We now know which four artists will be competing in the Season 12 finale of “The Voice” next week — Team Blake Shelton leads the charge with two artists, Lauren Duski and Aliyah Moulden, along with Adam Levine‘s Jesse Larson and Alicia Keys‘ Chris Blue. Since all of her artists have been eliminated, Gwen Stefani will be sitting the finale out as coach, but will be on hand to cheer on each of the artists from the dais.
All season long Denton Davidson and I have been ranking the remaining artists week-to-week in terms of their strength in the competition. Since Denton’s Top 12 rankings, we’ve ranked Lauren and Chris within the top 4 each week (joined by Hunter Plake and Brennley Brown of Team Gwen, eliminated in the semi-finals). Jesse and Aliyah hovered below our radar for most of the season, but have definitely come on strong with powerful performances in the last two weeks. Can Jesse or Aliyah continue their hot streak and unseat either of our season-long frontrunners? Let’s a look at how each of the top 4 has performed leading up the finale — here’s my last look at the artists and my final power rankings of the season:
1. Lauren Duski – Team Blake
Lauren’s breakthrough moment in the competition was in the Top 11 when her performance of “Somewhere in My Broken Heart” outperformed the perceived frontrunner Hunter Plake on iTunes, reaching #3 by the close of voting. Since then each of Lauren’s songs have charted within the top 10 and earned her the vote multiplying bonuses, culminating this week with “Ghost in This House” reaching #1. The reason I think Lauren has been such a success on the show and on iTunes is because of all the artists left, Lauren has given us perhaps the best glimpse at what a Lauren Duski album and concert will sound like, a mixture of easy listening country ballads and up tempo romps like “Tell Me Why.” Lauren appeals to the loyal country fan base that Blake brings to the show and that’s certainly a boon to her vote count, but more than that she is consistent in her quality and style and has never strayed from the vision of who she is as an artist.
2. Chris Blue – Team Alicia
Though Chris’ songs have always performed well on iTunes, he hadn’t breached the top 10 for a bonus until this week where he was the only artist to do it with both the solo and duet performances. Maybe it’s silly to say, but his breakthrough performance is still his very first one — his blind audition of “The Tracks of My Tears” was the very last of the season and only Alicia had an open spot on her team, a fact that Blake has been openly regretful of all season. The energy that Chris brings to the stage is other-worldy as if his spirit takes flight and soars through the song as he spins, twists and glides across the stage with the effortlessness of a seasoned performer. While I love how exciting a Chris Blue performance is, as we saw this week, I think he is most successful when he scales back the energy and lets his impeccably smooth voice be the star of the show.
3. Jesse Larson – Team Adam
For me, Jesse is the biggest surprise of the season, though I’m not sure why because he’s the exact type of artist that has performed really well in recent seasons — I’m referring to the rock-soul vibes of last year’s winner Sundance Head and Season 10 runner-up Adam Wakefield. Jesse hasn’t, I don’t think, had a truly breakthrough moment though, at least not the type of performance that wows the audience enough to elevate him to the top of the pack. By contrast, Lauren, Chris and Ailyah have each arguably given the best performance of the week at some point in the season whereas Jesse has not. That being said, Jesse won the semi-finals “instant save” by a large margin, beating out both Brennley and Hunter who we long perceived to be contenders to win the show. That kind of immediate support is what makes underdogs so dangerous in a competition like this and I hope it gives Jesse enough confidence to come out swinging for the win in next week’s final performances. I wouldn’t count him out just yet.
4. Aliyah Moulden – Team Blake
The other thing that makes underdogs so dangerous is that they have the potential to build upon recent swells of support and exceed expectations rather than just meet them. For instance, as season-long frontrunners Lauren and Chris are expected to impress us with each performance, but Aliyah still has the potential to truly wow us. She seemingly came out of nowhere two weeks ago with her heartfelt performance of “Jealous” and then followed it up with an equally stunning rendition of “I Can Only Imagine,” earning her first iTunes top 10 berth in the process. Look at it this way, if I was an undecided voter going into the finale I might find Aliyah as the most compelling option because she has grown throughout the process and has blossomed into a more complete artist than she was when she began.
The final four will compete on Monday, May 22, for the last time before the Season 12 champ is revealed on Tuesday, May 23. Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. That’s what Donna Clarke Rosbush did for this week’s Top 8 episode, and she had a perfect score predicting which four artists would be eliminated. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift card, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “The Voice” in our reality TV forum. And visit our home page for the latest in entertainment news.