Season 4 of “The Voice” is about to come a close, the top three remaining acts made one final push to steal our hearts and our votes for the win.
Their two coaches, Blake Shelton and Usher, spoke of each of their acts’ significance, on “The Voice” and in the music industry. Usher described Michelle Chamuel as “an artwork,” and an antidote to feeling different—in general, an inspiration. Blake painted the Swon Brothers as versatile country traditionalists not afraid of stepping into rock, on a climb to win fans over with their personalities. And Blake basically called Danielle Bradbery “The Voice”s saving grace, the one artist who might actually have a shot at breaking the show’s losing streak when it comes to hitmakers.
The other coaches, Shakira and Adam Levine, weighed in a bit, too, but mostly in a supporting role praising their colleagues’ great catches. Adam did, however, declare Danielle the winner of the show. He’s probably right.
The four coaches opened the show together singing “With a Little Help From My Friends,” in which Shakira bleeted in a way that made me long for Christina Aguilera’s return.
Each contestant sang three times tonight. One song was new; one was a reprise of their so-called defining moment, as chosen by their coach; and one was a duet with their coach.
The duets were introduced by a scene in which the contestant’s family ate lunch with their coach. Usher sensibly took Michelle’s mom and cousin out to brunch, where we got to learn that Michelle’s mom is an Egyptian Jewish refugee. Blake treated Danielle’s two families and Swon’s parents to lunch at a place that maybe is supposed to be Blake’s, replete with cowhide sofas and a painting of a horse in a Western pasture. Swon’s dad did inform us that Blake did pick up the check.
So, how’d they do? Pretty much how they always do every week, with Swon vacillating between old-timey country and ‘70s soft-rock; Danielle defying her youth and being technically, boringly perfect; and Michelle trying to pull at our heartstrings and squatting in the process.
The Swon Brothers
The Swon Brothers kicked off the competition with the Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” sung in falsetto throughout. It was solid soft-rock, with Big Swon on piano and Little Swon on guitar. Usher told them they just needed one more brother to be the Bee Gees. Blake tells them that people can’t figure out what it is they love about the Swon Brothers because they are constantly evolving. He says this like it’s a good thing, but I think he’s also highlighting the reason for their demise.
In round 2, Blake selected “Danny’s Song” as their defining moment. It was a great moment, granted it took place only one week ago. So they repeated the 1971 tune, now thoroughly surveying the decade before either of them were a glimmer in Mama Swon’s eyes. Blake aptly points out that their harmonies have improved greatly during their run on the show.
Their duet, with Blake, of “Celebrity” was more upbeat and rollicking sort of country. But the best part of this segment was the scene with their parents, in which Mama Swon says it’s hard to believe the boys made it this far. “Thank you,” says Little Swon flatly. We also learn that when the boys were kids, their punishment for fighting was to go in their room and write a song.
All in all, the Swons were charming as ever, but musically confused. They’ve basically got no chance of winning this thing, but I wish them well.
Usher’s love for this girl is alternatingly sweet and ridiculous. He thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread and the carb-burning workout to follow. “So much said and done, so much more left to come,” is how he starts off his ode to Michelle, when he selects Taylor Swfit’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” for reprise. “Every single week,” he adds, “you show up.” Because you know, all those deadbeat “Voice” contestants that played hookey all those weeks, well, they’re not in the Top 3, are they? Song is fine, Michelle is there (she did indeed “show up”) but it’s not as exciting without Taylor Swift’s endorsement in rehearsal this time. Adam tells her basically that how she did doesn’t matter, because everyone’s screaming like crazy and loving her anyway.
For her second act, she sings Annie Lennox’s “Why,” one of my favorite songs ever and one that Michelle cannot do justice. She opens singing into a mirror, an homage to the “Why” video but also to that cringey rehearsal when Usher made her do that to practice “True Colors.” It goes on a while, until she breaks away and does something different from her reflection and you realize that wasn’t a mirror at all, but a video. Michelle clearly got the bulk of tonight’s production budget. Anyway, it’s predictably moving. I mean, put a choir behind anybody, and see how it makes you feel. Blake commented that the performance was more laidback than anything she’s done before, which may be true.
Her duet with Usher is another automatic heart-sweller, “One.” They sound surprisingly really good together, but it all gets to be too much when they hold hands and go into a long, low squat together.
Michelle’s got all these mythic fans who scream real loud, and maybe they’ll carry her to victory, I’m not sure. But based on tonight’s performances, in which she showed up but didn’t do much more, she wouldn’t deserve it.
Her first number of the night was her duet with Blake on “Timber I’m Falling in Love,” which is as bubblegum pop as it gets, though the two of them singing a song to each other about being in love is a liiiitle weird.
Danielle’s defining moment, as selected by Blake, was “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Good pick. The song’s catchy, and according to Danielle, little girls have been emulating her performance of it on YouTube. Shakira, who’s wearing a cowboy hat in support, tells Danielle, “You’ve grabbed the bull by the horn, no pun intended.” Adam declares her the winner. And Blake tells her that she is the most important artist to be on “The Voice.”
Danielle closes out the night with Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly,” which brought this gem out of Adam: “Your perfection is almost boring me at this point.” Thank you! It’s been boring me for weeks! Blake says he thanks god Danielle came to “The Voice.” You’d think Blake had a controlling interest in any revenues from Danielle’s sales, or does he?
Overall, Danielle was on point all night and very much who she is. Her fan base should be rallying and tipping the scales in her favor.
In other news the, best Carson Daly reaction to a Christina Milian segment: “Thank you very much, Christina, nice hair.”
In the other visit to the Skybox, all four moms of the contestants were present, and I just love that like Michelle, Michelle’s mom has no inclination to dress up or do her hair for a big event in front of a national audience.
And a group performance that brought back the rest of the Top 16 as backup singers, of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home” was off-key and was inexplicably lifeless for coming from a stage full of people.
Tomorrow, we find out who wins/embarks on a future of unguaranteed success. Plus, performances by Cher (!!!), Christina Aguilera (also !!!), Bruno Mars, Bob Seger, and a list of so many more people that didn’t make it past the endpoint on the DVR recording. See you then!