After Tuesday’s results episode of “The Voice” revealed the four finalists for Season 17, each of the coaches was set to enter next week’s finale with one artist for the first time since Season 10. Blake Shelton goes with genre-bending wild card Ricky Duran, Kelly Clarkson enters with the country artist of her dreams Jake Hoot, Gwen Stefani reaches the finals with soul music powerhouse Rose Short and returning champion John Legend goes for number two with theatrical jack of all trades Katie Kadan.
So who will win the championship next Tuesday? Below we rank the four finalists from best to worst, pinpointing how we think the artists will rank in the final vote tally. And here is our full live blog for this past Monday’s Top 8 performance show.
1. Jake Hoot (Team Kelly)
(Top 20 performance: “You Lie,” Top 13 performance: “Danny’s Song,” Top 11 performance: “Every Light in the House,” Top 10 performance: “That Ain’t My Truck,” Top 8 performance: “Desperado”)
After topping the other artists all season long on the Apple Music charts there’s no denying that Jake is primed as this season’s champion. With Marybeth Byrd and Kat Hammock joining him in the Top 8, it’s easy to understand why he’s been so successful–with multiple artists within the genre, country audiences have been fully invested in this season. But Jake is also one of the strongest male country vocalists the show has had in quite a few seasons. He’s consistent, smooth and has delivered upon the promise of this talent from his very first audition.
2. Katie Kadan (Team Legend)
(Top 20 performance: “Always Remember Us this Way,” Top 13 performance: I’m Going Down,” Top 11 performance: “Without You,” Top 10 performance: “Rolling in the Deep,” Top 8 performance: “Lady Marmalade”)
On Monday night John told Katie that the plan this week was to do a big, upbeat song so that they could save a stronger vocal performance song for the finale. I have faith in John as a coach and to know he has a plan for Katie bodes well for her chances. As I’ve said all season, the downside to predicting her as the winner is that her style appeals to such a specific taste that it might not be broad enough to appeal to as much of the audience as she needs to win.
3. Rose Short (Team Gwen)
(Top 20 performance: “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” Top 13 performance: “I Turn to You,” Top 11 performance: “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Top 10 performance: “God’s Country,” Top 8 performance: “I Want to Know What Love Is”)
I think it was after her Top 11 performance that I realized Rose was shaping up to be one of the season’s strongest contenders. From there she made smart choices in song selection that showed her range and ability to bend genres while maintaining a consistent and clear point of view as an artist. But I’d say that her instant save performance to make the finale was a fantastic opportunity to show the audience just how strong she is and to prove that she’s not just going to sing on the finale… she’s going to compete for that win.
4. Ricky Duran (Team Blake)
(Top 20 performance: “Small Town,” Top 13 performance: “You Are the Best Thing,” Top 11 performance: “Downtown Train,” Top 10 performance: “Born Under a Bad Sign,” Top 8 performance: “Let It Be”)
As was the case with Rose, Ricky was not one of the artists that I pegged as a likely finalist early on. But he managed to get better every week, providing the audience with new aspects of his artistry and showing why he deserved to continue and perform again. Ricky is proof that you don’t need to begin as frontrunner to become a frontrunner and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him deliver something so strong in the finale that he actually surpasses the other artists on the Apple Music charts.
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