The top four artists on “The Voice” took to the stage Monday night in hopes of earning enough votes to be crowned the Season 12 champion. Each had to tackle three songs: one cover, one duet with their coach, and one original single. Blake Shelton had the most work to do this week since he was able to coach two singers into the finale. Alicia Keys and Adam Levine each had one artist to round out the competition while Gwen Stefani failed to bring anyone to the finals. There was definitely an excitement in the air throughout all of the performances, but who made the biggest impact? While openly admitting this may not be the final standings on Tuesday, I ranked tonight’s performers based on who I thought was the best of the night – beginning with Team Alicia’s only remaining contender.
1. Chris Blue (Team Alicia) – “Diamonds and Pearls”; “Money on You”; “Rhythm Nation”
Chris teamed up with his coach Alicia to collaborate on the Prince classic “Diamonds and Pearls.” Any Prince tune is a tall order and although there were some bright moments, they ultimately weren’t able to live up to the late legend’s standard. It was nice to hear Chris’ lower register throughout the song because he has rarely shown that side to his voice before. But the simplistic way in which this was done simply didn’t allow for the fireworks one would expect for a finale performance that involved a Prince cover with Alicia Keys.
For his original song Chris unveiled a hip, radio-friendly dance track called “Money on You.” Nobody in the competition is able to occupy the stage better than Chris, whose swagger made this brand new song sound like a hit we could all dance to. It was nice to see him show off his versatility and prove he can deliver a believable pop record wrapped with soulful vocals. It was perhaps even more electric within the studio because the audience absolutely erupted following his performance. Will it translate to votes and iTunes sales? I’m not sure.
When I heard Chris would be performing Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” for his final performance, I was immediately skeptical of what was to come. What would a bombastic soul singer do with a soft-spoken pop diva’s classic? The answer was to simply create my favorite performance of the night. Unleashing his signature vocals along with his dance skills, Chris proved he could handle an iconic song and deliver a choreographed routine unlike anything we’ve seen on “The Voice.” It was a swan song of epic proportions that concluded his exciting run on the series.
2. Lauren Duski (Team Blake) – “The Dance”; “There’s a Tear in My Beer”; “Déjà vu”
In choosing Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” for Lauren in the finale, Blake proved why he is the smartest coach on “The Voice.” It is a classic melody, a beautiful ballad, and there isn’t a viewer who hasn’t heard it. Lauren did the song justice, delivering in her simplistic style a song that will likely be #1 on iTunes by Tuesday morning. Well played Blake, well played.
Going even further back in time, Lauren paired up with Blake for the Hank Williams, Sr. classic “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Blake more excited to perform a song in his twelve seasons as a coach. Lauren’s throwback style blended perfectly with the twang and grit of her mentor and this wisely catered to most loyal of country fans.
For her final performance Lauren decided to sing an original song she wrote herself, “Déjà vu.” The emotional song about a former love proved she has the chops to create a successful career for herself moving forward. Perhaps it was the fact that she penned the tune herself, but this was Lauren at her most vulnerable and a great way to wrap up her season on “The Voice.”
3. Jesse Larson (Team Adam) – “Takin’ It to the Streets”; “Let’s Go Crazy”; “Woman”
Jesse started things off with a cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets.” The old-school funk/soul genre has worked for him in the past and this fit right into that wheelhouse. There were no surprises vocally we hadn’t heard from him before, but he delivered with consistency and fit in his signature guitar solo.
With his next turn on the stage Jesse teamed up with his coach, Adam, for the Prince jam “Let’s Go Crazy.” As a Minneapolis native Jesse is no stranger to the music of The Purple One and this proved to be a proper tribute. Both Adam and Jesse showed off their guitar skills in this dazzling performance that absolutely rocked the house and earned a much deserved standing ovation.
Chris Stapleton penned the tune of Jesse’s original single, “Woman.” Jesse has twice performed songs from the country star already this season so it was a full circle moment in making this his official debut single. Truth be told, this was probably his least interesting performance of the night. While his voice was magnificent as always, the song itself sounded exactly like what it was – a song Chris Stapleton discarded.
4. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake) – “Never Be Lonely”; “Dancing in the Streets”; “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”
Aliyah kicked off the live finale by debuting her original single, “Never Be Lonely.” The performance was young, fresh, and took place with the backdrop of a high school cafeteria. This type of song could play right into the hands of the teenager’s core fan base. It didn’t push her vocally, but sounded like something that would be played on Top 40 radio. Her natural charm pulled everything together and made it fun to watch.
For her next performance Aliyah teamed up with coach Blake for a fun performance of “Dancing in the Streets.” Blake is twice her age and they sing in completely different styles, so it goes without saying this wasn’t exactly a match made in music heaven. That being said, they made the most of it and had a good time. I am not sure this will bring in many votes for Aliyah, but it has been endearing to watch her bond with Blake grow from week to week.
Aliyah’s last performance of the evening was the Stevie Wonder hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours).” It is a fun song but one that has been so overdone in singing competitions. Performing a song that is over 45 years old did nothing to propel this young singer forward. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Blake gave her this throwaway to ensure she wouldn’t threaten Lauren’s chance to win.
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