“The Voice” kicked off an exciting final performance show with the four coaches performing, “Pressure,” as a tribute to their contestants.
Adam Levine’s Javier Colon was the first contestant to perform his original song, “Stitch by Stitch.” Unless someone was already a Javier supporter, it’s unlikely that the song will inspire the casual observer to vote. It was decent but a little sleepy and ultimately forgettable.
Dia Frampton and Blake Shelton tackled the first mentor/apprentice duet of the night with Tom Petty’s, “I Won’t Back Down.” Blake, more than any of the other coaches, has embodied the role of a mentor and the emotional investment he’s made in his contestants is remarkable. That emotion was visible in the performance and if viewers were voting on the best mentor, Blake Shelton would win by a landslide.
Vicci Martinez, from Cee Lo Green’s team, then took to the stage to premier her original song, “Afraid to Sleep.” It was an impressive song that could have been more poignant if Vicci toned down her trademark joyful dancing, which was at odds with the heartbreak of the lyrics.
After Pitbull and Neo joined forces with a slew of gyrating female dancers in their performance of “Give Me Everything,” Christina Aguilera and Beverly McClellan restored integrity to the broadcast with a duet of Linda Perry’s song “Beautiful.” The performance was so intimate and inspiring that the singers themselves were almost moved to tears while the eight musicians who provided the acoustics, seemed proud to be a part of the moment.
Team Blake’s finalist Dia Frampton then performed the original song, “Inventing Shadows.” The chorus had a great hook but more importantly, it was obvious that the lyrics were not written as a vehicle for the music, instead, the song was a story set to music. It brought to mind Jewel’s 1997 hit, "Foolish Games,” that touched on similar feelings of frustration toward a lover.
Adam Levine and Javier Colon performed a duet of Michael Jackson’s, “The Man in the Mirror.” Though Adam needs little support when taking to the stage – hearing and watching him perform are equally delightful – Javier Colon did more than hold his own; he may have outdone his mentor. Vocally, anyway.
Perhaps because Blake Shelton was going through country withdrawals, Brad Paisley was invited to perform his song, “Don’t Drink the Water,” not to be confused with the superior and far deeper song of the same name by Dave Matthews Band.
Beverly McClellan performed the final original song, “Lovesick.” While Beverly is not the kind of woman one expects to find on top of a piano, she threw herself into the performance wholeheartedly. Beverly’s original song, though not as thought provoking as Dia’s, or as pained as Vicci’s, did manage to outshine Javier’s and that, combined with her memorable duet of “Beautiful” with Christina, rounded out an impressive evening for rocker Beverly McClellan.
The final duet was Cee Lo and Vicci Martinez performing Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” A great song choice by Cee Lo; who was not far off base when suggesting that Vicci Martinez could be this generation’s Pat Benatar. In addition to the wise song choice, Cee Lo’s performance concept proved why he is so successful in the business. Sure, he was teetering on ridiculous with his Mad Max-esque get up – complete with red Mohawk and shoulder spikes – but nevertheless it was a riveting performance. Vicci’s vocals were as brilliant as the choreographed child dancers who accompanied them on stage.
While “The Voice” is technically a competition for the contestants (and even the coaches), there is no denying that it was also a storied face-off between two shows. The new kid on the block, “The Voice,” takes a stand against the reigning champion, “American Idol.” The Voice captured viewers’ attention early on with their unique “spin” on the audition rounds but seemed to lose steam during the performance rounds. The talent was there, but there was less connection to the contestants than Idol provides.
In the performance finale, however, the new kid delivered quite a blow to the aging institution. The producers of “The Voice” honed in on two of the biggest weaknesses of “American Idol": the rejection of original music in favor of outdated and irrelevant song selections, and Idol’s struggle to put on captivating productions, especially group numbers. “The Voice’s” performance finale was filled with energy, original music, and productions of the highest quality. And unlike the Idol finales, viewers never felt like the acts were an excuse to fill the time (or promote products).
As for who viewers cast the most votes for, that's a difficult call. Despite the buzz over Javier Colon and his finesse, the female contestants each proved that they are as worthy (if not more so) of America’s attentions. Vicci’s power, Beverly’s passion, and Dia’s creativity make each of them a pleasure to watch. In the end, it will likely be Javier Colon who takes home the title of, “The Voice,” but Dia, Beverly, and Vicci may have the last laugh with greater post-show careers.
The winner will be named on tonight's (Wednesday, June 29) 8 p.m. broadcast.