‘The Voice’ Recap: The Finals

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Who will win?

The end is near, my brain is about to explode and my tears might flow freely once more as another undeserving winner of The Voice is about to be crowned. But wait — there is a catch, and a bright light at the end of the often dark tunnel I travel on! Thanks to iTunes playing a major factor in determining who stays and goes each week — and who, ultimately, wins the competition — Cassadee Pope, easily the most deserving and musically relevant of the final three, might walk away the victor tonight with slam-dunk ease thanks to her dominance on the iTunes charts. Yep, whoever receives the majority of downloads has their overall votes multiplied by ten, which in Cassadee’s case means she has the victory in the bag. I know I’ve done my fair share of ragging — some might say “trolling” — on Terry McDermott and Nicholas David throughout the entire season, but I applaud them for making it as far as they did. And you know what? As cliché as this sounds, they got here fair and square, and not for lack of trying so congratulations to them. Below, you will find my last review session of the season. May the best men lose and remaining woman win (couldn’t resist!)…

Round 1: Performance Reprisals:

Bronze Medal: Nicholas David “Lean On Me” — I will never understand the need for a full choir and other staging extremities when all the emotion you could ever want is found through the singular power of an incredible voice. I wish Nicholas had stripped away all outside factors completely and sung this reprisal in a capella. That would have proven his risk-taking and given him the necessary “big moment” he needed to rob some votes away from his stronger-voiced competitors. Instead, this performance was merely a “copy/paste” of his initial one, and as such it lacked its intended goal of wowing us to tears. (**1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEKY3WTc3Bw

Silver Medal: Terry McDermott “I Want to Know What Love Is” — With more refined, smoother pacing and a better control of his instrumental volume, McDermott’s second attempt at one of my all-time favorite Foreigner tracks was mostly a success. The linearity of Terry’s notes make him a tad one-dimensional, and it’s often hard to feel the lyrics he’s singing when it’s delivered with such artificial packaging. That being said, Terry’s bridge portion was near perfection; he finally allowed himself to melt into a heavenly comfort-zone. Not perfect, but nowhere near off-putting or disastrous. (***)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgsPBH4Or-0

Gold Medal: Cassadee Pope “Over You” — I admit, I thought the praise for this initial performance was a bit confusing. Cassadee demonstrated a noticeably weak lower register and seemed uncomfortable with it upon first descent. The song’s popularity and the emotion behind it is possibly why the track became Cassadee’s biggest seller of the season. Coming for a second trip to a song that did her wonders had me a bit nervous, but everything that I felt was missing in the first go-around was present, loud as can be and beautifully loud at that! The way Cassadee brought us back in with her instantly recognizable interpretation transported me back to a nostalgic realm, but then her soaring high note at the end shook me with its well-controlled leap into the air. Truly, this performance — and that final note, especially — demonstrates that Cassadee isn’t merely an okay singer with a decent range; she’s a phenomenal vocalist that can weave together a narrative in two minutes and have us all glued in from start to finish. What Cassadee accomplished with this version of “Over You” had me “over the moon” in love. (****)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVZhwWzgoeM

Round 2: Duets with Coach

Bronze Medal: Terry McDermott “Dude Looks Like a Lady” — Although I am fully aware that the coaches are not competing, I am judging the entire performance as a sum of its individual parts. And guess what — that includes a huge chunk of what a coach brings to the duet. The problem with this number — totally overblown and entertaining as it might have been — is that Blake’s singing was terrible but his enthusiasm and effort is what this dynamic, legendary rock track is all about. On the other hand, Terry’s flawless singing was marred by his awkwardness on stage. He looked especially uncomfortable when he had to make some risque poses. I’m not asking Terry to be Elvis, but at least fake you’re in control of the stage and song. The overall inconsistency and contrast between what Blake brought that Terry should have, and vice versa, is what ultimately led this duet to being a hot mess I can only assume fanboys and fangirls went crazy for. (**1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MfIicq0bh0

Silver Medal: Cassadee Pope “Steve McQueen” — Sad to say, this might’ve been my first time hearing that sexy southern track. A fantastic hook and chorus was practically a gimme for the crowd going wild over this song, but Cassadee’s range was particularly impressive. It’s just a shame that her voice sounded so thin at the very beginning. If this had been the first time someone had heard Cassadee, they might have wondered what the big fuss was about. Cassadee used those last few bars of the song to really kick her singing into high gear, and boy was she amazing on this front! Again, a weak start and spectacular finish only results in a good yet imperfect score. (***)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te6Mm7DEK_s

