Monday, June 17, 2013

The Voice Season 4 • The Finals

This evening, the Top 3 acts from Season 4 are looking to secure your vote to be named the winner of 'The Voice' on Tuesday night's results show. Last week, Team Adam and Team Shakira were eliminated, when Amber Carrington and Sasha Allen, respectively, were sent home. Both are very talented ladies, and may have paid the price for some questionable song choices, as has often been the case this strong and very entertaining season. From all reports, it sounds as though both Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green will be returning in the fall for Season 5, so Usher and Shakira might be done for at least the time being. I must say, I think they have done a good job, and was hoping to see what might happen if they were to return with a season of learning under their belt. My hat's off to all the judges for doing such a strong job, without becoming the focus of each and every episode.

The Voice Season 4 photo thevoice4_2_zps9b6b5c64.jpg
Left to right: Adam Levine, Shakira, Blake Shelton, Usher, and Carson Daly

The Final 3 are made up with members of Team Usher, Michelle Chamuel, and Team Blake, Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers. Can Usher come through with a win in his rookie season as a judge? Can his Electro-Pop starlet command the votes to unseat the Country acts? Or will Blake take the title for the third consecutive season, and earn the first victory with a budding Country star? Can 16-year-old Danielle garner the votes to be the youngest winner so far, or will The Swon Brothers become the first group to take home the title. After all, Zach and Colton bucked the odds all season long, being the first duo or group to make it to the semifinal performances, and now the finals. Will the Country vote be split between the two strong acts, leaving room for Michelle to take the title in a season dominated by Country influences? Only time and Carson Daly can tell...

The Voice Season 4 Top 3 photo TheVoice_final3acts_zps503d1c92.jpg

Carson Daly comes out to the screaming audience to remind us that this is the final chance to impress the voters, and all three acts want to win it, and get the recording contract with Universal. It seems like they will be singing three songs each, with one new song, the song considered their 'breakthrough moment, and a duet with their coach. Touching base with the coaches as the show begins, Blake has faith either of his acts could take the title, and Usher has designs to win it all with Michelle. The first performance tonight is from the judges, who take on "With A Little Help From My Friends", the iconic song from the Lennon-McCartney songbook. Here is how the Beatles got the job done "With A Little Help From My Friends".

After a break, it is time for The Swon Brothers to give their first of the night. We see a recap of their journey on The Voice, and how far they have come over the past few months. They are singing "I Can't Tell You Why" by The Eagles. The chorus for this song is sung in falsetto, with a real sweetness to it. Right away, we hear that Zach is in great voice, taking it to the song. They hit the falsetto in the chorus and are so on, it is scary. I am loving this performance. The Swon Brothers came to take the title back to Oklahoma. Usher was somewhat cool with his critique, but Shakira loved it, and had nothing but wonderful things to say. Adam thought it was incredible, just so right on. Blake is so proud of the boys, and how they have continued to evolve as artists, never resting on safe choices. After a break, Usher talks about how proud he is of Michelle, and to mark what he thinks is her breakthrough moment, Michelle will be singing Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble".

She sound pretty damn good, but I find it is often so hard to catch lightning in a bottle a second time. She sang it beautifully, and delivered it with a real Pop/Rock feeling. Shakira tells her she is extraordinary as an artist, and that is what music needs right now. Adam just loves her energy, and what she does live. Blake agrees with Adam, and thinks she is a Rock Star. Usher calls her the winner, and is just so very proud of his pupil. After the break, Blake meets with Danielle Bradbery and her family, talking about her journey with them. Then they step on stage for a duet, and they sing "Timber, I'm Falling In Love", the great song from Patti Loveless. Blake is so sweet, taking the high harmonies, letting Danielle shine. After the break, Blake is back on the screen, this time to talk about the Swon Brothers. They are reviving the Loggins & Messina song "Danny's Song", which they first sang just last week. Their harmonies are so tight, it is hard to find fault. But once again, it is hard to spark the magic of the first performance. Solid, strong, and a delight. Usher thinks they were incredible, and made the competition disappear for a few moments. Adam agreed with Usher, and thought they did such a great song. Blake loved how they reinvented this classic, making it their own. Michelle Chamuel is up again, and will be singing "Why", the great song Annie Lennox. That is an incredible song, but Annie is a tough act to follow.

