It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were marveling at the twisting-throne technologies and crazy Christina Aguilera outbursts of The Voice blind auditions. And now here we are, at the final performance episode of the season. Maybe because it really wasn’t that long ago — ten weeks, which really isn’t very long, especially next to the full semester that is an American Idol season. Compared to that grueling season, The Voice is more like summer school — but, you know, fun.
And along the way, we’ve learned so much! Like what a great dad Blake Shelton is going to be. He practically treats his team members like his children. And how Xtina’s moods change almost as often as her extensions do. They both seem to alternate between “kicky” and “funny-slutty.” And that Adam Levine is the only coach willing to Sophie’s Choice his final two with his scores. I admire his courage there. And that Cee Lo — well, I’m hesitant to say I ever learn anything about Cee Lo. He’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma immersed in a pitcher of Kool Aid. If the Voice coaches were Wizard of Oz characters (Xtina as Dorothy! Adam as the Tin Man! Blake as the Lion! Carson as Toto and/or the President of the Lollipop Guild!), Cee Lo would be my Scarecrow, for I love him most of all.
Look at me — I’m already getting nostalgic, and the season’s not even over yet. Does that mean I’ll need to shell out the dough to see the top 8 on their tour this summer? Maybe. Or maybe it just means I’m going to give this recap everything I’ve got. Who’s with me?
THE OPENER: “Under Pressure”
Carson says just a few hours ago (yeah, right) the coaches decided to sing a tribute to their finalists’ hard work. They waltz out singing “Under Pressure” by David Bowie/Queen. Xtina’s weave and Cee Lo’s red gown are again engaged in a metaphorical deathmatch for which can be louder, more distracting and glorious. Adam Levine’s baby voice is cooing, maybe it just woke up from its nap. Is that a blue streak in Xtina’s weave? God, I love her oblivious pizazz. Maybe Carson was telling the truth — this doesn’t sound very rehearsed at all! And by that I mean it sounds sloppy, but at least it’s not over-rehearsed and Xtina only had one major diva moment.
A LOOK BACK: Hope you didn’t have a big lunch, because tonight’s show has lots of filler. First, it’s this look back at the journey of our final four: Dia Frampton (Team Blake), Javier Colon (Team Adam), Beverly McClellan (Team Xtina) and Vicci Martinez (Team Cee Lo).
COMING UP: Duets between the finalists and their coaches, and the debut of original songs by each finalist. But first, Carson has a chat with each of them:
Dia: She’s wearing a gorgeous and conservative full-length tomato red gown, and she’s looking more demure than ever. She says a couple little sweet things.
Beverly: She’s “here to rock and roll,” no pressure.
Vicci: She’s looking sparkly and hot! She hopes tonight she’s gonna do it right.
Javier: Our lone male finalist says he’d like to win, but they all genuinely love each other. Aww. These four all seem so nice. Everyone on this show is SO NICE, even the audience. Some girl just yelled “You’re all winners!”
Carson has a moment to himself: “This is like TRL 10 years ago. You can’t hear anything.” Then it’s time for him to chat with the coaches. They repeat themselves about how much they love, admire, respect and adore their finalists as people and artists and special little snowflakes.
TWITTER UPDATE: Alison Haislip earns a sliver of my respect for making a Highlander reference. “There can be only one.” Well played, Alison. Too bad otherwise you’re useless. 🙁
Javier Colon, “Stitch by Stitch” (original song)
Carson just said, “Here’s more on Javier Colon,” but it sounded like “Here’s moron Javier Colon.” Goin’ out on TOP, Carse! We see a video of Javier working on his original song, which celebrates his wife and family for their support.
The performance: It’s a love song right inside Javier’s wheelhouse, and he’s taken Adam’s advice, going for tone and consistency in the beginning before dabbling in his now signature runs and showing off his range. He’s got a soft, velvety Bryan McKnight thing going on. He still sounds great, but for the first time it sounds a bit like he’s got some nerves. The performance is understated, without any of the grand theatrics, dancing or crazy accompaniment we’ve gotten used to on this show, which is classic Colon. The vocals feel the right combo of controlled and raw. I’d need to hear this song a few more times before I decide if I like it, but I KNOW that I like Javier, and his voice has true staying power.