Gold Medal: Nicholas David “Play That Funky Music” — You all know this is going to be a guilty pleasure performance that will get many YouTube rewinds, so don’t try to hide your love! Nothing is funkier and groovier in music history than this Wild Cherry megahit. And somehow, I think I now just want to hear Nicholas and Cee Lo Green sing it every time. Nicholas’ growls and hunched-over coolness totally captivated me, but it was Mini Cee Lo that stole the show. The entire production was flawless and to make matters even better, Cee Lo Green proved he still has a great voice with a surplus of soul, funk and gleeful joy that will never run out. This duet might be the most entertaining number of the season shy of Cody Belew’s “Crazy in Love.” (***1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiFW112Gj9Q

Round 3: New Solos

Bronze Medal: Nicholas David “Great Balls of Fire/Fire” — We get, we get it, Nicholas. You are a soulful hipster that can’t help but groove until Tuesday and beyond. But seriously, after last week’s jaw-dropping, mesmerizing performance of “You Are So Beautiful,” this is the last impression you want to leave America with when it comes to choosing a new song to sing on finale night? C’mon now! While vocally in-tune and note-tastic, this song choice felt as lazy as it sounded. The tune tried to bring the house down with some energy and ruckus, but again…sometimes less is more effective, especially on finale night when you need to make the biggest impression possible. This number felt like filler and a complete waste of Nicholas’ talents. Passable yet forgettable, Nicholas erred by not going for a new song with showstopping value. (**1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrwvEo2ZNSg

Silver Medal: Terry McDermott “Broken Wings” — Finally, finally Terry hits a home-run! Yes, his eyes gave away a bit too much fear and distress, but the dude still made himself the most relevant and interesting-sounding to date. Singing his son’s favorite song was the emotional clincher that had me invested from that opening verse to that spectacular closer. The way Terry infused contemporary sounds with his own rock-anthem tone certified the singer’s purpose in the music world. I hope Terry sticks on this track of not coming off so trapped in one-time period, but using that nostalgic voice of his to reinvigorate the genre and plant it firmly in the 21st century. Terry has a long way to go when it comes to appearing comfortable and in-charge on stage, but boy did he give one hell of a great vocal! (***1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbKCVPpjx7A

Gold Medal: Cassadee Pope, “Cry” — I know you might not believe this, but it was difficult determining a winner for this round. Terry and Cassadee both did so well, but ultimately it came down to the perfect balance of singer, storyteller and performer. Terry only mastered one of part of the superstar criteria, whereas Cassadee Pope nailed all three with her near-perfect rendition of Faith Hill’s classic ballad. Yes, on occasion Cassadee lost control of her lower register completely but from the second she drew us in with her haunting first verse to that final outcry of pain and defeat, I was under Cassadee’s spell and refused to be broken from it. The thing with Cassadee is that she can narrate a song with phrasing, with her voice and even with her facial expressions, which surprisingly transcends everything she’s feeling. Cassadee is so well-rounded that it almost seems insane to think she might not even win this season. Who am I kidding? If Cassadee does not win The Voice, it’s simply because her back-story isn’t as compelling and people are jealous of her former fling with fame. A music superstar in Cassadee Pope almost happened at one time, America. It’s now our job not to screw that up again. Cassadee Pope might be the first and only successful contestant to come out of The Voice, but she can only do so as a winner. (***1/2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUoWJRBEfak&list=PLlYqpJ9JE-J8dzHN0jIVgi80uzSkXG6qZ&index=1

Final Predictions:

3rd Place: Nicholas David

Runner-Up: Terry McDermott

Winner: Cassadee Pope

If my predictions come true, it will be the right call by America. Overall, this has been a much better season than the last. The Knockout Rounds were more exciting, and the “save” option was a great way to bring back favorites that didn’t deserve to go home so soon. Of course I would have changed up the final three: Cody Belew, Amanda Brown and Cassadee Pope would have been my finalists, but even then the person most deserving of a win will probably be victorious tonight anyways. Thoughts on the season and who should win? Comment away below, and thanks for reading my recaps all season!