'The Voice' Season 2, Episode 20 Recap - 'Finalists Perform'
One thing, before we start: I think Cee Lo is asleep behind those glasses half the time. Or maybe they're special video glasses and he's watching episodes of "Mad Men" while the show is going on.
We get a look back at the journey of our four finalists. If you need a refresher, they are Jermaine Paul (Team Blake), Chris Mann (Team Christina), Juliet Simms (Team Cee Lo) and Tony Lucca (Team Adam). The judges all get a chance to talk about their finalists, and we learn that Christina is a little sick tonight. She coughs pitifully.
Also, can we get the audience members to put a lid on yelling "we love you" whenever the mentors speak? And if not, can we get the mentors to just ignore them and keep on talking?
Jermaine Paul will be up first, and he will be singing "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly. He tells us about the song choice with a slight sense of "yeah guys, I know. I know. I'm sorry." Hopefully he doesn't pull the same thing that happened on "The X Factor" and pull out R Kelly himself to totally upstage him.
Even if he had, it might not have mattered: Jermaine really digs deep for this one, and it doesn't hurt that I think they actually added key changes to this song. He even adds some grit to the vocals, though it's hard to tell if that's just him getting emotional... there are definitely tears.
Christina lauds him for getting her up on her feet and for singing with heart. Cee Lo thinks it was a good song choice, and notes that Jermaine looks "like a handsome man with a beautiful voice." Adam calls it "elegant." Blake, vest and all, says he has listened to that song many times, but never really heard it until now.
Jermaine certainly saved it for the right time, but he'll have a big hill to climb to overtake Juliet. For that matter, so will everyone else.
Speaking of Juliet Simms, she's up next, but she's doing her tribute song to her coach... apparently each contestant tonight will be performing one of their coaches' own songs as a way of saying "thank you." Juliet works her way through "Crazy," and seems a little underrehearsed, but this probably isn't the one that's going to count.
Chris Mann follows that up with a duet with Christina, as the two will sing Andrea Bocceli's "The Prayer" together. The rehearsal is more Chris mentoring Christina than the other way around, since it's an opera song and she admits that he's classically trained in ways that she isn't.
The two sing to each other under a rather cheap-looking altar on a spinning platform, as if they were in the world's tackiest wedding. The song is nice, though Christina and Chris don't blend quite as well as you might expect. Two very different styles there. I fear a Christina wardrobe malfunction the whole time, but miraculously the right nipple stays covered. Disaster avoided.
Tony Lucca is up next with his solo song, which is a sort of hillbilly rock cover of "99 Problems" by Jay-Z. This version of the song was actually used in the movie "No Strings Attached," if you'll remember. What's that? You never saw that movie? Ah, well you're not alone in that.
Anyway, it's a pretty cool cover, and Tony does a nice job with it. But I'm not sure it was the best choice at this point, as it's a little lacking in energy. It's tough to have a big, memorable moment in a song that's lifted from a rap song with no melody in the first place. Still, Tony is a showman, and knows how to work a stage. Hopefully his tribute song will have a little more opportunity to hit some big notes.
Blake commends him on the "really cool version" of the song, and Tony takes the compliment like he came up with it, which he didn't. Christina, still playing the villain to Tony, comments on the "derogatory" lyrics. Yeah, duh. Adam, in reponse, takes off his shirt to reveal a "Team Xtina" t-shirt underneath.
Chris comes back up with his tribute song, "The Voice Within." Apparently there are parts of Christina's discography that I am not aware of. Chris actually laughs after one of the lines, and Christina is cracking up too. He recovers and floats his way through the song, which has a nice, melodic chorus for him. I've never heard the original, but I'm pretty sure his version is better.
Juliet is back up, but still not with her solo performance: she'll be collaborating with Cee Lo on "Born to be Wild." Not sure about how much Juliet is departing from the melody, and it seems to be in a weird key for her. Cee Lo seems to be having a good time, though.
Tony comes back up for his duet with Adam, as the two will be doing "Yesterday" by The Beatles. A good choice in contrast to his first choice, and a good song overall. You can't get much better than The Beatles, and with them, you can't get much better than "Yesterday." It's a good performance, and a nice arrangement of the song that stays faithful enough to the original while departing enough to be interesting. Good harmonies too. I maintain that Tony had better have a big, rockin' song lined up for his tribute number.
