Say what you want about Season 4 of The Voice. I’ve heard it be called the second coming of Nashville Star due to the invasion of country artists, mostly representing Team Blake. And there have been several “controversial” decisions made by each coach. But the shows put on throughout the season by Michelle Chamuel, Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers have been undeniably fantastic. Last Monday night, they participated in a fiercely competitive finale. For a while now, it hasn’t been about whether a contestant’s voice has been better than another’s; all three of the finalists are deserving of being crowned “The Voice.” The finals is more about making that final impression on the American public before the final round of voting.
In the finals, each artist sings three songs: one new song choice, one “reprise” performance of a song they previously performed and which their coaches deemed “pivotal,” and one duet with their coach. The Swon Brothers started out the finalists’ performances by singing “I Can’t Tell You Why” by The Eagles. The song heavily features the brothers’ falsetto voices, one thing we didn’t hear from them at all throughout the season. Coach Shakira, left without an artist after her last finalist, Sasha Allen, was eliminated, waved a flag that read “Go Okies” throughout the performance, showing just how much of an “anti-diva” (I would go as far as to say an “anti-Christina”) she has been throughout the season, never taking herself seriously and always making us laugh – something else I’ll miss about this season, as Christina and Cee Lo Green return for Season 5.
Usher chooses “I Knew You Were Trouble” for Michelle Chamuel to reprise, and I couldn’t agree more. She has had several performances one may call “pivotal,” but the Taylor Swift cover that impressed Swift herself was arguably her best overall. Next, Danielle Bradbery sings her duet with Coach Blake Shelton, on the song “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” recorded by Patty Loveless. Then the Swon Brothers return to reprise last week’s moving rendition of “Danny’s Song,” the performance that distinguished them from Amber Carrington and Sasha Allen last week and secured them their spot in the finals.
Michelle Chamuel‘s final new solo song of the competition is Annie Lennox’s “Why.” The 1992 song is a change of pace from her recent song choices, which have vacillated between current hits and Cyndi Lauper classics. Again, the song begins with Michelle singing and looking into a mirror, just like when she sang “Grenade,” but you can never anticipate what will happen theatrically in a Michelle performance – at the line “Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut?,” Michelle turns away from her reflection, which somehow becomes a pre-recorded shot of the “reflection” Michelle standing still and looking down. As for her vocals, what else is there to say about this girl? I’ve been rooting for Michelle the most since Caroline Glaser was eliminated, and “Why” is only enhancing that in me. It’s an excellent match for her talented voice, which she showcases with this one final new song before the voting begins. (Just as she waved her Okies flag for The Swon Brothers, Shakira wears thick-rimmed glasses in support of Michelle.)
The Swon Brothers sing “Celebrity” by Brad Paisley with Coach Blake. I hope that Zach and Colton don’t turn into Paisley’s lyrical “celebrity” after the end of The Voice. It is very funny to listen to Blake Shelton, a regular tabloid target for alleged cheating on Miranda Lambert, sing the line: “I’ll make the supermarket tabloids, they’ll write some awful stuff/But the more they run my name down, the more my price goes up.” This is followed by Danielle Bradbery‘s reprise performance of “Maybe It Was Memphis.” I would have also enjoyed “Heads Carolina, Tails California” here, but “Memphis” is obviously a great choice too. Though it came earlier in the live rounds, the performance was really the first point that Danielle began to separate herself from the other blonde female country singers in the competition. Completing an adorable “trifecta” for the night, Shakira dons a small black cowboy hat in support of Danielle during the performance. Adam predicts Danielle will be the winner Tuesday night.
The rest of the Top 16 join the three finalists in a surprise performance of “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Finishing up the night, Usher and Michelle Chamuel duet on “One” by U2, and Danielle Bradbery sings her final solo performance, “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans, a quicker song than most of her previous performances. Adam may have the right idea with his prediction; Bradbery has possibly the biggest voting fan base of the three finalists, and she’s never had a weak performance. “Born to Fly” certainly isn’t one; it may, in fact, be her crowning moment.
By 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, a whopping six of the nine songs, two from each artist, charted in the iTunes voting, and all nine made the Top 40:
Danielle Bradbery, “Born to Fly” – #2
Michelle Chamuel, “Why” – #3
The Swon Brothers, “Danny’s Song” – #4
The Swon Brothers, “I Can’t Tell You Why” – #7
Michelle Chamuel & Usher, “One” – #8
Danielle Bradbery, “Maybe It Was Memphis” – #9
Danielle Bradbery & Blake Shelton, “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” – #11
Michelle Chamuel, “I Knew You Were Trouble” – #25
The Swon Brothers & Blake Shelton, “Celebrity” – #37
Christina Aguilera managed to weasel in a non-coaching appearance on this season of The Voice, literally on a pedestal as she and Pitbull performed “Feel This Moment” to open the show. The Voice pulled out all the stops for the season finale: the star-studded lineup also included Florida Georgia Line and Nelly, Bruno Mars, and Cher. Michelle Chamuel performed “Counting Stars” with OneRepublic, The Swon Brothers “Night Moves” with Bob Seger, and Danielle Bradbery “I Want Crazy” with Hunter Hayes.
Several eliminated contestants also got to make a final return with the finalists’ “bring-back” performances. The Swon Brothers went all-out country, bringing back Justin Rivers, Holly Tucker and Amber Carrington to sing “Stars Tonight” by Lady Antebellum. Danielle brought back Amber (again), Caroline Glaser and Sarah Simmons for “All-American Girl” by Carrie Underwood. Michelle sang Stevie Wonder’s version of “We Can Work It Out” with Vedo, Josiah Hawley and Cathia. Also, Vedo, Josiah Hawley, Kris Thomas and Garrett Gardner return to sing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” with Holly Tucker sneaking in an alto saxophone solo; and Cathia, Judith Hill, Karina Iglesias, and Sasha Allen joined forces for “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).”
While the music was the focus of the night, some hilarious video packages stole the show. “Shevine” shippers got to see a dedication to Adam and Blake’s “bromance,” and in another, Blake parodies Usher’s “unconventional coaching techniques” with Danielle and The Swon Brothers. Still another reviewed the impressive grasp of the English language Colombian-native Shakira has displayed throughout the season, juxtaposed with Adam, Blake and Usher struggling to spell the words she’s used.
But of course, the point of the celebratory finale was to reveal the winner of Season 4 of The Voice. Announced first was third place, going to The Swon Brothers. Michelle and Danielle have been my favorite two singers left since the Top 12, and both are going to be superstars in the near future. It almost seems to be a formality to reveal the winner now; even though a recording contract with Universal Republic hangs in the balance, the other finalists have a great shot at getting signed too.
But the winner must be crowned, and it is indeed the utterly fantastic, 16-year-old Danielle Bradbery.