‘The Voice’ Recap: The Finals

The strongest Final 3 in the show's history.
The strongest Final 3 in the show's history.
The strongest Final 3 in the show’s history.

Honestly, America should feel like the winner of The Voice this season. Every step of the way, this country has made the right call on who to advance and who to send home. Consequently, we’ve ended up with the strongest group of finalists in the history of the show. Will Champlin, Jacquie Lee and Tessanne Chin all fought for their spot in the finale, never once forgetting what this competition is all about: the power of one’s natural instrument. It’s a rare occasion in singing competition shows when you end up with the three most talented vocalists fighting it out at the end…yet here we are. Any one on these artists could win and the show would not lose an ounce of its credibility. That is how strongly I feel toward Will, Jacquie and Tessanne. But, as always, there can only be one victor when the dust has settled and the votes have been tabulated. Therefore, I end my journey with The Voice: Season 5 by reviewing the performers one last time and determining who, ultimately, deserves to win this season (and it may not even be my favorite!). Check out my finale recap below!

Round 1: Blind Audition Reprisals

Tessanne Chin, “Try” — I respect and admire Tessanne as much as the next person who watches this show, but I was not feeling this performance whatsoever. The chorus lacked the emotional ferociousness that original artist Pink sells so effortlessly. Besides the primary hook, much of the performance felt labored and uninspired. I know Tessanne is a tough, guns-blazing singer but she’s too good to be delivering one or two steps above karaoke on finale night. She hits the notes, yes. But what I was looking for was that extra punch to really certify her dominance over the competition. A solid effort by Tessanne, but considering this is one of the last times we’ll hear her sing on the show, I expected a lot more than I was given. (★★½)

Will Champlin, “Not Over You” — First let me start off by saying that my favorites rarely make the finale on these singing shows. Since Will – who’s been my favorite all season long — has already accomplished this feat, I can’t really be too upset if he loses the crown tonight. I admire artists with a strong work ethic and a willingness to go places musically that no artist would ever dream of going. Every note and lyric Will tackles feels like a reinvention — you can literally hear the hard work that went on in rehearsal as he’s singing live. Will’s reprisal of a song most people find a bit vanilla, even in the pop world (not me – huge Gavin DeGraw fan!), was drenched with the right amount of desperation you’d hope to associate with lyrics this personal. Admittedly, his nerves were noticeable during the first few verses; the chorus, however, seems to be Will Champlin’s best friend, and as soon as he wrapped himself up in its glowing embrace…fireworks, baby! Well done, Will. There is definitely a future for him in mainstream pop/rock. (★★★½)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18hqqb_thevoice5-top3-willchamplin1_music

Jacquie Lee, “Back to Black” — Every time I listen to Jacquie sing, I feel like I’m running a marathon with her. She puts so much energy and bluesy sauce into her performances that I’m simultaneously elated and full when they come to an end. This reprisal was no exception. I wanted her to make the song as dark and mysterious as Winehouse crafted it to sound, but I realize she’s only 16 and all she’s ever been trained to do is make people smile. Sometimes Jacquie gets a bit squeaky on the verses, but she regroups on the choruses when she simply lets her jazzy inflections do all the work. That last act was relentless and almost gave me a heart attack. Not her most controlled vocal, perhaps, yet it’s beyond evident that Christina’s mini-me is here to win. (★★★½)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18hr3k_thevoice5-top3-jacquielee1_music

Round 1 Winner: Will Champlin

Round 2: Coach Duet

Tessanne Chin, “Let it Be” — Harmonious, inventive and exquisitely sung, Tessanne is back to win. I will never be able to shake the fact that Tessanne Chin performs like someone on a parade float, though I realize this is but a very small and slightly unfair complaint. Some moments did occasionally feel a bit indulgent, but overall Tessanne milked the song with more class than an opera house. I quite enjoyed the segway into reggae. The detour gave the Beatles track a more uplifting, universal feel. Speaking of universal, Tessanne’s artistry and vocal ability will resonate with anyone in the world. She could eventually become an international icon. I give props to Tessanne for doing The Beatles justice alongside an equally passionate Adam Levine. (★★★½)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18hrrt_thevoice5-top3-tessanechin2_music