She sings the first part of the song into a mirror/video screen, with her back to the audience. That doesn't really work for me, I like it best when she has a direct connection to us. This is good, but not great. It is so hard to follow up the great Annie Lennox, who sings everything with such conviction and honesty. Michelle seemed to really connect with the final minute of the performance, which was so nice. Shakira loved it, and thought it proved her value as an artist, showing likability and capability. Blake loved the production, and thought it was wise to offer a softer performance, a different side of Michelle. Usher is just so proud of all she has done, and looks forward to hear what she will offer as an artist in the future. Blake meets with Mama & Papa Swon, before they do their duet with him. They will be singing "Celebrity", the big hit by Brad Paisley.

While the boys do their thing on the chorus, adding sweet, tight harmonies. However, the rest of the song proves to be a bit of a weak song for them. It just didn't feel like the type of song they would be singing on their own, lacking the musicality they have in abundance. After a break, it is time for Danielle to come out with her breakthrough moment. Blake believes she has had many such moments, but decided on "Maybe It Was Memphis" by Pam Tillis. Danielle performed it for the Top 16 round, which seems so long ago now. She did a lovely job, but I did feel she fell a bit flat at the end. I don't know what it was, but I thought she struggled a bit. Shakira donned a cowboy hat and tells Danielle she has such star power. Adam loves her, and announces he thinks she has won the whole competition, even thought it pains him that Blake would win again. After a break, Christina Milan reminds me why I think most of her onscreen interviews are a waste of time. Then Carson introduces Danielle, Michelle, and The Swon Brothers, who are there to sing "Home", a song from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

I like the song, and it is fun. Then the rest of the Top 16 join them on stage. I think this is a really nice song, but the group arrangement comes off a little too 'Up With People', a bit dry and soulless. Which, by the way, I blame on the show, not the Top 3. After the break, it is time for Michelle Chamuel to duet with Usher. They will be singing "One", the great song by U2, covered exceptionally by Mary J. Blige.

Usher opens the song, with some of the best vocals I've heard from him this season. When Michelle joins him, they sound great together. By the end, Michelle is out-singing Usher, catching fire just as her coach was running out of gas. As we go to the final break, Carson reminds us that we still have a performance from Danielle Bradbery. Once again, we are reminded of her journey, and hear Blake using his superlatives again, and we get it. She is going to win. She will sing "Born To Fly" by Sara Evans.

It is really the first uptempo song we've heard from her. The song is a cute Country song, but somewhat generic to me. It lacked a bit of zip that might have allowed it to take off, but I am not sure Danielle is prepared to zip yet. I find her to be pitch perfect, but a bit vacuous, most likely because she is still so young. I wish I could get more excited about her, but it just isn't happening for me. Usher tells her she is special, and did well. Adam doesn't know what to say, since he already declared her the winner. Blake reminds us he thinks she is the most important artist to come through 'The Voice', and how important she will be to Country music. Yep, I get it, folks. I understand who you think will be announced as the winner tomorrow night. But honestly, I thought The Swon Brothers were the strongest on all three songs, followed by Michelle. My reaction all season long has been the same for Danielle, a bit tepid. But it is time for the votes to be cast, for America to pick their favorite. Speaking of votes, to learn how you can place your vote, visit the official website. In brief, you can vote via a toll-free phone number, online at, with the special NBC App, or Facebook. Unlike some shows, The Voice limits the amount of votes people can place per method. You can vote 10 times per phone, or 10 times via Facebook, or 10 times via NBC App between now and 10AM Tuesday morning. The phone number is (877)553-37XX, filling in the 'XX' with the artist number. Those numbers would be The Swon Brothers 01, Michelle Chamuel 02, and Danielle Bradbery 03. Don't forget, your iTunes purchase also counts as a vote, if you are so inclined. There is a link to all the songs on the iTunes front page.

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