The coaches say… Blake says he has a lot of respect for Javier. Xtina thinks the song suited him and the execution sounded nice. She looks bored. Cee Lo thinks it sounds like Javier’s song, he embodied it. Adam loves Javier and wants America to know what a great dude he is.
Dia Frampton and Blake Shelton’s duet, “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
Dia is excited to end the show with the lyric, “I’ll stand my ground.” I love Petty and I love this song, and it feels like the right middle ground for indie-pop Dia and country Blake.
The performance: They’re wearing sunglasses! They’re in matching Reservoir Dogs suits! They’re like an adorable father-daughter duo, gaaaaaaw!!! I love them so much. It’s at moments like this that my icy heart melts and I really do feel like this show means something, and might have an actual impact. For real! Where else do you get to watch a superstar and a regular person who genuinely adore each other sing together? It’s so heartwarming. Reality TV usually crushes my dreams, but right now I feel like I’m watching dreams come TRUE!
Vicci Martinez, “Afraid to Sleep” (original song)
Vicci says her song is “epic” and that it builds, which is the perfect fit for her.
The performance: I feel like Vicci and I could be friends. She’s just so cool — maybe I mean that I wish she would stoop to being my friend. And friends need to give each other tough love, right? My tough love for Vicci is that I love her voice, but I’m not too crazy about this song. It starts too slow, and sounds too much like an 80s glam rock ballad. I respect her performance, but the song just doesn’t feel like a single. Now I’m afraid to sleep, because I’ll have nightmares that Vicci will dump me as her friend for what I just said.
The coaches say… Adam was completely invested in her performance and emotion. And he bought her a pair of jeans today! Blake says she “insists on being a big deal” in the best way. Xtina says Vicci is dynamic and made the song her own. Now she sounds impatient and a little annoyed. Wassup, X, outta Valium or something? Cee Lo loves Vicci, and he’s proud of her.
PITBULL AND NE-YO PERFORM “GIVE ME EVERYTHING (TONIGHT)”: I fully admit that I don’t pay as much attention to hip-hop as I should, but has Pitbull ALWAYS looked like a mix between Billy Corgan and Moby? I wasn’t expecting that. It’s pretty cool how this song is basically about a dude demanding that a woman sleep with him right that second and Ne-Yo makes it sound romantic. They don’t even say please! But the women in catsuits grinding up against them don’t seem to mind.
Beverly McClellan and Christina Aguilera’s duet, “Beautiful” by … Christina Aguilera
Christina says she’s done “Beautiful” in every capacity, but she’s NEVER done it the way she’s doing it tonight with Beverly. I would make fun of Xtina for picking her own song for the duet, because COOOME OOON, but Linda Perry is there and she wrote it, and also it’s just the perfect “anthem” for bald, beautiful Beverly to sing with her coach. I begrudgingly approve.
The performance: Christina is wearing a hat. She’s trying really hard to be cool and mysterious tonight. Their voices are a strange but lovely combination, and they know how to riff off each other and harmonize. The performance is warm and heartfelt. It feels a little like a VH1 Storytellers moment, the way they’re sitting on stools and just looking and nodding at each other. Despite everything I know about and have learned to expect from Xtina, the performance is a partnership, not a singer/backup singer dynamic. I was so into the song that I forgot to take a picture. I know, life is hard, but you’ll be OK, I promise.
Dia Frampton, “Inventing Shadows” (original song)
Blake loves that Dia is being Dia and that America loves her for that.
The performance: Dia is at the piano again, and I instantly like her original song the best so far. She just has a way of singing every single syllable in such a convincing and entrancing way. There’s a screen behind her, behind which four former Dance majors are being paid to mime-dance like shadows. That’s kind of silly, but Dia remains the star. The song is a bit adult contemporary for my taste, as compared to her amazing cover of “Heartless” a couple weeks back. But for being the shyest of the final 4, she sounds and looks the most comfortable with her original song. She really sold it, and it was beautiful.
