On Monday night’s episode of "The Voice,"” the final four artists battled it out one last time. Will it be Jeffery Austin, Barrett Baber, Emily Ann Roberts, or Jordan Smith crowned as the ninth season champion on Tuesday? For the concluding night of live performances, each performed three times: a song of their choice, a duet with their coach, and a holiday classic.
Blake Shelton has both Baber and Roberts in contention to help him reach a record fifth title as coach. Adam Levine has his hopes set on Smith to provide him with a first first win since season five (it would be his third overall). Gwen Stefani believes Austin could make her the first female coach to claim a victory. And Pharrell Williams, the reigning coach champ from last season, is already finished.
With pressures running high the contestants left everything on the stage. Some made smarter song choices than others, but how did it all shake down? Here is my ranking of the final 12 performances:
1. Jordan Smith (Team Adam), “Climb Every Mountain”
After my initial eye roll at what I pre-judged being a sappy, cliché performance from the season’s frontrunner, I was soon sucked into the brilliance of another great performance from Smith. The drama he infused as he modernized this musical theater classic, building it to an epic crescendo, proved why he has been the man to beat all season.
2. Jordan Smith (Team Adam), “Mary Did You Know?”
Delivering another flawless vocal with this haunting, emotional performance Smith proved unstoppable in his pursuit of the season nine title. Knowing exactly when to dial it back and when to go full throttle, Smith simply nailed another performance in what could not have been a more perfect night for the singer.
3. Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen), “Stay”
Austin proved in this performance that he may not have the highest range among the contestants, but his voice is the richest and most soulful. His vocals pulled together everything he does best in this plea to voters to choose him over the more favored Smith. Coach Gwen’s proclamation that his voice will be the most recognizable on record is not baseless and this performance was a winner, even if he falls short on Tuesday night.
4. Emily Ann Roberts (Team Blake), “Burning House”
After opening the show and then delivering a less-than-stellar duet with her coach, Roberts was beginning to seem like an afterthought in this finale. In much need of a performance with impact, Roberts closed the show with a modern country hit and delivered. Looking every bit the superstar she has the potential to be, Roberts’ angelic voice fit the song perfectly. The coaches gave her a standing ovation, and Pharrell called the performance “flawless.”,But I’m not sure it was enough for her to steal the win from Smith.
5. Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen), “O Holy Night”
Gifted what is likely the most iconic Christmas song a vocalist can take on, Austin delivered a solid performance that should have been an epic moment, but it fell just short. At times the arrangement felt rushed, and although Austin hit the big notes, it just didn’t give off that “wow” factor you would expect from this song.
6. Jordan Smith & Adam Levine (Team Adam), “God Only Knows”
Smith’s voice blended with coach Adam Levine’s seamlessly in this smart, understated performance. The two sang in harmony throughout the majority of the song with no frills or unnecessary notes thrown in just to impress viewers. Sticking to the melody is the best thing you can do with a song like this, and it was a perfect pairing of voices that was so clean it almost sounded more like a record than a live performance.
7. Barrett Baber (Team Blake), “Die a Happy Man”
With this take on a modern country hit, Baber proved he is ready for country radio and could be a legitimate star. The soulful edge he spins into country music worked here and will likely connect to voters. It was not an unforgettable performance by any means, but Baber remained consistent as always.
8. Barrett Baber & Blake Shelton (Team Blake), “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Baber teamed up with his coach and mentor for this classic song that unites generations in karaoke bars across the country on a nightly basis. It was just the kind of performance you would expect from the pair – not terribly deep, but a lot of fun.
9. Jeffery Austin & Gwen Stefani (Team Gwen), “Leather and Lace”
My immediate thought upon learning each contestant would be singing with their mentor was, “what song could Jeffery and Gwen possibly sound good together on?” Well, they found it and it worked! The song allowed her punk-rock sound and his soulful voice to come together on this rock classic, proving yet another smart song choice for Team Gwen.
10. Barrett Baber (Team Blake), “Silent Night”
Baber’s decision to close his night out with this holiday classic was likely a wise decision since it is the most likely to garner him the most votes. It was a solid performance although he hit a couple bad notes in falsetto that can’t be ignored.
11. Emily Ann Roberts (Team Blake), “Blue Christmas”
Propped up on a giant snowflake, Roberts stiffly went through the motions on what has become a staple Christmas tune on many country holiday albums. It was a perfectly forgettable way for her to kick off her night, with a performance not likely to inspire votes.
12. Emily Ann Roberts & Blake Shelton (Team Blake), “Islands in the Stream”
After the success of her Dolly Parton cover last week (“9 to 5”), Roberts’ coach thought it would be smart to pair up on another Parton classic. It is a great song, but I can’t be the only one who actually listens to lyrics when people are singing. All I could think while watching a 16-year old girl performing this love anthem with her 39 year-old mentor was “creepy.”
Congratulations to our reader (and frequent writer) John Benutty for being one of five people with perfect scores in last week's contest. All of them predicted the five artists going home this week. However, Benutty had the best overall point score of 14,044 thanks to using his special 500 and 200 point bets wisely. Since he is eligible as per our contest rules, he won a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
Check out the overall Season 9 leaderboard to the right. This is the final week to play in our contest, so you should jump in now and try to win some money for the weekly and overall season prizes. See our contest rules here and don't forget to update YOUR predictions here. You must tell us which contender will finish first, second, third, and fourth plus who will be the winning coach. The deadline for this week's final contest is Tuesday, December 15, at 5:00 p.m. PT.
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Photo courtesy of NBC.