Straight on to Jermaine, who does his tribute to Blake with Blake's hit "God Gave Me You." Poor Jermaine, getting stuck with Blake's musical catalogue. It's a catchy song, but not really suited to all the stuff that Jermaine can do. He's not likely to turn any heads with that one, and it's a shame that his "I Believe I Can Fly" performance didn't come later in the show. We'll see how the duet goes later.
Chris time, as he returns with his solo performance. He goes with "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban. Aha, there's the Groban. We all knew it had to be coming eventually, right? After all, when and if Chris gets signed for a record deal, that's the kind of stuff he'll likely be doing: ballads mixed with some opera numbers. There's a sign language interpreter on stage for good measure. I guess because it's an inspirational song? Well, it works, especially when he's joined by the high school choir: Christina is in tears.
Cee Lo loves it, and calls Chris "incomparable," and reassures him that he is in fact "cool." He also invites Chris to sing at his future wedding. Christina gushes over him as well, of course.
Jermaine and Blake are up for their duet, and thankfully they're going Jermaine's route and doing "Soul Man," as opposed to a country song. Their rehearsal is amusing, as Jermaine attempts to school Blake the one-trick pony on how to sing soul, and do a little back and forth improvisation.
It's a rousing little number, and Blake does his part admirably, even though Jermaine is clearly much more at home here. Blake seems to have a surprising lack of rhythm for a musician. Still, that was a lot of fun, easily the most lively duet of the evening. Is Jermaine a threat for the upset now? We'll see what Juliet and Tony bring with their last performances.
Well, Tony will be finishing up his night with a tribute of "Harder to breathe." Probably the best choice for him, considering the options at his disposal. He's also making the censors earn their paychecks tonight.
A slip-up! At the start of the second verse, Tony seems to lose his spot for a second and laughs. Fortunately, he recovers quickly and delivers the rest of the song just fine. Ultimately, the performance is lacking the pop that it needed to put him out in front, I think. Surprisingly stark staging, as well.
"You got a lot of words in that, man," says Tony as he finishes. Yup.
Juliet will round out the evening, performing "Freebird." Odd choice, considering pretty much all the vocals are in the beginning of the song, followed by like, eight minutes of vocals-free guitar solos. She wears a huge... well, cape I guess you would call it, that is clearly supposed to billow up on a jet of air during the big solo, but fails to do so. Oh well.
Adam loves the grit. Cee Lo is in tears. Christina loves everything about it, and notes that Juliet is also performing sick. Aha, so that's why she seemed a little lacking. Cee Lo offers an explanation for his "No Problems" t-shirt: "With Juliet Simms on my team," he says, "I have... no problems."
Who won the night? It's tough to call at this point. Juliet seemed the clear favorite going into tonight, based on audience reaction and the fact that she beat another favorite in Jamar Rogers to get here. But with her performing ill tonight, she clearly wasn't at 100%, and I'm not sure the song choices were the best either.
Tony Lucca has his own pretty strong fan base, and while he had a good night, he didn't have a huge moment like some of the other performers did. Still, Tony could end up with the most votes, especially since he opted for a pretty unique cover for his solo song. Remember, downloads count as votes, and people might want that song, if only for the novelty.
However, you can't count out Chris Mann, who has a surprising amount of support for an opera singer. He may have won even more votes with strong performances tonight, and by staying true to his roots.
The real question is Jermaine: he pulled out all the stops tonight, and his rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly" was probably the strongest performance of the night. Unfortunately, it was closer to the beginning of the show, and was followed up by a weak tribute (Blake's fault, not his). The duet was fun, but the vocals got buried a bit and didn't stand out.
Ultimately, it's a question of loyalty: if the fans that have supported Juliet up to this point will vote for her regardless of the weak performances, she should end up the winner. But this year, unlike last when it was bound to be either Javier or Dia, it's anyone's game at this point.
We will have the results for you tomorrow, so be sure to check back to find out who won (and how wrong I am).