Then there were four. Chris Blue, Lauren Duski, Jesse Larson and Aliyah Moulden were left to sing for Season 12’s crown on The Voice. Which meant that last week, four had to depart: Brennley Brown, Vanessa Ferguson, Hunter Plake and TSoul were let go.
For last night’s finale, each singer performed three times: one cover song, one duet with their coach, and an original single that will be released (purportedly) for the winning artist. I’m going to group all the performance together by each artist.
Aliyah Moulden: Original single, “Never Be Lonely”; Duet (with coach Blake Shelton), “Dancing In The Street” by Martha & The Vandellas; Cover song, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder.
Of the four remaining finalists, I figured Aliyah to be the lowest on the list. I actually thought she took Hunter Plake’s place in the finals. That said, the songs she sang last night played to her strengths. Uptempo, with a throwback kind of feel. Her single, if marketed right, I believe could be a pop hit. Her duet with Shelton fit her better than him, and her cover didn’t suit for me. I give her credit, she didn’t try to sing it like Stevie Wonder, but I thought it overwhelmed her a bit.
Jesse Larson: Cover, “Takin’ It To The Streets” by The Doobie Brothers; Duet (with coach Adam Levine), “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & The Revolution; Original single, “Woman”.
Thankfully, Jesse didn’t become Laith Al-Saadi from a couple seasons ago; while he is a really good guitar player, Jesse’s singing became more of a focal point as the season went on. His confidence grew in his singing so much that he didn’t need to rely on his outstanding guitar playing. Though it was in evidence; he certainly played on each of his songs last night. His improvement throughout the season gives him a shot of winning. His original single, written by Chris Stapleton, may have been the best of the lot.
Chris Blue: Duet (with coach Alicia Keys), “Diamonds & Pearls” by Prince & The New Power Generation; Original Single, “Money On You”; Cover, “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson.
You’re going to have to convince me that there’s another singer in the competition with more pure vocal talent than Chris Blue. To me, that is an indisputable fact. However, he doesn’t always show some restraint when the moment calls for it. Tonight, Chris showed restraint, particularly on the duet with his coach. I think that might have been his best performance on the night. His single was okay, and while the cover of Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” was great performance-wise, I didn’t think it was his best vocal performance. He could win, and may even should win, but I think there’s enough doubt that it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he doesn’t.
Lauren Duski: Cover, “The Dance” by Garth Brooks; Duet (with coach Blake Shelton), “There’s A Tear In My Beer” by Hank Williams, Sr.; Original Single, “Deja Vu”.
At this point with Lauren, you know what you’re going to get. Songs that tell a story that she can sell with her classic voice. Naturally, both the cover and the single (which she wrote) manage to do just that. Thankfully, we got to hear her do something uptempo, as the Williams cover with Shelton allowed her to pick up the pace a bit. Lauren has been very consistent, perhaps the most consistent vocalist this season. Given the popularity country artists have had on the show, and the fact that Shelton has brought singers to the winner’s circle six previous times, her odds have to be pretty good.
So, in a season that hasn’t had an undisputed frontrunner, it comes down to this. I think Lauren and Chris have the best odds, with Jesse poised to pull off an upset. I don’t think Aliyah Moulden will win, but I didn’t think she’d make the final four, either. No matter who wins, it remains to be seen if this is the artist the show is hoping can be their Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood—singers who won American Idol and turned that into lengthy, substantial careers in the music business. Or it could be that the time when Clarkson and Underwood won that show was in a different era. Stay tuned tonight for the overstuffed final show for the results.
(photo from Creative Commons via Eva Rinaldi—available for reuse).