful and so powerful" sets her apart. "There is no one like you," he adds.
Team Blake: Wendy Moten, "Over the Rainbow," by Judy Garland
Wendy Moten closes out the show by dedicating her ballad to her two homes, Memphis and Nashville. She sang "Over the Rainbow" in a talent show while growing up in Memphis and it began her love of performing, so singing it now is a full-circle moment. I mean, come on with this performance. Come on! This is Wendy Moten at her finest. That bend? We're done here. John doesn't think he's "ever seen anyone with a gift like [Moten has.]" He's floored by not only how "flawless" her vocals are, but also that she can just stand there and deliver "with such nonchalance." Blake sums up his feelings on the matter by calling Wendy "world-class talent." "We've never seen anything like you on this stage in 21 seasons." What a great final five!
Now, if none of these performances did anything for you (what happened to you?), Kelly also performs her catchy Christmas song "Christmas Isn't Canceled (Just You)." Go forth and watch that performance on a loop, and I'll see you tomorrow for the big finale!
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.