It's an unexpectedly somber start to the long-awaited finale of The Voice, with hosts, contestants and coaches all gathered for a heart-wrenching rendition of "Hallelujah." Each of them carries a card with the name and age of one of the victims of last Friday's horrific Newtown massacre. It's a sight so sobering that Carson Daly manages an actual facial expression.
Then, after the tribute, and a quick recap, it's back to the regular business of The Voice -- deciding who of the Top 3 -- Cassadee Pope, Terry McDermott or Nicholas David -- will win this year. (Trevin Hunte was voted off last Tuesday). Tonight is the last opportunity the contestants have to prove themselves. Each will perform three times -- a duet with their coach, a reprise of one of their best performances of the season and, finally, a brand new cover. Better make this good, kids...
Team Cee-Lo's Nicholas David is up first, wearing a gold jacket, surrounded by go-go dancers and seated behind a piano that is literally on fire -- because he's singing a mash up of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" and Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." (Way to get literal, stage-designer.) When David emerges from behind the piano, we instantly wish he hadn't -- we know he's supposed to be the "eccentric" one, but this is like watching a drunk uncle kick over tables at a wedding party. Adam Levine calls the performance "entertaining and fun" -- we think that's extremely kind.
Next up, Team Blake's Cassadee Pope reprises her incredibly emotional performance of "Over You" from a few weeks ago. We are not sad about this -- Pope's rendition makes Miranda Lambert's original seem flat by comparison, which is quite an achievement, given that Lambert and Blake Shelton wrote the song together about Blake's deceased brother. The coach is clearly moved.
Shelton's second singer, Terry McDermott, has a reunion with his father (who he hasn't seen for four years) at his coach's house, before Shelton and Terry cover Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" together, in front of two giant prop amps. Halfway through, a shirtless Adam Levine pops up in a long wig and does a guitar solo. So, yes. There is much to cringe about here. Which is probably why Cee-Lo gives it a standing ovation.
Nicholas David re-does his cover of "Lean On Me." To be honest, we're kind of bored of this guy at this stage in the competition. "You look like a Principal," notes Adam Levine after the song. "See me in my office after the show," David quips back immediately. (At least he's witty!) Cee-Lo, meanwhile, is feeling terribly emotional about the whole thing and has some heartfelt words for his last remaining team member: "I appreciate you so much... Very simply, I believe in you... You move me... I love you. I love you, man."
Terry McDermott comes back with Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" and has a couple of shaky vocal issues for the first time ever in the show. Not ideal, timing wise, but he fully recovers by the end, which Adam Levine quite rightly gives him props for.
Blake invites Cassadee, her mom, sister and boyfriend over to his place for a chit-chat, before the two perform Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen." Pope wears blue jeans and a plaid shirt -- just to drive home the point that she's country now -- and she and Shelton are super-cute together. Then Terry McDermott re-performs his stripped-down (and lovely) version of Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is" -- his voice is stupid good.
Cee-Lo invites Nicholas David's family (parents included) over for hangouts and more emo bonding, before the two perform "Play That Funky Music" together. There are acrobats involved. And dancing ladies in glass tubes. And (we're not joking) a Cee-Lo Mini-Me, who dances like a demon. It's like a bad acid trip. The other coaches watch on in disbelief, visibly confused and amused.
The always-passionate Cassadee Pope finishes out the show (because it's always good to save the best 'til last) with Faith Hill's "Cry A Little." Which -- as with everything this woman covers -- she improves exponentially. Then she does this crazy high, long note at the end that is, frankly, mind-blowing. If Cassadee Pope doesn't win this thing, we're going to be very, very angry with America indeed. She could have an enormous career, given the right opportunity -- and tonight, we'll find out once and for all if that can happen.
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