The coaches say… Xtina jabs Blake for making fun of her mimes and then hiring his own. MIME TALK! Cee Lo loved the song, and Dia never ceases to amaze him. Adam didn’t need all the “stuff” going on behind her, but he loved the song. Blake doesn’t care what the other coaches say — he says they’ll be REALLY distracted when they see Dia at #1 on iTunes in half an hour. Don’t poke the papa bear, you’ll get the CLAWS!
Javier Colon and Adam Lambert’s duet, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
Adam and Javier will finally let their magical angel baby voices fly free and kiss among the clouds! I mean, uhhh … I just went somewhere mentally that scared even me. Dial it back, Carlson. Sorry, folks. This is just what MJ does to me!
The performance: Adam and Javier are Neyo (the OTHER Neyo) and Morpheus, and they are in the Matrix. The spirit of Michael Jackson is also in the Matrix. All joking aside: If you don’t love this song, go jump off a cliff because you’re EMPTY INSIDE. Also: Javier actually outsung Adam on that duet, don’t you think? There is no spoon. For my final piece of profound commentary on this duet, I will tell you that their ending “HOO! HOO!”s made me smile.
BRAD PAISLEY AND BLAKE SING “DON’T DRINK THE WATER”: It’s a PSA about water hygiene in Mexico? It’s about a travel agent telling Brad Paisley not to drink Mexican water? REALLY? Pretty neat that you can write a country song about literally anything, you guys.
HEY COMMENTERS: Marry, F*ck, Kill. Blake, Adam, Cee Lo. GO! (I didn’t include Carson because we all know why. It’d be a Carson massacre.)
Beverly McClellan, “Lovesick” (original song)
Beverly is excited about the song, which she’s added her own “flair” to. What? Beverly? FLAIR? Ha, JK. Where the rest of us are 80% water, Bev is 80% flair. (And 0% hair.)
The performance: Beverly is kicking ass and NOT taking names, because her hands are too busy holding the mic to write down any names, that would be a waste of time! (This show is too long. I’m getting weird.) This song feels BIG — it’s the right mix of energy and noise, still with enough range and singing (vs. shouting) for Beverly to show off her stuff. She’s so “lovesick, sick of love” that she laid down on top of the piano for a minute. AND she got tonight’s only standing ovation, I think!
The coaches say… Cee Lo says he loves her, and she killed it! Adam thinks she’s amazing and incredible to watch. Blake says, “if music was crack, you would have a serious problem.” It’s awesome for him to watch her do the crack! Xtina is all over the place with her love for Bev, but for the first time tonight her commentary sounds … awake.
Vicci Martinez and Cee Lo Green’s duet, “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
Cee Lo says he and Vicci are “explosive” together, and he thinks that Vicci could be the next Pat Benatar. And he’s pulling out all his best theatrics for the performance. OH MY GOD I’M SO EXCITED, it’s like Christmas Eve for my eyeballs!
The performance: There are tiny boy warriors like in The Last Airbender (probably). Maybe more like Hook? They look like they could kill me, no problem. Cee Lo and Vicci are dressed like warring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villains. The Jaden Smith-esque boy slaves thrash in unison behind them while fire dances on screen and Cee Lo screams “WE ARE STRONG!” This is the best worst BEST thing I’ve ever seen in my life. This performance is my spirit animal. The boys are doing FLIPS!!! I feel like I could lift a car. Now THAT’S entertainment!
TIME TO VOTE:
Now it’s our turn! WE get to decide! It’s up to us, America! Make YOUR voice heard … Who should be THE VOICE?
I don’t knoooow! I love them all! My brain is saying “Javier,” but my heart … my heart is saying … “ALL OF THEM!”
Go vote! Keep Carson Daly employed (he needs this!) and keep the dream alive for your favorite Voice finalist! Then tell me in the comments: Who should win tomorrow night? Don’t forget to come back tomorrow at 8pm ET for the live recap of the finale.
(Images courtesy of NBC)