We’ve started out with the Voice crew paying tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting by holding up their names on cards and singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” — although this is the Jeff Buckley version of the song. Very touching moment.
Okay. Now to our finalists: Nicholas, the blue-eyed soul guy on Team Cee Lo; Cassadee, the pop and country singer who already has a Billboard hit song on Team Blake; and Terry, the Irish rocker with a full on mullet on Team Blake. Not necessarily the group we thought we’d have at the end but an interesting mixed bag of what America liked. And, once again, America is firmly on the side of Blake Shelton — let’s not forget his contestant won last year so there are some serious gloating rights on the line here.
Performing: Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire”/Jimi Hendrix “Fire”
Holy crap, that is literally a piano on fire. Everything in this medley is a shocker, not in the usual hippie dippie pantheon of things we expect Nicholas to do, which is hella smart because if he didn’t diversify he would be out after tonight as a one-note performer. This Jimi choice has Cee Lo’s fingerprints all over it.
Judges say: Blake feels he’s getting a call from the Rockettes. And that was fun.
Hey, what does Christina Aguilera get to do tonight since her contestants have been out of the competition for about two weeks now? To be continued.
Performing: Miranda Lambert “Over You”
It’s been clear through this season that Cassadee can do pop or country. She’s solidifying her place in the country pantheon, by taking on a heart-string tugger from country’s most outlaw female singer — and coach Blake Shelton’s wife. She’s working all the hallmarks of a country singer: a metallic dress firmly cinched in at the waist, super blonde highlights and dramatic presentation on the tearjerker song.
Judges say: Xtina likes the dress. And is wearing a little top hat.
Blake is holding it down for a duet with Terry on Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady.” He does not look like a lady. He does look like he’s having fun with the song. Terry is doing a great job nailing Steven Tyler’s vocals — no easy feat. But he’s not so much putting his own special stamp on the song. Sadly this is more of a karaoke moment than a make or break performance so…good thing it’s not his America votes song!
Contestant: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) Nicholas
Performing: Bill Withers “Lean On Me”
A return to form with a performance this track with a choir of, um, other middle aged white people. Wait, no there are four non-white people. Wonder how this choir was recruited? I don’t know that Bill Withers would have approved that performance, even if he did like Nicholas enough to show up on an earlier show.
Judges say: Adam Levine remarks on him being dressed like a middle school principal. True. This whole set/costume was bizarre.
Performing: Mr. Mister “Broken Wings”
Okay well it’s his son Liam’s favorite song. That’s sweet. But damn, what a track to pull out of the ’80s wastebasket. What is happening in Europe that his little kid knows this song? He’s legitimizing it with a production worthy of Coldplay circa Viva La Vida though — marching band suits, soft head mallets, the full Chris Martin AND glitter. Wait, that last part was less Coldplay and more Ke$ha. Don’t be mad. It’s a powerhouse song but is it a winning song?
Judges say: Blake’s ears are bleeding, but in a positive way, because he tried to do what Terry does. Epic.
Cassadee and Blake duet time — you should know by her plaid shirt that it’s a country song. Except SURPRISE it’s Sheryl Crow’s “Steve McQueen”! Hey, why hasn’t Blake gotten to change his vest in this show? All these performances and not one new vest. Really though, she couldn’t have picked “Leaving Las Vegas” or something?
Performing: Foreigner “I Want To Know What Love Is”
Okay, the arrangement is set to violins to modernize this ’80s relic up but GOOD LORD. He already did it on a previous show, back on December 4. Terry is way on theme tonight and it will be a huge surprise if he wins with these song choices. Did he run out of ’80s power ballads? The set design, though, is impeccable.
Judges say: Christina is impressed with his work ethic, but fails to say anything about his singing.
And now for a Cee Lo palette cleanser: “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” Assuming that’s a request and dedication for Nicholas, who is destined not to win. And there’s a midget. Seriously, Cee Lo makes everything better.
Performing: Faith Hill “Cry”
They built Cassadee and entire worked for this number. That may be a set from the forthcoming sequel to The Hobbit, legitimately, in which she plays Cate Blanchett’s elf character. The train on that dress is so immense that I can’t even hear Cassadee singing. Did she have to practice walking in that thing? It’s beautiful and completely daunting. This song choice is apt, as she’s positioned to be a country/pop crossover artist and Faith Hill is one of the masters of walking that line.
Judges say: Adam wanted her train on his team. He’s sorry if he was critical.
That’s it for the live finals — tomorrow we find out who wins!
-Courtney E. Smith, CBS Local