Jordan Smith. Barrett Baber. Emily Ann Roberts. Jeffery Austin. These are your final four season 9 artists on The Voice. As for the coaches, Adam Levine is still in the game (and will probably win), as are Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Pharrell is down for the count this season, so he gets to sit back and enjoy the show. That’s fine by me because, as wonderful as the man is, he can’t sing anywhere near as fabulously as his colleagues can.
During this first part of the two-night, four-hour finale, we will see some of the best entertainment of the entire season. We will see these four starlings perform a song of their choice (and we all know choice is the key to success on The Voice) as well as a duet with their coach. And during the season 9 finale, each will perform with a mega star in the music industry. Who are these stratospherically successful guests? I’m glad you asked.
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Previewing the Finale: Skaggs, Usher, Judd and Kelly Arrive to Sing Backup…
Nah, not really back-up. Each superstar will get equal billing with a competing artist. Since you asked so nicely, I’ll tell you who is doing what with whom. Team Blake’s Emily Ann Roberts will perform with Ricky Skaggs, while her teammate Barrett Baber will share the stage with Wynonna Judd. (Catch me while I pass out.) Team Gwen’s Jeffery Austin will be joined by Tori Kelly, the Grammy-nominated best new artist who debuted at #2 with “Unbreakable Smile.” Team Adam’s Jordan Smith, the clear frontrunner going into the finals, will share the stage with none other than two-time coach and one-time winner of The Voice, Usher.
How the competitors will make it through their performances without passing out or messing their panties is beyond me. That would be like asking me to play a love scene with Antonio Banderas. Talk about heart-stopping swoonage! Seriously, how do they maintain their composure? Color me clueless.
We (I) Obviously Make a Huge Difference
Bear with my momentary delusions of grandeur, folks, but something has to be said. I know you’ve all been thinking it, so, fine, I’ll address the elephant in the room: Adam Levine takes my advice very, very seriously. Yes, it’s true. Hold the applause until I’m finished, please, and let me explain.
After Jordan’s performance of “Hallelujah” in the Top 10, and in my infinite wisdom which I share here with you every week, free of charge, I provided some words of unprecedented brilliance which proved crucial for Adam and Jordan:
“Inside, Jordan is a sexy tattooed rock star waiting to get out. We’ve seen Jordan pulling the heartstrings many times so far. It’s time for that rock star to come out. That’s the kind of versatility we need from Jordan. We aren’t getting it in the Top 10, but hopefully we will in the Top 9. I’m looking straight at you, Adam; do you hear me? We need something that won’t just get Jordan to the next level, but that will also send him over the top and be fun and be different.”
Now, in the semifinals (Jordan’s very next performance), Jordan Smith left every artist who ever lived in the dust with his absolutely off the chain performance of “Somebody to Love.” The dust, my friends. This cannot be a coincidence. Obviously, Adam Levine reads our recaps. (Now I better step off my pedestal before I fall off…)
Jordan Smith Kicks Off the Evening with “Climb Every Mountain”
Jordan stands inside a life-size petri dish (or is that a hub cap?) and opens the night with the powerful counsel of the Mother Abbess from The Sound of Music. He does a great job and gets all kinds of accolades from the coaches. Pharrell makes the audience stand up to applaud this humble performer. Gwen piles on more verbal candy while outfitted in a demure, skin-hugging white dress with a peek-a-boob bodice and (for once) some lovely normal long hair. (It’s probably extensions, but who’s counting?) It’s great to see her like this.
Adam makes a speech about how incredibly humble Jordan has been. America loves to see the humble underdog make it big. Granted, Jordan is big stuff here on The Voice, but it’s clear he’s lived in the shadows all his life. When Jordan Smith walks into the light, the world wants to be a better place. I just hope his next two performances are more fun … more along the lines of “Somebody to Love” in their versatility. Let’s see what else this man is hiding inside his marvelous self.
Emily Ann Roberts Performs “Blue Christmas”
After reminding us that we must vote for our favorites after the show is over, Carson Daly introduces Emily, saying the artists got to choose their favorite holiday numbers to sing. Emily is breathtakingly beautiful in a turquoise sequin dress, magically glittery eye shadow and stick-straight locks. The performance is classic but nothing out of the ordinary. So is that her solo number for the night, her competition piece? If it is, she should fire her agent. The coaches spray her with verbal sugar. Once again, let’s hope she’s able to flex her excellent talent muscles later in the show.
Barrett Baber and Blake Shelton Perform “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Oh, what memories this brings back. Remember Glen Campbell? I’d forgotten all about this guy. We see a lengthy (though delicious) excerpt of Blake and Barrett practicing their song. At one point, Blake holds Barrett in his arms as they sing. Does that sound strange? It’s actually damn awesome to see. Blake confesses that being on The Voice has taught him that people love a good throwback and that’s why this is a good song to perform together.