Will Champlin, “Tiny Dancer” — Elton John’s music is so timeless and soothing that it becomes almost impossible to critique a cover that sounds reasonably well to the ear. Unfortunately, I did notice a few mistakes that kept this from being a standout performance in Will’s impressive portfolio. First of all, his chemistry with duet partner Adam was practically non-existent. All the awkward behind-the-scenes tension (news flash to no one: Adam begrudgingly supports Will Champlin) came to the forefront on this song, and the two really didn’t harmonize the way they should have. Individual moments were nice, especially the riffs Will made in order to give the song a bit more character. Adam sung “Tiny Dancer” straight through and had some very impressive moments, vocally, but he made the performance too much about himself when he really should have been the stool for Will to stand tall on. Will, hunched over and appearing a bit disheveled, did not look like a star during this performance, especially compared to Adam Levine, who oozed confidence with his upright posture and self-assured delivery. That being said, Will’s inflections were welcome alterations on a song that can, at times, seem overly familiar. (★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foXtnCSw0O4&feature=player_embedded

Jacquie Lee, “We Remain” — Christina Aguilera loves to shoot herself in the foot, doesn’t she? I’m sure she wanted to boost her sales on this original song for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but it did no favors for her last chica standing. Granted, for big, loud, diva voices, the pair meshed pretty well together, harmonically. The problem is that the song’s melody is so stagnant and predictable. It didn’t allow Jacquie the space to show different sides to her instrument, not to mention any hint at all about what her future could look like as a chart-topping pop singer. Indulgent nonsense, this was. I think ego-driven Christina may have sabotaged her little protégé with a song that served no purpose other than to assist Lionsgate’s promotional team. (★★½)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18hry3_thevoice5-top3-jacquielee2_music

Round 2 Winner: Tessanne Chin

Round 3: Finale Solos

Tessanne Chin, “I Have Nothing” — PERFECTION. This grandiose performance didn’t stray too far from the original melody, and was delivered with a confidence and clarity equal to that of Whitney Houston. Any reservations I may have had about Tessanne are now gone forever thanks to this magical moment the Jamaican singer created for us on December 16th, 2013. What’s so awe-inspiring about Tessanne’s performance is that she evoked Whitney but stayed completely true to herself. The song fits Tessanne’s regal demeanor and on-stage elegance like a glove. The whole performance felt…expensive, as if I was paying top dollar to see one of the greats deliver a once-in-a-lifetime showstopper before retiring. I cannot imagine Tessanne losing to her competitors after gracing us with what’s arguably the greatest performance in five seasons of NBC’s The Voice. My jaw still remains on the floor. (★★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNxp9j6Vczs&feature=player_embedded

Will Champlin, “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You” — I would not have chosen this song as the cap on Will’s incredible journey on The Voice this season, but at least Will did his very best to shovel out the excess of 90’s cheese. Will didn’t overcook those runs or electrocute that chorus with an excess of gooey sentimentality, so all’s well that ends well. It’s annoying watching Adam fake interest in Will’s final performance, much less give half-assed praise; but what hasn’t killed Will this season has only made him more of a fighter. Will opened the Bryan Adams ballad incredibly well, letting his voice emphasize the commitment he has to his beautiful family. Things got a bit too technical further down the road, but I’m happy he closed on a pretty fantastic note – pun intended. Will more than likely will lose the competition to fellow teammate Tessanne Chin tonight, but he’s been a champ like no other contestant has this season. I’m proud to have supported him, and will continue to do so as long as he keeps making incredible music. (★★★½)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iSpHfXrYO4k

Jacquie Lee, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” — Well…you can’t say Jacquie didn’t go for it. She roared through those verses and choruses like a bulldozer, although it should be noted that her bulldozer did get some dents along the way. I’ve seen this song performed so many times and poor Jacquie just got swallowed up by its power. A+ for effort, but ultimately a B or B- on execution. Jacquie couldn’t maneuver her way through the majority of the song, especially when called upon to hit the big note. While her voice was in the correct range, there was too long of a pause between the verse leading into the chorus and that defining glory note, resulting in a performance that concluded rather anticlimactically. In no way a bad vocal, Jacquie simply proved that she needs a bit more experience under her belt before attempting songs with such a high degree of difficulty. Being runner-up on The Voice will surely assist her on the path to greatness. (★★★)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8HngsRA4yo&feature=player_embedded

Round 3 Winner: Tessanne Chin

Should and Will Win: Tessanne Chin

Runner-Up: Jacquie Lee

Third Place: Will Champlin (though he deserves at least runner-up after all the unnecessary crap he’s been put through by Adam)

And that is all for The Voice this year! Tune in Spring 2014 to join me all over again as I recap the show. This has been a truly outstanding season for the NBC mega-hit. I’m hoping the good fortune continues in future editions. Thanks again to everyone who has been reading my recaps this season! Much appreciated and I love sharing my candid feelings with you all. Until next time…(and don’t forget to post your finale thoughts in the comments section below!)