Well, it’s hard to compete with Glen’s fine red wine voice, but these guys give it a good old college try. They really should have taken the song down an octave or two because they both struggle in this higher range.
Adam and Blake Pimp Their Ride in a Nissan Commercial
The sheer number of commercials during this show is staggering. Is it just me or is it doubly bad during this episode? Anyway, we do get some of those fun Adam Levine vs. Blake Shelton commercials. This time, Adam is racing in a Voice obstacle course with Blake taunting him through his head set.
And … we’re back as Carson reminds us that every purchase of an artist’s song on iTunes multiplies that artist’s votes by a factor of 10.
Jeffery Austin Performs “O Holy Night”
Jeffery goes flat in one of his first phrases. He’s not the only one who has gone a little flat in the finals, so maybe it won’t hurt him. Come on, people, Christmas carols are not appropriate as competition pieces. If that’s what these are supposed to be, I feel sorry for the artists. And does this mean each artist gets three performances: a competition piece, an unnecessary Christmas song and a coach duet? Help me out here, people. What. Is. The. Deal? And we’re off to commercials again…
Adam Levine and Jordan Smith Perform “God Only Knows”
This is going to be awesome. I can already tell. Adam and Jordan have fun in the recording studio. When they hit the stage, it’s a precious performance. Unfortunately, Adam and Jordan sing almost exclusively in unison. Or are they doing harmony? I can’t tell. Whatever. Their voices are indistinguishable. Jordan’s performance-peppered smiles are absolutely charming. He is obviously loving this experience. It’s sweet entertainment. However, there’s really not much to say about the song and its delivery.
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Barrett Baber Performs “Die a Happy Man”
Carson interviews Blake and Barrett about Barrett’s path to this place and this time. Blake talks about Barrett’s tremendous work ethic. Barrett pays homage to his lively ‘Christie Brinkley-esque’ wife and his kids back at home supporting him all along the way. Finally, we are going to see the real Barrett again with this performance.
“Die a Happy Man” has some of the most romantic lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. It gives me that pre-cry tart sensation in the sinuses. This one really tickles the heartstrings and is perfectly delivered. Now, that is a performance piece. That must mean the real show has begun.
Blake Shelton and Emily Ann Roberts Perform “Islands in the Stream”
These two decide to do another Dolly Parton song. They are like a bunch of kids during their practices and at the recording studio. Their performance is more interesting and fun than “Blue Christmas” and definitely highlights Emily Ann’s voice more than Blake’s. As it should.
Jeffery Austin Performs “Stay”
Jeffery and Gwen take Carson back down memory lane to the beginning of Jeffery’s journey to the finals. Then when Jeffery takes the stage, we hear his competition piece. It starts out a little weak but picks up once he gets to the plea, “Why don’t you stay?” Blake says he loves to hear Jeffery going a little bit country. There’s a lot of wailing going on during that performance, though, and I may have fallen asleep during the second chorus … At one time, I believed that Jeffery was the runner-up in this competition, but now I think it might be Barrett or Emily Ann.
Barrett Baber Performs “Silent Night”
Bah humbug. Are we finished with the carols yet? And do the coaches have to give comments after every … single … performance? What more can they actually say? OMG. Right after I typed that into my laptop, Adam says the same thing. I think we’ve got a telepathic connection going on.
Gwen Stefani and Jeffery Austin Perform “Leather and Lace”
Gwen sings the bottom range; Jeffery takes the top. With the exception of one or two of the long notes, it’s great to hear Gwen’s singing voice.
Holy crap, did Carson just say Jordan is going to perform “Mary, Did You Know?” That is going to bring the house down. #Squirrel
Jordan Smith Performs “Mary, Did You Know?”
Finally, someone sings a Christmas song that is an actual piece of competition art. The delivery is passionate but not overdone. This is, by far, the best performance of the night. Why they didn’t give “Mary, Did You Know?” the pimp spot is beyond me. Adam tells the story of how this song was a last-minute change made by Jordan. Adam had something else chosen for him to sing, but Jordan wanted this song. I’m dying to know what that other song was, but Adam doesn’t say. This song choice is proof of the instinctive musicianship Jordan possesses. Gorgeous.
Emily Ann Roberts Performs “Burning House”
Blake says Emily Ann could be the next Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. That may be a bit of an overstatement, but what else is new? This song is supposed to be Emily’s attempt to swing for the fences. Emily Ann sings like she knows what she’s talking about. This is, by far, her best performance. It’s gorgeous. Watch out, Jordan. Every coach is standing to talk to Emily. Pharrell says the performance was flawless. Blake says Emily just executed a true upset for Jordan Smith. That was breathtaking, but I wouldn’t go that far, Blake. Now I’m off to vote … and to buy Emily Ann’s “Burning House” on iTunes.
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The Voice season 9 finale airs Tuesday, December 15 at 9pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)